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.