The preseason is designed to give organizations an opportunity to evaluate their progress against live competition. Players welcome the chance to bang on opponents who are not teammates, and the preseason schedule both offers this chance and accelerates their competitive juices.
The preseason games can also be approached in different ways by teams and coaches preparing for the upcoming regular campaign. When the Buffalo Bills were a team making a record four straight trips to the Super Bowl, they showed little interest in winning preseason scrimmages. They knew what they had when the season started and Jim Kelly led their offense and Bruce Smith the defense.
The same can be said for the Indianapolis Colts during the Peyton Manning years. Tony Dungy limited the playing time of his best players in August while evaluating who would join Manning and crew for the regular season.
Still, because the Bills in the early 90’s and the Colts ten years later were consistent Super Bowl contenders, their preseason point spreads were often skewed by bettors thinking they had the better chance to win based on regular season rosters and objectives.
This year, the Los Angeles Rams are marching through their preseason schedule the same way the Bills and Colts did when they were dominant. The Rams are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and this year acquired veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford to take them over the top. Just how good the Rams are when the regular season bell rings and Sean McVay releases his hounds is yet to be seen. But, suffice it to say, their prospects for the regular season are sky high.
That makes them a suspect preseason bet.
Contrast the Rams confidence and gameplan going into the final week of preseason action with that of the Denver Broncos. Head Coach Vic Fagio is entering his third season with the team that makes its home in the Mile High City and he is still looking for his first winning campaign. If he doesn’t get it in 2021, this may be his last year at the helm of the Broncos.
If a coach is to be successful, their third year is often the time when their work pays off in the won/loss column. The Broncos are starved for a good year after losing 11 games last season preceded by a 7-9 campaign in Fagio’s first season as head coach in Denver.
Whether Denver can compete for a playoff berth against three teams that may be better than them in the AFC West Division, namely the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders, is yet to be seen. But, excel in August games? Oh yeah, this team is perfectly suited to succeed here.
They have a healthy quarterback competition for the starting spot between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock along with an experienced third string signal caller in Bret Rypien. They have a coach who has shown interest in having his team win now, even in the preseason, and a roster that has been enhanced by their recent poor records and high draft picks.
If there was a confetti fall at the end of the preseason, Denver is a likely candidate to have it rain on them.
Last week, the Broncos were favored on the road against a Seattle team playing the preseason like the Bills and Colts of old and the Rams this year, and Denver took advantage of that situation with a 30-3 win.
This week, the books are protecting themselves from the wise guys swooping in and pickpocketing them with an easy win with Denver over Los Angeles by posting a ridiculous preseason point spread opening line of seven points. That didn’t detract from the early wagering on Denver, and the line jumped on the first day it was released to the Broncos favored by nine points.
Sure laying nine points seems like too many … but it is a lot better than losing with nine points and the Rams.
Qoxhi Picks: Denver Broncos (-9) over Los Angeles Rams