NFL Betting: What we learned from Preseason Week 2

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, August 16, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Preseason games do not count, but that does not mean we cannot learn more about NFL teams. Here are some notes on Preseason Week 2 that may teach us something about betting at our Top Sportsbooks through the regular year.

We are in the midst of the second week of the NFL Preseason, and while these contests obviously do not count, that does not mean that we cannot take away valuable lessons from each game that will help us with our NFL picks once the regular season begins.

To that end, we will attempt to take away as much as possible from the preseason and present our thoughts here weekly right up until the official NFL opener when the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens visit Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, September 5th.

There were just four games played on Thursday night of Preseason Week 2, but as usual there was something to be learned about the teams in every single game. Here are some thoughts on those eight teams that were on the gridiron so far this week based primarily on their performances, with of course some off-the-field judgments also thrown in.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons lost 27-23 to the Baltimore Ravens, but the news was all good for their huge off-season acquisition Steven Jackson. After looking sluggish in his Atlanta debut in the preseason opener, Jackson ran with authority while rushing for 42 yards on eight carries, displaying a quickness that Falcon fans are not used to seeing after watching the plodding Michael Turner the last couple of years. He also caught a pass for 13 yards and just may be the missing ingredient needed for the Falcons to become legitimate Super Bowl threats. Now wide receiver Roddy White did injure his ankle in the loss, but the injury turned out to be your garden variety low-ankle sprain and not the dreaded high ankle sprain, so there is nothing to be alarmed about there.

Baltimore Ravens: John Harbaugh has been one of the winningest preseason coaches in the NFL since becoming the Baltimore coach, and the Super Bowl Champion Ravens improved to 2-0 this preseason by edging the Falcons 27-23. However, not all the news was good for the Ravens. For the second week in a row, Joe Flacco did not play as well as his numbers. The stat sheet says Flacco completed 7-of-9 passes for 118 yards, but 77 of those yards came on a medium pass to Torrey Smith where the receiver did the rest, and Flacco continues to force throws into double coverage. But the biggest concern for Baltimore has been the poor play of the offensive line. For the second straight week Ray Rice did practically nothing, finishing with 10 rushing yards on eight carries. Then again, the line gave Rice nowhere to go.

Carolina Panthers: The starting offense for the Panthers has been brutal in the first two preseason games as Carolina could not muster a touchdown in a lackluster 14-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The first-team offense has played eight series in the first two games and it has produced just one touchdown, and furthermore the Panthers needed only 18 yards to score that touchdown after a Chicago turnover in the preseason opener gave Carolina great field position. Cam Newton was lousy again in Week 2, missing several open receivers while completing just 8-of-17 passes for 112 yards. Also, what seems more and more apparent right now is that veteran DeAngelo Williams will be the Panthers’ feature running back to start the season as Jonathan Stewart simply cannot get healthy enough to see the field. Williams rushed for 39 yards on 12 carries vs. Philadelphia.

Chicago Bears: The Bears beat the San Diego Chargers 33-28 and the star of the game may have been the unheralded Michael Ford, an LSU product that returned a kick-off 100 yards while breaking three tackles along the way, and he also added 28 rushing yards and caught two passes. Can Ford possibly supplant the great Devin Hester as Chicago’s return man? Regardless, he also has value as a third running back right now with Armando Allen nursing a hamstring. Speaking of running backs, starter Matt Forte looked great rushing for 74 yards on eight carries, and backup Michael Bush added 37 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. Quarterback Jay Cutler completed four of his five passes for 38 yards, targeting Brandon Marshall on all five attempts with the duo hooking up for a touchdown.

Cleveland Browns: There is a thread by the poster iifold on SBR Forum entitled “Brandon Weeden is better than you think he is”, and Weeden certainly seems to be flourishing under the tutelage of Norv Turner, who is a better offensive coordinator than he is a head coach. Weeden completed 8-of-12 passes for 117 yards in a 24-6 win over the Detroit Lions, and this is on the heels of completing 10-of-13 passes for 112 yards last week. Yet, new head coach Rob Chudzinski has refused to name Weeden as the starting quarterback, although that is probably simple posturing as we just do not see Jason Campbell beating Weeden out at this point. On a negative note, running back Dion Lewis suffered a broken leg and will need surgery, leaving the back up running back position behind Trent Richardson up in the air with Montario Hardesty also out right now after having his knee scoped.

Detroit Lions: The Lions played without Calvin Johnson vs. the Browns, but the flip side of that is that it gave the other wide receivers a chance to shine with competition going on for the number two receiver position opposite of Megatron. Unfortunately, none of the receivers stood up in an ugly 24-6 loss in Cleveland. The leading candidates are considered to be Nate Burleson and Patrick Edwards, but Burleson did not catch a pass vs. the Browns while being targeted twice after catching just one pass last week, while Edwards had only three receptions for a measly 10 yards. Furthermore, new running back Reggie Bush rushed for only 15 yards on eight carries. However, he did have five catches for 44 yards and he should continue to catch a lot of passes out of the backfield with the other receivers struggling and defenses concentrating on Johnson.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles gave Chip Kelly got his first win as an NFL head coach with a 14-9 triumph over Carolina. Despite the fact that it was a low scoring game, the Philadelphia quarterback battle is a good one as Nick Foles and Michael Vick both played well, except for an end zone interception by Foles on a forced throw. Foles finished 6-for-8 for 53 yards and to his credit, he shook off the aforementioned interception to lead the Eagles to a touchdown on the following drive. Vick probably won the battle on this night though as he was virtually perfect, completing 9-of-10 passes for 105 yards, and the only pass he did not complete was a Hail Mary on the final play of the first half. Also noteworthy was the rib injury that knocked out the always fragile running back Felix Jones. Considering that fellow running back Chris Polk has looked great and may beat out Bryce Brown for the backup running back job, Jones’s injury could be the death blow to his making the team.

San Diego Chargers: We mentioned last week that Charger quarterback Philip Rivers could have a nice comeback season now that the play calls get to him faster without a middle man so he has more time to assess the defense, but that all goes out the window if the offensive line cannot pass protect. Rivers was sacked three times in a shade over a quarter of a 33-28 loss to the Bears, and after looking good last week, he finished only 5-for-9 for 50 yards in Week 2 with an interception. On a positive note, running back Ryan Mathews continued his excellent preseason by rushing for 45 yards on nine carries. The Chargers may lean on Mathews more heavily this season due to their pass protection issues, but he will need to stay healthy, which he has never been able to do.

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