NFL Betting: What we learned from Preseason Week 3

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, August 23, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

Preseason games do not count, but that does not mean we cannot learn more about NFL teams. Here are some notes on Preseason Week 3 that may teach us something about the regular year.

We have already entered the third week of the NFL Preseason, which is the week when most teams have their regular season dress rehearsals with the starters playing the longest of any exhibition game, and while these contests obviously still 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 continue to take away as much as possible from the preseason and present our thoughts here weekly right up until the official NFL opener which is now just two weeks away when the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens visit Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, September 5th.

There were just two games played on Thursday night of Preseason Week 3, but as usual there was something to be learned about all four of the teams involved. Both results were rather surprising too, with the Detroit Lions obliterating the New England Patriots 40-9 and the Carolina Panthers upsetting the aforementioned Ravens on the NFL Odds 34-27 on the road.

Here are some thoughts on those four teams that were in action Thursday based primarily on their performances, with of course some off-the-field judgments also thrown in.

Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore Coach John Harbaugh hates losing football games at any time, as he was 14-4 straight up in preseason since 2009 following a 2-0 start this year, so it was somewhat surprising that his Ravens lost a Week 3 game to a team that had been struggling as bad offensively as the Panthers did in their first two games. However, despite the fact that this game sailed ‘over’ the total, the offenses were really not that impressive. Quarterback Joe Flacco finished 18-of-24 for 169 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a Carolina touchdown. Ray Rice did finally find some running room after struggling in the first two games, running for 62 yards on 16 carries. Beyond that though, no other Raven offensive player stood out. The talk the entire off-season was Bernard Pierce playing an extended role this season and giving Rice some more breathers, but Pierce rushed for a grand total of seven yards on 10 carries. Just as significantly, Rice was allowed to score on a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter after Pierce often relieved him as the goal line back last year. As for the two veteran pass-catchers just signed this week, wide receiver Brandon Stokley caught all three balls thrown his way for 43 yards while Dallas Clark was held without a catch while being targeted twice. Torrey Smith will still be the number one receiver once the season starts, but he may not get much support, meaning that Rice could have a monster season with a ton of catches out of the backfield.

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers needed to improve offensively this week after their starters produced just one touchdown in eight drives over the first two games with the lone touchdown coming on a short 18-yard drive created by the defense, but it simply did not happen. Amazingly, Carolina did not score a single offensive touchdown and produced only 173 total yards in a game they won 34-27 over the Ravens! You read that correctly as Carolina scored three defensive touchdowns and another touchdown on a punt return by Ted Ginn Jr., while the offense accounted for only two field goals. Cam Newton did not look good for the third straight game as he completed 10-of-19 passes for just 99 yards, as the highlight of his evening was running for 20 yards on two carries. As bad as Newton looked, he accounted for 119 yards, meaning that everyone else managed a grand total of 54 yards! It was an ugly offensive performance all around despite the high scoring win, so what does Coach Ron Rivera do now? It might serve the starters well to play a little in Week 4 as it is obvious they are not grasping what their new offensive coordinator Mike Shula wants to do. On top of all this, it looks to the whole world like DeAngelo Williams will begin the season as the feature running back with Jonathan Stewart still injured, and he was abysmal in Week 3 rushing for just two yards on four carries. Do not be surprised if Carolina looks for running back help on the waiver wire before the season starts.

Detroit Lions: Detroit 40, New England 9. No, do not go out and load up on those Lions’ Super Bowl Futures based on the results of one preseason game, even if it was the Week 3 dress rehearsal. Besides, outside of when Reggie Bush was catching balls in space, not all of the Detroit news was positive. We stated last week that the biggest contribution by Bush this year will be as a receiver out of the backfield with opposing defense focusing solely on Calvin Johnson since the rest of the receivers are so suspect. Well, the Lions played without Megatron this week, and Bush end up leading the team in receptions and receiving yardage with five catches for 103 yards. But to really give you an idea of the state of Detroit’s peripheral wide receivers right now, consider that the Lions’ top three leaders in receiving yards this game were Bush, fellow running back Joique Bell and tight end Joseph Fauria. None of the wide-outs stood out, so expect defenses to simply smother Calvin unless someone else emerges. Bush was disappointing as a runner though gaining a grand total of one yard on six carries! Bell, who was supposed to be more of a third down back because of his receiving skills, actually looked like the better runner rushing for 52 yards on just six carries, and we even had a Mikel Leshoure sighting as he had 32 rushing yards on six totes. Thus the dress rehearsal actually created more questions about the running game instead of defining each back’s role.

New England Patriots: So the Patriots lost a preseason game 40-9 to the Lions. Does that mean that some other team will beat them out for the AFC East title this year? Well, in a word, no as long as Tom Brady can walk. There were some highlights for the Patriots in the blowout loss, specifically the play of their young wide receivers with Danny Amendola sitting this game out. It looks like Kenbrell Thompkins will be the second wide receiver this year as he was targeted 12 times and finished with a nice eight catches for 116 yards. Fellow youngster Aaron Dobson caught all four passes thrown his way for 50 yards and he has been impressive throughout camp, but not quite as impressive as Thompkins and the fact that the latter had triple the targets in this game should give you an idea of where these receivers stand in the pecking order. At least Dobson has shown that he has great potential should an injury befell either Amendola or Thompkins. The New England lead running backs did not look good however as Stevan Ridley has just six yards on nine carries and Shane Vereen had six yards on four carries plus a two-yard loss on his only reception and a fumble. LeGarrette Blount actually led the Patriots in carries with 10, but he took a step backward after looking good all month previously, managing just 26 yards on this night.