Preseason worth a look

Aug 26, 2003 5:14 AM

The subject of NFL preseason records as a credible means of predicting regular season success is definitely subject to debate. But, it’s fun to compare.

Clearly you’re getting only half the picture, if that, from watching exhibition games. Coaches won’t expose their stars to injury too long, so most of the games are decided by players that may be watching games with you sooner than they think.

However, some coaches, particularly the new ones trying to make an impression with a perennial loser, may take these contests more seriously than those handling established teams.

Entering the final week of preseason, there are six unbeaten teams against the spread and six winless ATS. There will probably be a seventh perfect ATS entry when you read this, assuming the Colts and Broncos did not play to a push in their Monday night matchup in Denver.

The most intriguing team thus far in the preseason in Carolina. The Panthers have been incredibly consistent, scoring 20 points in each of their three victories. The real story has been on defense, where Carolina has yielded just 17 points in beating Washington, the New York Giants and Green Bay respectively.

John Fox, the former defensive coordinator with the Giants, has to be thrilled with his preseason start. The Panthers don’t figure to score much during the regular season, but former starting QB Chris Weinke has been impressive and could unseat Jake Delhomme and Rodney Peete.

Arizona is another surprise, although the perfect ATS mark fits with the reputation of coach Dave McGinnis. The third-year coach of the Cards is now 8-3 ATS in preseason play. Without stud receiver David Boston, we see this early success as just smoke and mirrors.

One team we are very high on is Seattle, off to a 2-1 start entering its final preseason game this Friday at Denver. The Seahawks scored 42 points in their victory over Kansas City last Saturday and could be the surprise team in the AFC West.

As for the unbeaten ATS teams, Tennessee and New England impressed us the most in preseason. However, both face a difficult September.

The Titans have a rough opening four games ”” hosting Oakland and New Orleans and visiting Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. The Patriots, Super Bowl champs of 2001, open on the road at Buffalo and Philadelphia before returning home to face the New York Jets. New England and Tennessee meet in Week 5 at Nashville.

Of the winless teams ATS, the one that most concerns us is Oakland. The Raiders were emotionally fragile to begin with after being embarrassed by the Bucs in the Super Bowl. They have managed just 23 points in three preseason games in lackluster efforts. That may just be a reflection of Bill Callahan less than passionate approach to preseason wins. Callahan is now 2-5 ATS as Raiders head coach.

The biggest surprise of the winless group is Atlanta, which was 4-0 ATS last year. Of course, the injury to Vick plays a large part in two of the non-covers.

Underdogs of four points or more are 6-3 ATS in the preseason. Of course, those spreads will lengthen drastically whe the regular season begins.


NOTE: Dogs of 4 points or more are 6-3 ATS during the preseason. Those spreads will lengthen drastically when the regular season begins.