Preseason Finale Picks on Cardinals-Broncos & Bengals-Colts

Jay Pryce

Thursday, August 31, 2017 12:50 PM UTC

Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 12:50 PM UTC

NFL teams get their final tuneup prior to the start of the regular season tonight. Our NFL Picks of the Day highlight two matchups with plenty of roster spots and opportunities up for grabs.


Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos

Broncos rookie free agent Kyle Sloter, the No. 3 quarterback this preseason, will start under center for head coach Vance Joseph. Sloter has plenty to prove as a roster spot is within grasp with backup Paxton Lynch expected to sit out several weeks after suffering a shoulder injury against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. Sloter, a Northern Colorado graduate, is an impressive 16 of 20 with 193 yards, 2 touchdowns and no picks this August.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians will rest his entire first team, but some roster spot talent will suit up briefly. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert, for example, will play a series or two before giving way to undrafted rookie Trevor Knight. Knight is likely to get cut but will use this opportunity to showcase his talents for a practice squad invite for some NFL team. The Texas A&M product has not adjusted well to the pros, tossing for 68 yards on 5 of 16 passes; his 45.8 QB rating ranks 10th lowest out of 112 passers during this exhibition period.

The primary position up for grabs for Arians is at punter. “It’ll come down to this game,” the head coach told reporters in reference to Matt Wile or Richie Leone earning the starting gig. Coach will be happy, if not pushing, for plenty of failed third-down conversions. The Broncos, meanwhile, have one or two cornerback and wide receiver positions available.

Arians is 3-1 SU in Week 4 of the preseason, but Knight doesn’t instill much confidence in this spot. Still, the Cards should put up some points. The Broncos played second-half scores of 14-10 and 13-14 in Weeks 1 and 2, the time many of tonight’s youngsters saw game action. A big play or two will push the score north of a 36 game total. Play the ‘over’ with a lean to Denver straight up for the picks of the day.

Free NFL Pick: 'Over' 36Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

Week 4 of the preseason is all about playing rookies, but veteran quarterback AJ McCarron may see a bit of time under center for Cincinnati after a so-so preseason. The one-time playoff participant has thrown 2 interceptions and no touchdowns on 20 of 36 passes this preseason. His timing is a bit off and decision-making inconsistent under offensive coordinator Ken Zampese. Jeff Driskel, a second-year pro out of Louisiana Tech, will take the most reps under center. Driskel is 12 of 18 with 143 passing yards an a score in limited action this August.

The Colts, meanwhile, will carry three quarterbacks on their final 53-man roster with star Andrew Luck still recuperating from offseason shoulder surgery. Scott Tolzien, favorite to be the Week 1 starter with Luck out, is going to get the surprise start tonight. Don’t expect too many snaps. Stephen Morris, clipping at Tolzien’s heels for the first team with a string of good performances, will get a few reps with Phillip Walker seeing the most action.

The feeling between both teams is there are many spots up for grabs tonight, making for a competitive contest. The Bengals' starting running back position is up for grabs with Jeremy Hill hurting to an ankle injury. Rookie Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard will get a few backfield touches to sift out that battle, while Tra Carson will see the lion’s share. Almost all the Colts’ youngsters enter feeling like they’re on the roster bubble. With new general manager Chris Ballard calling the shots, a host of preseason injuries and the fact the Colts own the league’s longest active streak (19) of signing an undrafted rookie for the regular season makes anything possible.

The Bengals are 16-9 SU all-time vs. the Colts in the preseason, winning 11 of the last 15 meetings. Look for head coach Marvin Lewis, carrying much greater depth, to eke out another victory in this I-74 rivalry. Bengals on the money line is the play. Shop around these top-rated online sportsbooks for the best value.

Free NFL Pick: Bengals +118Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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