What bettors need to know: NFL preseason Week 4 (Wednesday)
New England Patriots vs. New York Giants (+2, 41)
We wrote last week that the Pats are more concerned with evaluating new players than wins right now. So it’s tough to say how much Bill Belichick is going to play the starters on Thursday after the Pats saw some nice performances out of backups like QB Ryan Mallett and a number of others on the D-line. The Pats haven’t covered a spread yet in the preseason (0-3) but don’t expect that to keep Belichick up at night.
Tom Coughlin likes to play his first string into the third quarter by this point in the preseason, but he might take a different approach Thursday. Coughlin pulled his starters at halftime last week in a 20-17 loss to the Bears due to some key injuries. He may take a cautious approach this week, though he has promised some snaps to star receiver Hakim Nicks, who appears fully healed from a broken foot in the spring. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Redskins (-4, 40)
This might be an even tighter turnaround for the Bucs than for the Redskins, even though they had an extra day to prepare. Tampa Bay had to cancel its Monday practice due to Hurricane Isaac and the team travels Tuesday to Washington. New head coach Greg Schiano is trying to instill a sense of urgency with his team, which we saw with a number of blitzes and pressure defenses in a win over the Pats on Friday. With that in mind it’s possible we may see the first team play a bit more than with other squads on Thursday.
Washington head coach Mike Shanahan appears to be shutting things down after giving his first team plenty of time through the first three preseason games. Kirk Cousins will start at QB in place of RG3 and though Shanahan won’t say for how long, Cousins said on Monday he’ll be in for about a half. The first team sounds like it’s starting to prepare for Week 1 against the Saints after a strong 30-17 win over the Colts last week. Miami at Dallas (-2.5, 37)
The Dolphins are 0-3 straight up and against the spread in a preseason that’s been a mess so far. This week appears no different after starting left tackle Jake Long suffered a sprained MCL in practice that will likely keep him out a few weeks. Cornerback Vontae Davis was traded this week in a move that shocked some in the Miami locker room and it leaves the secondary with question marks. Ryan Tannehill will start at QB but some wonder if that’s a good move with the rookie slated to start in Week 1.
The Cowboys are coming off what the team felt was its best performance of the preseason in a 20-19 win over the Rams as 5.5-point faves. It was so good that most of the starters won’t play Wednesday against the Dolphins.