Recapping NFL Preseason Week 1
Recapping NFL Preseason Week 1
Recapping NFL Preseason Week 1
By Teddy Covers
From 2008 through 2013, Overs ruled the roost when it came to betting preseason football, with more Overs than Unders cashing in every single season. The average points scored in August NFL games increased every year during that span, from 35.3 points per game in 2008 up to 41.2 points per game last year; a preseason that saw Overs cash at nearly a 60% clip.
An increase of six points per game over a five year span is absolutely going to attract some betting market attention. The quants who rule the markets aren’t going to let that type of information slip by without a significant reaction!
In particular, the lowest totals have been the best Over bets during this run of relatively high scoring affairs. Totals of 36.5 or less have been enormous profit makers for Over bettors. From 2009 through 2013, games totaled at 36.5 or less went Over at a 93-57 (62%) clip. Games totaled at 37 or higher were essentially split 50-50 between Over cashes and Under cashes – all the profits came from betting lower totals Over.
So what happened in Week 1 this year? A huge run of Unders! Including the Hall of Fame Game to open the preseason, Unders are 13-4 here in 2014, and that includes a half point win with the Bills – Panthers 20-18 final that was totaled at 37.5. The other three Overs weren’t close, with KC – Cinci combining for 80 points, Chicago – Philly combining for 62 and New Orleans – St Louis producing 50 points between them; all three flying Over the total by at least two scores.
How and why did this Week 1 run of Unders happen? It starts with the markets. Last year’s dramatic run of Overs did not go unnoticed by the linesmakers, and opening totals were a point or two higher across the board in Week 1 this year. And the longer term trend towards Overs did not go unnoticed by the bettors either – just about every total on the board was bet up at least another point or two, taking the high initial totals and betting them up even more.
Whatever ‘value’ Over bets in preseason had between 2008 and 2013 simply didn’t exist by the time kickoff rolled around here in 2014. Look no further than these three games for a clear example. The Giants and Steelers finished with a 20-16 final score, as did the Titans – Packers game. Denver – Seattle finished 21-16.
When the Giants and Steelers played in Week 1 of the preseason in 2013, the game was totaled at 35.5. We’re talking about the same two teams, the same week of the preseason, in very similar circumstances. But this year, the total bounced between 36.5 and 37, resulting in an Under that would have been an Over last year.
The Packers – Titans game was totaled at 37.5 in Week 1 of the 2014 preseason. In 2013 Green Bay’s opening preseason game vs. Arizona was totaled at 35, while Tennessee’s opener against Washington was totaled at 35.5. Again, had the markets not reacted to last year’s prevailing Over trend, the 36 points scored when Green Bay and Tennessee matched up on Saturday would have been enough to cash another Over ticket or, at worst, push. But with the totals inflated an extra point or two, the Under cashed instead.
The Broncos were totaled at 35.5 against San Francisco in their 2013 preseason opener, while the Seahawks were totaled at 36 in their preseason Week 1 affair against San Diego. This year, however, the Broncos – Seahawks game was totaled at 37.5. Again, that narrow differential between 2013 and 2014’s betting markets around a very key number for totals (37), made a huge difference, turning what would have been an Over or a push from last year into an Under cash this year.
If the markets hadn’t reacted to the prevailing trends, we likely would have seen a 9-7 week to the Under here in Week 1 of the 2014 preseason– nothing to get excited about, and certainly not a ‘prevailing trend’. Instead, we saw a 12-4 week to the Under and suddenly the emerging Under trend is a hot topic of discussion.
The betting markets are not static entities – they’re changing and shifting, year by year. Betting strategies that gain attention because they work become the status quo, and the bookmakers adjust appropriately.
Trends die primarily for one of two reasons. The first is that they didn’t pass the ‘does it make sense’ test. There’s plenty of static in results; just plain randomness. Trends that don’t make sense for any other reason other than the fact that they are cashing winning bets won’t cash winning bets forever. A trend that makes no sense cannot stand indefinitely.
The second reason that trends die is because the markets adjust. There’s a textbook example to use here – the Monday Night Football home underdog.
Nearly every football bettor has heard the axiom about how Monday Night Football home underdogs are good bets – in general. And they were, for decades. Pointspread numbers from the 70’s are iffy at best, but I’ve seen the following numbers quoted from several trustable sources. Home dogs on Monday Night Football went 38-16 for the decade, cashing at a 70.4% clip.
