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Week 1 Preseason Notes

   by ASA - 08/08/2007

Cincinnati (+1.5) at Detroit
Thursday – 7:30 pm EST

The Bengals were one of just two teams to go a perfect 4-0 both SU and ATS last year. They will look to improve on their five-game overall preseason winning streak when they take on the Lions. The Cincinnati starters will play at least one series but will not likely see more than that. Backup quarterbacks Doug Johnson, Jeff Rowe and Jeff Smith will see most of the action under center but all of them have been incredibly underwhelming during training camp. The Bengal receiving corps has been bitten by the injury bug as five players in the group, including All-Pro Chad Johnson, have nursed injuries throughout the week.

Rod Marinelli’s first preseason at the helm of the Lions was far from impressive as a 1-3 preseason mark precluded a 3-13 record season record. Marinelli will look to reverse that trend in his second year. Jon Kitna will start at quarterback for Detroit but will be quickly relieved by second-string QB J.T. O’Sullivan, who will receive a majority of the game’s snaps. Detroit’s backup quarterback situation is one of the shakiest in the NFL and might not provide much spark to the offense.

Indianapolis (+4.5) at Dallas
Thursday – 8:00 pm EST

There may not be a coach in the NFL who puts less emphasis on the preseason than Indy’s Tony Dungy. The Colts have been the best team in football the last two years but have posted a 1-8 SU record and a 2-7 ATS mark over the last two preseason. Dungy prefers to get his starters out early to avoid injuries and this year should be no different. The starters are expected to play between 10 and 15 and a liberal substitution pattern will follow. Very little experience exists behind Peyton Manning with the three backups combining for just three years of service and zero career starts.

This year’s Cowboy training camp under new head coach Wade Phillips has been vastly differently than the ones run by former coach Bill Parcells. Practices are much lighter and the players are taking to it well. Dallas was a combined 9-3 SU and 8-4 ATS the last three preseasons under Parcells but his routine had run its course so the change of pace might be good for the team. The starters on both sides of the ball are expected to play the entire first quarter but the offense will be without starting wideout Terry Glenn as well as starting tackles Marc Colombo and Flozell Adams. Brad Johnson will take over for starter Tony Romo in the second quarter with Matt Baker and Matt Moore splitting the snaps under center in the second half.

Atlanta (+3.5) at New York Jets
Friday – 7:00 pm EST

Mike Vick’s off-the-field troubles have led to an inauspicious start to the Bobby Petrino era. A win in the preseason opener could change the season’s outlook for the Falcons, though. Petrino said the offense would be a vanilla version of what will be seen during the regular season. Joey Harrington has been seen in camp working on his short, quick routes while backup quarterback D.J. Shockley has intrigued the coaching staff. Chris Redman, a five-year veteran out of Louisville, has been getting a majority of the second-string snaps but the coaching staff feels Shockley will shine in game situations.

2006 second-round draft pick Kellen Clemens is coming on strong at Jets camp and could provide New York with a solid backup plan should the brittle Chad Pennington go down. Former Missouri standout Brad Smith, who has developed into a do-everything threat for the Jet offense, should also see some snaps at quarterback. His scrambling ability and improving passing technique could lead to some second-half excitement. New York went just 1-3 ATS in Eric Mangini’s first preseason at the helm but it is 8-1 SU and 6-3 ATS as a preseason home favorite since 2002.

New England (+2) at Tampa Bay
Friday – 7:30 pm EST

The always secretive Bill Belichick is again keeping quite on his rotation plans for New England’s preseason opener, despite it being just a preseason contest. If history is any indication, though, the first-teamers won’t see much action. Tom Brady attempted just four passes in the preseason opener last year with backup Matt Cassel taking every snap afterwards. August has historically been a good month for the Patriots as they are 12-6 SU and 11-4 ATS during the month since 2002. Additionally, they are 5-1 SU and 5-0 ATS since 2002 when playing Friday nights.

Last year’s 1-3 preseason record is a poor indication but Jon Gruden has been one of the most successful preseason coaches in recent memory. Gruden is 24-14 SU in his career during the preseason, second among active coaches with at least one full season under. And no coach has more quarterback depth than Gruden. Tampa Bay boasts three quarterbacks – Jeff Garcia, Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski – with extensive starting experience. That depth gives the Bucs an advantage that few teams can match.

Buffalo (+5.5) at New Orleans
Friday – 8:00 pm EST

J.P. Losman, who has been praised nonstop throughout training camp, will get between 10 and 15 plays in the preseason opener. Head coach Dick Jauron says that most of the starters will equal Losman’s playing time with the backups going the rest of the way. Backup QB Craig Nall will step in for a short time after Losman with 2007 third-round draft pick Trent Edwards going the rest of the way. Jauron went just 1-3 SU in his first preseason at the helm in Buffalo, which fit the profile of his previous records. He is just 8-16 SU as a head coach in the preseason for his career.

The Saints have an advantage over the Bills in this contest because they have already played a preseason game. They have seen where they need to improve and will make the necessary adjustments. The starters will see extended playing time with each unit playing a full quarter after playing just one or two series in the Hall of Fame Game. Also, starting running back Deuce McAllister is expected to return after missing the opener. Head coach Sean Payton worked the players harder earlier in the week following what he thought was a poor effort in the opener. Expect the Saints to be prepared in this one.

St. Louis (+2.5) at Minnesota
Friday – 8:00 pm EST

The St. Louis first-teamers won’t see much action in its preseason opener but the reserves, specifically the quarterbacks, should put forth solid production off the bench. Neither Gus Frerotte nor Ryan Fitzpatrick saw much action last year but both have been productive as starters in their respective careers. Frerotte has thrown for over 18,000 yards and nearly 100 touchdowns in his career and Fitzpatrick put up solid numbers in four starts as a rookie in 2005.

While the Rams have solid depth at the quarterback position, the Vikings aren’t so fortunate. Their four quarterbacks combine for just 10 career touchdowns and it’s debatable whether or not either of those four are worthy of being a starting quarterback. Minnesota head coach Brad Childress enjoyed a solid preseason in his debut season last year, going 2-1-1 SU and 3-1 ATS. The Vikings have also played well against the NFC West in the preseason, going 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS versus the division since 2004, including a 29-9 win over these same Rams.

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