NFL preseason primer: Saturday game betting breakdown

Aug 16, 2013 |
NFL preseason primer: Saturday game betting breakdown
The Cardinals are 3-point home faves versus Dallas Saturday.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
The Cardinals are 3-point home faves versus Dallas Saturday.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
A game-by-game look from the bettor's perspective of all of Saturday's NFL preseason games.

Dallas at Arizona (-3, 41) 

This will be the Cowboys' third game of the preseason. After pulling off an outright win in the Hall of Fame Game, they lost last week in Oakland, 19-17, on a short week. After sitting out the HOF Game, QB Tony Romo played two series against the Raiders, one of them resulting in a field goal. However that drive also started at the Oakland 16. Romo was actually better on the second drive, which resulted in a blocked field goal. Dallas' special teams were not good overall in the loss.

One of the big storylines in Cardinals camp right now is the play of rookie Tyrann Mathieu. The "Honey Badger" will get his 1st start Saturday afternoon after impressing teammates and coaches alike in practice. Arizona won its preseason opener, shutting out Green Bay 17-0. As you can probably guess, the defense was quite impressive as it forced a fumble, had one interception and three sacks. The kicking game was not good as the team was just 1-for-4 on field goal attempts.

Tennessee at Cincinnati (-2.5, 41)

The Titans lost last week at home to the Redskins, 22-21. That said, they did lead 14-7 at the end of the first quarter and rushed for 92 yards, 58 of them coming on a Chris Johnson touchdown. QB Jake Locker looked okay, completing 7 of 11 passes for 58 yards, but was sacked twice and the first team offense went three and out on the opening drive. He played most of the first half last week and should do so again here.

Locally, this game will be blacked out as it did not sell out. That's too bad because the Bengals look like they could be a very good team in 2013. They won the preseason opener 34-10 at Atlanta. I really like rookie running back Giovanni Bernard, who will split time with incumbent Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Josh Johnson and John Skelton gave the team strong QB play last week behind starter Andy Dalton.

Jacksonville at NY Jets (-2.5, 38.5)

The prognostications for both of these teams is rather bleak in 2013. The big story here is that for a second straight week, the Jets will go with Mark Sanchez as the starter after head coach Rex Ryan called Geno Smith's performance in 11 on 11 drills Wednesday "brutal". Sanchez was his usual self last week, throwing a pick-six and a touchdown pass. Smith went 6-of-7 for 47 yards, but did not lead any scoring drives in the team's 26-17 loss at Detroit.

Jacksonville was clobbered 27-3 last week at home by Miami in new head coach Gus Bradley's debut. Blaine Gabbert looked as awful as ever, completing only five passes for 19 yards, though his teammates offered little assistance, dropping two passes. Chad Henne completed 8 of 11 passes for 87 yards and looked better. Receiver Justin Blackmon was taken to the locker room following an on the field outburst.

Miami at Houston (-3, 41)

This will be the third preseason game for the Dolphins, who lost the Hall of Fame Game, but came back and clobbered the Jaguars last week. After taking just 10 snaps in the opener, QB Ryan Tannehill was more effective against Jacksonville, completing five of nine passes and one touchdown. Last week was Miami's first ever preseason win in six tries under head coach Joe Philbin. The depth chart is expected to be the exact same as last week.

Houston won its preseason opener last week on the road, beating Minnesota 27-13. Rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins made an exciting touchdown grab and has the coaching staff excited that they finally may have found the compliment to Andre Johnson. A number of Texans starters did not play last week, including RB Arian Foster, DE JJ Watt, LB Brian Cushing, S Ed Reed and Johnson. Cushing will play here for sure. There is a battle for the backup QB job between TJ Yates and Case Keenum. Keenum will play second string Saturday.

Green Bay at St. Louis (-4.5, 40)

After being shutout at home in their opener, 17-0 by the Cardinals, the Packers will be looking to bounce back this week. A number of players (17 in all!) did not dress last week due to injury. QB Aaron Rodgers played one series and led his team down to the goal line where they could not punch it in. Backup Graham Harrell saw most of the work last week.

St. Louis was openly mocked by Browns color commentator Bernie Kosar last week, but actually had a chance to tie the game late. Still though, their starters were outscored 17-0. A couple key coaching trends here as Packers coach Mike McCarthy is 20-9 Over in all preseason games while Rams coach Jeff Fisher is 3-0 ATS all-time in the preseason with at least eight days rest.

Denver at Seattle (-4.5, 41)

I'm tempted to call this a "Super Bowl Preview" as right now if you made me pick, these would be my predicted AFC and NFC Champs. Both teams won last week on the road against a division foe of the other. Seattle pulled away from San Diego late, winning 31-10, while Denver won an ugly 10-6 game at San Francisco. 

I would not expect Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson to play much here. Manning played just one series last week. The Broncos were fortunate to win the game as they finished with a +4 edge in turnovers.

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