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

Leave a comment

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.

Drew Brees, Le’Veon Bell Favorites in NFL Season Leader Props

Leave a comment

When it comes to betting props on NFL individual leaders, the tried-and-true works for picking a passing yards leader while rushing and receiving leaders are a little more random.

With training camps set to open in a matter of days, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a +300 favorite to lead the NFL in passing yards at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Brees has led (or co-led) the NFL in aerial yards five times in the last six seasons, with the lone exception coming in 2013 when Peyton Manning complied a NFL-record 5,477.

Brees will still have Willie Snead and Michael Thomas as outlets for his passes and, assuming the Saints’ defense stays near the bottom of the league, will have the opportunity to get into a few offensive shootouts.

The Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan (+400) and New England Patriots’ Tom Brady (+500) are the next two on the board. Ryan and the Falcons are likely to face a tougher schedule than what it turned out they had in 2016. Brady has only led the NFL in yards once, in 2007, and would be the oldest player to do so if he succeeds this season.

Based on 2016 won-loss records, the Indianapolis Colts and QB Andrew Luck (+1400) have the easiest schedule in the league, which could lead to Luck putting up some big numbers against softer competition. Another valid darkhorse play is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston (+1600), since he will have a 1-2 punch at receiver with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson and a team that still relies on being pass-heavy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell (+300) and Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott (+350) are tightly bunched atop the NFL rushing champion futures board. Bell will no doubt be among the leaders in yards from scrimmage per game, but he’s only played 16 games once in four seasons. While there hasn’t been a back-to-back rushing leader in 10 years, Elliott will be running behind an excellent Dallas offensive line.

The Los Angeles Rams’ third-year workhorse Todd Gurley (+2000) will be in a new offensive system and, hopefully for the Rams, will be better complemented by second-year QB Jared Goff in the passing phase. That would give Gurley a fairer shot at breaking big runs on the regular.

Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (+400) and Atlanta’s Julio Jones (+400) are co-favorites on the odds to tally the most receiving yards, with the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham (+500) also coming in highly touted. Brown had two fewer targets per game in 2016 than in ’15, meaning he might be a less high-volume receiver now that he is 29. Jones has a receiving title from 2015, but last season the Falcons were most efficient when they spread the ball around.

Last year, the Indianapolis Colts’ T.Y. Hilton (+1200 this year) led the league in yards after being listed at +3300 in the preseason. Among the potential 2017 replicants are New England’s Brandin Cooks (+3300), who is expected to be the field-stretching target the Patriots have managed to do without since the Randy Moss days a decade ago. The aforementioned Mike Evans (+1200) is also close to a sure thing to get 11-12 targets per game in Tampa Bay and the continued development of Winston could make him a 1,500-yard receiver.

The last 12 league leaders in receiving yardage have been less than 30 years old at the start of the season. That trend has been consistent dating to the mid-1990s, with 19 of the last 21 receiving leaders being players who were no older than 29 at the start of the season.

Internet reacts to O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing

Leave a comment

In case you weren’t aware, O.J. Simpson was granted parole and the internet went crazy.

Cue hilarious tweets.