It's never too early for injuries to mess up someone's season. Make sure you take a tour of the sick bay before making any decisions about Thursday night's football picks.
If a player gets hurt during the preseason, does anyone hear him scream? We've still got nearly a month to go before the regular season, but the NFL's injured list is already filling up, as it does every year. You don't even need to have a game anymore – people are more than willing to injure each other in practice.
Three of the four teams on Thursday's Week 2 preseason slate have been battered and fried to a golden brown. These injuries will have minimal impact on the football odds, partly because the market is paying less attention, and partly because each team will be rolling out three or four lines instead of keeping the starters in. But the impact on our NFL picks is too significant to overlook.
Detroit at Washington (7:30 p.m. ET)
The Lions have it relatively easy. They're missing two key starters in DT Haloti Ngata (hamstring) and RB Joique Bell (knee), and their offensive line depth took a hit when center Darren Keyton blew out his knee in last week's 23-3 win over the New York Jets (+4 away). Otherwise, it's business as usual for the Lions, who appear to be well-tuned coming out of training camp.
Washington also got the win last week, 20-17 over the Cleveland Browns (PK at home). But starting TE Niles Paul suffered a broken ankle; he's out for the season, joining fellow TE Logan Paulsen (turf toe) on injured reserve. TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) has also been ruled out for Thursday's game. There are other injury concerns on offense, but tight end is a train wreck right now.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Lions +2.5 (–106) at Pinnacle
Buffalo at Cleveland (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Speaking of messed-up offenses (and teams fighting in practice), both the Bills and Browns have been getting tenderized all summer long. Buffalo' situation at running back continues to deteriorate; LeSean McCoy pulled his left hammy during Tuesday's practice and won't be back until the regular season. Also out of commission: Fred Jackson (hamstring), Anthony Dixon (calf) and Karlos Williams (undisclosed).
Cleveland's list of walking wounded grew on Tuesday when QB-turned-WR Terrelle Pryor aggravated his hamstring injury, leaving him questionable to face the Bills. WR Dwayne Bowe has his own hamstring issues, and back-up QB Connor Shaw is our indefinitely with a broken thumb. However, the Browns still have depth at quarterback with Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel and Thad Lewis, so we're not too worried about their preseason situation.
Bills coach Rex Ryan is now 11-14 ATS lifetime in exhibition games after losing 25-24 to the Carolina Panthers (+3 away) in Week 1. All these running back injuries play against Ryan's preferred style, and his defense was taken down a notch on Monday when LB Ty Powell was lost for the season with a torn ACL. We'll put Cleveland in our football picks this time.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Browns –3 (–105) at WagerWeb