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NFL Betting News and Notes Saturday, August 23

NFL Betting News and Notes Saturday, August 23

Saturday's Preseason Tips
By Kevin Rogers

Buccaneers at Bills (-3, 41½)

2014 Preseason Records:
TB: 0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS
BUF: 1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS

Preseason review: Tampa Bay’s offense has been nearly non-existent in two preseason losses to Jacksonville and Miami, scoring just 24 points. The Bucs have lost six of their past seven exhibition contests, while tallying 17 points or fewer six times in this stretch. The Bills are finally playing at home following three games away from Western New York, including last week’s 19-16 defeat at Pittsburgh as a short underdog. Buffalo’s defense has looked solid, allowing 19 points or less in each contest.

Previous preseason meeting: First preseason matchup

Cowboys at Dolphins (-3½, 46½)

2014 Preseason Records:
DAL: 0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS
MIA: 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS

Preseason review: The Dolphins fell short in their preseason opener at Atlanta, 16-10, but bounced back last week with an impressive 20-14 triumph at Tampa Bay as a 2½-point underdog. The Cowboys continue to have their issues defensively after giving up 37 points in last week’s seven-point home defeat to the Ravens. Dallas has dropped five of its past six preseason contests, while scoring seven points or fewer in three of the last five exhibition games.

Previous preseason meeting: Cowboys defeated Dolphins, 30-13 as 2½-point home favorites in 2012.

Titans at Falcons (-3½, 44)

2014 Preseason Records:
TEN: 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS
ATL: 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS

Preseason review: One week after holding off Green Bay in a driving rainstorm, the Titans fell at New Orleans, 31-24 as three-point underdogs. Tennessee has seen the ‘over’ hit in four of the past six exhibition games, while posting an 0-3 SU/ATS record in its last three preseason road tilts. The Falcons were destroyed at Houston last week, 32-7 while getting outscored 19-0 in the second half. Atlanta has struggled in the preseason the last few years, posting a 2-12 SU and 4-10 ATS record since 2011.

Previous preseason meeting: Titans beat Falcons, 27-16 as three-point home favorites in 2013.

Redskins at Ravens (-2½, 43½)

2014 Preseason Records:
WSH: 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS
BAL: 2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS

Preseason review: The Redskins benefited from a Hail Mary touchdown pass on the final play of Monday’s 24-23 victory over the Browns as two-point home favorites, while the ‘over’ of 41½ cashed. The Ravens cruised past the 49ers in the preseason opener, 23-3, then outlasted the Cowboys in Dallas last week, 37-30. Baltimore built a 27-10 lead over Dallas before the Cowboys got as close as four points in the final five minutes of regulation.

Previous preseason meeting: Ravens beat Redskins, 34-31 as four-point home favorites in 2011.

Saints at Colts (-2½, 47)

2014 Preseason Records:
NO: 2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS
IND: 0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS

Preseason review: The Colts have gone 0-for-New York in two preseason contests, losing to the Jets and Giants. Last week’s defeat to the Giants was an epic meltdown, blowing a 26-0 advantage before allowing 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter of a 27-26 loss as one-point home favorites. The Saints have looked solid through two victories over the Rams and Titans, while each game easily went ‘over’ the total. New Orleans has covered eight consecutive preseason games, as the Saints own a 5-1 straight-up record in their past six exhibition contests.

Previous preseason meeting: Colts beat Saints, 27-14 as 3½-point road favorites in 2006.

Vikings at Chiefs (-4, 45)

2014 Preseason Records:
MIN: 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS
KC: 1-1 SU, 0-1-1 ATS

Preseason review: The Vikings have squeezed out two home wins over the Raiders and Cardinals, as rookie Teddy Bridgewater led Minnesota on the game-winning touchdown drive against Arizona in a 30-28 victory last week. The Chiefs outlasted the Bengals in the preseason opener, 41-39 at home, but followed up with a clunker at Carolina, falling to the Panthers as three-point road underdogs, 28-16.

