Betting news, trends, odds and predictions from various handicappers and websites for Thursday 8/15/19
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Hot & Not Report - Week 2
The first full week of NFL preseason action has come and gone, and it was a solid one for those of you willing to follow last week's breakdown – at least against the closing line – as the NFC North teams discussed (Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota) went 2-1 ATS vs the closing number, while fading those teams from LA swept the board (2-0 ATS).
Week 2 of the preseason is where we get to see starters on the field for a much longer period of time (typically at least one quarter or more), although some teams have been moving towards using this game as more of a “dress rehearsal” type in recent years too. Make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for any announcements that head coaches make regarding prospective playing time this week as typically when that news comes out it ends up being a rush to the window for bettors to grab what they believe to be the best numbers currently out there. As of now, the bulk of the games this week have point spreads below the -4 threshold, but don't expect that to hold as the week goes on.
So in a similar style to last week's piece, this week deals with preseason Week 2 trends for a few teams across the league, and if you are a football fan, young or old, of those teams with connections to the great state of Texas, it's with those organizations that you may want to start with this week.
“Youngest” team in Texas brings home the Week 2 cash
Houston Texans 6-1 ATS last seven years in Week 2 of the Preseason
When I say “youngest”, I'm not referring to the average age of the players in a Houston uniform, but the time they've existed in pro football. The Houston Texans turn 20 years old this year since being awarded their expansion franchise back in 1999, but they didn't hit the football field until 2002 when they forced the league into realignment. And while there have been some extreme highs and lows for this organization during those 17 years on the football field, they've found much more consistency this decade.
Starting with the 2011 campaign, Houston has won the AFC South division crown five different times, finished 2nd once, and bottomed out with a last-place finish twice. It's not like you can paint a picture of Week 2 success in the preseason as a calling card to many of those successful years, but they are one of the best in the NFL right now at covering the spread during this week of action. They've won this game outright in three straight years, and given the fight we saw from them late last week in Green Bay – covering earlier, non-closing numbers of +2.5 vs the Packers – we could possibly see a complete effort from every group on the depth chart this week.
Oddsmakers are aware of this trend as well apparently, as they are one of the select few teams currently lined at -4.5 this week, as they host a Detroit Lions team that looked as disinterested as a team could be in Week 1. Lions HC Matt Patricia does come from that New England Patriots way of life and preseason has never been a priority for that franchise, and when you pair that result with Houston being a great Week 2 team, if you are going to back the Texans this week, it's best to do it sooner rather then later.
“Older” teams with ties to the state of Texas
Dallas Cowboys 1-8 ATS last nine years in Week 2, Kansas City Chiefs 2-14 ATS last 16 years in Week 2
Speaking of “Texans”, the Kansas City Chiefs started out as the Dallas Texans way back in the start of the AFL, and played their three years before owner Lamar Hunt moved them on to Kansas City. Since then they've long since established a connection to the city of Kansas City, and with how much this team has won, but ultimately come up short in the modern era, there is never a shortage of high hopes for the Chiefs each year. That's especially true this year with them arguably being a literal coin flip away from a Super Bowl appearance last season, and there are plenty of lofty expectations thrust upon them in 2019 because of that result.
But the team that originated in Dallas is not one I'd be looking to back this week, as a 2-14 ATS run in these Week 2 games is nothing but fade material.
Kansas City looked great from top to bottom in their Week 1 dismantling of Cincinnati, as the Chiefs scored a TD in every quarter en route to the 38-17 win. Four different QB's saw action with starter Patrick Mahomes going a perfect 4-for-4 throwing (66 yards) before getting pulled, and while he will see more action against Pittsburgh this week, the team is likely to still be very cautious with him in numerous ways (how long he stays out and their play-calling).
At the same time, I don't believe we see Chase Litton go 11-for-15 for 122 yards and 2 TD's again, while Kyle Shurmur's 6-for-15 is probably right in line with what to expect from a better Pittsburgh defense. Considering this 2-14 ATS run does include two straight wins in Week 2 the past two seasons, there is a case to be made that it's a new era in Chiefs-land during this week, but I'd much prefer to back the larger sample size here and go against them, especially at the current 'pick'em' price.