The following decade of the ‘80s was almost as good, posting a 37-16 record for 69.8% winners. It is easy to understand how the theory of the profitable Monday Night Football Home Underdog took root. In those first 20 years home underdogs were 75-32 for 70% winners; a long term track record of pointspread dominance.
The theory that Monday Night Football home underdogs were good bets made sense too. In an era without many nationally televised games, weaker teams took advantage of the extra excitement and energy playing in prime time on national TV; a legitimate motivator for downtrodden squads.
But by 1990, after an extended run of excellence, home dogs on Monday Night Football were no longer profitable to support. For the decade of the 90’s, home dogs on MNF finished 25-24 ATS. Blindly betting every home dog was no better than a coin flip, and at -110, blindly betting every home dog resulted in a negative return-on-investment. The markets had caught up with the reality.
Yet the long term betting trend still said that home dogs on Monday Night were great bets: 100-56 (64%) over a thirty year sample! But all the profits from that trend came back in the 70’s and 80’s in a VERY different era for the betting markets; a MUCH less sophisticated time.
With the long term betting trend still showing that MNF home dogs were great bets, and the internet exploding with information about this trend, the first decade of the 21st century was a disaster for MNF home dog bettors. Following a 3-0 mark for home dogs in 2000, the rest of the decade resulted in an 18-30 (37.5%) record for home teams catching points on Monday Night Football.
Decade – Monday Night Home Underdog ATS Results
1970-1979 – 38-16 – 70.4%
1980-1989 – 37-16 – 69.8%
1990-1999 – 25-24 – 51.0%
2000-2009 – 21-30 – 41.1%
Bettors who followed the longer term trend got crushed. Bettors who recognized that the market conditions when the trend was established didn’t exist anymore cashed in, again and again. That’s a lesson to be aware of here in 2014 when considering the totals market for Week 2 of the preseason and beyond.
Re: Recapping NFL Preseason Week 1
Bettors who followed the longer term trend got crushed.
teddy, I'm not the brightest crayon in the box but....
121-86 over 4 decades minus 10% juice equals plus 27 units
I get the adapt to change comment but if being up 27 units over 4 decades of betting just Monday night games is "crushed" you can call me crushed anytime
Re: Recapping NFL Preseason Week 1
NFL Preseason Betting Recap: Week One
The first week of the NFL preseason is in the books and we're now headed towards the second week, where the starters should see more time. From a betting perspective, Week One is a difficult week before the starters receiver very little action. We'll review the opening week below.
Here is a look at the first week of preseason games.
Thursday, August 7
New York Jets (-3/3.5/37) over Indianapolis, 13-10
This game was a snoozer as the New Yorkk Jets had 19 first down to 13 and controlled possession for 32:40 to 27:20. They had no turnovers but decided to use Matt Simms for most of the game and he went 13 of 18 for 96 yards. Michael Vick was the backup and completed 3 of 6 for 17 yards and ran three times for 19 yards. The best player for the Colts was backup quarterback Matt Hassebleck, who threw for 114 yards and one TD. The Colts had three fumbles and lost one as their running game continued to struggle (26 for 59 yards).
Washington (-2.5/38.5) over New England, 23-6
The Patriots st out Tom Brady and most of the starters. Washington took advantage by dominating New England's backups. Robert Griffin III played just one series and threw for nine yards. Alfred Morris ran for 27 yards in an 11-play drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal. Backup Kirk Cousins threw completed 9 for 13 for 103 yards, while third-string QB Colt McCoy was 8 for 9 for 102 yards. New England started Ryan Mallet at quarterback and he completed just 5 of 12 passes for 55 yards. Second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo played the second half, going 8 of 12 for 141 yards including a 26-yard TD pass to Brian Tims. Washington controlled the ball for 39:12.
Baltimore (-2.5/37) over San Francisco, 23-3.
So much for revenge for the 2013 Super Bowl. Baltimore scored a touchdown on their opening drive (80 yards) and produced 386 yards of total offense, including 237 rushing yards. Joe Flacco played just one series, while backup Tyrod Taylor went 13 of 21 for 116 yards with one TD and one pick. Colin Kaepernick also played just one series, leading his team down the field for 66 yards and a field goal. Blaine Gabbert struggled as the Niners' new backup quarterback, going 3 for 11 for 20 yards and an interception. Baltimore had the ball for 39:37.
