Last preseason games mere tuneups for NFL season

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Most of the preseason is in the rear view mirror as just one week of exhibition games remain. Three will be played on Wednesday and the final 13 on Thursday to bring an end to the preseason schedule.

Final roster cuts will be made over the weekend and the regular season will be underway next Wednesday as the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants host Division rival Dallas.

Most teams will rest their starters for their final preseason tune up although some coaches may have their first teamers play a series or two just to stay crisp.

But for the most part coaches will treat the final preseason game as little more than a scrimmage with an eye towards evaluating depth that will impact the final roster decisions a few days later.

Often depth at QB or a competition for the backup spot will provide a team with a decided edge in this final game.

As always, if you are to invest in the final week of preseason games you should gather as much current information as you can from the various camps concerning coaches’ intentions.

Here are some thoughts on the final week of preseason football.

Wednesday, Aug. 29

Patriots -2 at Giants (41): This will hardly resemble a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl as starters likely see no action. Both coaches are more concerned with making decisions on the final few remaining roster spots. We could see a low scoring game with both teams looking to bolster their running games to complement their outstanding quarterbacks. UNDER.

Bucs +4 at Redskins (41): Tampa Bay’s practice time is being limited due to the potential impacts of Hurricane Isaac which could be an edge for the hosts. And Washington coach Mike Shanahan likes to build momentum for the start of the games that count. REDSKINS.

Dolphins +2 at Cowboys (37½): Dallas concerns are more health related rather than personnel. The Dolphins have several concerns, especially about the lack of progress made by the offense. Hence Dallas may be more likely to just go through the motions whereas Miami may be more interested in play execution. DOLPHINS.

Thursday, Aug. 30

Falcons +1½ at Jaguars (38½): Atlanta is set to start the season while the Jags need to build some fan enthusiasm. The Falcons should be more concerned with depth while Jacksonville still has some decisions regarding starting positions. JAGUARS.

Vikings +3½ at Texans (39): The Vikings have more concerns than Houston. The Texans have looked very sharp throughout the preseason. Minnesota still has some issues to resolve with the offense. OVER.

Bills +3½ at Lions (39): Buffalo just traded for QB Tarvaris Jackson and should want to give him extended time as he will be the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Detroit is more likely to work on developing a running game. BILLS.

Chiefs +1½ at Packers: Both teams figure to work on their second team offense which suggests more pass plays than usual. The Packers still have some concerns on defense that need addressing. OVER.

Saints +3½ at Titans (41): The Saints looked sharp in their dress rehearsal last week and are set to start the season. The Titans have more personnel decisions to be made and may play with the greater intensity. TITANS.

Bengals +1½ at Colts (39): The Colts are more likely to place a greater emphasis on winning this game to build upon their preseason momentum and enthusiasm. The Bengals are a veteran team looking to stay healthy. COLTS.

Jets +6½ at Eagles (36): The Jets are still trying to find the end zone and are the first team in more than 30 years to have not scored a touchdown in their first three preseason games. The Eagles are pretty much set to start the season and figure to be conservative in their play calling. UNDER.

Bears +3½ at Browns (37): The Bears are set to start the season and should run low risk plays. Cleveland has many issues to address, especially on offense, and might be more prone to use aggressive play calling. BROWNS.

Panthers +3½ at Steelers (39½): Both teams are more likely to be interested in looking at defense rather than offense with neither team expected to play their starters. The Panthers have more concerns with depth. UNDER.

Ravens +5 at Rams (39): St. Louis may be one of the few teams to give its starters more than just a couple of series of action. Baltimore is ready to start the season and the primary concern will be to stay healthy. RAMS.

Raiders +6½ at Seahawks (40): With a first year coach in Oakland the Raiders have more personnel decisions to make than does Seattle. Thus we may see Oakland play with greater intensity which often can be the difference when players are battling to make the roster. RAIDERS.

Chargers +4 at 49ers (38): Both teams are set to start the season with coaches looking to develop depth. These teams may be more interested in working on their rushing games rather than the aerial attack which more often results in a low scoring contest. UNDER.

Broncos +2½ at Cards (37): Arizona clearly has many more issues to address and resolve than do the Broncos. The QB situation remains fluid and both John Skelton and Kevin Kolb may see action as the coaching staff is yet to fully commit to who will start. CARDS.

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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