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.

Texans set to host Chiefs in a pick’em betting matchup on Sunday night

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The prospect of untested linemen trying to block the likes of J.J. Watt has the sharps projecting the Kansas City Chiefs for their first loss of the season. The Houston Texans and the Chiefs, the NFL’s last unbeaten team, meet in a Sunday Night Football matchup that has moved to a pick’em on the betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Chiefs were initially laying 3.5 points against the Texans, who they are a 3-1 straight-up against in their last four meetings, but QB Alex Smith (ankle) might have to be careful with an injury, while various ailments will mean backups will step in for RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and C Mitch Morse.

Each team takes an extreme against-the-spread trend into this rematch. The Chiefs are 8-0 SU and ATS in their last eight road games. The Texans are 3-21-1 ATS in their last 25 games at night.

The Chiefs, who are 4-0 SU and ATS, have endless ways to attack a defense and get linebackers to take themselves out of the play. That could mean some big opportunities for RB Kareem Hunt in both the rushing and passing phases. Smith, who has the NFL’s highest passer rating, will need to be somewhat nimble to avoid the Texans’ fierce pass rush of Watt, OLB Jadeveon Clowney and OLB Whitney Mercilus.

Houston is allowing 7.6 yards per pass, 23rd in the NFL, so there’s questions of whether the Texans will be able to keep WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce completely contained.

The Texans are 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS. Three starts into his NFL career, QB Deshaun Watson has shown that his mobility and vision can flummox even legendary defensive minds such as New England coach Bill Belichick and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau.

Against a pass rush that will once again not have OLB Dee Ford (back) to pair with OLB Justin Houston, Watson might be able to buy some time with his legs. That could give an extra advantage to the WR combo of Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins, who have a tough matchup on the outside against the CB tandem of Marcus Peters and Terrance Mitchell for some long-yardage strikes.

Houston is 1-8 SU in its last nine Week 5 games, but seem to finally have a balanced offense, with RB Lamar Miller churning out yards between the tackles and also catching short-range passes. The total has gone under in three of the Chiefs’ last four games against the Texans, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone over in 11 of the Texans’ last 13 games in October.

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.

 

Sunday Night Football has Seahawks as large favorites hosting the Colts

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October has been the cruelest month for bettors who back the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson for a cover at home, but they are facing a quarterback making his first road start.

The Seahawks are listed as as 13-point favourites against the Indianapolis Colts with a 41.5-point total for their Week 4 Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Seattle  is 10-1 straight-up in its last 11 games following losses, and they are 0-5 against the spread in their last five October home games.

The Colts, who are out of the gate at 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS, will be sending young QB Jacoby Brissett into one of the NFL’s loudest stadiums, CenturyLink Field. Brissett’s chances of success could hinge largely on how much support he gets in the rushing phase, which pits the Colts’ struggling ground game against a Seattle run defense that is third-worst in the NFL.

Based on form and personnel, the Seahawks might be more apt to break out and keep Colts RB Frank Gore below 100 yards.

Indianapolis, which is 6-4 SU and 7-3 ATS on the NFL betting lines in its last 10 games against NFC teams, will likely need to rely on Brissett’s mobility, since the Colts offensive line has allowed 11 sacks and will be up against premier pass rushers such as DE Michael Bennett.

However, Seattle’s opponents have had some success challenging CB Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom secondary, and Colts WR T.Y. Hilton has given Seattle fits in the past (140 yards in a 2013 game).

Taking the Seahawks, who are 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS, and the points is a gamble as long as QB Russell Wilson and the offense persist in having slow starts. While it’s hard for defensive guys on struggling teams to get noticed, the likes of ILB Jon Bostic and ILB Antonio Morrison have helped the Colts toughen up on that side of the ball. For all its issues with run blocking, the Seahawks have at least identified a primary running back in Chris Carson.

Wilson’s favorite target, WR Doug Baldwin (groin), has an injury that bettors should keep tabs on right up until kickoff. But where Indianapolis is really struggling in pass defense is against throws to the middle of the field, especially to tight ends and running backs. That means there’s a big opportunity for TE Jimmy Graham, as well as Carson, to be X-factors on Sunday.

Seattle is 10-0 SU and 6-3-1 ATS in its last 10 home games against AFC teams, but was a double-digit favorite in all three of those against the spread losses. The total has gone over in seven of the Colts’ last eight games as road underdogs. The total has gone over in 18 of the Seahawks’ last 24 games when hosting a East Coast team.

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.