Wednesday, August 10, 2011

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Cincinnati Bengals vs Detroit Lions: DET -4

In a normal preseason year taking DET in this spot would be a questionable decision.  Teams with new skill players and new coaching staffs like to build a strong, winning culture in the preseason.  However, in week 1 of the 2011 preseason we must balance new vs time.

CIN haven't had nearly as much time as they would like with their roster.  There is continuity on defense (which is good for the preseason), but the offense is so far behind that Friday's game against DET is going to look like a nasty train wreck.  All reports indicate that Lewis is planning on giving Dalton extra reps with the first team to get him more acclimated with the WCO.   Jay Gruden knows how to simply things, but keep in mind we are talking about a rookie who didn't see any offseason OTAs.  When tested with some Mike Zimmer blitzes, Dalton's head was spinning.  Gradkowski offers some credibility as his backup, but he hasn't look good in camp thus far.  Jordan Palmer is only receiving about 10-15% of the reps in practice.  Lewis even stated that LeFevour will see time at QB. 

DET had a setback when their lost their rookie RB Leshoure to an injury, but they didn't waste anytime bringing in replacements.  Harrison and Bell might not see much time (if any) on Friday, but the RB position isn't what's going to make or break the result of this game.  DET have the luxury of bringing established stability to week 1 of the preseason with the combination of wanting to improve a young roster.  They have a great QB rotation with Stafford, Hill, and Stanton, so moving the ball down the field and scoring some points shouldn't be a problem vs CIN.

Schwartz has a very good preseason record while Lewis has remained average.  CIN has the greater motivation, but it's unlikely they will see any improvements or results until later in the preseason.  Prediction: Bank DET -4.

UPDATE: Line movement has DET down to -3 if you shop around, so if you can grab this number that's a bonus.  A ton of people jumped on CIN +5 when the lines opened and now the majority are on DET.  A lot of sharps try to position themselves for middles in the preseason.


Miami Dolphins vs Atlanta Falcons: ATL -2

Tony Sparano has a sparkling 3-0 record as an underdog in the preseason and a 5-1 record against the spread on the road.  However, he recently came out and said that they are treating their game vs ATL as a scrimmage rather than a game.  In fact, they won't even be game-planning for ATL whatsoever.

Ok so this isn't breaking news.  Most teams will be treating their opening preseason game like a scrimmage, but MIA are putting an exclamation point on it.  Henne has been struggling in camp thus far and they signed Matt Moore to back him up.  Moore has only been one of the worst QB's in NFL history.  Granted, Chris Redman isn't exactly a pro-bowler himself, but he won't have to learn a new offense like the MIA QB's do.

This won't be a pretty game by any means, but I'll be shocked if MIA can put enough together to come out with a win on Friday.  Prediction: Bank ATL -2.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Kansas City Chiefs: TB -2.5

TB is a young team and Morris doesn't have a lot of preseason history under his belt, but KC have almost every preseason trend working against them.  Over the last four years they are 2-15 ATS.  Under Haley they are 0-3-1 ATS at home, 0-5 ATS as an underdog, 1-7 straight up, and 0-2 in the first week of preaseason.

As I read the press clippings and scan the newswires nothing looks like its about to change in KC this year.  Haley has been very public about the challenges of the post-lockout training camp.  He is more concerned about his young guys knowing the plays rather than putting points on the board.  The QB situation is pretty bleak.  Palko is the number 2 behind Cassel, but not many people expect him to have that position to start the season.  He's been cut by more teams than I can count in his short career.  The number 3 is a guy named Ricky Stanzi--a 5th round pick out of Iowa.  If anything happens to Cassel, KC's season will go up in flames.

For TB, Josh Freeman is having a home-coming of sorts as he grew up a huge Chiefs fan.   Morris has said that he wants him in there longer than usual and it's possible he even plays into the 2nd quarter.  The first team offensive line will also stay in as long as Freeman does, so protection break-downs should be kept to a minimum going up against KC's 2nd string skeleton-crew.  They are also very high on Josh Johnson's progress as a backup.  I like these guys to have a lead going into the 4th quarter and it should be enough to ward off any potential comeback by KC's 3rd string rejects.  Prediction: Bank TB -2.5.