NFL Picks: Ready For Preseason? Jags & Ravens Offer Betting Value In Week 1

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jay Pryce

Monday, August 8, 2016 6:37 PM GMT

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens offer value in Week 1 of the NFL preseason. Check out our NFL picks for analysis here.

Bettors will have to wait a couple more days to get their first taste of 2016-17 NFL live action after the league unceremoniously canceled the Hall of Fame game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night due to unsafe field conditions. All teams will be in action in the coming week, and there are plenty of angles worth considering if wagering the preseason openers. Here are a couple of NFL pick that present some value on the NFL odds board:

 

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets
GM Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley have the Jaguars headed in the right direction. For one, they revamped a defense that gave up the second most points per game (28.0) in the NFL last season, picking up Prince Amukamara, safety Tashaun Gipson, defensive lineman Malik Jackson, and top draft picks linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. These new members should see plenty of playing time in the first preseason game as they work out the kinks in Bradley’s free-flowing defensive scheme.

The offense is what has the Florida port city abuzz, though. Quarterback Blake Bortles enters his third year as starter, coming off a breakout season where he tossed for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns on 355-for-606 passes. Most intriguing is that it is his second year in coordinator Greg Olson’s offense. If one of the worst O-lines in football over the last couple of seasons can improve and stay healthy, watch out.

Bradley is just 4-8 SU in the preseason, but two of those wins came in Week 1. He tends to play his first-team deep into the first quarter in the opener, taking and holding the lead against the Steelers and the Buccaneers in his last two games. Bortles tossed for over 100 yards in each. Quality depth at the skills positions is a bonus, too, particularly in the second half. With T.J Yeldon, Denard Robinson, and Jonas Gray in support of Chris Ivory in the backfield, and a host of veteran targets coming out of a two-tight end system, expect the Jags to jump on a likely conservative Todd Bowles-led Jets team and never look back.

Free MLB Pick: Jaguars +115
Best Line Offered: at SportsInteraction

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Carolina Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Familiarity is a good thing in Week 1 of the preseason, particularly in “system” teams like the Ravens.  Players tend to make less errors and mental mistakes associated with their first live test against opponents. Coach John Harbaugh is 7-1 SU in the preseason opener. In addition, this is the first campaign since the 2009-10 season that the Ravens enter the year with no changes at the coordinator positions, as Dean Pees and Marc Trestman are back captaining the defense and offense. However, each unit is expected to incorporate new schemes during the preseason.

Going 5-11 last year, the Ravens defense struggled mightily early on, gifting big play after big play. They improved remarkably late, owning the second-best overall unit in the league and best pass defense after Week 8—they allowed just 182.6 yards per game in their final eight contests. Less man-to-man coverage and more blitzing was the catalyst. Don't expect the momentum to carry over in this one. It’s a gentleman’s agreement to hold off on exotic or all-out blitz packages in August, so the unit may prove porous once again versus the Panthers.

Offensively, the Ravens posted 23, 30, 44, and 31 points in their last four preseason openers. Franchise quarterback Joe Flacco, coming off knee surgery, will likely sit out, and bettors will see a heavy dose of Ryan Mallet and journeyman Josh Johnson under center. Each carry plenty of baggage, particularly in their ability to read the game and their mental and emotional approach, but they also own first-team experience. Trestman, known as the “quarterback whisperer” throughout the NFL, will look to instill confidence in each early on and have a solid game plan drawn up. Moreover, the run game, an outside-zone scheme, is a perfect plug-and-play method that will exploit defenders still searching to get into game shape. The Ravens should put up some points against the stout Panthers D, helping to push the score over the total



Free MLB Pick: OVER 36.5 -107
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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