Cincinnati (+2.5/37) over Kansas City, 39-41.
This was the wildest game of the weekend as Sean Smith and Malcolm Bronson returned interceptions for scores and rookie De'Anthony Thomas brought back a punt 80 yards for a touchdown to lead the Chiefs to the win. The Chiefs also had three turnovers that led to 21 points including an interception from Dre Kirkpatrick. Andy Dalton played well for Cincinnati, but Jason Campbell was 6 for 15 for 72 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Alex Smith was 3 for 5 for 19 yards for the Chiefs, while Chase Daniel went 8 of 19 for 126 yards. He found tight end Travis Kelse at the end of the first half for a 69-yard TD pass. Cincinnati scored a late touchdown including a two-point conversion with 51 seconds left for the cover.
Denver (-1/37.5) over Seattle, 21-16
Denver got a bit of revenge for losing the Super Bowl by 35 points. This was a sloppy game that included 25 penalties. Peyton Manning looked sharp early on, completing 9 of 11 passes for 63 yards on the opening drive. Russll Wilson went 4 for 6 for 37 yards and was sacked twice. Tarvaris Jackson went 5 of 7 for 47 yards in his battle against Terrelle Pryor (9-for-16, 137 yards, INT). Brock Osweiler completed 6 of 12 for 85 yards with one TD and one pick, backing up Manning. Seattle had 31:19 time of possession compered to 28:41 for Denver.
San Diego (-3.5/37) over San Diego, 27-7
Dallas played without Tony Romo, while San Diego's Phillip Rivers played the opening series and completed all four passes for 61 yards. His opening drive ended when running back Ryan Mathews fumbled the ball trying to go over the pile and into the end zone. Brandon Weeden started for Romo and did well, completing 13 of 17 for 107 yards with one TD and no INTs. Kellen Clemens came in for Rivers and completed all five of his passes for 134 yards including a 70-yard touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman. The Chargers had the ball for 31:10 compared to 28:50 for Dallas.
Friday, August 8
Atlanta (-3/37) over Miami, 16-10
Miami got a strong effort from Ryan Tannehill, who went 6 for 6 for 62 yards including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson. But Atlanta dominated the game the rest of the way as they had 21 first downs to 12 and had 372 total yards to 229. Matt Ryan completed each of his seven attempts for 50 yards on the opening drive. Jacquizz Rogers had a 2-yard TD run and started for the injured Steven Jackson. T.J. Yates completed just 7 of 16 for 127 yards in his attempt to win the backup job to Ryan. Seth Lobato, an undrafted rookie from Northern Colorado, completed 14 of 28 for 124 yards for Miami as Matt Moore (shoulder) and Pad Devlin (hamstring) were held out.
Buffalo (-1/38) over Carolina, 20-18
Buffalo won their first preseason game after losing to the New York Giants in the opener. They took on a Carolina team that was playing without starting quarterback Cam Newton. E.J. Manuel played better than he did in the opener for Buffalo, completing 9 of 13 for 96 yards and rookie WR Sammy Watkins hauled three receptions for 21 yards. Rookie Kelvin Benjamin had a big moment for Carolina with a spectacular 32-yard touchdown catch from Derek Anderson, who was 5 of 7 for 65 yards. Joe Webb came in relief in the second half and went 16 of 28 for 180 yard with one TD and one INT. The Panthers did have more possession time with 32:06 to 27:54. They also had three turnovers to one.
Jacksonville (-2.5/35.5) over Tampa Bay, 16-10
This was another ugly game that featured rookie Blake Bortles playing well, tossing for 117 yards in his opening game. He hit Mike Brown with a 31-yarder down the middle of the field to set up a 26-yard field goal to give the Jaguars a 10-3 lead late in the third quarter. The Buccaneers didn't help themselves with 11 penalties for 103 yards. Josh McCown struggled in his first start for Tampa Bay, completing 2 of 4 for20 yards and one pick that went 68 yards for a touchdown from Winston Guy. Mike Glennon produced Tampa Bay's only touchdown, which was a 6-yard pass to Tommy Streeter in the third quarter. Jacksonville won it on a 23-yard run from Deron Robinson late in the fourth quarter.
