Track second half depth in bets

Aug 17, 2004 5:56 AM

Although wagering on NFL preseason games can be hazardous, there certainly is no shortage of knowledge that can be gleaned from watching the games and analyzing the results.

Of special importance is taking note of how teams progress from game to game during these next few weeks. Often coaches will bring teams along slowly, with a predetermined plan for getting into regular season shape. Statistics are very misleading since many of the stats are accumulated by players who won’t be on the opening day roster.

If you want a sensible way of looking at preseason games, keep track of first half scores and stats. Usually the starters will play the first quarter of games. As the preseason extends, the starters play well into the second quarter. Although it is a generalization, the first half can be a guide as to the progress of the starters. The second half may best be viewed as a guide to the development of depth.

Also, take note of penalties. The importance of avoiding penalties cannot be overemphasized. While there are always a handful of teams are good enough to overcome penalties, the vast majority of teams can’t.

Quarterback rotations continue to be a major factor in late week line moves. It is always advised that if you bet these games, pay attention to reports coming from coaches and the camps a day or two before game day.

Here’s a look at this week’s games.

Thursday, Aug. 19

Giants (+3½) at Panthers (34): The Giants have more questions to answer this preseason and figure to be more aggressive. Carolina was a perfect 4-0 both SU and ATS last season and continued that last week against Washington. Both teams appear motivated and that often translates into a solid defensive effort. UNDER.

Friday, Aug. 20

Vikings (+2½) at Falcons (39): Both teams are pretty well set on offense but have major concerns on defense. Neither starting QB may see much action but with so much relying on strong QB performance during the regular season developing backup depth is a must. OVER.

Bucs (NL) at Jaguars: Tampa Bay has very little time to prepare following its rescheduled game this past Monday. Jacksonville appears improved on defense but still have questions on offense at WR. Tampa has won this game the past two preseasons, so perhaps the Jags might carry a bit more motivation. JAGUARS.

Ravens (+3) at Eagles (32½): Both teams are veteran laden and playoff tested. Neither figures to emphasize results in the preseason. The game plans are likely to be conservative, meaning low scoring. UNDER.

Saturday, Aug. 21

Lions (+3) at Browns (36): Detroit has struggled on the road in recent preseasons, while Cleveland is better at home. The Browns have more questions about their offense and should be up for the team that dealt the worst preseason drubbing in the Butch Davis era last year. BROWNS.

Titans (pk) at Bills (34½): Tennessee has covered five straight and 9 of 10 ”˜meaningless’ contests. Perhaps it is the mindset of coach Jeff Fisher or simply a very efficient training camp in the days leading up to games. TITANS.

Texans (+3½) at Steelers (34): Houston got a satisfying win over state rival Dallas last week while Pittsburgh lost a competitive game in Detroit. Both teams are looking for defensive improvement and each coach emphasizes the running game. UNDER.

Patriots (NL) at Bengals: Cincinnati played Monday night while the Pats will have had three extra days of work on the practice field. New England is concerned with depth, while the Bengals will be more concerned with developing QB Carson Palmer and team confidence. BENGALS.

Skins (+1½) at Dolphins (33): Washington continues to implement the Joe Gibbs system while Miami continues to adjust to the losses of RB Ricky Williams and WR David Boston. Both teams have QB battles in camp and are deep at the position. Miami should show offensive improvement from last week’s showing against Jacksonville. DOLPHINS.

Jets (+4) at Colts (39): Both teams are set at most offensive positions and need to improve their defenses. The Jets have performed well (9-5 ATS) under coach Herman Edwards in preseason and should take a few more chances on big plays. Receivers are their major need on offense. JETS.

Saints (NL) at Packers: Both teams are more developed on offense than defense and each is seeking depth at RB behind a pair of stars in Ahman Green (Green Bay) and Deuce McAllister (New Orleans). Backup QB is also a position that needs work so we should be entertained. OVER.

49ers (+3½) at Bears (35): The 49ers have major problems on both sides of the ball. The Bears are still getting familiar with the new coaching staff and figure to show improvement. BEARS.

Cowboys (+1) at Raiders (35½): The Boys were blanked at Houston last week. This gives coach Bill Parcells the ammunition to work his players hard during the week and require the starters to see more game time. Oakland was plagued by penalties in edging the 49ers and needs to focus on more disciplined play. That often means conservative play calling. DALLAS.

Chargers (+3) at Cards (34½): Arizona continues to be plagued by injuries to key personnel. The Cards have won the last three preseason games against the Chargers, now 3-6 ATS under coach Marty Schottenheimer. A chance for Arizona to hopefully generate some optimism among fans, so expect a good effort. ARIZONA.

Broncos (NL) at Seahawks: Denver will be a popular play following a pair of losses in two preseason games. Seattle played Monday night at Green Bay and has a shortened week of practice. Look for Denver to be sharper on offense, which places value to the total. OVER.

Monday, Aug. 23

Rams (+4) at Chiefs (40): Could this be a preview of Super Bowl XXXIX? Both teams are favored to make the playoffs and contend for the title. Each features wide open offenses and that should translate to the plays called for the backups and starters. Plenty of passes and opportunities for big penalties as teams get accustomed to the new rules protecting receivers. OVER.