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Preseason Notes (Week 3 / Week 4)
by Larry Ness
Week 3 of the 2010 NFL preseason opened with the 49ers as the lone NFC team still undefeated while five AFC teams were unbeaten (Baltimore, Miami, New England, Oakland and Pittsburgh). NFC teams Carolina and Chicago were both 0-2 while five AFC teams entered the new week winless (Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Kansas City). The league's six unbeaten teams were a combined 11-1 ATS while the seven winless teams checked in at 1-13 ATS. The week consisted of two games on Thursday, four more on Friday, a nine-game Saturday schedule and then a Sunday night game with Pittsburgh in Denver.
The first two weeks of the preseason were unusually high scoring, as over bettors posted a 20-12-1 mark through 33 games. Thursday games were both easy overs, as Sam Bradford made his first career start and helped the Rams upset the Patriots 36-35 in one game, while the Packers routed the Colts 59-24 in the game played on ESPN. Friday's games were dominated by the visiting teams (3-1 SU and ATS) and the unders. The Saints (on CBS) were the lone home team to win Friday night (36-21 over the Chargers) and marked the only over of the night.
Home teams bounced back on Saturday going 6-3 SU and ATS but again the unders were the norm, as six of the nine games stayed under the number. The CBS game was Dallas at Houston and the Texans won their first game of the preseason, handing the Cowboys a 23-7 defeat. Sunday night in Denver, the Broncos won their first game of the preaseon 34-17, handing the Steelers their first loss. Home teams are 25-22 SU (22-25 ATS) after three weeks. Three favorites won and failed to cover in Week 1 but not since the Seahawks (minus-4) beat the Titans 20-18 on August 14, has it happened again. That's a stretch of 35 consecutive games in which the pointspread has failed to come into play. Over bettors were 'riding high' after Thursday's two games totaled 71 and 83 points, at 22-12-1. However, nine of the 13 games played on Friday and Saturday stayed under. The Sunday night game went over leaving over bettors at 27-21-1 Y-T-D.
The 49ers beat the Raiders 28-24 Saturday night in Oakland, in the lone 'battle' between unbeatens. Just two of the league's six unbeatens stayed that way (Baltimore and San Francisco) while four of the seven winless teams picked up their first victories of the preseason (Carolina, Denver, Houston and Jacksonville). Chicago, Indy and Kansas City will head into next Thursday's 16-game schedule looking to avoid a winless preseason. The 49ers get an opportunity to complete a 4-0 preseason with a home game vs the Chargers while the Ravens can go 4-0 with a win in St Louis over the Rams. The 49ers have shown nice balance, averaging 26.7 PPG while allowing 17.0 PPG. The Ravens own the NFL's best point-differential (plus-39), driven by the league's stingiest defense (8.3 PPG allowed).
Indy and KC will get home games to avoid going winless, the Colts hosting the Bengals and the Chiefs hosting the Packers. Expecting the Colts to win could be a stretch as they are now 4-21 SU and 6-18-1 ATS since 2005. As for the Chiefs, they must play the highest-scoring team in this year's preseason and current head coach Todd Haley is 0-7 SU and ATS in the preseason since taking over KC in 2009 plus the Chiefs are a woeful 2-13 SU and 1-14 ATS in preseason games since 2007. Note that while both the Colts and Chiefs are winless this preseason, the Chiefs have been competitive (minus-18 points) while the Colts are a league-worst minus-68 in point-differential. The Bears have averaged just 12.0 PPG and own the second-worst point-differential (minus-35) and will have to win at Cleveland on Thursday, to avoid an 0-4 preseason
Three teams have averaged at least 30.0 PPG this preseason. The Packers are No. 1 at 36.7 PPG, followed by the Saints (32.7) and Patriots (30.0). All three are 2-1 SU and ATS. The Ravens are the only team allowing fewer than 10.0 PPG (8.3) but close behind are the Panthers (11.0) and Vikings (11.7). The Ravens and Vikings are a combined 5-1 SU and ATS but the Panthers are just 1-2 SU and ATS because they rank dead-last in scoring at 10.0 PPG. The Bears, Cowboys (four games) and Jets have all averaged just 12.0 PPG and are a combined 3-7 SU and ATS. The Colts have allowed a ridiculous 43.3 PPG but while the Bills (27.7) and Rams (26.7) rank 31st and 30th in points allowed, they have each scored enough points to both be 2-1 SU and ATS.
Week 4 starts starts and concludes on Thursday, as all teams are in action. The Broncos and Steelers have just three days off before taking the field on Thursday and the 18 teams which played Saturday have just four days off. Week 4 will offer unique challenges for both the oddsmakers and handicappers.
I'll be back on Wednesday with part one of my two-part College Football 2010 article.