Chicago (-1/41.5) over Philadelphia, 34-28
Both teams just continued where they left off last season as they produced 51 first downs and 850 yards. Nick Foles struggled early for the Eagles, throwing two picks. Jay Cutler threw for 85 yards for the Bears, who got great production from their backup quarterbacks. Jordan Palmer went 8 for 11 for 104 yards, while Jimmy Clausen threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Foles wound up with just 44 yards on 6-of-9 passing before being replaced by Mark Sanchez, who was 7 for 10 for 79 yards. Chicago led in time of possession with 36:54, while they had three turnovers and 14 penalties for 103 yards. Philadelphia committed four turnovers and nine penalties for 89 yards.
New Orleans (+2/37.5) over St. Louis, 26-24.
The Saints found a running game as Mark Ingram rushed for 83 yards on eight carries including a 22-yard touchdown in the first half. Luke McCown was 7 for 10 for 49 yards with one interception by defensive end Chris Long. Third-stringer Ryan Griffin played well, tossing for 179 yards with one TD, including a 25-yard pass to rookie Brandin Crooks in third quarter. St. Louis was without starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who was kept on the bench due to precautionary reasons. Shaun Hill got the start and threw two touchdown passes in the first half.
Minnesota (-3/38) over Oakland, 10-6.
The Vikings have a quarterback problem and they are hoping to solve it in the preseason. Veteran Matt Cassel went 5 for 6 for 62 yards, but the story was Teddy Bridgewater. The rookie had a mixed debut, completing 6 for 13 for 49 yards, two sacks and one fumble that wasn't lost. Matt Schaub finished 3 of 7 for 21 yards for the Raiders in his debut. Rookie Derek Carr had some moments as he threw for 74 yards (10 of 16), but also had an interception. As usual, Oakland hurt themselves with penalties (13 for 94). Minnesota had the ball for 34:06 compared to 25:54 for Oakland.
Saturday, August 9
Detroit (-1/40) over Cleveland, 13-12
All eyes were on quarterback Johnny Manziel, who didn't play until the second quarter. He completed 7 of 11 for 63 yards and ran for 27 yards to lead the team. But the Browns settled for four field goals as their lack of a playmaker at wide receiver and tight end with Jordan Cameron out, was a problem. Starter Brian Hoyer completed 6 of 14 for 92 yards and might come off the bench in the next game. Matthew Stafford played just one drive and didn't have his favorite target in Calvin "Megatron" Johnson, who sat out. Cleveland had 11 penalties for 60 yards, while Detroit had just five for 32.
New York Giants (-2.5/36.5) over Pittsburgh, 20-16
The Giants played in their second preseason game and were sloppy, as the committed 10 penalties for 109 yards and turned the ball over twice. However, they won the game as Ryan Nassib completed 12 for 21 for 81 yards, while Curtis Painter was 7 for 7 for 68 yards and one touchdown. Eli Manning played four series and we 0 for 2 for the Giants. The Giants did rush for 85 yards to lead the team, who amassed 171 yards. Pittsburgh was led by rookie Dri Archer, who caught a 46 yarder from Ben Roethlisberger. Bruce Gradkowski threw for 66 yards in a backup role, while Landry Jones added 74 yards (11 of 21). The Giants had 30:36 of possession, while the Steelers owned the ball for 29:24.
Tennessee (-3/37.5) over Green Bay, 20-16.
The Packers scratched Aaron Rodgers and running back Eddie Lacy right before kickoff. They still nearly beat the Titans in the rain as the forced two turnovers by rookie Zach Mettenberger in the fourth quarter. Mettenberger did come back to complete 4 of 7 for 87 yards. Jackie Battle scored on a 7-yard touchdown run with 5:02 left. The Packers got a decent performance from Matt Flynn, who threw for 49 yards (5 of 10) and Scott Tolzien (8 of 12 for 124 yards). Titans' starter Jake Locker played sparingly and completed just 1 of 2 for 5 yards. Charlie Whitehurst took over and was 10 of 15 for 94 yards.
Arizona (+1/37.5) over Houston, 32-0
This was the most dominant performance of Week 1 as Arizona owned the ball for 42:07 compared to just 17:53 for the Texans. Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled with two interceptions. Arizona rookie quarterback Logan Thomas looked impressive with 113 yards on 11 of 12 passes. Houston also had 13 penalties for 126 yards along with two turnovers. They were playing without wide receiver Andre Johnson, running back Arian Foster and cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who were nursing minor injuries.
