This is the third and final of three articles with analysis and picks for the final week of NFL preseason.
Based on Friday and Saturday results, it appears that coaches are opening offenses a bit more. Note that after UNDERs hammered the totals board going 23-9 in the first few weeks, ALL FOUR GAMES FLEW OVER THE TOTAL ON FRIDAY NIGHT and then the SATURDAY GAMES SPLIT AT 3-3. So, that's 7-3 to the OVER, so far in Week 3.
I think this tells us something. Totals remain low and the market has not adjusted. This is pure speculation we will see more points scored in games than is reflected in the totals. Since this is the first season we've experienced three games in preseason followed by a week off, we must make some best-guesses. I'm willing to adjust my perceptions of O/U numbers based on an admittedly small sample of games....
So, I'm betting EVERY GAME OVER THE TOTAL.
As for the motivation for each team heading into Week 3, it's simple. NFL teams have a looming deadline to make deep roster cuts. This won't be the typical minor trimming that the NFL's rules on roster reduction mandated after Weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason. Rather, this will be a slashing – from 80 players down to 53. So, performances this last game will go a long way in determining who makes the near-final cut.
Tonight features five games. Here are the current lines according to SPREADS.CA:
This Week's Picks (Sunday):
Jacksonville at Dallas
The Jaguars looked lost in their first two games, especially the first and second units. In trash time, Jacksonville played somewhat better, but how much should this count for? Dallas has not looked much better despite getting the extra game in preseason. The Cowboys are 0-3. QB Dak Prescott will not play. And as far as other notable starters, they too won't see much action. The Cowboys have not won a preseason game since 2019, going 0-4 in that time period. Backups Ben DiNucci, Cooper Rush, and Garrett Gilbert have been handling the quarterback duties this preseason for Dallas and none of them has been impressive. The line is now JAX -3. Recommendation: OVER 36.5
Miami at Cincinnati
This game will feature the preseason debut of Cincy QB Joe Burrow, who hasn't taken a single snap since tearing his ACL back in November. At Miami -2 I don't want to touch a side in this game. Recommendation: OVER 36.5
Las Vegas at San Francisco
Jon Gruden has typically been a good bet in preseason, and he's showing that again as the Raiders are 2-0 and close out the exhibition campaign on the road. Yet, the 49ers are laying -5.5. Since there's a QB battle in San Francisco brewing, that might play into more offense on that side of the ball. I don't know what to expect here as far as a side goes. Recommendation: OVER 35.5
New England at NY Giants
For the Giants let's call this the Battle of the Jones' – it's Mac versus Daniel. Both QBs are expected to play. For Daniel Jones, this week's game will mark his 2021 preseason debut. On Mac's side, it's possible he could still earn the starting QB job with a great performance. The Patriots also might air it out a bit more since Cam Newton is out due to COVID and the extra playing time will go to Jones who gets to work solely with the first team this week. In two preseason games thus far, the Patriots have outscored their foes 57-13 and have yet to lose yet. Meanwhile, the lackluster Giants still can’t get out of their own way on offense. They have yet to win a game and have been out-scored 29-20. It's tempting to play the Patriots here, but the NY Giants first team might wake up here, and they're probably a good live dog at +3. I'll resist the temptation to play them however, and will stick with the total. Recommendation: OVER 35.5
Cleveland at Atlanta
This is the Sunday night finale. No team has looked worse in the preseason that the Falcons, who are 0-2 and have been outscored by a combined score of 60-20 It seems simple to fade Atlanta again, especially with an opponent that's performed well in their two games. I’ll lay the points with Cleveland here, as QB Baker Mayfield is finally expected to make his preseason debut for the undefeated Browns. Backup Case Keenum has also looked good for Cleveland. Meanwhile, Atlanta's QB rotation is a disaster behind Matt Ryan. They're so desperate, the Falcons just signed Josh Rosen who will likely get time in this game. We also have two coaches that approach the preseason in very different ways, so let's go with the proven winner. The line on this game dropped from -7 to -6 – I have no idea why. Inside of a touchdown, I think the favourite has value here. Recommendation: Cleveland -6 and OVER 36