Just wager and yawn

August 07, 2007 7:09 AM
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The 2007 NFL season is officially underway with this past Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio won largely by the Pittsburgh Steelers wannabes over the New Orleans Saints wannabes 20-7.

To be fair, many of both teams’ starters did play the first series or two with Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger engineering a quick scoring drive. But for the most part, players competing for positions on the depth chart played the majority of the minutes. Such is normally the case for the first two preseason games for most teams.

Between Thursday and Monday all 32 teams will see game action. New Orleans and Pittsburgh have short work weeks before resuming play on Friday and Saturday respectively while the other 30 make their preseason debuts.

Most teams will have been in camp for barely 10 days when they see their first game action — a far cry from years ago. Teams used to be in camp for 2-to-3 weeks before playing their first exhibition. The short time between reporting and playing that first game often leads to very sloppy play in the first game or two.

Here’s a look at the 16 games this weekend. They don’t count and will largely be played by backups and other players not on opening day rosters. If you are looking to make plays on these games, it is always suggested to scour the papers and internet for training camp comments. Focus on quarterback rotations, coaching intentions and other insights as to specific goals for the game.

Thursday, Aug. 9

Bengals +2 at Lions (35): Cincinnati will be a strong offensive team in 2007 with questions about defense. Detroit is more likely to feel the need to give fans a reason to be optimistic following years of dismal failure. The Lions should be more aggressive on offense. LIONS.

Colts +4½ at Cowboys (35): Indy coach Tony Dungy takes a rather low key approach to preseason games. He’d rather developing depth in the running game behind Joseph Addai. New Dallas coach Wade Phillips is likely to place a greater emphasis on defense. UNDER.

Friday, Aug. 10

Falcons (+3½) at Jets (33): Considering the absence of QB Michael Vick and the trade of backup Matt Schaub, the Falcons should be looking to pay extensive pre season attention to the passing game under new coach Bobby Petrino. The Jets should be more concerned with depth development following last season’s success. FALCONS.

Pats +1 at Bucs (34): New England has many new faces on both sides of the ball enter 2007 as Super Bowl favorites. Tampa Bay has major issues on offense with some uncertainties at quarterback. The Bucs figure to be more aggressive on offense. BUCS.

Bills +5½ at Saints (36½): The New Orleans advantage of having already played under game conditions is offset by a short week of practice. We can expect the Saints to make adjustments from being badly outplayed by Pittsburgh. Buffalo is looking to develop a running game now that Willis McGahee is gone. SAINTS.

Rams +2½ at Vikings (35½): St. Louis has more questions and concerns about defense with the offense pretty much set. Minnesota has questions on both sides of the ball, but will be especially interested in assessing the progress of QB Tarvaris Jackson and rookie RB Adrian Peterson. VIKINGS

Saturday, Aug. 11

Packers +6 at Steelers (35½): Pittsburgh was crisp, especially in the first half, against New Orleans. The Steelers are interested in RB depth behind banged up starter Willie Parker. Green Bay also has concerns at RB where they are very thin. UNDER.

Jags +1 at Dolphins (32): Both defenses are the strengths. Miami is looking to break in both a new coach (Cam Cameron) and QB (Trent Green). The Jags have been enthusiastic about QB Byron Leftwich’s showing in camp following last season’s injury. OVER.

Chiefs +3 at Browns (36): With rookie QB Brady Quinn a holdout, the Browns are deciding between Derek Anderson and Charlie Frye. With ex-QB Trent Green traded to Miami, the Chiefs see Brodie Croyle challenging Damon Huard. UNDER.

Skins +3 at Titans (35½): Washington’s Joe Gibbs and Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher should take a very conservative approach throughout the preseason. UNDER.

Panthers +1 at Giants (35): The Giants are more advanced in passing than running where Tiki Barber must be replaced. The Panthers have depth at RB, but need to strengthen the pass. NY GIANTS.

Bears -1 at Texans (33): The defending NFC champions should take a conservative approach to the preseason. The Texans need to show their fans that the team is improved with Matt Schaub replacing David Carr at QB. TEXANS.

Cards +2 at Raiders (35): The top overall draft pick, Oakland’s JaMarcus Russell, remains a holdout. That means recently signed Daunte Culpepper could be the starter and see significant action. Each team has big play potential on offense. OVER.

Sunday, Aug. 12

S’Hawks +4 at Chargers (37): If both teams remain healthy they could meet again in February. Both are set in most starting positions meaning depth is of greater concern. San Diego has a major preseason edge in backup RB Michael Turner, who could start on most other teams. Turner see significant playing time. CHARGERS.

Monday, Aug. 13

Eagles +3 at Ravens (32): Philly has more questions at backup QB and is thin at wide receiver. The Ravens have upgraded the offense at RB and receivers. Both teams are solid on defense and may treat this game like an extended scrimmage. UNDER.

Broncos +2½ at 49ers (35): SF has a new look this season with former offensive coordinator Norv Turner now the Chargers head coach. Turner was mostly responsible for the development of both QB Alex Smith and RB Frank Gore. The Broncos have turned the QB role over to Jay Cutler. OVER.

Last week: 1-0.