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.

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.