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Monday, August 15, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 19, 2011

UPDATE #3: The line for BAL has moved to -6.5 and in some places -7. There are also signs that WSH is moving to -6.  The juice on ATL has gone to -120. 

UPDATE #4: DET/CLE game added to the card. 

UPDATE#5: The line for the WSH game has come back down to -4.5.  Shop around for the best price.

For latest odds check out one of my trusted sportsbooks - 5 Dimes, Bodog or Intertops.

Washington Redskins vs Indianapolis Colts: WSH -4.5

Giving up 4.5 points on the road in the preseason is a lot, but when you consider how profitable it has been to fade IND over the years 4.5 seems like a gift.  Jim Caldwell is now 1-8 straight up and 2-6 as an underdog ATS.  In fact, there is a lot more going for WSH in this game other than having IND as an opponent. 

People love to bet on Mike Shanahan in the preseason.  Year after year he continues to improve his record ATS and there's little reason to think he'll stop now.  John Beck practiced yesterday and is expected to play on Friday.  Beck himself isn't much to get excited about, but what is important is that he'll drive a quarterback competition to it's maximum.  He and Grossman will want to impress his coaches and teammates so points will be a high priority. IND have questionable depth in their secondary, so that is a matchup I like. Outside of Moss, WR remains a question mark, but look for more competition on the outside as well as hard running from Tim Hightower.  Cooley remains out, but it won't matter much.  On defense, WSH is looking to improve and actually have some nice pieces to work with on this side of the ball.  They'll give Painter and Orlovsky all they can handle.  Fade the Colts until further notice. Prediction: Bank WSH -4.5.

Atlanta Falcons vs Jacksonville Jaguars: ATL +3

Mike Smith decided to give John Parker Wilson extra reps in week 1 and now he's out with a concussion.  Things were looking great for ATL up until that point, but a turnover and a kick return gave MIA the points they needed for the win.  I don't expect the same misfortune this time around now that Chris Redman is taking over 2nd team duties.  Smith's overall preseason record isn't great, but a closer look reveals he is 4-1 as an underdog and 5-1 on the road.  Both of those factors apply in week 2.

On the flip side, Del Rio is much worse at home and as a favorite than he is on the road and as a dog.  For JAX, Kampman and MJD remain on the sidelines and won't play on Friday and Session and Jennings have been held out of practice due to head injuries.  Garrard  and Lewis are expected to play, but as long as Gabbert is scheduled for a lot of playing time, I like this matchup.  Prediction: Bank ATL +3.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Baltimore Ravens: BAL -6

-6 is a high number to lay for the preseason, but when it comes to teams like IND and KC, it's not hard to pull the trigger.  Todd Haley is now 1-8 straight up, 0-2 in week 2, 0-6 ATS as dog, and 0-4 ATS on road.  Some wondered whether KC was in for a bounce-back week against BAL, but Todd Haley has already come out and confirmed that his approach won't change for Friday night's game.  Instead, he's focusing more on getting his team into "shape" and prepared for the regular season.  Every coach is handling the post-lockout world differently, and Haley is taking the slow cautious road.  To make matters worse, KC has one of the worst backup QB situations in the NFL.  

BAL wasn't exactly inspiring in their game vs PHI either.  They have considerable trouble on their offensive line (especially at LT) and the pass rush wasn't too great on the other side either.   Tyrod Taylor was inconsistent, but I like his athleticism and ability to make plays when things break down.  Yet, this play has more to do with fading KC than anything to do with BAL.  Prediction: Bank BAL -6.

Detroit Lions vs Cleveland Browns: DET +2.5, OVER 36.5

Two teams that made a splash in week 1 square off on Friday night and both have the ability to put up some points.   DET under Schwartz is 3-1 as an underdog, 7-2 straight up, and 6-1 ATS in his last 7.   Starters should get about a half and Johnson and Pettigrew are probable to play.  Harrison and Bell will also get more quality reps behind Best. The focus in camp this week has been installing more offense and putting points on the board.  This is not about to be a grinding knock-down drag-out game.  Stafford, Hill, and Stanton will be winging it and attacking a new defensive scheme. There have been a lot of defensive breakdowns around the league thus far, and you are seeing even more with teams implementing significant changes.  Last week CLE's first team defense struggled mightily against a pass-heavy offense.

Pat Shurmer is trying to get his own passing game caught up to speed which is why you saw them bomb it down field so many times against GB.  Expect McCoy to take it to the air again in week 2 as he's eager to solidify his spot as a starting QB.  He worked hard in the offseason to improve and he'll have an entire half of football to show his stuff.  McCoy will also get the chance to do it against a limping secondary--Houston and Wright are questionable with hamstring strains, although both have returned to practice and Wright would love to play against his former team. Wallace is an inconsistent QB, but he's more familiar with the WCO than McCoy or Jarrett so he should be good for a score or two.  CLE's last 7 preseason games have gone over the total and I believe that trend will continue.  Both of these teams believe they are on the rise, but I'm choosing sides and riding with DET.  Stability, QB depth, and a hungry defense should be enough to take care of a CLE team still trying to line up in the right position.  Prediction: Bank DET +2.5 and OVER 36.5.

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