Previous preseason meeting: Vikings beat Chiefs, 17-13 as three-point home favorites in 2009.

Rams at Browns (-2½, 43½)

2014 Preseason Records:
STL: 0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS
CLE: 0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS

Preseason review: The Browns have failed to win a preseason game, while rookie Johnny Manziel has not taken control of the quarterback position for Cleveland. Manziel is 14-of-27 passing in a pair of one-point defeats to the Lions and Redskins, while Cleveland covered in Monday’s 24-23 loss at Washington in the final seconds. The Rams have lost each of their first two home contests to the Saints and Packers, as St. Louis owns a 1-5 SU/ATS in its previous six preseason games.

Previous preseason meeting: Browns beat Rams, 27-19 as 3 ½-point home favorites in 2013.

Texans at Broncos (-7, 46)

2014 Preseason Records:
HOU: 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS
DEN: 2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS

Preseason review: The Broncos knocked off the top two teams in the NFC, the Seahawks and 49ers to begin the preseason at 2-0. Denver opened up San Francisco’s new stadium with a 34-0 shutout of the 49ers to easily cash as four-point road underdogs. The Texans have been involved in a pair of blowouts, getting blanked at Arizona, 32-0, but followed that embarrassment up with a 32-7 rout of the Falcons at home.

Previous preseason meeting: Texans beat Broncos, 19-16 as three-point home favorites in 2008.

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Re: NFL Betting News and Notes Saturday, August 23

NFL Preseason Point Spreads and Picks
By: Mike Wilkening

For handicappers, here’s the story, in two numbers, of the Saints’ preseason through two games:

Points: 57

Penalty flags drawn: 42

The Saints’ offense looks formidable. In two exhibition wins, New Orleans has racked up seven offensive TDs.

However, the penalty issue bears monitoring.

The club was assessed 22 penalties for 184 yards in last week’s win vs. Tennessee. Eleven of the 42 penalties called on New Orleans this summer have been illegal contact, defensive pass interference or defensive holding fouls.

There’s one other number to ponder when it comes to New Orleans. Through two games, the Saints have allowed six TD passes.

Hmmm. These might be radar screen blips. But this is the sort of data that totals players can’t overlook.

The Colts, meanwhile, are having a solid-enough preseason for a club that’s yet to win an exhibition game. Note that Indianapolis has been outscored 30-3 in the fourth quarter in two preseason contests.

On Saturday night, the Colts’ starters figure to see a good deal of action against visiting New Orleans (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS). Indianapolis is a 2.5-point favorite, with the total 47.

It’s a game that gives spread and OVER-UNDER enthusiasts something to ponder. Given all the yellow flags we’ve seen in New Orleans games and all of the late-game points in Indianapolis contests, this could be a heartburn-inducing affair for the sporting investors.

The Linemakers’ lean: The Saints’ quarterback rotation is clicking with a loaded group of receivers, and this week they face a Colts D that has struggled in the preseason with defensive backfield penalties.  The Colts have a pretty formidable passing attack of their own, and the New Orleans D hasn’t been putting up all that much resistance.

The Saints are 7-1 straight up in Week 3 preseason games during Sean Payton’s tenure, but our play is OVER 47.

Here’s a take on the rest of Saturday’s card.  Lines are the Las Vegas consensus as of Friday afternoon.  For  updated spreads and totals, visit our live odds page.

Tampa Bay at Buffalo (-3, 41.5)

Keep an eye on the Bills’ offense.  Through three preseason games (including the Hall of Fame Game), the Bills have gained just 4.3 yards per play, fourth-worst in the NFL. 

New Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith’s Bears clubs were 4-5 in next-to-last preseason games in his tenure in Chicago (2004-2012). 

Tennessee at Atlanta (-3.5, 44)

Since 2011, the Falcons are 2-12 straight-up in preseason games.  However, they are 4-2 in third exhibition games in Mike Smith’s tenure as head coach.

Could the Titans have a sneaky-good offense this season? Through two exhibition games, the Titans were seventh in yards per play and sixth in third-down conversions.

