The National Football League will complete their 2019 preseason schedule on Thursday will all 32 teams in action. The final week of the preseason for many players is a life defining moment … will they be on an NFL roster next week when the regular season opens or have their dreams of playing professional football end?
For this reason, there are situations where the hitting will be more fierce than in a Super Bowl. Survival can bring out the best in an athlete.
While the struggle to make the roster is taking place on the field, those athletes that are assured of a starting role on a team are kept out of the fray this week to avoid possible injury. Teams that have a legitimate shot at winning it all this year are the most likely squads to care least about the scoreboard this Thursday.
Conversely, teams that may struggle to get wins when the regular season starts, are more geared to punch a meaningless victory in the final week of the preseason. Note, the only two teams to lose all their games in a 16 week campaign, the 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns, both compiled 4-0 preseason records before their winless campaigns.
With that in mind, what bad teams are in line for a win this week?
There are seven teams that come into this week without a loss through three games, they are the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and New York Giants. Four of those teams had losing records last year, Buffalo, San Francisco, Oakland and New York.
For the record, the Baltimore Ravens are not only 3-0 this summer, they have also won 16 straight preseason games with a point spread record in those contests of 14-1-1. No one is more aware of this run by Baltimore than the bookmakers, who this week installed the Ravens a three point road favorite for their game in Washington against the Redskins.
Because the knowledge of the Ravens summer success was promoted in the media this week, bettors have piled on Baltimore and the books have jumped the line to favor Baltimore by six points. It may go higher before Thursday’s kickoff.
What we have here is a clear example of how the books can flatten the prospects of a side the public sees as a sure thing. As long as the Ravens continue to dominate in the preseason, the books will raise the points they need to give until the percentage side of the wager is actually on their underdog opponent.
It may not surprise you to know that the public is betting on the Ravens at an 80% clip, for good reason. The wise guys are also on the Ravens side, which has prompted the sharpe rise in the points John Harbaugh’s team is forced to lay. By the way, the wise guys made their plays on this game early, when they were only forced to give three points … while now the move upward is all tied to public money.
That Ravens train has already left the station, while another preseason match still offers value on the point spread.
Two of the undefeated preseason squads meet in Foxboro on Thursday when the New England Patriots host the New York Giants. This is a traditional final week of the preseason matchup, and in their last 14 final week of the preseason games the Giants own a point spread edge of 8-4-2. But, a deeper dive into those stats, reveals this, since Bill Belichick has coached the Patriots they have come into a final week of the preseason against the Giants with a 3-0 preseason record three times, and have lost all three of those games straight-up.
Well, Belichick is a master of preparing his teams for the games that count, and he knows that a team is just a little more focused off a loss than they are off a win. Belichick doesn’t want to win this game, more interested in the Sunday opener next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers and how a loss here will make motivating his team for that contest just a little easier.
But the Giants, after a horrible season in Pat Shurmur’s first year as head coach in 2018, are looking for revenge on the league and a perfect preseason will serve to inspire his loyal but skeptical fan base.
Here we have a game that only the wise guys are betting the Giants, and how do we know that? Because the public is clearly backing the defending Super Bowl Champs by a margin of better than 70%, but the point spread has moved the other way. The opening number of the Patriots favored by 3½ points has been trimmed to New England by as few as two points or less.
Which means this, one can bet with the public and back the Super Bowl Champions, or bet with the wise guys and visit the payout window after the game.
Qoxhi Picks: New York Giants (+2) over New England Patriots