When we first launched the blog last August, I was convinced the early page views we received were just me re-visiting to check grammar and punctuation, or to see if anyone else was reading. Then, when I clicked on "Don't count my own page views," and more importantly, when other readers started offering grammar and punctuation suggestions, I knew we'd made it - at least in my English teaching wife's circle of colleagues.
Then football season began, and as the weeks went by - slowly but surely our community here at TSZ grew...and grew...and grew until the ceiling hung with vines and the wall became the world all around.
It was pretty wild. Readers became followers and more importantly they became contributors - submitting their thoughts in the comments section, sending us their confidence picks for what became our Thursday Three, and eventually joining our non-profit staff with writing submissions and handicapping tips. They also made generous coffee donations towards our vision of one day growing The Spread Zone beyond the walls of our very own room.
Well, dear readers, dear friends, dear TSZers: that day has arrived. Thanks to you, Marco and I now have a DOT and a COM at the end of our very marketable name. And what better way to launch the new website than with some free pre-season football picks? Before we down to business, however, here are a few things you should know about The Spread Zone Dot Com.
1. The Daily Spread: As you probably noticed, our blog name has changed. It has the same address and you'll be able to get here with the click of a button from the new TSZ, but unfortunately Go Daddy does not have the technology to include blogging in their luxury web hosting. Yet.
I don't get it. We have the technology to fit a computer and a camera into a phone smaller than my hand, but we can't blog on our website. Nonetheless, this is where you'll be able to check out the latest news, our weekly gambling tips, our free picks, and anything else we think is on the cusp of pertinent.
2. Gambloogling: Our newest addition to the website, is a section we call Gambloogling - a Google of sorts for us gamlers. Click on the page, read about the origins and then go to August Resources where you'll find a host of articles specifically about gambling on pre-season football. As the season unfolds, we'll be posting everything we read and some things we don't in a single, localized location so you don't have to scour The Net for good handicapping reads.
3. Free Picks: In addition to our weekly football picks, Marco and I decided to include a section on the site in which we post all of the free picks (in all sports) we glean from our memberships to various handicappers so you don't have to shop around for them. Once again, our goal is your convenience and I think we're reaching it.
4. TSZ Insider Memberships: Yes, we're selling out a bit, but only nominally. For about half of a tall, plain Starbucks coffee/week -$17 total - you get exclusive access to picks we won't be posting for the general public, including Thursday and Monday Night games, our Friday confidence picks (81-50 ATS last season) and Kyle's increasing success with his Ultimate Fighting Championship forecasting. We want to be fair, but also want to generate some income so we can continue to grow. We hope you'll consider a membership and/or continue to be a part of The Spread Zone community anyway. In the meantime, enjoy this subliminal message.
5. Same Old Same Old: It goes without saying that even those who are on the fence about the TSZ Insider Membership will still get a lot of free football picks, including this week's entire NFL Pre-Season Week 2 schedule. We would love it if everyone became TSZ Insiders, but until you decide to do that, we'll still have something for you here and at www.thespreadzone.com.
Come on by and check it out. Now let's get to tonight's action.
NFL Pre-Season Week 2 Thursday Night Football
These will be brief because Marco came into training camp twenty pounds overweight and I'm still recovering from the off-season carpal tunnel surgery I needed after the NBA Playoff Pick-a-thon.
1. Detroit Lions (+2.5) over CLEVELAND BROWNS: I know what you're going to say - the Browns own the pre-season. It's their time. It's their only time. If they don't win in the pre-season they don't win at all. Well, it's not all that long ago the same things were said about the Detroit Lions, and Jim Schwartz never wants to hear it again. If you go to Gambloogling's August Resources at The Spread Zone you'll find an article on "NFL Coaches to Watch During the Pre-Season" in which you'll discover that Schwartz doesn't like losing - EVER - and is 12-5 ATS pre-season as a result.
2. BALTIMORE RAVENS (-4.5) over Atlanta Falcons: Another article you'll be able to Gambloogle at The Spread Zone recommends betting on teams that lost in the playoffs the previous year. Coach Mike Smith, however, would have to be the exception to that rule. His team has lost in the playoffs every year for the past five years, and yet his pre-season record in Week's 1 and 2 of the pre-season as an astonishing 2-8 ATS coming into this season. However, his overall pre-season record is 8-10-2 ATS, so watch for the Falcons to gear up as the season approaches. Meanwhile, the Ravens still have some positions being fought for, which should give them enough motivation to cover the spread.
3. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-3) over Carolina Panthers: When you have a quarterback battle going on like the one in Philly it means you'll have guys giving their all to the one they want to see behind center. Nick Foles is a legitimate NFL QB and Michael Vick seems to have the skill set to fit nicely into Chip Kelly's offense. Either way, both guys will be playing hard to earn the privilege of getting concussed four weeks into the season only to be replaced by the other.
4. San Diego Chargers (+6) over CHICAGO BEARS: Two big Unknowns will be facing each other in Chicago tonight. Both teams have new head coaches shaking things up for their respective teams. I expect to see more starters in this game than either team showed in their first pre-season game, but don't expect QB's Jay Cutler or Philip Rivers to be in for more than a series or two. That leaves the Bears Josh McCown to do battle against Chargers back-up Charlie Whitehurst, and we'll take the younger Clemson grad to cover the near-touchdown against the aging journeyman and SMU graduate who has now played for seven teams in eleven years including the Hartford Colonials.
So there you have it. Our first shot at pre-season games. Logic tells me it's a fool errand, but I wanted to find a way to make the next few weeks interesting. My disclaimer - unless we do incredibly well in which case NFL Pre-Season will get its own column - is that pre-season picks don't count against our regular season record. There's no better way, however, to make the games more interesting.
Don't forget to visit our new location: www.thespreadzone.com
Explore, enjoy, and become TSZ Insiders as soon as possible. First one hundred Insiders get be our Facebook friends. Just kidding, I hate that shit. Yes we do have a Facebook page, but that's only because it seemed like a great way to attract young, teenage gamblers and their pre-historic stalkers.
Good luck, and remember: If you're not winning, you're not reading The Spread Zone.
Vinny and Marco