NFL Handicapping: Preseason Winners and Losers
by Robert Ferringo - 8/30/2013
Contrary to popular belief, the NFL Preseason is not worthless.
There is plenty of information to be gleaned from the exhibition season, and after a month of closely analyzing the 32 professional teams, I feel like the tone has been set for the pro football betting season.
Certainly some teams take the preseason more seriously than others. Teams like Green Bay, Denver and New England don’t have anything to prove and simply want to get through these games without any catastrophic injuries. They have been successful, relatively speaking, in that regard even if their records don’t reflect it.
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Other teams, generally the bottom-feeders, take the NFL preseason super seriously because they know it might be one of the few chances for them to experience the thrill of victory. While still other teams are attempting to learn new offensive and defensive systems, and the preseason gave us a glimpse into how certain transitions have been going.
With all that in mind, here are the winners and losers of the 2013 NFL Preseason:
Chicago – The Bears quietly had a very nice training camp. Aside from Brandon Marshall’s hip issue, they left camp in good health, and the starters looked great in their time on the field this exhibition season, outscoring their Week 2 and Week 3 opponents by a combined 47-14. So far so good for the enigmatic Marc Trestman, who remains one of the biggest X-Factors in the entire league.
Detroit – The Lions have been kings of the preseason in all three years under Jim Schwartz. And that hasn’t exactly translated to regular season success. However, there’s no denying that this team looked focused and frenetic this preseason. They were up 20-7 against the Jets, 40-3 against the Patriots, and 35-3 against the Bills in three of their four games. Also, Detroit finally recognized its glaring issues in the back seven and added Rocky McIntosh and Rashean Mathis, two proven veterans. It has been a good three weeks for the Lions.
Philadelphia – I had my popcorn ready for the impending train wreck that Chip Kelly was going to lord over. But I have to admit, I am at least intrigued by the Eagles this year after watching them in training camp. While I still think that the Kelly coverage is a little ridiculous – “He plays music at practice! He makes the team practice on Tuesday! He runs a hurry-up offense! He’s an innovator!” – I will admit that his quirky offense is going to cause teams headaches. Especially teams that aren’t as well-conditioned coming out of camp as the Eagles are.
Indianapolis – I have been giddy for my chance to bet against the Colts this year after their fluke 11-5 record and playoff berth in 2012. But even I will admit that Indy looks sharp. The Colts first team manhandled the starters for their three opponents, outscoring them by a whopping 42 points in the first three preseason games. That was by far the biggest starter vs. starter disparity in the league.
Cleveland – Any time a traditional low-life franchise like Cleveland plays well in the preseason, it becomes news. “Hey, the Browns didn’t have seven offensive starters blow out their ACL’s on an errant double-reverse play in a preseason game they were losing by 40. There is some hope for them this year!” But in Cleveland’s case their improvement was tangible. The Browns have excellent offensive and defensive coordinators and took to the new systems well. They at least look headed in the right direction.
N.Y. Jets – Do I even have to explain this one? I predicted that the Jets would get off to a horrendous start, and I had Rex Ryan pegged as a mid-season firing. He may not even make it to mid-season. Ryan has gone off the rails, helping Mark Sanchez get hurt in the process (maybe that was the plan?), and these guys have taken the New York circus up a notch. This looked like a six-win team when camp opened. Now they may be headed for half that total.
Buffalo – The Bills came roaring out of the gates in the preseason. They blew out Indianapolis in the preseason opener, rookie quarterback E.J. Manual looked ahead of the curve, and new coach Doug Marrone appeared to be the savior that Western New York has been clamoring for. But in true Buffalo Bills fashion, everything went to hell just after giving their delusional fan base hope. Thanks to injuries, the Bills are staring down the prospect of starting Week 1 with a quarterback whom they picked up off the street last week. The defense has gotten progressively worse, and this team is in tailspin mode even earlier in the season than normal.
Pittsburgh – Mike Tomlin went against the current conventional wisdom and had his Steelers hitting and playing physical football right from the start of camp. However, that didn’t translate very well into their games as Pittsburgh’s horrendous offensive line and youthful bench looked overmatched this preseason. The Steelers first team offense managed just one touchdown, and the team’s starters were outscored by 15 points in their three games.
Oakland – This entire organization is a dumpster fire. But as I pointed out in my NFL preseason power rankings, the Raiders are simply trying to survive this season. They will pare $50 million in cap space off the books at the end of the year, and next offseason will determine the direction of this franchise for the next several years. But Oakland looked helpless against New Orleans and Chicago, and their starters were outscored by 30 total points – in less than six total quarters.
N.Y. Giants – The main thing all teams want to avoid in the preseason is injuries. New York did not avoid injuries. The Giants lost one of their running backs, a starting safety, several offensive linemen and watched in horror as Victor Cruz limped off the field in Week 2 with a heel injury. The guys that weren’t hurt did not play well on either side of the ball this preseason.
Tampa Bay – This was a team I had high hopes for heading into the year. But Greg Schiano’s crew looked horrible for most of the preseason. Their offense ranked dead last in total yards this preseason, while the defense ranked dead last in points allowed. The Bucs still haven’t found a pass rush, and they also lost all-pro guard Carl Nicks and kicker Lawrence Tynes to staph infections from their filthy training complex. Tampa Bay looked sloppy and disorganized in August. I guess it’s a good thing they only open with the Jets in Week 1.
Robert Ferringo is a lead writer for Doc’s Sports and a member of the Football Writer’s Association of American. He has earned nearly $11,000 in profit for his clients over the last 16 football months. He went 7-2 last week with his NFL preseason selections and this week, for the first time ever, Robert will release selections from his incredible KING College Football Betting System. (Learn more HERE.) We are so confident that you will be amazed by this moneymaking system we are going to give you a free, no-strings-attached $60 credit to use toward a purchase of Robert’s football selections. CLICK HERE for $60 absolutely free!
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