Vikings, Bradford favorites against Niners on Sunday Night Football

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Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer clearly takes the preseason seriously – and the coach’s attitude toward non-counting games is usually the best trend to go by in August in the NFL.

The Vikings are listed as 4.5-point favorites against the San Francisco 49ers with a 42-point total for their Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The game will wrap up Week 3 of the preseason, which is usually the stage where teams will use their first-string offenses and defenses for an entire half. Minnesota is 13-2 straight-up and 12-3 against the spread in the preseason since Zimmer took their coaching reins in 2013.

Vikings QB Sam Bradford will also play before giving way to seasoned backup Case Keenum. The 49ers, who are 5-12-1 ATS over their last 18 games overall (counting preseason) according to the OddsShark NFL Database, will likely be taking a long look at rookie QB C.J. Beathard.

The week’s docket includes two cross-town matchups on Saturday. The Los Angeles Rams are 2.5-point betting favorites against the Los Angeles Chargers, with a 42-point total. The Chargers are 3-7 SU in their last 10 preseason games as an underdog. The Rams are likely due to improve on their 2-7-1 ATS mark over their last 10 preseason home games.

The New York Giants are favored by five points against the New York Jets with a 39-point total. The Giants will have had a short week (four days between games), but won their Week 3 preseason game under coach Ben McAdoo in 2016. The Jets have won the last five preseason matchups against the Giants in odd-numbered years.

With backup QB Nick Foles expected to get extended action, the Philadelphia Eagles are 3.5-point favorites at home against the Miami Dolphins, with a 42.5-point total. The Dolphins are 1-5 ATS in their last six games against the Eagles. Philly is 6-2 ATS in its last eight home games.

The Denver Broncos are three-point favorites against the Green Bay Packers, with a 42.5-point total. The home team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven matchups between Denver and Green Bay. The total has gone under in eight of the Packers’ last 10 preseason road games.

The Dallas Cowboys are three-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders, with a 44.5-point total. The total has gone over in both six of the Raiders’ last eight preseason games and in six of the Cowboys’ last seven preseason games.

The New England Patriots are a two-point road favorite against the Detroit Lions, with a 44-point total. Tom Brady is expected to play for the Patriots, who are 3-0 SU in their last three games in Week 3 of the preseason. Since 2014, Detroit is 10-4 both SU and ATS in the preseason.

And the Seattle Seahawks are 3.5-point favorites against the Kansas City Chiefs, with a 43-point total. The Chiefs are just 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 games as a preseason underdog. Seattle is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 preseason games as a favorite of 3.0 or more points.

NFL’s burning questions generate betting props at the sportsbooks

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The revolving door that is the Cleveland Browns quarterback job and props predicated on whether brilliant but sometimes brittle superstars Rob Gronkowski and J.J. Watt can stay healthy comprise some of the best NFL preseason betting props.

With the Browns holding what is tantamount to an open competition for their quarterback job, Cody Kessler is the -165 favorite on a prop based on who will be Cleveland’s Week 1 starter at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Kessler started eight games in 2016 before his season was cut short by a brain injury, and he’s been demoted in practice. Brock Osweiler (+130), whom the Houston Texans essentially paid the Browns to take off their hands, does have starting experience and has started so far in the preseason. Osweiler might be the safe pick for Cleveland coach Hue Jackson and bettors alike.

However, rookie DeShone Kizer (+800) out of Notre Dame offers the best value and has been splitting first-team reps at practice. But most teams are loath to start a rookie right away unless forced to by injury, like the Dallas Cowboys with Dak Prescott after Tony Romo got hurt in 2016.

Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt (+250) is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year after an injury-shortened season that led to two back surgeries. Two other pass rushers extraordinaire, the Oakland Raiders DE Khalil Mack (+400) and Denver Broncos OLB Von Miller (+400), are also high on the board.

If Watt is able to play a full season, he’s a reasonable chalk pick, especially since he should have a lot of sack opportunities going against some weak pass blocking groups in the AFC South, as well as the NFC West, the division’s cross-over opponent.

Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald (+1200) will likely sign at some point and join what is a very strong D. While only three interior linemen have won DPOY in the last 40 years, Donald is just that good, though. No player on a losing team has won since recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Jason Taylor (2006 Miami Dolphins).

The total on how many games Gronkowski will play is 10.5, with over at -150 and the under pegged at +120. Gronkowski has played half the regular season or less twice in the last four years. The law of averages would push one toward the over; “Gronk” has never had two shortened seasons in a row.

Last but not least, the Washington Redskins’ failure to lock down QB Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal has led to oddsmakers taking bets on where Cousins will play in 2018. The San Francisco 49ers (+175) are favored, with Washington (+300) high on the board. The Miami Dolphins (+2000) might be in play as a darkhorse with starter Ryan Tannehill out for the season with a torn ACL.

The New York Jets (+2500) have the highest available price, but chances are they will look for their next QB in the 2018 draft.

Key & Peele paid Von Miller’s twerking fine

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D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

The former New York Jets lineman might not know it, but his epic polysyllabic name inspired more than just Key & Peele’s viral “East/West College Bowl” video, in which the comedic duo portray football players with increasingly creative names.

It also led them to pay Von Miller’s fine for twerking during a game.

The Broncos linebacker borrowed the celebration another popular Key & Peele video — “McCringleberry’s Excessive Celebration” — in which a football player learns just how much twerking he can do after scoring a touchdown.

“Jordan and I paid Von Miller’s fine. He had perfect form,” Keegan Michael Key said on “The Dan Patrick Show” Thursday morning. “It was 15 grand, so we each paid $7,000 to his foundation in Denver.”

Key gave Peele credit for coming up with most of the names in the videos, which Ferguson would eventually appear in as himself, but did reveal that he came up with “Dan Smith,” the fictional player in the video who attends BYU.

“The way I’ve always described Jordan creatively, is like if you had a vase of roses at a party, 100 people in the room and 99 people would say ‘Look at that gorgeous bouquet of roses,'” he said. “Jordan would say, “I wonder if that vase was made in Taiwan.'”