Dallas at Miami (-3.5, 46)

Neither team has exactly been a good preseason play in recent years. The Dolphins are 2-9 against the number in Joe Philbin’s tenure as coach, while the Cowboys are just 5-10 ATS in exhibition play under Jason Garrett.

It’s no secret the Cowboys’ defense looks like the club’s most glaring weakness. Through two preseason games, opponents are 31-of-45 passing (68.9 percent) for 438 yards and two TDs against Dallas.

Washington at Baltimore (-2.5, 43.5)

The Ravens are 4-2 in penultimate preseason games in John Harbaugh's tenure. Of particular note: the OVER has cashed easily in each of the Ravens’ last three third preseason games.

Speaking of the OVER, it hit in Monday’s Washington-Cleveland matchup only because of a last-play Hail Mary. That said, Washington’s first-team offense moved the ball well against a good Cleveland defense, with two turnovers and a Browns goal-line stand halting three drives without points. As long as Washington takes care of the football, the points will come.

St. Louis at Cleveland (-2.5, 43)

History suggests it’s hard to love the Rams in this spot. Since 2000, Jeff Fisher-coached clubs are 2-11 straight-up in the next-to-last preseason game.

Let’s see if Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer loosens up now that he’s been named the starter. He didn’t play well at all in Monday’s loss at Washington, missing several open throws, including a TD pass.

Minnesota at Kansas City (-3.5, 45)

Andy Reid’s teams typically get the job done in the third preseason game. Since 2000, Reid-led squads are 9-5 straight-up in these key dress rehearsals.

Through two exhibition games, the Vikings are surrendering just 294 yards per game. By contrast, they surrendered nearly 400 per contest last preseason and then struggled on defense throughout the 2013 campaign.

Houston at Denver (-7, 46)

Talk about locked in: Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is 22-of-27 for 180 yards in two preseason games.

Handicappers will want to watch how Denver’s ground game fares against Houston’s stout run defense. The Texans are allowing 2.8 yards per carry in the preseason, while the Broncos are gaining just 3.4 yards per rush.  Denver needs its ground game to be sharp, and this is the time to buckle down. In other words, it's not all going to be Manning strikes to open receivers.

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Re: NFL Betting News and Notes Saturday, August 23

Saturday's Week 3 NFL Preseason Primer

The bulk of the NFL's Week 3 preseason action takes place Saturday night, highlighted by a showdown of top-tier quarterbacks in Indianapolis and the defending AFC champions at home to last year's worst team. Here's a look at betting notes for Saturday's eight-game schedule:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills (-3, 41.5)

The Buccaneers went with a predominantly no-huddle attack with the first-team offense last week in a loss to the Miami Dolphins and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford is expected to do the same Saturday versus Buffalo. The defense has been tasked with learning a version of the Tampa 2 defense - one designed to create turnovers - but has forced just one so far and is expected to ratchet up the pressure Saturday.

Buffalo's first-team offense has moved the ball remarkably well through the first two preseason games - four of the team's five drives went for at least nine plays - but the Bills are a woeful 0-for-5 in the red zone and will look to break the goose-egg against Tampa Bay. It's unclear whether Buffalo will have wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who is nursing a rib injury and may sit out as a precaution.

Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins (-3, 46.5)

Unlike most teams, who comfortably play their starters into the third quarter of the third preseason game, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett plans to limit quarterback Tony Romo - making his return from offseason back surgery - to no more than two quarters against the Dolphins. Romo took 14 snaps in last week's game against Baltimore, his first action of the preseason, and Garrett predicts Romo may get around the same Saturday.

The Miami running back situation should be a little clearer after Saturday's game, with Knowshon Moreno returning from a knee injury and expected to see significant action as he looks to usurp Lamar Miller as the team's feature back. A groin injury to Caleb Sturgis has opened the door for backup kicker John Potter, who nailed a pair of long field goals last week and is in position to challenge for the starting role.

Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons (-3, 44)

The starting running back job appears to be Shonn Greene's to lose - at least heading into Week 1 - as rookie Bishop Sankey continues to struggle with a fumbling problem that has plagued him since the beginning of training camp. Both should see plenty of action Saturday. A finger injury to backup QB Charlie Whitehurst will likely result in rookie Zach Mettenberger playing nearly the entire second half in relief of Jake Locker.

Atlanta's first-team units will look to bounce back after a dreadful showing against the Houston Texans last week, one in which the starting offense ended each of its four drives with punts and the defense allowed a lengthy touchdown drive. Rookie Jake Matthews will make his debut as the starting left tackle and will be looking to hang onto the job after struggling for most of the preseason.

Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5, 43.5)

The focus on offense will be on the performance of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has moved the ball effectively through the exhibition season but has struggled mightily in the red zone and is still working on not taking big hits when he carries it himself. Pass rusher Jason Hatcher will make his debut with Washington after being limited throughout the preseason in his recovery from knee surgery.

The Ravens are expected to give running back Bernard Pierce an extended look Saturday in hopes of preparing him for the lead role he'll assume while regular starter Ray Rice serves a season-opening two-game suspension. With Baltimore's top three defensive backs out with injuries, Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks will be asked to step up against one of the more formidable receiving corps in football.

New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5, 47)

It's unclear how the Saints plan to employ their three-headed rushing attack against Indianapolis as Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson are all expected to get a fair share of work as head coach Sean Payton figures out how to split the carries during the season. Drew Brees and the first-team offense played a whopping 37 snaps in the third preseason game in 2013, and will likely wind up with a similar total Saturday.

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw is expected to see his first action since suffering a season-ending neck injury last September, and has a golden chance to cut into Trent Richardson's hold on the starting role as the incumbent is averaging just 2.4 yards per carry in the preseason. The Indianapolis defense has forced six punts on nine possessions in games against the Jets and Giants, but will find the going a lot tougher against the powerhouse Saints.

St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns (-2.5, 43.5)

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is expected to play the majority of his starters on offense and defense, though linebacker James Laurinaitis remains a question mark with an ankle injury and may be rested as a precaution. Four other key players - defensive tackle Michael Brockers (ankle), left tackle Jake Long (knee), guard Roger Saffold (neck) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (hamstring) - will make their preseason debuts against the Browns.

Now that the quarterback pecking order is set, Cleveland fans know exactly what to expect Saturday night - anointed starter Brian Hoyer will likely play the entire first half and at least the opening series of the third quarter, while rookies Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw will likely handle the remainder of the snaps. Starting running back Ben Tate has looked solid in camp, and can create some separation atop the depth chart with a strong showing.

Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5, 45)

It likely won't come as a surprise to anyone, but the Vikings will rest starting running back Adrian Peterson for the third straight preseason game; Peterson hasn't started an exhibition contest since 2011, and is virtually guaranteed to miss the preseason finale, as well. Four players for the Vikings will miss the game, including cornerback Jabari Price (arm) and linebacker Brandon Watts (lower leg).

The Kansas City defense will look to return to a more disciplined style of play Saturday night after racking up 13 penalties for 131 yards against Carolina last weekend; the Chiefs had just four penalties for 32 yards in the opener against Carolina. Kansas City offensive tackle Donald Stephenson is expected to remain in the lineup, but he has been suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (-7, 46)

All eyes will be on second-year Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has improved dramatically in training camp and could see an increased workload alongside No. 1 wideout Andre Johnson. Reserve running back Jonathan Grimes began training camp well back on the depth chart, but has excelled to the point where he is now the unquestioned No. 2 behind Arian Foster and can strengthen his hold on the role Saturday.

The Broncos are expected to get stronger on both sides of the ball Saturday, with a pair of key players making their preseason debuts against the Texans. Linebacker Von Miller will likely see significant action in his first appearance since suffering an ACL tear in his right knee against Houston last December, while running back Montee Ball makes his return after undergoing an appendectomy earlier this month.

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