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NFL Week 4 Betting Angles

   by Bryan Leonard - 08/31/2006

It's no secret that Week 4 of the NFL preseason is almost as meaningless as Week 1. The goal is to stay healthy, take a look at the kids, and decide who to cut. Remember, the mandatory roster cutdown goes from 75 players this week to just 53 on Sunday. Coaches want to see who wants to play and who can fill vital roles on the team, such as an extra defensive back or special teams.

But there are interesting storylines developing that will make it important for sports bettors, as not every team is going to pack it in. For instance, the Redskins have been brutal on offense so far. The last three games: losses to the Bengals (19-3), the Jets at home (27-14), and at New England (41-0).

Part of the problem is that Washington has a new offensive system brought in by offensive coordinator Al Saunders from Kansas City. That means a brand new playbook, which is going to take time to digest and execute. Joe Gibbs has been disgusted with the team's performance on both sides of the ball.

Gibbs hasn't released his game plan for Week 4, but it would be advisable to keep close tabs on the Redskins this week. If any team needed an extra game to work on things, it's the Redskins. The same is true of New Orleans. The Saints are also learning a new system under head coach Sean Payton and have been mostly awful.

Payton said, "I'm having a hard time swallowing it, trust me. I told them afterwards, if you’re dismissing this as a preseason game you're fooling yourself. You're fooling yourself, and they know it." Payton said this week that most of the starters won't play in Week 4, but watch closely to see if that changes.

The Saints are on the road this week at Kansas City, but the Redskins are at home. Think Gibbs will want a better performance in front of the home fans? Washington catches a break as they are playing the Ravens.

Baltimore will give rookie QB Drew Olsen (UCLA) the most time. Those are the type of angles handicappers search for, especially in Week 4.

Another team that might be worth a look at playing well is the Detroit Lions. New coach Rod Marinelli had the team fly into Oakland last week on the day of the game to toughen them up, because later this season they have a short stretch between games. The ploy failed, as the Lions had nothing in a 21-3 loss at Oakland. Marinelli admitted he wants to toughen his guys up.

He said some regulars on the Lions offense might play more than usual Thursday against Buffalo. The No. 1 offense has generated one touchdown in three games. "We're going to look at that, how much we want to play these guys," Marinelli said. "It might be that certain guys play a little longer. We're anxious to get our rhythm and get going." Throw in the fact that the Lions new defensive coordinator is Donnie Henderson, also a fiery, emotional guy, and the Lions might offer an emotional betting angle this weekend, something you rarely find in Week 4.

Pay attention to what Oakland Raiders players are saying about their game this week at Seattle. The Raiders are one victory away from their going undefeated in exhibition games for the first time in franchise history.

Finally, pay close coverage to personnel changes. 49ers coach Mike Nolan wants a 3-4 defense this season, but the 49ers are moving back to a 4-3 front this week. The reason is a lack of quality guys up front. Rookie Melvin Oliver started at defensive end last week and looked lost at times. The 49ers allowed 189 rushing yards to the Cowboys. Successful handicapping means putting small pieces of the puzzle together like this to find edges against the number!

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