Re: Recapping NFL Preseason Week 1
Home Teams Go 14-2…
By Ross Benjamin
The first full week of the NFL preseason has concluded, and it didn't pass without some interesting betting results that can be discussed. Although these are otherwise meaningless games, as long as they provide a point-spread and total, there's potential money to be made.
Hall of Fame Game Participants Continue to be Money Makers
The NFL preseason annually begins with the Hall of Fame Game which is the lone scheduled contest of the week. Entering the 2014 NFL preseason any team that played in the Hall of Fame Game in their previous contest, versus an opponent playing their first preseason game of the year, has gone 54-27-5 ATS (66.7%), and 56-30 straight up (65.1%) since 1983. This year's participants in Canton, Ohio were the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants. Buffalo closed as a 1.0-point underdog at Carolina on Friday night, and came away with an outright 20-18 win. The New York Giants were a 3.0 point favorite at home versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they proceeded to win in addition to covering in a 20-16 win. Hence, that NFL preseason betting system now stands at 56-27-5 ATS (67.5%) since 1983, and by the way, I cashed my only two NFL preseason wagers of the week.
Low Scoring Week 1
The first full week of the preseason saw 12 of the 16-games go under the total. If you throw in the Hall of Fame Game result, then we saw 13 of the first 17 contests play on the low side of the number. Those first 17-contests averaged 35.6 points per game. An interesting side note was that the Eagles went over the total of 41.5 easily in a 34-28 loss at Chicago. Philadelphia has now gone over the total in 4 of 5 preseason games with Chip Kelly as their head coach. Then there was the high scoring affair in which Kansas City was a 41-39 winner over Cincinnati. I would be remiss not to note that the Chiefs scored 2-touchdowns via interception returns, and another on a punt return. The Bengals also accounted for one of their touchdowns on an interception return.
Home Teams Prevail
The home teams went an incredible 14-2 straight up in the opening week, and were an equally impressive 13-2-1 ATS. The only home losers were Carolina at the hands of Buffalo, and St. Louis who dropped a 26-24 decision to New Orleans. As a matter of fact, home favorites of 2.0 or more went 9-1-1 ATS, and were a perfect 11-0 straight up while winning by an average of 8.6 points per game.
Interesting Team Preseason Streaks
The Seattle Seahawks entered the 2014 preseason having gone an incredible 9-0 SU&ATS in their last 9-games. All of those games came under the guidance of current head coach Pete Carroll. Well all good things must come to an end. Seattle lost at Denver 21-16, and also failed to cover as a 1.0 point underdog. However, Seattle has gone a terrific 22-5 ATS over their last 27 preseason contests, and has won 20 of those 27 outright.
The New Orleans Saints continued their money making ways during the preseason slate. They opened the 2014 campaign with a 26-24 wins as a 1.5 point underdog at St. Louis. New Orleans has now covered in 7 consecutive preseason games.
The Kansas City Chiefs 41-39 win over Cincinnati marked their 3rd straight preseason win. Prior to that 3-game win streak, the Chiefs were the poster team for preseason futility going 6-30 straight up, and 5-29-2 ATS in their previous 36-games.
Re: Recapping NFL Preseason Week 1
Preseason Notes - NFC
By Tony Mejia
Week 1 of the NFL preseason is in the books and if you rode the home teams last weekend, then you fared well at the betting counter as the hosts posted a 14-2 record.
Against the number, bettors watched the favorites go 12-4 straight up and 10-3-1 against the spread while the ‘under’ produced a 12-4 mark.
Looking ahead to the season week of the preseason, oddsmakers have listed the home team as favorites in all 16 games. Despite a flurry of ‘under’ winners last week, most totals are hovering above 40 points and the Eagles-Patriots matchup on Friday has a number hovering around 47.
Including the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3 that saw the Giants defeat the Bills 17-13 from Canton, the NFC owns a slight 7-6 advantage over the AFC in this year’s preseason.
In case you missed any of this year’s preseason, here are my notes for all 16 teams in the NFC.
