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NFL Preseason Depth

   by Bryan Leonard - 08/20/2005

One of the more essential elements of handicapping preseason football is depth. The starters get a lot of attention as to how much playing time they’ll get, which varies greatly from Week 1 to Week 4 in exhibition football. But one thing that is constant is a team’s depth.

For instance, the KC Chiefs have had numerous injuries thus far. Coming into this weekend’s game the Chiefs were running short on wide receivers and linebackers because of injuries. In addition, their offensive line has been in transition and No. 2 backup QB Todd Collins is out for at least two more weeks. Throw in the fact the defense was awful last season and they’ve made several moves to try and beef things up, and you don’t have an ideal situation for the Chiefs this August. All those changes and problems were evident in the preseason opener, too, when they were smashed at Minnesota.

The Colts, too, have had a lot of injuries so far. Compounded with their terrible travel schedule (an extra game playing in Tokyo, Japan) and this hasn’t been an ideal preseason for Indy. An 0-2 straight up and spread record isn’t a mirage for Tony Dungy’s Colts, either. They’ve been playing with the depth glass half-full.

Depth is essential in pro football. Being such a violent, physical sport, a team understands that it’s not possible to go through a whole season with no injuries, or even minimal ones. Successful teams expect this and add depth in the offseason, either through free agency or the draft. It’s interesting that the Patriots defense managed to help win a Super Bowl last season despite an enormous number of injuries to key players. What’s also evident is how they’ve addressed those needs and really stocked up on depth this offseason defensively.

The Rams may have gotten a win in the opener, but this is another team that currently lacks depth on the offensive line and in the secondary. The Dolphins, in transition with a new coaching staff, have their share of offensive line concerns right now, along with the Bucs and Texans. Don’t look for those teams to run up big numbers on the ground this preseason, which could be key if they happen to face a team with a strong secondary. If you can’t run, you have to pass, and the Rams, Dolphins and Bucs might be at a disadvantage this preseason against teams with strong all-around defenses.

A team to keep an eye on this weekend is the Texans. Houston suffered an amazing amount of injuries to three quarterbacks this week! They re-signed QB Preston Parsons, too, a guy they had just cut a week earlier. If David Carr’s sore Achilles heal is not well he won’t play, either, so you will see a “vanillaâ€쳌 offense from the Texans. They might be a worth a look at as a go-against team, or even “underâ€쳌 the total with so many banged up QBs. Successful sports wagering is not about luck or guesswork, but a careful analysis of all the pieces factored into the betting line.

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