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Monday, August 22, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions: September 01, 2011

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

We finally come to the final week of the preseason. I might be adding a play or two on Wednesday or early Thursday, but for now I only have three plays for week 4.

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Jets: PHI -3

If you never bet against strong trends, I suggest you skip right ahead to the next pick.  Andy Reid is 11-12-1 ATS on the road, 11-18 ATS as a favorite, and a whopping 2-10 straight up in week 4.  Based on this I should be staying far, far away from this game.  Yet, it's one of my favorite games of the week.

Unlike years past, we now sit in the middle of the post-lockout world.  Opportunities to coach up new players have been few and far between.  Vince Young is still learning the first few pages of the complicated WCO playbook and he'll get the start in this game.  As you have seen this preseason it hasn't always been pretty when he's been out there, but he has made plays with his legs and he's not an NFL rookie.  He should be good for a score or two before he gives way to Mike Kafka.  And speaking of Kafka, he's been one of the more under-the-radar 3rd string QB's of the preseason.  He's seeing the field much better than last year and hasn't looked out of place.  I expect him to put up some points as he is slated to get extended playing time in this one.  Keep an eye out for Dion Lewis as the featured RB, too.  He's been making plays all preseason despite his miniature frame.

On defense, this is Juan Castillo's big chance to be a defensive coordinator in this league.  He's waited 11 years for the opportunity and he loves to coach.  He won't have the same caliber roster to work with, but you can be sure that he'll be using every play to hone his playcalling and improving the depth on the team.

As for the Jets, don't be surprised if you see the watered down version.  It's not very often that a team must play another game after such a quick turnaround.  Thanks to the hurricane, NY only get two days off before they suit it up again for their final preseason game.  Brunell has been ruled out which means Greg McElroy will get the start.  He's looked pretty good this preseason, but the cards are stacked against him in this game.  Prediction: Bank PHI -3.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington Redskins: WSH -7

7 points is a lot to lay for a preseason game, but when you consider the circumstances it doesn't seem so far-fetched. No defensive starters for TB will play any significant playing time in this game.  This is music to the ears of the WSH QB's.  Grossman and Beck are in the most competitive position battle of the preseason and Shanahan has stated that their starters will play up to a half of football in week 4.  When you consider that the guy who doesn't start is going to want to put up good numbers too, this play becomes a no-brainer.  A QB competition is always a big advantage in the preseason.  Did I mention that Shanahan has a winning record ATS in the preseason at home and as a favorite.  Oh yeah, he's also 10-3 in week 4.  Prediction: Bank WSH -7.

St Louis Rams @ Jacksonville Jaguars: STL +3.5

Right now places like 5 Dimes still have STL at +3.5, but if you can't get that I would still make this a play at +3.  This is another game where I'm going against conventional wisdom.  Jack Del Rio is 7-1 in week 4 action.  But keep in mind he is also average as a favorite and at home ATS.  In this specific matchup, JAX's starters aren't going to get a long look.  Del Rio has publicly said he's more concerned about keeping his guys healthy.

STL is taking a little bit different approach.  He says the starters could play "the entire first quarter....and more than a normal fourth preseason game."  Boosting our chances is the sudden competition for the backup QB spot.  AJ Feeley was considered a lock for the position but coach Spags said that Thad Lewis has made big strides in the system over the past couple weeks and will battle for the backup spot.  Whether this is real or just manufactured competition is beyond the point.  The only thing that matters is that it's on record and I expect these QB's to respond.  I'll gladly take the points and roll with the Rams.  Prediction: Bank STL +3.

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