In the Dallas Cowboys case, they have got nothing but support early this week, as an opening line of +3 as visitors against the Rams, quickly turned to a 'pick'em' before continuing to see even more action and now currently sitting at the Cowboys laying -2.5 points. That's such a huge swing regardless of history and has to be taken with some respect, however, at the same time, history suggests that the Cowboys never do all that well during Week 2, and now you are getting a great price to fade them in this spot.
Granted, that would mean backing a LA Rams team that showed last week they've got little interest in being competitive in the preseason, as they understand it's all about staying healthy and depth evaluation right now. They aren't going to be a team many will run to the window to back, but it's highly plausible that we see Dallas end up winning this game by two or less points, allowing all that early Dallas money to cash, while the steam chasers on Dallas at -2.5 (or more) end up getting left in the dark.
That Cowboys are also 1-7 SU the past eight years during Week 2 of the preseason, and have lost those seven games by an average of 8.7 points. With where the current price is now, a loss of any nature would be detrimental to the bankrolls of Cowboys backers yet to confirm their wager, and for as disinterested as the Rams looked last week, if this line gets to +3 on LA, you've probably got to side with history and look to fade the Cowboys once again.
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Thursday's Preseason Essentials
Note: Quarterback rotation subject to change.
Eagles at Jaguars (-3, 35) - 7:00 PM EST
Head Coach: Doug Pederson (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS in season)
Quarterback Rotation: Cody Kessler, Clayton Thorson (R)
Anyone looking to watch Nick Foles try to match Carson Wentz for even a series is going to be awfully disappointed. After neither played in Week 1, both projected starters are expected to watch from the sidelines in Jacksonville too. Nate Sudfeld got his wrist broken after a late hit against Tennessee last week, so Kessler and Thorson will be at the controls here. Pedersen is 2-1 in Week 2 of the preseason and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will likely want to see more from a unit that got lit up by the Titans.
Head Coach: Doug Marrone (8-9 SU, 7-8-2 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Gardner Minshew, Tanner Lee, Alex McGough
Minshew saw the bulk of the work as the Jags were shut out by the Ravens, so the expectation is he'll play at least the first half on Thursday. Marrone has already given Jags' fans the heads up that they won't see any starters in this second contest, but the hope is that the backups will be much better than they were up in Baltimore. First-round pick Josh Allen will look to be a disruptive force up front. Marrone has split his four Week 2 preseason games and has seen 11 of his 18 go 'under.'
Jets (-1 ½, 44 ½) at Falcons - 7:30 PM EST
Head Coach: Adam Gase (5-8 SU, 5-8 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian, Davis Webb, Luke Falk
New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams blitzes in exhibitions and wasn't at all thrilled that he couldn't get home and his defensive backs got carved up by the Giants last week. This will be a huge opportunity for guys looking to impress on that side of the ball. Sam Darnold's entire projected started interior line won't play, so it remains to be seen whether he plays more than a series. New kicker Tyler Bertolet will look to solidify his hold on the gig after Chandler Catanzaro retired. The 'over' is 9-3-1 in Gase's 13 preseason contests as head coach of the Dolphins and Jets. He was 0-3 in Week 2 contests with Miami.
Washington jumped out to a solid 6-3 start before quarterback Alex Smith's gruesome leg injury in a home loss to Houston. The Redskins spun out of control and lost six of their final seven games to finish below .500. The quarterback of the future for Washington is former Ohio State standout Dwayne Haskins, as the Redskins look to finish above third place in the NFC East for the first time since winning the division in 2015. Washington has lost three consecutive preseason openers, while losing four of the past six road exhibition contests.
Head Coach: Dan Quinn (5-13 SU, 4-14 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Matt Simms
The Falcons dropped the Hall of Fame Game in addition to last week's high-scoring contest in Miami, so this is Quinn's third look at his team in a game setting. A few offensive linemen are missing too, but Matt Ryan will debut and is likely going to play into the second quarter. Simms, who was signed when Kurt Benkert went on IR, should mop up ahead of WR/QB Daniel Etling, who was just claimed after being waived by New England. Quinn is 0-4 in the third preseason game and carries a 10-game preseason losing streak into this game, last winning on Sept. 1, 2016. The under is 6-11-1 in his preseason games.
