Late August/early September just might be the best time of year to be an avid sports fan. The NCAA football season kicks off on Friday night in Sydney, Australia. The NFL regular season kicks off just two weeks after that. However, before then I will be breaking down the Week 3 NFL Preseason card for you.
First a little flash back. Week 2 of the NFL Preseason was my first week giving out free picks for those lucky enough to follow Doc's Sports religiously. Safe to say it was an outstanding night as both of my free picks cashed with ease. The backup quarterback situation in Pittsburgh is terrible, and it showed. They were held scoreless in a 17-0 loss to the Eagles. The total (39) was never in jeopardy. If only they were all that easy. The other free pick I gave was the "over" 40.5 in the Miami/Dallas game. That play was so spot on that it cashed in the first half by half a point. Not too shabby for an opening night of betting the National Football League. But, as most bettors can attest to, it's what you do next that matters.
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Week 3 in the NFL Preseason is what many like to call the "dress rehearsal" before the season gets underway two weeks from today. Coaches come into the game with a rough game plan in order to sharpen their play calling for the regular season. Starters use this opportunity to get some faster tempo reps in and make the most out of the limited live action they have seen up until game time. Most teams will deploy their first unit offense and defense for at least a half - some maybe more.
Week 3 got underway Thursday night with only two games on tap. Tonight follows up with five games, Saturday has six and Sunday wraps up with three matchups. In my opinion, the most interesting games on the schedule happen tonight when New England takes on Carolina and Pittsburgh travels to New Orleans. The Steelers have looked terrible in the first two weeks, and it will be interesting to see how the first team offense fares in their first game action. The other interesting storyline comes out of New England. Bill Belichick is cutting everyone these days, it seems, and while Friday's game may not matter in the standings, this gives the team a better understand of where starting QB Jimmy Garappolo is heading into the start of the regular season.
As always, you can find great NFL lines and futures odds courtesy our friends at Bovada.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Chicago Bears
This is one of those preseason games where both coaches will go an extra step in order to ensure their team comes out of this game unscathed injury wise and with victories on the scoreboard. Both KC and Chicago own 0-2 preseason records.
In Kansas City's first two games, they looked sharp. They were able to move the ball well for the better part of 45 minutes, and the results showed. They took leads into the fourth quarter on both occasions only to have their fourth quarter defense blow an 11-point lead in Week 1 against Seattle and a six-point lead last week against the LA Rams.
The Bears, on the other hand, looked completely unprepared in a Week 1, 22-0 shutout courtesy of the Denver Broncos. They followed that performance up with a trip to Foxboro to take on the Patriots, and the first team offense responded well. They jumped out to an early 11-0 lead after the first, but ultimately the Patriots were too much in the second and third quarters. The Bears were outscored 23-0 and trailed 23-11 heading into the fourth. What I liked from this game, though, was how the first-team offense played and moved the ball much more efficiently and with authority than their previous game. Jay Cutler finished 8-of-12 passing for 83 yards, and sophomore running back Jeremy Langford rushed eight times for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Every thing I've seen about the Bears game plan includes the starters getting at least a half of uninterrupted playing time and possibly some time early in the third quarter. If Cutler and Co. can take their game up another level, they can certainly get the best of this Chiefs team who will be playing their second consecutive road game. That's tough to do in the regular season. Can you imagine how tough and how unfocused teams are doing back-to-back roadies when the games don't count?
The Chiefs are already planning to rest pass rusher Tamba Hali, running backs Jamaal Charles and Charcandrick West and linebacker Josh Mauga. They are planning on getting all four QBs action, with Aaron Murray and Kevin Hogan trying to earn roster spots for this upcoming season.
I don't like the travel and I don't like the Chiefs mindset coming into this one. Give me the Bears to break their preseason goose egg.
Pick: Chicago Bears +1.5 (-115)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Jacksonville Jaguars
I watched the Bengals play the Detroit Lions last week and absolutely loved what they were able to do. They ran the ball well, they threw the ball well and most importantly they had a swarming defense than didn't take many snaps off. Their preseason mentality is spot-on for a team that will be getting my hard-earned money bet on.
The Jaguars, on the other hand, have looked very poor in their first two preseason games. In Week 1, they started well and jumped out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead. They managed only three points the rest of the way. In Week 2 against Tampa Bay, they were a bit better, but their defense couldn't get any stops in critical times. The lost that game 27-21. And despite starting fast for the second consecutive game (something the Jags have been preaching), they have nothing to show for it.
The Bengals plan to play their starting units for the majority of the first half and into the third quarter. The Jags as well. The thing that separates these two teams is the backup quarterback play. A.J. McCarron has already experienced live regular-season crunch-time football, so the Jaguars second-string defensive unit won't faze him. He should be able to chuck the ball around like he did against the Lions and put up some points. The Jags will look to, of all people, Chad Henne to lead the second team, and I'd rather have a 60-year-old Joe Montana behind center instead.
The better team is the Bengals, and sometimes gambling isn't all that difficult.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals +1.5 (-110)
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