More games in the preseason land on the "3" than in the regular season, so grabbing the hook or playing that number is even more imperative than usual. Luckily for us, bookmakers aren't as scared to move off of 3 like they are during the season.
To kickoff the 2011 slate of games, many coaches are openly talking about their reluctance to put any of their top players on the field at all. This means team depth and backup quarterbacks become even more important for week 1.
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Baltimore Ravens vs Philadelphia Eagles: PHI -3
When the lines opened BAL received a flood of action (70%). It's hard to blame them since PHI was favored by 3.5/4 points. Reid is 0-7 ATS in week 1 preseason at home and Harbaugh is 4-2 in week 1 on the road. Yet, when picking games it's vital to know when to ride a trend and when to ignore it. The action on BAL has dropped to 63% since Saturday.
This game is a time to ignore previous results and go with the information at hand. Reid has said that his 1st team starters will play a quarter and Young will take over to play the 2nd quarter with the 2nd stringers. Reid has said this before, but usually pulls the starters before this--especially when a key player takes a scary hit. Young is like a rookie when you consider his knowledge of the WCO, but he's still a legitimate QB in this league. The best news about the PHI QB situation is Mike Kafka. News out of PHI camp is that he's throwing much better this year than ever before. He's gotten stronger and now looks like an NFLer on the field. He won't be Joe Montana on Thursday night, but he's further along than Young in this system and should be able to put some points on the board in the 2nd half.
Harbaugh says his vets will only play a series or two and Tyrod Taylor will play 2 and a half quarters after that. It doesn't get any better with Hunter Cantwell as your #3.
Throw out the record books and ride PHI as the home-team favorite. Prediction: PHI -3.
Seattle Seahawks vs San Diego Chargers: SEA +3.5
SEA bring a much more enthusiastic and competitive vibe to the preseason opener. Jackson is slated to start, with Whitehurst backing him up. Neither player will want to go through the motions given the amount of scrutiny that will be placed on both of them. Whitehurst has even more motivation since Carroll has already named Jackson the regular season starter. Expect to see a lot of Josh Portis in the second half and there is a lot of buzz around camp that he could be a darkhorse QB of the future. He is blessed with a lot of natural ability and has a pretty good grasp on the base offensive scheme.
Underdogs getting more than 3 points in the 1st week of preseason are over 65% ATS. Prediction: SEA +3.5.
More predictions coming soon...