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Week One Preseason Notes

   by Bryan Leonard - 08/15/2005

You’re never too old to learn something new. And in preseason football there’s ALWAYS things to learn to help in the never ending battle to beat the bookmaker. I know, I’ve spent over 20 years in the handicapping business on both sides of the counter, making betting lines for the offshore industry, power ratings, all the while wagering on weak numbers. The NFL preseason is roughly one week old and most teams have played only a single game. However, there is plenty of information that surfaced.

Did you notice the Buffalo Bills defense against the Colts this past weekend? It was aggressive. Very aggressive. Defensive Coordinator Jerry Gray has been working on a variety of blitzes in practice, and they were on display in the opener. The Bills shut down the Colts on the road, tallying six sacks, two interceptions, a bunch of hurried throws and constantly pressuring the Colts’ three quarterbacks. Apparently, the Baltimore Ravens aren’t the only ones implementing the attacking portions of the old “46 Defenseâ€쳌 the Bears made famous two decades ago. Keep tabs on this as you read the newspapers online of the Bills practice this week. If you like to play totals, the Colts/Bills game sailed way “underâ€쳌 the total, and the aggressive defense by Buffalo was the biggest factor.

The Miami Dolphins offense has a long way to go. They have all kinds of injury problems on the offensive line and managed just 71 rushing yards against the Jaguars and two turnovers. In addition, QBs Gus Frerotte and A.J. Feeley didn’t impress. That game actually went “overâ€쳌 the total, but at this point Miami looks like it might struggle mightily on offense again, a problem that doesn’t seem close to getting cleared up for a while.

One of the more interesting things I noticed was the Minnesota Vikings offense without Randy Moss. QB Daunte Culpepper spread the ball around significantly in the preseason opener, to tight ends, WRs and RBs. A balanced attack is better, in a sense, than relying on one player, so there’s a chance this offense will be just as good – and possibly better – without Moss.

Finally, the best joke of the week goes to the New Orleans Saints defense, which head coach Jim Haslett called “a horrendous fourth-quarter performance.â€쳌 Jim – where have you been? Your defense has been horrendous for three years now! If you’re looking for an early team that may go “overâ€쳌 the total in 3 of 4 preseason games, the Saints would be high atop that list.

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