Think progress, while watching rehearsals

Aug 20, 2002 10:46 AM

The major factor in wagering NFL preseason games should be on the progress being made week by week by each team, not wins and losses. Any significant injuries that occur may alter the starting or backup roster of teams as they enter the regular season.

Information is the key to successful wagering and this is especially true during these final two weeks before the regular season. Some coaches will use this week as a dress rehearsal and next week to make final personnel decisions. Other coaches will reverse the order, using this week to make major decisions on team depth and next week to sharpen up the starters.

If you plan to wager on the games over the final two weeks, you would do well to scour the Internet for as much information as you can find regarding coaches’ intentions for these games.

Here’s a brief look at this week’s preseason games.

Thursday, Aug. 22

SD (+6) at STL (40): San Diego has a pair of quarterbacks, Doug Flutie and Drew Brees, each trying to impress head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Brees will probably be named the starter. St. Louis looks to stay healthy and figures to evaluate backup depth. SAN DIEGO.

Friday, Aug. 23

BAL (+6½) at PHI (33): Both teams are pretty set to begin the season and should play this one close to the vest. Baltimore does face more challenges with its offense. BALTIMORE.

TEN (+2½) at MIN (41½): First road game for the Titans, who have played well in winning a pair at home. Minnesota showing signs that its offense will again be one of the league’s best. MINNESOTA.

CAR (+6½) at NE (35½): Carolina’s focus will be to develop more of a winning attitude while New England seeks to stay healthy. CAROLINA.

JAX (+6) at CHI (33½): Both teams have struggled to find rhythm on offense this preseason so both offenses figure to play aggressively and take chances. OVER.

Saturday, Aug. 24

PIT at DET (NL): Pittsburgh suffered injuries to QBs Kordell Stewart and Charlie Batch in loss at Washington so they figure to be extremely cautious and conservative. Detroit is encouraged by the play of rookie QB Joey Harrington. DETROIT.

BUF (+4) at IND (41½): Indy has major problems with depth at RB and should look to develop depth. Buffalo looking to provide new QB Drew Bledsoe with a capable running game. UNDER.

NO (+3) at CIN (35½): Bengals have won both road games this preseason and could be a sleeper team following a strong second half of 2001. New Orleans wants to rebuild team chemistry. CINCINNATI.

NYG (+3) at NYJ (36½): Jets have dominated this preseason series of late, but this time the Giants are the team seeking respect. The G-men have more areas to address and should be the aggressor. GIANTS.

MIA (—3) at HOU (34): Miami is well rested following two games in four days scheduling quirk to open the preseason. Expect Miami to open things up a bit more on offense. Houston is showing improvement along the offensive line. OVER.

ATL (+3½) at DAL (36½): Both teams have shown many positive signs in their first two games and are considered darkhorse contenders for the playoffs. Dallas needs more work with its first string offense. Atlanta has more concerns on defense. UNDER

WAS (+3½) at TB (41½): Redskins are serious about playing a full 60 minutes in preseason and their three games have produced 45, 67 and 69 points. Tampa Bay should be willing to play a fast paced game under new coach Jon Gruden. OVER.

SF at OAK (NL): Heading into last Monday both teams were winless in the preseason but neither coach seems overly concerned. Both teams were in the playoffs last season and expected to contend again. Depth and avoidance of injury should be the main concern. UNDER.

DEN at ARI (NL): Denver is a veteran team with a couple of days less to prepare. Arizona has generated some fan enthusiasm with hard preseason play. Look for a more sustained effort here. ARIZONA.

KC (+3) at SEA (37½): Although no longer division rivals due to realignment, these teams will meet once during the regular season. Both coaches are experienced and understand the true purpose of the preseason. UNDER.

Monday, Aug. 26

CLE (+5½) at GB (38): Green Bay is basically set to begin the season and figures conservatively. Cleveland is 2-0 SU this preseason and more likely to place a greater emphasis on winning. CLEVELAND.