We've got six games on tap to kick off Week 1 of the 2015 NFL preseason, and we've got our football picks for all six of Thursday's matchups against the spread.
It's great to be back in the saddle again. Sure, exhibition football isn't quite as exciting as the “real” thing, but it still feels good to be here at the home office, delving into all the teams and players and stats. We've already made some NFL picks for Week 1 of the 2015 preseason; some interesting things have happened since then, so let's revisit those picks and crank out some freshies as we carpet-bomb all six of Thursday's games against the spread.
New Orleans vs. Baltimore (7:30 p.m. ET)
Here's a tricky situation. Saints head coach Sean Payton is 19-12-2 ATS lifetime in exhibition play, while Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is 17-11 ATS. Both guys like to come out firing in the preseason, too: Payton is 7-2 ATS in Week 1, Harbaugh is 6-1 ATS. Make your bet small for this one whichever team you pick, but we'll go with the Ravens as the home side.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Ravens –3 (–109) at Matchbook
Green Bay vs New England (7:30 p.m. ET)
We've already recommended the Patriots for this pick, based primarily on the Week 1 gap between Pats coach Bill Belichick (9-4-2 ATS) and Packers coach Mike McCarthy (2-7 ATS). Our consensus reports at press time show 58 percent support for New England after a near-unanimous burst in early betting.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Patriots –3 (+100) at Bovada
N.Y. Jets vs. Detroit (7:30 p.m. ET)
Oh dear. Looks like Jets QB Geno Smith got socked in the jaw by one of his (now former) teammates. That means Ryan Fitzpatrick will start Thursday, but it also means we're likely to see more of rookies Bryce Petty and Jake Heaps. That throws a bit of a monkey wrench into our original plan. Dan Orlovksy looks pretty good all of a sudden.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Lions –3.5 at Heritage
Miami vs. Chicago (8:00 p.m. ET)
Open up the vault, Jeeves: Miami head coach Joe Philbin is 3-9 ATS in the preseason. New Bears coach John Fox isn't all that great himself at 24-27 ATS, but he's got a new team looking to make a fresh start at home, and Chicago is underrated after injuries and infighting ruined their 2014 campaign.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Bears –1 at WagerWeb
Washington vs. Cleveland (8:00 p.m. ET)
Well, at least this matchup won't look all that different as an exhibition game than it would during the regular season. We've got a couple of second-year head coaches going at it; Jay Gruden (Washington) and Mike Pettine (Cleveland) each went 2-2 ATS last year, but the Browns got paid in Week 2 when they lost 24-23 to Washington as 2-point road dogs.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Browns –2 (–108) at Pinnacle
Dallas vs. San Diego (10:00 p.m. ET)
The Cowboys don't need this exhibition nonsense. Jason Garrett is 5-11 ATS in these games, while the Chargers are 3-4-1 ATS under Mike McCoy. San Diego crushed Dallas 27-7 in Week 1 last year as a 3.5-point home fave. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Chargers –3.5 (–105) at Jazz