Stars vs second string showdowns in Week 3, and today's NFL preseason odds and analysis

Aug 25, 2018 |

There are NFL odds for seven Week 3 preseason games on the football betting board Saturday. We size up some of these contests, their pointspreads and totals, and deliver the need-to-know notes for the exhibition tilts, including a matchup between one team resting its stars and another planning a regular-season rehearsal. 

Bears to rest starters

Chicago opened at -1 and got as far as -2 before Bears coach Matt Nagy informed his team on Friday that most of his starters, including quarterback Mitch Trubisky, won’t play in Week 3. That news swung the line five points to make the Chiefs 3-point favorites. 

Meanwhile, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid has said that his starters will play into the third quarter. That means football bettors will see a lot of exciting new Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, as he tries to improve on his 8-for-12, 138-yard passing performance in last week’s win over Atlanta. Look for the Chiefs to cover the first half. 

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Total trending down in Jacksonville

Atlanta visits Jacksonville in a game that opened with a total of 42 and has now been bet down to 39 points. This is likely due to a couple of reasons: First, the Falcons have gone Under in 18 of the 24 games (preseason, regular season and playoffs) since Steve Sarkisian became offensive coordinator. That includes both games so far this preseason. Second, Julio Jones and DeVonta Freeman won’t play as the Falcons coaching staff has decided its top-two offensive playmakers don’t need to take a snap this preseason. 

Jacksonville’s stellar defense looked great last week, holding the Vikings to 10 points in Minnesota — and that was without regulars Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler. Both will return from suspension this week. The Under still looks strong, even at 39. 

Brees to see action

Drew Brees is expected to make his preseason debut against the Chargers. He’ll be joined by most of the Saints’ starting lineup, including suspended running back Mark Ingram who could get extra touches as he can’t play a regular-season game until Week 5. Bettors, however, shouldn’t forget about the New Orleans defense - a unit that finished seventh in yards against per game last season and then added defensive end Marcus Davenport with the 14th pick of the draft. 

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has said that his starters will play most of the first half, though they might decide to be a little passive on offense. Philip Rivers looked sharp against Seattle last week - going 6 for 7 for 62 yards - and the Chargers have suffered too many devastating preseason injuries this summer. The total is set at 43.5 points and the Under looks like a nice play. 

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No Goff, Gurley for Rams

The Rams opened as 2.5-point favorites, but the line quickly swung in the opposite direction after coach Sean McVay announced that tackle Andrew Whitworth, center John Sullivan and running back Todd Gurley wouldn’t play against Houston. McVay was also non-committal about the availability of No. 1 quarterback Jared Goff. 

Meanwhile, Texans coach Bill O’Brien said this week that he thinks the third preseason game is important and that his healthy players will play. That could include defensive monsters JJ Watt and JaDeveon Clowney. Both have looked good in practice but nothing has been confirmed for Saturday. Quarterback DeShaun Watson has also looked sharp as he returns from last year’s season-ending knee injury, going 5 for 8 for 73 yards and a touchdown against San Francisco last week. Take Houston and the first-half spread. 

Luck looks for consistency

Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck hasn’t played a regular season game in over 500 days, and you could tell last week, as he went 6 for 13 for only 50 yards while throwing an interception. It was a step in the wrong direction after going 6 for 9 for 64 yards in preseason Week 1. The Colts will likely throw early and often as they try to get their franchise man back into form. 

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan said that his standard philosophy is to keep starters on the field for the first half in preseason Week 3. That doesn’t include top running backs Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida, however, as they’re both out with injuries. That leaves Alfred Morris as the starter. Don’t expect him to do much, which will force Jimmy Garoppolo to throw a lot if the Niners want to move the chains. The Over in the first half could be a smart play as it looks like there will be lots of throws early. 

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