Bengals at Redskins (-3, 41) - 7:30 PM EST
Head Coach: Zac Taylor (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel, Ryan Finley (R), Jake Dolegala (R)
The Chiefs routed the Bengals last week to spoil Taylor's debut, but the head coach did see a few bright spots, which included Finley showing out and climbing into the primary backup role ahead of Driskel, who has started getting reps at receiver. Dalton led a drive for a TD against the Chiefs and should be in for a longer stint with backs Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard and Trayveon Williams all expected to play through ailments. New defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo saw the first-team defense get overwhelmed by Kansas City, which ended up scoring 38 points in making the entire unit look porous. It will be interesting if communication improves as they look to handle a second straight road game.
Head Coach: Jay Gruden (12-9 SU, 11-10 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins (Rookie), Jalan McClendon
The 'Skins still don't have Colt McCoy (leg soreness) available and lost Josh Woodrum to a torn pectoral muscle, so with McClendon signing this week, it's expected that Keenum and Haskins will get all the snaps as they try and impress in order to secure a starting that spot that looks up for grabs. Haskins, the No. 15 pick, sabotaged an effective debut with costly turnovers, so he'll be among Thursday's most scrutinized subjects. New OC Kevin O'Connell is considered a lock to be a future head coach and is calling plays while working with Haskins, so he should take some shots against the Bengals despite holes along the offensive line. Gruden has won four of five Week 2 games and is 7-3 SU at home in the preseason.
Packers at Ravens (-4, 37) - 7:30 PM EST
Head Coach: Matt LeFleur (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle, Manny Wilkins (R)
Rodgers is expected to play about a quarter, debuting for the first time with LeFleur calling the plays into the future Hall of Famer. We'll see how their relationship evolves, but Rodgers is likely to have most of the offense around him with RB Aaron Jones expected to play after dealing with a hamstring issue. Kizer and Boyle threw for 142 yards and three TDs, showing off great chemistry with the team's younger receivers. A new-look defense lost projected top linebacker Oren Burks and will be looking to improve after giving up 26 points in holding off Houston.
Head Coach: John Harbaugh (34-12 SU, 31-14-1 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Lamar Jackson, Trace McSorley (R), Joe Callahan
Jackson played more than he was expected to last week and didn't tuck it and run, so it's clear that the Ravens want him to work on his passing from the pocket. He completed 19-of-25 in Tuesday's practice and will be looking to build on that in probably working another three series before giving way to McSorley and Callahan, a former Packer. Robert Griffin III is out for the entire preseason with a hairline fracture in his thumb. The Ravens have won 14 consectuive preseason games, last losing on Sept. 3, 2015. They blanked the Jags 29-0 last week. Harbaugh has gone 8-3 in Week 2 and has dropped just one preseason home game since mid-August of '13.
Raiders at Cardinals (-3, 40 ½) - 8 PM EST, ESPN
Head Coach: Jon Gruden (34-17 SU, 19-12-3 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Derek Carr, Mike Glennon, Nathan Peterman
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Paul Gutierrez
The Raiders dominated a Rams squad that ran a vanilla offense last week and managed just a field goal, so their defense will get their first true test here. Carr will play for the first time despite Antonio Brown remaining on the sidelines, so we'll get to see what chemistry has developed with the team's other receivers. Offseason Tyrell Williams and a pair of rookies HBO's Hard Knocks' has focused on, Clemson's Hunter Renfrow and UC Davis' Keelan Doss, will get long looks. Rookie RB Josh Jacobs will also get touches to try and balance out a passing attack that looked uneven at best in the opener. Gruden has an incredible record in Week 1 of the preseason but has really struggled in his second games.
Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Kyler Murray (R), Brett Hundley, Chad Kanoff, Drew Anderson (R)
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Bob McManaman
The Cardinals saw Murray put together an impressive debut and ran a mostly vanilla offense despite Kingsbury's stated desire to push tempo and unveil some innovations. The expectation is that Arizona won't show off many bells and whistles this early in the preseason, but they will want to see the training wheels come off some for top QBs Murray and Hundley. There's also a lot of competition at receiver that must shake out, so the battle for No. 3 between Kanoff and Anderson, a rookie from Murray State, should lead to the ball being in the air often.
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