When he looked at the lines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason, Marco said, "I don't think we should touch these. Why risk our beautiful 21-11 ATS record heading into the regular season?" I was inclined to agree with him. In fact, I may have been the one who said it. The truth is I may have been talking to myself the whole time, trying to wrap my brain around the metaphorical coin flip that is the final week of preseason football while frantically researching for an edge.
Regardless of the circumstances or who was speaking, by the end of the day I knew what had to be done. What if the Starship Enterprise had stopped boldly going where men hadn't been after they found Spock in the third movie? What if George Lucas had decided that Return of the Jedi was interplanetary acrimony for the next few generations? What if MJ said, "I'm good with three. Baseball is awesome?"
The answers: they wouldn't have made that stupid movie about saving the whales, we would have been spared the poor acting of a young Anakin Skywalker, and the Utah Jazz might have won an NBA title. So basically, nothing good really comes from going forward into the fourth anything. Nonetheless, we persist. It's what we do. We're a sports betting site for Pete's sake. We don't cower in the shadows of Vegas odds makers, we rise above them, cast our stones and make them wonder if they set the lines right.
Are you with me? I know Stan is, because he was the voice of reason that came through electronic mail that said the simple words, "I'd like you to give Week 4 a try," and it was enough. So, without further adieu, let's save some freakin' whales, watch some stupid special effects, and make sure a basketball championship never makes its way to Salt Lake City.
NFL Preseason Week 4: Electric Boogalu
Don't expect much detail, but we are throwing in the added bonus of Over/Unders this week to hedge our bets a little. As role models in the gambling community, I feel it is my duty to tell you to take it easy on these games. We have real football just around the corner and as much fun as it is to bet, you might want to get your fix on a solid pitcher or hot WNBA team. Nonetheless, in spite of the lines, the match-ups, and the likely sub-par execution we're about to witness, here's our best (albeit skinny) analysis of tomorrow's games.
Detroit Lions (-4.5) over BUFFALO BILLS: Third string quarterback Jeff Tuel (unfortunate name) will be getting a lot of pass play opportunities to learn the playbook for opening day while the Lions still have a wide receiver competition going on. These facts make the OVER look very attractive. The fact that the Bills have sucked this preseason and Jim Schwartz is trying to erase the memory of a 4-12 season, makes the Lions equally attractive. Lay the points, take the OVER.
Look - a whole family of Tuels
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) over NEW YORK JETS: The Eagles are planning to try some of their regular season playbook, while the Jets are just trying to get to the regular season in one piece. Back-up quarterback and former starter Nick Foles will take the majority of first half snaps and has shown himself to be very efficient. We like Philly and a lot of points - OVER.
Tennessee Titans (-3.5) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Both back-up QBs, Shaun Hill and Ryan Fitzpatrick, have been NFL starters in their careers which lends itself to the OVER. Other than that we'd like to take a home dog in a loud stadium, but something tells us the Titans running game is deep enough to put enough points on the board to win and cover this game.
Dallas Cowboys (+2.5) over HOUSTON TEXANS: I know I mentioned it before, but it merits repeating that Texans coach Gary Kubiak in Games 1 & 2 off the preseason is 14-4 SU but only 6-11 SU after that. He's like that guy who tries to impress during the courting process, but could care less about chivalry once the ring is on his finger. We're taking the 'Boys in Houston and the UNDER.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-3.5) over Green Bay Packers: Neither one of these head coaches is likely to show their offensive hands a week before the regular season and will be focusing on defense and special teams instead. As a result, we'll take the home team, lay the points, and take the UNDER.
ST. LOUIS RAMS (-7) over Baltimore Ravens: Rams coach Jeff Fisher is 11-4 SU in Week 4 of the preseason, and St. Louis has an on-going battle at back-up QB between Kellen Clemons and Austin Davis, which bodes well for both the Rams and the OVER.
CHICAGO BEARS (+1) over Cleveland Browns: In a battle of defensive squads, this game - like many of them - comes down to the back-up quarterbacks Jason Campbell (Browns) and Jordan Palmer (Bears), neither of which will do enough to merit betting anything but the UNDER. Take the home dog in a low-scoring affair.
NEW ORLEANS (+6) over Miami Dolphins: There are compelling stats to back picking the Dolphins, but we don't think you can give a Sean Payton team six points no matter what string he's playing. His playbook is that good. We advise taking the Saints and the UNDER which has hit in Miami's last six home games.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (-3.5) over Indianapolis Colts: The Colts are likely looking to their Week 1 match-up with Oakland while Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is looking at last week's game and how Cincinnati needs to improve. The Bengals are 7-2 SU/ATS at home after a preseason loss and the UNDER has hit in their last six games against the AFC and their last four games at home. Take the Bengals and the UNDER.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) over ATLANTA FALCONS: We just don't think Mike Smith or the Falcons have anything to prove, while the Jags will take a win no matter when it comes. Look for a road victory for the Jags - the last of the year. And the UNDER.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (-3.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers: Neither starting quarterback will play, both teams have work to do on offense, and we think the Panthers are a little deeper when it comes to point scorers. Take Carolina and the UNDER.
Washington Redskins (-2) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: I could play quarterback for Mike Shanahan in Week 4 of the preseason and he'd come out victorious. The guy is 12-3 SU in the last week of the preseason, and it appears the Redskins are about six deep behind center. We see Washington finishing a perfect preseason and hitting the OVER yet again.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-1.5) over New York Giants: Neither one of these teams has looked particularly good this preseason, but somehow we know when the regular season kicks off next week - they'll be fine. In the meantime, both teams have depth on offense, but are a bit shallow on the defensive end, so as the third and fourth stringers come in, we see a points fiesta. Tom Coughlin's preseaon O/U record 43-29 while Bill Belichick's is 48-27 including 3-0 this year. Take the Pats and the OVER.
DENVER BRONCOS (PK) over Arizona Cardinals: I would stay away from this game. I think the Cards are out to win games and the Broncos don't care. Nonetheless, anything can happen at altitude, so we're saying the Cardinals join the Mile High Club when Denver sticks them with a loss. Take the UNDER, too.
San Francisco Forty Niners (PK) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Why on earth would Jim Harbaugh show anything or do anything that would jeopardize the health or future of his Super Bowl bound team? He wouldn't and won't, so the Chargers will take the meaningless victory in an OVER shootout.
Oakland Raiders (+7) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: As bad as the Raiders have been, they haven't lost by more than 8 during this preseason. Sure Pete Carroll wants to win every game, but I think he'll be smart and focus on the back-up running back battle still going on between Christine Michael and Robert Turbin. A low-scoring affair that will be closer than most think will ensue. Surprise everyone and take the Raiders and the UNDER.
That's all folks. Enjoy your Thursday and count the days until next week.
Vinny and Marco