NFL Preseason Odds: Eagles, Patriots among Week 1 betting favorites

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All streaks come to an end, and the Philadelphia Eagles take a lengthy one into their preseason opener against their cross-state counterpart.

The Eagles, with third-string Nate Sudfeld as the only healthy seasoned quarterback on the depth chart, are three-point favorites on the NFL preseason odds against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 33-point total for their exhibition matchup on Thursday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Eagles are 9-0 both straight-up and against the spread in their last nine preseason home games as they head into an opener where neither Carson Wentz (knee) or Nick Foles (neck) are expected to play. The Steelers, who will use QBs Landry Jones, Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph, are 4-8 SU and 5-7 ATS in their last 12 preseason road games.

Also Thursday, the New England Patriots are a three-point betting favorite against the Washington Redskins with a 37-point total. The total has gone UNDER in eight of the Redskins’ last 10 preseason road games. The Patriots are 4-6 ATS in their last 10 preseason home games as a favorite of three points or more.

The Cincinnati Bengals are two-point favorites against the Chicago Bears with a 35.5-point total. The total has gone UNDER in seven of Cincinnati’s last 10 preseason games as a home favorite.

The Miami Dolphins are a 1.5-point favorite against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a 34-point total. The Buccaneers are 7-2 ATS in their last nine preseason games against the Dolphins. The total has gone UNDER in 17 of the last 20 preseason games in this matchup.

The Cleveland Browns are a one-point road favorite against the New York Giants with a 35-point total. The total has gone UNDER in five of the Browns’ last seven preseason road games. The Giants are 4-8-1 ATS in their last 13 preseason home games.

The Green Bay Packers host the Tennessee Titans in a pick’em with a 34.5-point total. The Titans are 3-7 in their last 10 preseason road games. The Packers are 7-1 SU in their last eight preseason home games.

The San Francisco 49ers are a 3.5-point favorite against the Dallas Cowboys with a 35-point total. The Cowboys are 0-10 SU and 2-8 ATS in their last 10 preseason road games as an underdog of three points or more, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone UNDER in 10 of the 49ers’ last 12 preseason games as a favorite of three points or more.

The Oakland Raiders are a three-point favorite against the Detroit Lions with a 36-point total in a Friday matchup. The Lions are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 preseason road games. The Raiders are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 preseason games as a home favorite, with the total finishing OVER eight times.

The Denver Broncos host the Minnesota Vikings in a pick’em with a 34.5-point total in a Saturday contest. The Vikings are 6-2 SU and ATS in their last eight preseason games. The total has gone UNDER in six of the Broncos’ last eight preseason home games.

And the Arizona Cardinals are a 2.5-point favorite against the Los Angeles Chargers with a 36-point total. The Chargers are 2-8 SU and 4-6 ATS in their last 10 preseason road games. The Cardinals are 3-6 SU and ATS in their last nine preseason games as a home favorite.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Five NFL players who could become stars in 2019

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By Sam Monson, PFF Senior Analyst

One of my favorite aspects of PFF data and grading is how it can spot the obvious coming when it’s still some ways off on the horizon—getting ahead of the curve and identifying talent before it becomes self-evident. Every year there are players who excel in limited snaps before ultimately being handed a larger role and workload for their teams. When they continue dominating, we wonder how they were ever seen as anything other than superstars.

Case in point: When Joey Porter was a star and the sack leader for the Miami Dolphins back in 2009, coming off a 17.5-sack season, we at PFF were clamoring for his backup –- a former undrafted pass-rusher who had not long before been playing in Canada -– to get more snaps because he was generating pressure at a far greater rate than Porter. Cameron Wake ultimately went on to be one of the best pass rushers of the past decade and looked it from Day 1 if you were seeing beyond the box score numbers.

Such examples are everywhere, and each year it’s always an interesting exercise to take a look through the PFF grading and predict the players that could take that next step if they get the right opportunity. This past week we unveiled our PFF 50—a list of the best 50 players in football entering the season—but in this case let’s look a year from now and predict some players who could make that list in 2020.

Levi Wallace, CB, Buffalo Bills: If there’s a player with the backstory to rival Wake’s, it’s Wallace. With precisely zero scholarship offers coming out of high school, Wallace walked on at Alabama, and eventually earned a starting job. Then he had to do it all over again when he went undrafted before signing as a collegiate free agent with Buffalo. As a rookie in 2018, he earned the highest PFF grade of any first-year cornerback, along with the highest coverage grade, and wasn’t beaten for a catch longer than 29 yards all season. Though he played far fewer snaps than first-round selection Denzel Ward of Cleveland, Wallace looks like a potential star in the making if he’s given greater opportunity in year two.

Vita Vea, DL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: At the other end of the scale, you’ve got Vea, a player who went in the first round in 2018 but fell off the radar a little because he began the season injured, then took a little while to get going and ultimately didn’t produce the box score production people want to see. Vea ended up with only three sacks, but had 23 additional pressures as a pass-rusher, 17 of which came in the final six weeks of the season. Over that stretch of play, his overall PFF grade was 86.4, and he had a top-20 grade at his position, hinting at what’s to come.

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Minnesota Vikings: Changing positions in the NFL can be a significant adjustment, and sometimes it takes time. The Vikings drafted Alexander in 2016’s second round and moved him inside to the slot after he principally played outside at Clemson. His transition wasn’t smooth, but he has now seen his overall PFF grade improve each year of his NFL career: from 47.5 as a rookie, to 54.1 in 2017, climbing to 78.1 last year. Over the final half of the season, he was the highest-graded cornerback in the league at 88.2, surrendering just 80 receiving yards in a seven-game span. Alexander could emerge as a force with the right opportunity in 2019.

O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Another former first-round pick, Howard has yet to top 600 receiving yards or 35 receptions in a season, even while tight ends are breaking receiving records across the NFL. Dive deeper into the numbers, however, and Howard looks primed for a huge season with an uptick in opportunity. His overall PFF grade last season was 89.4, higher than any other tight end outside of San Francisco standout George Kittle. And on a yards per route basis, he was third behind only Kittle and Kansas City star Travis Kelce. His average depth of target was 11.3 yards downfield, a top-five mark in the league, and now the vertical threat he brings is being linked up with new Bucs coach Bruce Arians and an offense that lives down the field.

Jon Halapio, C, New York Giants: The Giants are revamping their offensive line in a major way, but one of the unsung components of the rebuild is at center, where Halapio could emerge as a foundation piece to the new-look front. He began last year as New York’s starter before going down with an injury after just 116 snaps of action. But in those snaps, he didn’t allow a single pressure, despite almost 50 pass-blocking snaps against the Jaguars and their array of pass-rushing weapons. With vastly improved players beside him, Halapio could prove to be a significant upgrade as a player who isn’t being talked about much heading into 2019.

Why Jameis Winston could win NFL passing title in 2019

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By Pro Football Focus

We think Jameis Winston will challenge for the passing yardage title in 2019. Last year he trailed only Josh Allen in average depth of target. These throws put Winston in a position to do great things at times (he was second among quarterbacks in the percentage of throws we grade as “positive”), as well as bad things (he was 21st in limiting negatively-graded throws). New Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has a track record of succeeding with high-variance quarterbacks like Winston.  In 2015 Carson Palmer had an MVP-caliber season under Arians, posting roughly the same average depth of target as Winston in 2018 and leading the league in percentage of positively-graded throws.  With Mike EvansChris Godwin and O.J. Howard a very capable trio of pass catchers, look for Winston to either make good on his 2015 draft position or give the Bucs no other option but to find his replacement the following year.