Dallas: Despite a goal line stand when they forced a fumble from Ryan Mathews, the Cowboys defense looked horrendous. The Chargers moved the ball seemingly at will and beat Dallas on short runs, deep balls and everything in between, taking full advantage of a painfully obvious lack of depth. While Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Jason Witten seeing their first action against Baltimore will get the headlines, Dallas' defensive improvement is what matters most for a unit that has already struggled with attrition. With Morris Claiborne nursing a sore knee, the team got bad news on Monday night when Jerry Jones revealed CB Orlando Skandrick will miss the regular season's first four games due to a substance abuse violation.
N.Y. Giants: Installing a new offense has been made tougher by David Wilson's retirement and Peyton Hillis' absence, though rookie Andre Williams has taken to an increased role extremely well. The reigning Doak Walker Award winner is averaging six rushing yards per carry, but still needs to prove he can help protect Eli Manning and Curtis Painter, elevated to a primary backup role ahead of Ryan Nassib. Look for him to get extensive action with the ones and twos against Indianapolis in what is likely to be an extensive test to see whether he can truly handle an extensive load.
Philadelphia: Nick Foles was pressured heavily by Chicago's front seven and didn't handle it well, throwing a pair of ugly interceptions. He had his timing thrown off in a timing-based offense, which combined with new backup Mark Sanchez's strong debut, has everyone but Eagles coaches overreacting. Chip Kelly will stick with him and seems to have no fear of a third-year decline, but that doesn't mean panic won't become the overwhelming narrative if he plays poorly at New England. Joint practices with the Patriots may mean more than the actual game, especially with Darrelle Revis on a quest for redemption, but Foles should do himself a favor and avoid turnovers to keep the Philly press from overreacting.
Washington: Since Robert Griffin III looks like he's moving around like old times, interest in Kirk Cousins is sure to ramp up again. That makes his next game against Cleveland a huge audition, taking place in a Monday nighter everyone will be watching because of Johnny Manziel. Given all the quarterbacks involved, it sure would open eyes if he can be the most productive on the field. Look for Jay Gruden to be aggressive, especially with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon suiting up for the first time.
Atlanta: Julio Jones wasn't even in uniform against Miami, and while his workload will increase, it's highly doubtful that he'll play Friday night in Houston. That means the team can take a longer look at roster hopefuls beyond locks Roddy White and Harry Douglas. Rookies Geraldo Boldewijn, Bernard Reedy and Freddie Martino will all get their shot, but have to get more accurate QB play from backups T.J. Yates and Sean Renfrew, who were a combined 13-for-31 against the Dolphins.
Carolina: With Cam Newton, D'Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart scheduled to debut on Sunday night against the Chiefs, the Panthers will look to see how some of their pieces fit. Remember, they had a pair of key offensive linemen retire and saw top receivers Steve Smith and Ted Ginn depart, so the opening game was really one you can discard outside of first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin's only reception going for 29 yards and six points. They managed 75 first-half yards. It will be interesting to see how long they participate, but the first meaningful action of the season is set to come after Carrie Underwood's theme song plays on NBC.
New Orleans: Drew Brees says he might have the fastest weapons around him that he's ever worked with, surprising because jitterbug Darren Sproles is now playing for the Eagles. Rookie Brandin Cooks' first-round selection raised some eyebrows given the team's other needs, but suddenly looks like an absolute steal since the Rams had no prayer of staying in front of him. He'll debut in front of the home crowd at the Superdome against Tennessee on Saturday and should expect to be on the Titans radar. He managed to remain an NFL secret for about two minutes.
Tampa Bay: Vincent Jackson only got one grab in the 16-10 loss in Jacksonville, so it's not a huge deal that No. 7 pick Mike Evans goes into the preseason home opener against Miami without a reception. He was targeted only twice, so expect to see a concerted effort to get him on the same page with QBs Josh McCown and Mike Glennon, even if it requires force-feeding him. The Buccaneers did see a productive debut from rookie Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, a tight end taken in the second round who could make the offense dynamic alongside new acquisition Brandon Myers. Expect new offensive coordinator Jeff Telford to seek out bigger plays in his second test drive with this bunch.
Chicago: The Bears should've had a far easier time with Philadelphia, but left points on the board after turnovers and were really sloppy on special teams. Josh Huff took a kickoff 102 yards inside of the first half's two- minute warning, a horrid look for long-time special teams coordinator Joe DeCamilis. His unit muffed a punt and had a field goal blocked, so you can probably count on a cleaner effort in Thursday's nationally televised home game against the Jaguars. Head coach Marc Trestman has already stated plans to move people around, which means there will be an increased sense of urgency and attention to detail from guys looking to impress in an area that often plays tiebreaker when deciding who makes the team.
