The National Football League begins third week preseason action tonight with six games on the schedule. Two of them come up as viable preseason wagers for us.
The third week of preseason action is when we are supposed to get the longest looks at players that are projected to be on the field for the teams when the regular season opens next month. Somebody decided that this was the week to give the “starters” more work and then have the final preseason game reserved for marginal players struggling to make the 53 man roster.
In the competitive world of professional sports, when one team finds an edge they think will serve their squad, other organizations can be quick to follow. I come from the Al Davis school of football, which was more interested in bucking conventional trends in quest of a unique advantage.
If I was still working for Mr. Davis, I would suggest to him today that there may be an edge available while discarding all conventional wisdom in dealing with preseason games. It seems to me that too many organizations are more concerned about avoiding an August injury than getting their teams ready for the wars that begin in September.
Frank Reich, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, said this week that the risk of injuring a key player is not worth having them play in the preseason.
How about having a team ready to hit the season on a full sprint instead of still playing themselves into shape.
When I was in the league in the 1970’s, we used to play six preseason games, and by the time the regular season opened I contend that teams from those days were playing at a higher level than the units that take the field now on opening day. You will hear the announcers say during the first weekend of regular season games that mistakes are common this early in the campaign while squads are still working themselves into shape.
What if, and I would really suggest this, our team was to use the preseason to really get the best players ready for the regular season? Start the projected regular season starters in every preseason game, play them the bulk of the contest, and while opponents are looking at kids 54 places down on the roster our team is getting into regular season form.
Sure, we may expose a player to an injury … but last I checked, this is football and the collisions between powerful athletes is going to sometimes result in an injury. But, our team will be ready when the bell rings in September, and it may take five or six weeks for our opponents to catch up with our efficiencies … and an average team may have already compiled four or five wins because they were better prepared out of the gate.
Now, I’m not suggesting that my recommendation for how to play the preseason is not a sitting target for critics, but I know one guy who would have loved it … unfortunately, he is no longer with us.
So, we work with what we have in front of us.
If the Philadelphia Eagles want to keep their talented team in bubble wrap, we’ll cash a ticket with an opponent that is more interested in getting their team ready for the regular season.
Like the Baltimore Ravens, who visit Lincoln Financial Field tonight to play a skeleton crew that they will likely dominate.
Qoxhi Picks: Baltimore Ravens (-5) over Philadelphia Eagles