Look for Colts
to hold back

Aug 8, 2006 7:21 AM

Oakland kicked off the NFL preseason with a 16-10 victory over Philadelphia in a Hall of Fame game that saw limited play from the starters.

The Eagles had to be pleased with the performance of QB Donovan McNabb, who is back from injuries that cut short his 2005 season. A healthy McNabb and RB Brian Westbrook make the Eagles again a team to respect in the tough NFC East. So, let’s not be too hasty in assuming that Philly is on the decline.

The weekly exhibition schedule runs from Thursday through Monday as will be the case this week. Backups, especially at QB, with more experience, can add edges along with matchups between first season head coaches and veterans. Often one, or both, coaches will treat these games as extended scrimmages.

Here’s a look at the 16 games that comprise the first full week of exhibition football.

Thursday, Aug. 10

Browns +3 at Eagles (33½): Philly has just three days to prepare, so the starters figure not to play much. But, this is the first game for the Browns. EAGLES.

Colts +5½ at Rams (38): The Colts lost all four preseason games last year. No reason to expect Indy to take a different approach. UNDER.

Friday, Aug. 11

Jets +3½ at Bucs (33): The Jets have a new coach and many questions, especially on offense. Tampa Bay has most positions pretty set. Interest factor with visitors. JETS.

Broncos -2 at Lions (38½):Denver’s roster is pretty much set. New Detroit coach Rod Marinelli has to evaluate QB and RB. Pressure on Detroit. LIONS.

Giants +3 at Ravens (34½): Both teams have playoff calibre talent. Ravens may give QB Steve McNair more series as the new starter. RAVENS.

Patriots +3 at Falcons (36): Both teams have similar questions at WR. Expect to see both teams work on the passing game. OVER.

Bears -2½ at 49ers (34½): Chicago appears set at more positions than San Francisco. Expect a more intense effort from the Niners to impress coaches. 49ERS.

Saturday, Aug. 12

Steelers +4 at Cards (34½): Both teams should be concerned about the backup QBs. Arizona also needs to work on the offensive line. Expect a scrimmage. UNDER.

Bills +3½ at Panthers (35): Buffalo has major questions at QB and should look to emphasize the passing game. Carolina is more concerned with backups. BILLS.

Jaguars +2 at Dolphins (33): Both teams rely more on defense, although the Dolphins will be much improved with new QB Daunte Culpepper. UNDER.

Chiefs PK at Texans (36½): Houston forecasts a much improved offensive team under new coach Gary Kubiak. This could be a very entertaining game. OVER.

Saints +3 at Titans (36): Both teams are rebuilding with new starting QBs. Expect more spirit from New Orleans than with Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher. SAINTS.

Packers +3½ at Chargers (35½): Brett Favre may see limited action, but new San Diego QB Phillip Rivers will be featured. Pack’s third and fourth stringers will play hard to impress first-year coach Mike McCarthy. PACKERS.

Cowboys +2½ at Seahawks (36½): Both head coaches are veterans and understand preseason means avoiding injuries. Hence, a conservative game. UNDER.

Sunday, Aug. 13

Redskins +2 at Bengals (35½): Both teams are solid at RB so we might see more passing than running in this game as backups compete for the No. 2 QB spots. OVER.

Monday, Aug. 14

Raiders +3 at Vikings (37½): Oakland is further along in the preparation process after having already played a game. Vikes have issues to address at RB. Expect a more ground oriented approach. UNDER.

Last week: 1-1. Preseason: 1-1.