Romo, Cowboys underdogs in preseason test against Seahawks

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Week 3 of the NFL preseason is as close as it gets to the real thing, since teams will test their units for at least a full half.

Among the week’s more notable matchups is Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys visiting the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday. Seattle is listed as a 5-point betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with a total of 44.5 points.

For Dallas, it’s a chance to see whether Romo, rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott and their offense can have sustained success against an above-average NFL defense. Likewise, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will try to get in better rhythm with his supporting cast after being shut out in the first half against Minnesota in Week 2.

Each team is breaking in a rookie backup QB, and the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott and Seahawks’ Trevone Boykin are each scramblers who can make big plays.

Dallas is 1-9 against the spread and 3-7 straight-up in their last 10 preseason games as a road underdog according to the OddsShark NFL Database. As a home favorite, Seattle is 8-2 both SU and ATS in its last 10 preseason games.

Jimmy Garoppolo, understudy to suspended Tom Brady, leads the 3.5-point underdog New England Patriots into a road game against the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers on Friday. The total is 45 points.

New England, which held TE Rob Gronkowski out of practice on Monday, is 5-5 SU and 5-3-2 ATS as a road underdog in its last 10 preseason games, while Carolina is 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS as a home favorite. Seven of those 10 Carolina matchups went over the posted total.

Two former No. 1 overall picks are under a microscope in the Cleveland Browns-Tampa Bay Buccaneers matchup. Robert Griffin III has showed flashes of his 2012 rookie of the year form thus far for Cleveland, which is a four-point underdog. Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston was only 3-of-9 in his first preseason game but should be more settled into the Bucs’ system.  The total is 41.5.

Tampa Bay is 3-7 SU and ATS in its last 10 preseason games as a home favorite, including a loss to Cleveland in 2015.

Saturday, the New York Giants are one-point underdogs against the New York Jets in their annual preseason game, with a total of 42.5 points. Giants QB Eli Manning had scarcely little pass protection in his first preseason outing, and the Jets possess a strong defensive line, although stuffing the run is their strength. Over the last 10 years, the Jets have the edge in this exhibition matchup at 6-4 SU and 5-4-1 ATS.

In spite of some turnover issues last week, QB Trevor Siemian will get the whole first half when the Denver Broncos host the Los Angeles Rams on Friday. Denver is a five-point favorite, with a total of 42.

The Rams are 6-4 ATS in their last 10 preseason outings as a road underdog, and eight of those matchups went over. The Broncos are on a run of just 2-8 ATS when favored at home in August, and seven of those games went over the posted total.

The Houston Texans are a one-point favorite against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in a matchup of teams with Super Bowl aspirations. Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney showed his potential as a pass rusher last week against New Orleans, and the former top draft pick will get a taste against the Cardinals’ strong line.

The Cardinals are 6-4 SU 5-4-1 ATS in their last 10 preseason road games, while Houston is 7-3 both SU and ATS at home.

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.