NFL Preseason Week 1: Patriots, Broncos Matchups Highlight Odds Slate

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After months of speculation about how big-name players would fare with new teams, the NFL preseason begins this week.

Thursday’s slate includes two matchups involving powerhouses with quarterback questions. With Jimmy Garoppolo getting some work in anticipation of replacing Tom Brady to start the season, the New England Patriots are listed as 3.5-point favorites at home against the New Orleans Saints at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Patriots are 6-3 straight-up and 5-4 against the spread as a home favorite in the preseason since 2009, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Early this week, the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos released a depth chart that had Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian listed as co-starters. The competition to replace Peyton Manning will probably play out for a few weeks yet, beginning with the Broncos’ opener against the Chicago Bears on Thursday.

The Bears are a 1.5-point favorite, but Denver is 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS in its last 10 preseason road games.

The Cleveland Browns, at least for now, are going with Robert Griffin III as their starting quarterback. The first look at RGIII in a Browns uniform will arrive Friday against the Green Bay Packers, who were scheduled to play in Sunday’s canceled Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

Cleveland is 4-6 SU and 4-5-1 ATS over its last 10 preseason road games. The Packers, who typically don’t play their starters very deep into preseason games, are 5-5 both SU and ATS in their last 10 home games in August.

The reconstituted Los Angeles Rams have Case Keenum listed as their No. 1 QB with top draft pick Jared Goff second on the depth chart for their game against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday. Los Angeles (formerly St. Louis) is listed as a three-point favorite against Dallas.

The Rams were 3-7 ATS in home preseason games in their last five seasons in St. Louis. The Cowboys have an identical 3-7 ATS mark in their last 10 preseason road matchups.

In the lone Sunday game, Brock Osweiler will make his debut for the Houston Texans, who are three-point road underdogs against the San Francisco 49ers. Osweiler joined Houston after taking a backseat to Manning in Denver for their playoff run.

San Francisco is listed as a favorite ahead of their first game under new coach Chip Kelly. While the 49ers are unlikely to show much of Kelly’s high-tempo offense, the game will offer some indication about the battle for the starting QB job between Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. The 49ers are 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS over their last 10 preseason home games.

WATCH: Seahawks’ Paul Richardson pulls in absurd touchdown catch against Lions

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It took until the first round of the playoffs, but we may finally have our winner for catch of the year.

On 4th and goal at the Lions’ 2, Russell Wilson lobbed up a pass to Paul Richardson, who was completely covered by Tavon Wilson.

Richardson stuck out his left hand and pulled in a miraculous grab to give Seattle the lead.

[Watch the rest of the second half from Seattle on NBC Sports Live]

Simply amazing.

 

Seahawks, Texans are the betting favorites for Saturday’s Wild Card games

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The Seattle Seahawks’ sporadic scoring output is something to consider when looking at the big point spread against the Detroit Lions. The Seahawks are listed as eight-point favorites against the Lions in their NFC wild card matchup set for Saturday at CenturyLink Field, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Seahawks are 7-0 straight-up in their last seven home games against teams from the Eastern Time Zone and the Lions are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games. However, Seattle scored 10 or fewer points four times at home this season, and none of those instances came against a premier defense.

The Lions, 9-7 SU and 8-8 ATS, are coming into the playoffs on a three-loss skid. One boon to the Lions’ chances is that the Seahawks, without free safety Earl Thomas, have been hopeless at stopping deep passes. Quarterback Matthew Stafford should be able to hit a few deep shots to the likes of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones in order to compensate for a nearly nonexistent running game. That could help the Lions, who are 0-8 SU in their last eight playoff games, make it interesting.

The Seahawks, 10-5-1 SU and 7-8-1 ATS, have never lost at home in the playoffs during the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era. One can reasonably expect they will find some of their familiar postseason form. Seattle’s pass protection and run blocking has been problematic, so there could be opportunities to disrupt Wilson’s timing. Otherwise, WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham could have big nights.

The total has gone under in eight of the Lions’ last 10 games. The total has gone over in five of the Seahawks’ last six games in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans are listed as four-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders in Saturday’s AFC wild card matchup.

The Raiders, 12-4 SU and 10-6 ATS, will have rookie third-stringer Connor Cook become the first NFL QB to get his first career start in the playoffs. With Cook playing instead of Derek Carr (broken fibula), Houston might not have to honor the deep pass threat and can thus commit to containing RB Latavius Murray and limiting the damage on short-range passes to WR Amari Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree.

The fact erratic Brock Osweiler is back in at QB might account for why the Texans, who are 9-7 SU and 6-9-1 ATS, are not a bigger favorite against a hobbled team. The Raiders simply haven’t stopped anyone when teams have schemed to slow down edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. If Osweiler can curb his tendency to be overaggressive and allow WR DeAndre Hopkins and RB Lamar Miller to have opportunities, the Texans should be able to move the ball steadily.

Keep in mind, though, that the visiting team has gone 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four editions of this matchup. The total has gone over in seven of the Raiders’ last 10 games.  The total has gone under in nine of the Texans’ last 12 games at home.