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.

Marcus Mariota can’t even explain his historic touchdown catch

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A touchdown pass to … yourself?!

That’s exactly what happened to Titans QB Marcus Mariota in Tennessee’s incredible 22-21 Wild Card victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs were up 21-3 entering halftime and appeared to be well on their way to advancing to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, but then Mariota made history with one of the craziest plays you’ll ever see:

With the six-yard touchdown, Mariota became the first player in NFL history to record a passing and receiving TD in a playoff game.

NFL Wild Card Weekend betting lines reflect recent favorites trend

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Wild Card Weekend has been ruled by favored teams recently – on the field, if not on the board. Favored teams are 10-2 straight-up in wild card games over the last three seasons. At the sportsbooks – and this seems germane with the home teams each laying at least six points this weekend – favorites are a more modest 7-4-1 against the spread.

The 2017 playoffs saw home teams go 4-0 SU and ATS in wild card games. Eighteen of the last 28 wild card games have gone under the posted total, with one push.

The Kansas City Chiefs are listed as 9-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans with a 44-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in a Saturday matchup. The Chiefs are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven playoff games as a favorite, but QB Alex Smith has had a stronger second half of the season than Marcus Mariota, his Titans counterpart.

Tennessee, which is 5-1 ATS in its last six games against the Chiefs, could be compromised offensively if DeMarco Murray (knee) is unable to play and spell off team rushing leader Derrick Henry. The total has gone over in five of the Titans’ last seven games against the Chiefs.

The Los Angeles Rams are 6.5-point betting favorites against the Atlanta Falcons with a 48.5-point total in the late Saturday matchup. The Rams and first-time playoff QB Jared Goff are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games. However, Los Angeles, which lost its regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, is 5-0 SU in its last five games after a loss.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan, whose team is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 night games, will not have his optimal offensive line in front of him as LG Andy Levitre (triceps) is out for the season. The Rams defense, led by DT Aaron Donald, has the third-highest tally of interceptions. The total has gone under in the Falcons’ last five games.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are nine-point betting favorites against the Buffalo Bills with a 39.5-point total in a Sunday matchup between teams that had a combined 26-year playoff drought (since 1999 for the Bills; 2007 for the Jags). The visiting team is 5-1 ATS in the last six games of this matchup, but Buffalo will likely only stand a chance if RB LeSean McCoy (ankle sprain) is healthy enough to play; there is no way he will be 100 percent.

The Jaguars, who are only 4-13 SU in their last 17 home games against teams with winning records, must hope QB Blake Bortles has some recent regression out of his system. The total has gone over in the Bills’ last five games against the Jaguars.

And the New Orleans Saints are listed as seven-point favorites against the Carolina Panthers with a 48-point total in a late Sunday betting matchup. The Panthers and QB Cam Newton are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six tries against the NFC South rival Saints and also boast the NFL’s 28th-ranked passing attack while the Saints are fifth through the air (each team’s pass defense is right in the middle of the rankings).

New Orleans and veteran QB Drew Brees are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against divisional opponents, as well as 5-0 SU in their last five home playoff games. The total has gone over in six of the Panthers’ last seven games against the Saints. The total has also gone over in five of the Saints’ last six games in the wild card round.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.