Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 16

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 16

David Banks

Baltimore Ravens -1

Tony Romo is expected to see his first action of the preseason following his second off-season back surgery in as many years when his Dallas Cowboys (0-1, 0-1 ATS) host the Baltimore Ravens (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Saturday at 7:00 ET on NFL Network. The Cowboys were awful without Romo as well as many other starters in a 27-7 loss to the Chargers in San Diego in their opener, while the Ravens opened up on a victorious note beating the San Francisco 49ers handily 23-3 at home.

While most of the starters that sat out the Dallas opener will start this game with Romo being the most notable, the word is that they will only be in the game for 10 to 15 snaps before the reserves get called in the allow Coach Jason Garrett to further evaluate his depth after the second and third stringer performed so badly against the Chargers with the exception of backup quarterback and oft maligned Brandon Weeden, who somehow managed to complete 13-of-17 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown without an interception. The touchdown pass went to James Hanna, who is their third string tight end and does not figure to be on the field much once the real games begin. Do not expect Weeden to duplicate his Week 1 success once he enters the game here vs. a Baltimore defense that defended him well when he was a quarterback inside the Ravens' division with the Browns. Also the Cowboys are decimated by injuries in the secondary and had just three true cornerbacks in uniform vs. the Chargers. And starting cornerback Morris Claiborne is already declared out for the game while safeties Ahmad Dixon and Matt Johnson are doubtful, so allowing another 27 points and 243 passing yards like last week would not be at all surprising.

Another edge that the Ravens have here is that John Harbaugh is one of those coached that likes to win during preseason, and it showed vs. the 49ers as Baltimore outgained San Francisco by 200 total yards and finished with an amazing 237 rushing yards on 48 carries. The quarterbacks were efficient with Joe Flacco completing 4-of-5 passes for 52 yards and Tyrod Taylor completing 13-of-21 for 116 yards, and just the fact that Harbaugh only used two quarterbacks is further evidence that he takes these games rather seriously. The real story though was the depth of the Baltimore backfield as the Ravens has six different players finish with at least 17 rushing yards. Ray Rice carried the ball just three times for 17 yards for a nice 5.7 YPC while primary backup Bernard Pierce carried seven times for 29 yards (4.1 YPC). The diversity of the Baltimore offense could give a depleted Dallas defense fits in this contest. And don't forget the performance of the Baltimore defense, which held the Niners to a measly 187 total yards of offense.

The Ravens are 14-6 straight up in their last 20 preseason games under Harbaugh and they are 7-3 ATS on the road during this span.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 16

Vegas Butcher

Oakland Athletics -102

In July and August Teheran has allowed 58 hits, 27 ER's, and 7 HR's in 52 innings of work. That's an ERA of 4.7 in the last two months. He's strictly a fastball/slider pitcher, both pitches that this A's offense hits really well (top-10). The issue for him is that he's a fly-ball pitcher as well and the A's have the highest FB-rate in all of baseball at 41.2%. By comparison, Gray is a GB pitcher with a 55% GB-rate, has only allowed 13 ER's in 53 innings the last 2 months (that's with a 6 run start in there) for a 2.2 ERA, and most importantly features a 93 MPH fastball which this Atlanta team will have trouble catching up to. Both teams feature top bullpens, solid defense, and strong overall starters. But A's have a +24% edge in offensive efficiency which will be the difference in this game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 16

Triple Threat Sports

Dallas (+) over Baltimore

Teams with something to prove are usually solid plays in the preseason, especially when taking teams off of satisfying wins. Pokes come into this off a 20 point loss while the Ravens were a 20 point winner last week, and that points us to the underdog in this one. Dallas will play three QB’s that have started games in the NFL while the Ravens have just one, and we look for Dallas to notch the home win in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 16

Sam Martin

Arizona Diamondbacks at Miami Marlins
Prediction: Miami Marlins

Both Arizona and Miami have each won one game so far this series, with the Marlins scoring a one-run win on Thursday night and the Diamondbacks returning the favorite with a one-run win last night. We'll back Miami to bounce back with a win tonight and we expect the pitching advantage behind Henderson Alvarez to be the difference.

Alverez has been extremely underrated overall this season, but more so here at home where he owns a fantastic 9-2 team start record and formidable 1.48 ERA. Wade Miley has been all over the place of late, looking good against both Cincinnati and Colorado but also giving up 16 runs combined in two starts against the Phillies and Royals. Lack of consistency over his last four starts for Miley while Alvarez has been extremely consistent here at home all year!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 16

Ben Burns

Brewers vs. Dodgers
Pick: Dodgers

Sure the juice is high here. You knew it would be with Clayton Kershaw pitching for the Dodgers. But honestly, I thought it would a lot higher. After watching Zack Greinke dominate the Brewers lineup last night (before being pulled way too soon), I have little doubt that Kershaw can do the same.

Milwaukee did win last night, in rather shocking fashion.  They prevailed 6-3, scoring all of their runs in the final two innings. While Greinke exited, they had only two hits through five innings.

I shouldn't have to tell you that Kershaw is again the top pitcher in the National League this year, possibly in all of MLB.  The Dodgers are 16-3 when he takes the hill this season and his numbers illustrate just how dominant he's been. He has 1.78 ERA and 0.85 WHIP for the season.  He hasn't lost a decision since May 28th! In that time, he's gone at least eight innings eight times with three complete games in July alone.  His average of 10.8 K's per nine innings is the highest of his career.

His last start came against the Brewers.  It was the only game the Dodgers won in the series and Kershaw was his usual dominant self, throwing eight innings and allowing just one run.

Milwaukee won't be as lucky tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 16

OC Dooley

Dallas Cowboys +2.5

There has been a radical offshore line shift as Dallas has gone from a two-point favorite all the way into relatively heavy underdog status.  The bottom line is that the Cowboys still have a national “aura” which is why on a busy evening exhibition schedule that NFL Network has chosen to televise this particular contest.  Both sides are coming off radically different week-one outcomes including Baltimore who dominated a legitimate Super Bowl hopeful (San Francisco) in what can be termed the “Harbaugh Bowl”.  Last weekend was a very emotional home opener for Baltimore running back Ray Rice who was publically appreciative of the cheers from the stands despite his well publicized off the field problems where an assault was caught on camera.  The bottom line is that there will NOT be as much emotion this evening for the Ravens since this is the exhibition opener on the road as they are now going up against an “undervalued” opponent.  In week-one the Cowboys were shredded in part due to a defense that was severely lacking in quality personnel.  The Cowboys have yet to play a meaningful game in 2014 but the frnachise has already had to deal with a year’s worth of adversity.  Due to salary-cap considerations Dallas cut ties with a franchise sack leader (DeMarcus Ware) while the defense took extra hits with a season-ending injuries to middle linebacker Sean Lee and pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence.  Also due to injury and personal issues a pair of defensive cornerbacks (Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne) have had limited time on the practice field.  Even team owner Jerry Jones (married 50 years) have has internet pictures of him with two other women circulate on the internet.  Regarding rules the league handed down a four-game penalty to cornerback Orlando Scandrick who admitted to a violation of drug rules.  On offense star quarterback Tony Romo has yet to take the field after undergoing a second surgical procedure on his back.  Despite all the negatives this is the second consecutive national NFL Network telecast for Dallas who as stated earlier actually opened as a two-point favorite

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