The preseason is more than half over
with most teams having just two remaining tuneups before the regular season gets
underway the weekend following Labor Day. Many
coaches will use their penultimate preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the
regular season, often implementing game plans and focusing much more on play
execution rather than on player evaluation.
Of course, players are constantly being evaluated especially with
significant roster cuts on the immediate horizon.
But the week before the final preseason game is often a time when
starters see action deep into the second quarter and often well into the third
As we’ve cautioned over the past
couple of weeks keep in mind that these are exhibition games and the results are
totally meaningless and will be forgotten once the regular season gets underway.
If you are serious about betting these games your best bet is to follow
daily reports on what each team is looking to accomplish in their next game.
Such information is readily available on the Internet. Coaches are more apt to be more honest about their intentions
in preseason games than they will be once the games start to count in the
Here’s the lineup of games to be
played between Thursday and Monday with Atlanta being the odd team out and
having a Bye this week.
Kansas City (+3Â½) at Jacksonville
(Over/Under 34Â½): New Chiefs’ coach Dick Vermeil is encouraged by what he
has seen in his team’s first two preseason efforts, especially from his
defense. This week will be more
challenging as his team takes to the road and faces veteran Jacksonville.
The Jaguars are concerned with developing depth, especially at running
back behind Fred Taylor. Both organizations historically are conservative in their
approach to the preseason and thus we might not see many points on the board.
Carolina (+6Â½) at Baltimore (32Â½):
Carolina still has questions at QB in deciding between veteran Jeff Lewis and
rookie Chris Weinke. Panther coach
George Seifert understands the purpose of the preseason so their conservative
offensive approach should continue against perhaps the league’s best overall
defense. Baltimore’s main concern
should continue to be finding a capable replacement for the injured RB Jamal
Lewis who is out for the season. The
2001 preseason has seen Unders dominate the Overs and that trend shapes up as
Philadelphia (+4Â½) at Tennessee
(34): Both teams were in the Playoffs last season and have been more
concerned with depth development and filling out the rosters with most starting
positions pretty set. Tennessee has
won both of their preseason outings and now face the best defense they’ve gone
against thus far. The Eagles lone
preseason contest was their 6-3 loss last week in Buffalo.
Philly’s offense might be a bit more aggressive this week against one
of the better defensive units in the league and QB Donavan McNabb might see
extended action. Getting more than
a field goal would seem to be an attractive option.
Indianapolis (+3Â½) at Minnesota (44):
Ah, if only this were a regular season game it might be the most entertaining
game of the season. Both teams have
explosive offenses and questions on defense.
Minnesota QB Daunte Culpepper and Colt QB Peyton Manning are two of the
best in the league and they might see action for the entire first half here.
Clearly the first way we’d normally look is to the OVER if this game
were one that counts. But a high
scoring first half could foreshadow a dull second half in which both coaches are
more interested in player evaluations. If
you can find a first half line on this game the OVER might be the best option
Cleveland at Washington (No Line):
Few teams have been as beset by training camp injuries that have impeded
progress as has Washington. Starting
QB Jeff George and backup Todd Husak have both missed preseason action thus far
due to injuries that call into question their status for the regular season
opener. Cleveland still has
numerous concerns on both sides of the ball, moreso on the offense.
The only way to look would be at the Under.
Detroit (+3) at Pittsburgh (37):
The Lions were crisp in last week’s win at Indy while Pittsburgh just went
through a workout in their loss at Minnesota.
This is Pittsburgh’s first home game and the second time this summer
they will have had an extended period of time to just practice, having not
played since last Thursday. The
Steelers may open it up more on offense this week than they have in their first
two games and this contest might be played at a fast pace. The Over may be worth
a look if the line stays at 37 or lower.
Buffalo (+2Â½) at Cincinnati (35):
The Bills have been unimpressive in their first two exhibitions..
Cincinnati has the potential to be an improved team on offense this
season but they must solidify the QB position with Akili Smith, Scott Mitchell
and John Kitna vying for the starting role. The Bengals are in a good position
to put forth the better effort. Laying a FG or less makes them worthy of
New England (+6) at Tampa Bay (32):
Expect to see a better effort from Tampa Bay here.
New England showed a successful running game last week in Carolina and
continued development of that facet. Tampa
needs to work on its passing game and figure to be the more aggressive team.
Laying more than a TD in a meaningless exhibition game cannot be recommended.
The Under may be the preferred approach.
N Y Jets (+1Â½) at NY Giants (33Â½):
The Jets have historically taken this game more seriously than their co-tenant
Giants. If midweek reports hint at the Jets being motivated for this game, so
much the better. Preseason history
already suggests that the Jets will care, having covered nine straight in this
annual preseason series.
Miami at Green Bay (No Line):
Miami’s strength is its defense, an area Green Bay needs to improve to
make the playoffs.
Both teams have concerns about their respective rushing games although
each has reason for optimism.
At a line of 34 or higher the Under is worth consideration.
Arizona (+4Â½) at Chicago (36):
This will be the Bears’ final preseason game. Look for a more concentrated
effort on offense from the starting unit. Arizona
has actually played decent defense in its first two games but figures to be
challenged here. Can certainly see
some edges to suggest looking at the Over.
New Orleans at Denver (No Line):
New Orleans went through the motions in defeating Dallas last week. The Broncos will be in their new digs this season and the
crowd will certainly be in a partying mood. If the Over/Under comes at 37 or
higher the Under will be the preferred way to look. Gus Frerotte may see added
action at QB.
Seattle (+3) at San Fran (39Â½):
These teams have four times in the last three preseasons and all four games have
been relatively high scoring and decided by four points or less. The Seahawks
are looking for more consistency at QB from starter Matt Hasselback while the
Niners looking for a backup to Jeff Garcia.
Expect to again see points scored in this contest, which is the preferred
St Louis (—2Â½) at San Diego (40):
The Chargers are playing with an expected level of enthusiasm.
St Louis is in fine shape offensively and is more concerned with seeing
that all its offseason defensive acquisitions mesh into a cohesive unit. San
Diego is the preferred way to look at this game and a case can also be made for
Oakland (+6Â½) at Dallas (36): These teams met during the first week of the preseason with the Raiders winning 21-14. Rookie QB Quincy Carter has struggled thus far, making the usual mistakes. This game will be interesting in that both coaching staffs have film to review. Laying almost a touchdown is not recommended. Perhaps the way to look here is again towards the Under.