Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 23

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 23

Scott Delaney

It's been strictly business for the Denver Broncos.

I know it's the preseason, but dammit, that team with that Peyton fella sure does look like a team on a mission - even in the preseason.

And for as chippy and snarky as things got in Englewood, Colorado this week during intrasquad practicing, I'd say things will get heated in Denver tonight. And the Broncos aren't to be messed with in their house.

Not with that Peyton fella under center.

Last week the Broncos looked good on the road in a 34-0 win at San Francisco. That was after beating the Seattle Seahawks in a Super Bowl rematch. Now 2-0, the Broncos' official dress rehearsal in front of their home crowd figures to be monumental against one of the presumed most feared defensive units this season.

I don't trust Houston just yet, and I don't think its offense stands a chance in that altitude against the Broncos' aggressive D.

Let's lay the points. Let's buy the half point off 7. Let's watch that Peyton fella do his thing.

1♦ DENVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 23

Jeff Benton

Your Saturday freebie is the Braves over the Reds.

Cincinnati was nearly no-hit last night by Mike Minor, and while they did manage to score in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game at 1-1, they did eventually wind up falling in 12 innings to the Braves.

The Reds losing streak is now at 7 in a row, and 10 of their last 11 overall. Meanwhile, the Braves have picked up the pace with wins in 7 of their last 8, as they have been getting plenty of pitching and plenty of offense during this upswing.

Back Atlanta again tonight, as Ervin Santana opposes Mike Leake.

Santana is on a 6-0 run with a 2.98 ERA his last 7 starts, while Leake is on an 0-2 slide his last 3 starts with an ERA over 5.

One team is surging, the other is doing a poor job treading water.

Have to side with the Braves to come though once again on Saturday night in the Queen City.

Take Atlanta.

4♦ ATLANTA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 23

Gabriel Dupont

I will play the St. Louis Rams at the Cleveland Browns.

The SMART INTANGIBLE with the Rams - Coach Jeff Fisher is a seasoned veteran and will easily outclass his counterpart tonight. This is a big edge for a team like the Rams, on the road and in Week 3 of the preseason. Want to see structure? Watch the differences with discipline in this game.

The SMART INTANGIBLE working against the Browns - Quarterback distractions abound. I swear, this coach is driving this team into the ground, and the Browns are headed for trouble. You don't name a starter, then later state you have the option to go with a two-man show.

In conclusion, why ST. LOUIS is my SMART PLAY in this game - As long as the quarterback situation in Cleveland is in pencil - not in ink - there is trouble up there. And I don't care this one is in Cleveland, the Rams are going to be the more focused and disciplined team in this game. They don't have near the media distraction to deal with, even with Michael Sam on the roster.

The best news in Cleveland today is Kevin Love arriving to play alongside LeBron James. He'll be a Cavalier before sundown, and the Browns will come out of this game with the media asking everyone - who should the starter be? Too much trouble for the Browns right now.

2♦ ST. LOUIS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 23

Chris Jordan

Drew Brees has a message for everyone who is on Andrew Luck's fruits. Not to mention Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.

It's called Respect Your Elders.

Tonight in Indianapolis, we'll be reminded of who holds the all-time single-season mark for passing yards, behind his excellence and offensive prowess. I fully expect Brees to direct the New Orleans Saints prolific offense to an outright win tonight.

The Colts are 0-2 in the preseason, while the Saints are 2-0.

And I don't know if Indianapolis is as together as coach Chuck Pagano had hoped. Luck will get his snaps, but there's no telling whether or not Reggie Wayne will get enough time to make a difference. Questions abound in the backfield and overall, I really think are concerns behind the scenes.

The only concern for New Orleans coach Sean Payton is how deep into the third quarter will he let Brees play. By that time, the game will be well in hand.

Take the road pup.

2♦ NEW ORLEANS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 23

Nelly

Royals / Rangers Under 9

The Ballpark in Arlington is notoriously tough on pitchers and with awful staff for the Rangers has not helped the cause this season. The ‘under’ has had a solid edge in Texas home games however even with nearly 9.5 runs scored in Rangers home games on average this season. Nick Tepesch has certainly had some ups and downs this season but his last four starts since returning to the rotation have been very solid, allowing just seven runs and 20 hits in nearly 26 innings. He does not produce a great deal of strikeouts but he has learned how to pitch in this ballpark, lowering his home ERA to 3.40 with a 1.07 WHIP and getting a great deal of ground balls. As bad as the Texas bullpen has been this season the unit owns a 1.45 ERA in the last 10 games and after six or more innings from five of the last six Texas starters the unit is in good shape. Veteran Jeremy Guthrie continues to get the job done as the Royals are 4-1 in his last five starts and he has excelled in his road starts. Backed up by an electric bullpen Guthrie knows he does not have to be perfect and he routinely keeps the Royals in games. Guthrie has allowed four or fewer runs in five of his last six starts and his strikeouts numbers are actually pretty solid while having to face difficult opposition in his last few starts. Kansas City has been one of the hottest teams in baseball this month, taking control of the AL Central but the Royals are now in a an eighth straight road game and last night Kansas City was fortunate to score six runs on only nine hits as they got two big home runs. The Royals have been an ‘under’ team on the road this season and the ‘under’ is 6-0-2 in the last eight meetings between these teams.

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