Sixteen games tonight to complete the preseason, and next Thursday the regular season opener from Soldier Field were the Chicago Bears will host the Green Bay Packers. That game instills so much excitement for NFL fans, particularly Green Bay and Chicago followers, that you couldn't blame either of these squads for looking ahead. The game next Thursday also breaks with the tradition of having the Super Bowl winner host the season opener. This year, while the Packers and Bears open the season, the champion New England Patriots will complete the Sunday action in a night game at Gillette Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I probably shouldn’t talk about great games like those two prime time gems when we all have to endure one more week of preseason action. If ever there was a smorgasbord of NFL action it would be in the final week of the preseason.
Nearly all starters are protected in bubble wrap while marginal players and those getting one more dose of action before being cut when the roster is trimmed to 53 players, knock heads center stage. One might think that with so many unknowns involved in the action, that there would be little way to find reliable point spread winners.
One might be wrong.
In fact, the final week of the preseason generates some wonderful wagering edges that are unique to this particular week. Some teams are truly done, clearly focused on the upcoming season with rosters pretty well set and game plans being devised for their regular season opening opponent.
Other teams, most commonly bad teams, or better yet, average or good teams coming off a bad year, have a little more motivation to complete a perfect preseason campaign than a team with little doubt they have the talent to win when the games count.
Case in point, the Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle is a veteran team with an experienced head coach that knows all that matters is being in the best position to beat the Cincinnati Bengals when they come calling and provide the competition for the Seahawks opener at CenturyLink Field. Meanwhile, the Raiders are erasing last year’s horrible season in Jon Gurden’s first year back as the head coach of the Silver and Black.
With only four wins last year, and some embarrassing defeats, including a prime time blowout loss to their cross bay rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, 34-3, the Raiders are focussed and paying the prices needed to build a winner.
Beginning their last season in Oakland, the Raiders have bounced off their 4-12 record last year to win their first three preseason games. Winning them all would in some way ease the sting of last year’s debacle. Next week, the Raiders open against the Denver Broncos in the second of two opening week Monday Night Football matchups.
Sweeping their preseason results carries more punch for Oakland than the Seahawks are concerned about winning their third preseason decision.
Tonight, in Seattle, the Seahawks will be getting ready for the regular season, while the Raiders are out to complete their perfect preseason.
Qoxhi Picks: Oakland Raiders (+2½) over Seattle Seahawks