All teams have now seen at least one game of preseason
action and are at various stages of readiness for the regular season.
Most teams have many personnel decisions to make affecting backup
positions and depth.
Few teams are set at most starting positions and thus the
second full week of preseason play will again feature limited time for starters
and much more time for players both competing for second string status or to
just make the team way down the depth chart.
In general. playoff caliber teams will be more interested in developing
depth while teams struggling to rebound from sub .500 seasons in 2000 are more
likely to be concerned about deciding on starters.
When two such teams match up it might be best to look at the weaker team
since more is often on the line in terms of finding the right starting
Jaguars (+3) at Giants (Over/Under 35): The Giants
failed to score in New England and Jacksonville could not find the end zone,
tallying six field goals in a last minute win over Carolina.
Both teams should be a bit more interested in developing their offenses
this week. The Over is an attractive option.
Steelers (+ 4) at Vikings (40): Minnesota displayed
aggressiveness and emotion in their opening game against New Orleans with stars
QB Daunte Culpepper and WR Randy Moss looking sharp in limited action.
An edge here may belong to Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have had a
stretch of almost two full weeks of uninterrupted practice. Getting more than a field goal is worth considering for a
team that figures to be sharp.
Titans (+ 3Â½) at Rams (37Â½): No, this won’t
resemble a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIV since the starters will see limited
action. The reserves will likely
decide this game and the Rams appear to have the deeper roster, especially at
the skill positions which emphasize speed on both sides of the ball.
In their first two preseason games the Rams’ defense has shown signs of
being much better. Both teams can
be expected to play conservative.
Falcons (+1) at Redskins (34): Neither team has
shown much in the early stages of preseason and even Atlanta’s rookie QB
Michael Vick saw limited action in his second preseason game. Neither coach
feels a win is urgent. Washington went through the motions last week in KC,
gaining less than 100 yards and seven first downs.
Starting QB Jeff George did not play last week so check for his status
here. Both teams are looking to run
so a low score can be expected.
Chargers at Dolphins (NL) : San Diego showed energy
in last week’s win over San Francisco while Miami is off of their second
straight Monday night contest. This
is one of those strong vs. weak matchups and thus the preference will be for San
Diego as they look to progress from last season’s 1-15 record. The Chargers
may be more interested in winning this game with new QB Doug Flutie becoming
more integrated into the offense.
Eagles at Bills (NL):
The Eagles seem to be the more established team with more starting
positions settled. Buffalo is in a
rebuilding mode under their new coach Gregg Williams as they play their final
preseason home game. The Bills need a running
game in order for their gifted set of receivers to be effective.
The scheduling dynamics may
make it more important for Buffalo to have a good showing.
Patriots (+4) at Panthers (34 Â½): Carolina would
appear to be closer to contending for the playoffs than the Patriots except for
the lack of a proven quarterback. The
Panthers might be the more
aggressive team in this game. New
England must settle on a feature RB and thus may spend more time tinkering with
offensive line combinations in this game. Both
teams were involved in low scoring games last week. The Under
may be the preferred play.
Ravens at (NL): Baltimore played last Monday night
and the injury to star RB Jamal Lewis in practice makes finding a replacement
the main concern for the Ravens. Jets
coach Herman Edwards was conservative in his first game against Atlanta. Note that prior to Monday’s game at Philadelphia, Brian
Billick had won all eight preseason games as Ravens coach. Points should be scarce.
Cowboys (+ 7) at Saints (35):
Many of the key Dallas starters have yet to see action and RB Emmitt
Smith, WRs Joey Galloway and Raghib Ismail should see limited action here.
New Orleans looks like a playoff contender once again and will continue
to evaluate whether Aaron Brooks or veteran Jeff Blake is best suited to run the
offense. We may see both teams
emphasize the passing game more than last week.
The preferred approach here might be to the Over.
Bucs at Browns (NL): Tampa Bay began its preseason
last Monday against Miami while Cleveland opened with a dull 10-7 win over Green
Bay. Cleveland is set at QB with Tim Couch looking to recover from
last season’s injury but many positions are unsettled under new coach Butch
Davis. This is Cleveland’s
preseason home finale and the Browns may be more focused. The underdog Browns
Lions (+6) at Colts (39Â½):
Indianapolis is favored to win the AFC East while Detroit has the
potential to contend for at least a Wild Card after going 9-7 last season. . The
Over and Underdog makes sense in a game featuring tough defenses..
Bears (+5) at Chiefs (35): The battle for the
starting QB job is Chicago is quite contentious and makes the Bears worth a look
getting more than 4 points. Kansas
City is building team speed, especially on offense, as new coach Dick Vermeil
evaluates his roster. The ”˜chief’ concern here may be in continuing to
develop the rushing game.
Cards (+6) at Seahawks (35 Â½): The Seahawks’
primary concern on offense is the development of QB Mark Hasselback.
Arizona’s concerns are more on defense, especially with the departure
of several key veterans. Seattle
played with enthusiasm in last week’s loss at Indianapolis while Arizona was
uninspired in a home loss to Oakland. It’s
uncomfortable to lay nearly a TD in preseason so look at the Over.
Raiders (—1Â½) at 49ers
(39): How strange will it be when Jerry Rice takes the field in an
Oakland uniform? The Raiders are
amongst the elite in the AFC and figure to give their backups most of the
playing time here. San Francisco
has talent at many key positions and their defense showed improvement over the
latter half of last season and thus may be a surprise contender for the
Playoffs. Both teams like to use
the big play as an important part of their offense and thus the Over is the
first way to look here. The 49ers
may be worth a shot in this nearly pick ”˜em game.
Broncos (—1) at Packers
(40): Denver is another
of the AFC elite and is one of the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl. Green Bay will go as far as QB Brett Favre can take them but
otherwise the Packers are just an average team. Denver has depth at most
positions and thus figure to have an edge when both teams’ reserves take the
field. If this were a regular
season game the Over would be an easy call but the Under may represent the
better value here.