Detroit: Rookie tight end Eric Ebron went from being unlikely to play to being extremely active in his first stint of action against Cleveland. The Lions declined to disclose the nature of the injury, but felt comfortable enough with his mobility to target him four times, getting him a reception in a game situation as they look to feed his confidence following a drop-filled start to training camp. The 10th pick in this past NFL Draft figures to feature heavily in the next few exhibitions, and between center Travis Swanson, the second-string offense will have two potential game-changing rookies in the mix at Oakland, which bodes well for them against an opponent that was held scoreless for more than three quarters in Minnesota. Swanson will have to clean up his snap game, however, since he had a key turnover against the Browns that nearly sealed a loss before Kellen Moore rescued the result with some clutch late throws.
Green Bay: Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was instructed by head coach Mike McCarthy to keep coverages simple and not give anything away since the Packers will visit Seattle on the opening Thursday night. Still, they left the first team defense on the field following a turnover in Tennessee to see whether they would hold up. A second straight road date against the Rams should call for another vanilla approach, especially on turf, but it's worth pointing out that Green Day's only preseason win in 2013 was a 19-7 result in St. Louis in Week 2.
Minnesota: The Vikings sound ready to really test expected starter Matt Cassel, who only got 10 snaps in the opener, looking sharp in completing 5-of-6. The Cardinals defense is down a few men, but should offer a great look with their ability to generate pressure. Rookie second-rounder Teddy Bridgewater will see the bulk of time after Cassel, leaving mop-up duty for Cristian Ponder. That could create a potentially beneficial situation to have a former starter against third-string defense that gave up the only points against the Raiders, especially if raw project Logan Thomas sees late action for Arizona and the game is close. The Vikings drew over 50,000 for the preseason opener.
Arizona: The Cardinals aren't hiding their excitement over third-rounder John Brown, a Pittsburg State product from South Florida viewed as an immediate difference-maker. He caught five passes for 87 yards in a 32-0 rout of Houston, working well with backup Drew Stanton after catching a 25-yard strike from Carson Palmer in his only series co-exist in with the starting QB and top receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He's a potential x-factor worth monitoring closely as he takes the field at Minnesota, and the fact his alma mater's teams are nicknamed the Gorillas makes it al, the easier to root for him.
San Francisco: Although rookie Carlos Hyde looked like the load he was expected to be running the football, the rest of the 49ers offensive reserves left much to be desired in the 23-3 loss in Baltimore. The 49ers are hoping to get a boost from ex-Bills star Stevie Johnson, but he didn't get much help from Colin Kaepernick backups Blaine Gabbert, Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who went a combined 12-for-26 for 109 yards and two interceptions. Kaepernick should throw more than a single pass in Saturdays afternoon home date with Denver, but the lack of production beyond him is alarming and could put them at a disadvantage against the Brock Osweiler-led Broncos second-string that got so many quality reps in turning away the Seahawks last week.
Seattle: The Seahawks saw their nine-game preseason win streak snapped when Terrelle Pryor was intercepted at the goal line, but he did a real nice job marching down the field, showing off better accuracy in addition to his usual speed and elusiveness. It wouldn't be surprising to see Pryor push Tarvaris Jackson for the top backup spot behind Russell Wilson, and he should have plenty of reps since Pete Carroll isn't likely to expose Wilson much due to the multiple absences along the offensive line. Starters Russell Okung, Max Unger and James Carpenter all missed the Denver game, but are back at practice, slowly working their way back from nagging injuries. San Diego could take advantage, but the Seahawks have lost only one home game -- preseason, regular season or playoffs -- in their last 22 outings, a string that began Aug. 11, 2012.
St. Louis: Rookie running back Tre Mason showed terrific burst and drew praise from Rams legend Marshall Faulk on the St. Louis broadcast. The Hall of Famer believes Mason is a grinder who can be a 25-30 carry guy in spite of his small stature. Even though though Zac Stacy looks like the starter and Mason opened with the fourth-string, he ended up with 51 yards on 15 carries despite seeing a few big runs called back against New Orleans. If he continues to excel, he'll be a weapon throughout the preseason in winnable games against Green Bay, Cleveland and Miami.