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In last week’s column the cautions and hazards of betting the preseason were discussed. Many of the starters for both the Cowboys and Bengals played but a single series, especially the skilled position players. The play was often choppy and it was clear that timing has not yet developed.

Most importantly, coaches have different goals to achieve in these games, with winning being near the bottom of the list. Player evaluation is paramount as personnel decisions about roster spots and the depth chart are made on a daily basis. Additionally some coaches will work on specific aspects of the offense and defense, calling for schemes and plays regardless of the game situation, unlike the way they will coach when the games count.

In making wagers on preseason games it is important to be aware of coaches’ intentions which are often openly discussed in the press. The Internet Is a wonderful source of information and often the local media in an NFL city will have comprehensive daily reports from team training camps.

As the season approaches a look at the NFL Divisions, two per week leading up to the start of the regular season, may help give some assistance to those who like to wager on futures, be they odds to win the Super Bowl or Conference Championships or on season total wins. This week a brief look at the AFC East and AFC North.

Here’s a brief look at the first full week of preseason with games that will stretch from Thursday through Monday. Quoted lines are ones that are widely available as of Monday morning.


New Orleans (+1½) at New England (Over/Under 35½): Expect the marquis players to see very limited action. Both teams are Playoff contenders so focus should be on developing depth and evaluating backups. Preference is for the UNDER.

Carolina (+3) at Baltimore (34): Both offenses have relied more on the run than on the pass for their success so we might see more attention paid to the passing game in an effort to achieve more balance. Carolina has a greater sense of urgency at QB so the Panthers may be more aggressive in trying to score. Preference is for CAROLINA.

Oakland (+4½) at Dallas (34): Dallas is further ahead in the evaluation process after having played Sunday. But the short work week means little time to make adjustments. Oakland also has decisions to make at QB with newcomer Jason Campbell looking to unseat incumbent Bruce Gradkowski. Preference is for OAKLAND.


Jacksonville (+3) at Philadelphia (33½): Both teams appear to be more concerned with the progress made by their defenses. Philly has replaced QB Donovan McNabb with Kevin Kolb but Kolb is unlikely to see much action. The preference is for the UNDER.

Buffalo (+3½) at Washington (32½): The Mike Shanahan era begins in DC and as a long time coach he understands the purpose of the preseason, using these games more for conditioning and preparation. Buffalo has a greater need to build enthusiasm for the season among their fan base and also have many more positions up for grabs under another first year coach, Chan Gailey. The preference is for BUFFALO.

Kansas City (+3) at Atlanta (34½): Atlanta has much more decided on its depth chart than does KC which suggests the Chiefs may be more apt to open up the offense under new coordinator Charlie Weis. The Falcons are more apt to treat this contest as a workout. Preference is for KANSAS CITY.


Tampa Bay (+3½) at Miami (33½): Both teams have better depth at running back than at receiver and both organizations tend to be more conservative than aggressive in philosophy. Neither team is blessed with outstanding athletes at quarterback so expect a dull contest. Preference is for the UNDER.

Detroit (+2½) at Pittsburgh (34): This is a matchup between a solidly established franchise (Pittsburgh) and one that is great need of generating some excitement among the fan base. As such, Detroit is more likely to show at least some interest in efforting to win. Preference is for DETROIT.

Houston (-1) at Arizona (3½): Matt Leinart takes over for Kurt Warner at QB for Arizona although Derek Anderson is expected to mount a serious challenge. As such we might see more spirited efforts from the Cardinals’ starting and second units. The Texans’ Matt Schaub is the clear starter with the battle for backup QB not quite as intense. Preference is for ARIZONA.

Minnesota (Pick ’em) at St. Louis (31½): While QB Brett Favre mulls his future Tarvaris Jackson duels Sage Rosenfels for what is expected to be the backup QB spot. St. Louis will debut top draft choice QB Sam Bradford but his time on the field is expected to be limited. This game has the lowest Total on the board this week and that’s for a good reason. Preference is for the UNDER.

Cleveland (+2½) at Green Bay (34): This is another game between a well established team, the Packers, and one with many more decisions needing to be made over the next few weeks. Preference is for CLEVELAND.

Chicago (+3) at San Diego (34): The Chargers’ main concern this preseason is to stay healthy as they are clear favorites to win the AFC West and contend for the overall top Playoff seed. Chicago is looking to work on executing new offensive coordinator Mike Martz innovative playbook which should make for an entertaining game. Preference is for the OVER.

Tennessee (+3½) at Seattle (34): Long time Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher is not overly concerned with preseason results so expect the Titans to just go through the motions this August and treat these games like workouts. New Seattle coach Pete Carroll has more decisions to make in his return to the NFL sidelines. Often that means a more intense effort from backups seeking to make the roster. Preference is for SEATTLE.




San Francisco (-3) at Indianapolis (34): With longtime backup QB Jim Sorgi gone there is now a battle for the right to hold the clipboard on the sidelines and hold Peyton Manning’s water bottle. That could make for more aggressive play calling than we are used to seeing from the Colts in the preseason. Even in an exhibition game, getting points at home with a roster as talented as Indy’s is enough to tilt the scales. Preference is for INDIANAPOLIS.

Denver (+3½) at Cincinnati (33½): The short preparation time between the start of training camp and the first preseason game was evident in Cincinnati’s sloppy effort against Dallas Sunday night. With a full week to work on correcting mistakes and improving timing the Bengals have some inherent edges of the Broncos in this spot. Preference is for CINCINNATI.



New York Giants (plus 1) vs. New York Jets (33): The Giants and Jets christen their new stadium with their annual preseason tilt. The Giants hope to show that last season’s defense collapse was a fluke. The Jets aim to show their strong playoff run was not a fluke. Despite the intense rivalry between the fans of both teams, both coaches understand preseason games and are much more inclined to focus on the efforts of the defense rather than the offense. Preference is for the UNDER.

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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