by Mark Mayer | Tried and true advise from handicappers during preseason is to bet the underdog when all else fails. Again, that seems to be a winning strategy. Through 16 games, underdogs hold a 9-5-2 edge with only Monday nights Cincinnati-Green Bay remaining to complete the first full week of exhibition play.
Last night, favorites were only able to cover in two of seven games. One of those wins was San Diegos 34-17 decision at home over the Dallas Cowboys. The highlight for the Chargers was rookie Jacob Hester of LSU, who rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns in his bid to replace Michael Turner as the backup for LaDainian Tomlinson.
The other favorite to cover the line was Tennessee, which scored an NFL-high 34 points in rolling over the St. Louis Rams by 21. Another rookie tailback, East Carolinas Chris Johnson, had a 66-yard run and scored once for the Titans. The rest of the night belonged to the dogs, highlighted by Atlantas cover in a 20-17 loss as a 3½-point underdog to Jacksonville. The bettors were on to that game, moving the line down from an opening 6 for the Jaguars.
In looking to next weeks action, here are some individual notes that may help you decide which teams to wager on.
Atlanta: Rookie QB Matt Ryan hit 9 of 15 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
NY Jets: Brett Ratliff (not Favre) had touchdown strikes of 75 and 71 yards to David Clowney, who was claimed on waivers last October from, guess who, Green Bay.
Seattle: Backup QB Seneca Wallace, who should see a lot of action in preseason, was 15 of 20 for 165 yards and three TDs against Minnesota.
Oakland: Rookie RB Darren McFadden ran for 48 yards and ex-Louisville RB Michael Bush, who missed the 2007 season with a knee injury, had a 5-yard TD run and a 23-yard pass reception.
Carolina: RB DeAngelo Williams scored twice and rushed for 55 yards.
Here are this weeks matchups (no lines out):
Thursday, Aug. 14
Pittsburgh (1-0) vs Buffalo (0-1) at Toronto
Carolina (1-0) vs Philadelphia (0-1)
Friday, Aug. 15
Oakland (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)
Saturday, Aug. 16
Washington (2-0) at NY Jets (1-0)
Minnesota (0-1) at Baltimore (1-0)
Miami (0-1) at Jacksonville (1-0)
Indianapolis (0-2) at Atlanta (0-1)
San Diego (1-0) at St. Louis (0-1)
Houston (1-0) at New Orleans (1-0)
Arizona (0-1) at Kansas City (1-0)
Green Bay (0-0) at San Francisco (0-1)
Dallas (0-1) at Denver (0-1)
Chicago (0-1) at Seattle (1-0)
Sunday, Aug. 17
Detroit (1-0) at Cincinnati (0-0)
New England (0-1) at Tampa Bay (1-0)
Monday, Aug. 18
Cleveland (0-1) at NY Giants (0-1)