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More Week 1 Preseason Notes

   by ASA - 08/10/2007

Green Bay (+6.5) at Pittsburgh
Saturday – 7:30 pm EST

Packer head coach Mike McCarthy went through a rough preseason in his first season at the helm, going 1-3 both SU and ATS and losing by an average of nearly 20 points per game. McCarthy and the Packers then proceeded to lose four of their first five regular season games that year. Green Bay wants to reverse that trend with a solid preseason this time around. Brett Favre figures to see little action in the opener but former first-round pick Aaron Rodgers has reportedly looked impressive in camp and should get plenty of reps. The under has gone 7-2 in Green Bay’s nine non-conference games over the last three years.

Mike Tomlin’s debut as Pittsburgh head coach couldn’t have gone any better as the Steelers thoroughly dominated New Orleans in a 20-7 win. Now Tomlin gets to make his home debut in front of the Steeler faithful. Pittsburgh will again be without starting running back Willie Parker as well as guard Alan Faneca. But those two were both out last week and the Steelers still managed to tally 173 yards on the ground. Hall of Fame Game participants have historically fared very well in their following game, going 28-16-4 ATS since 1983. Additionally, Pittsburgh has now stayed under the total in five straight preseason games.

Jacksonville (+1) at Miami
Saturday – 7:30 pm EST

Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio’s four years at the helm have produced some great preseasons. The Jaguars are 11-5 SU and 10-6 ATS in the preseason during Del Rio’s tenure, including 3-1 marks a year ago. Jacksonville defeated the Dolphins 31-26 as 1.5-point dogs in the preseason opener last year and will aim to do the same this season. The Jags boast one of the deepest and most experienced quarterback trios in football, with Byron Leftwich, David Garrard and Quinn Gray all starting at least one game last year. Leftwich and Garrard are expected to play 15 to 20 plays each with Gray and former first overall pick Tim Couch splitting the rest of the snaps.

New Miami head coach Cam Cameron has endured a rough start to his tenure, whether it was the drafting of Ted Ginn or the seemingly never-ending trade negotiations for Trent Green. He’ll look to put all of the doubters to rest in this preseason opener. Green is expected to start the opener but is listed as the co-starter with Cleo Lemon on the team’s depth chart. Green and Lemon are expected to split snaps while impressive rookie John Beck will step in after that. The Dolphins are just 3-6 SU and 2-6-1 ATS the last two preseasons but Cameron will want to turn those fortunes around.

Kansas City (+3) at Cleveland
Saturday – 7:30 pm EST

Much of the training camp talk in Kansas City has centered on the holdout of Larry Johnson and the return of Priest Holmes. Head coach Herm Edwards has been one of the league’s best preseason coaches recently, though, with a 17-8 SU and 16-9 ATS record in his career. Brodie Croyle will get the start under center in the opener, followed by Damon Huard, who had a solid nine-game run as the starter last year. Edwards has said Croyle will get a majority of the snaps throughout the preseason because he’s younger and needs the extra repetitions.

While Johnson is stealing the headlines in Kansas City, first-round pick Brady Quinn is doing the same in Cleveland. Quinn’s recently ended holdout and everything that preceded it took attention away from has reportedly been a quality camp in Cleveland. With Quinn still learning the playbook, Charlie Frye is listed atop the depth chart followed by Derek Anderson. Head coach Romeo Crennel has stated that both quarterbacks have played equally well in camp so it can be expected that each will receive an equal amount of snaps.

Washington (+3) at Tennessee
Saturday – 8:00 pm EST

Joe Gibbs’ preseason record in his first stint with Redskins was very good but his record in his second stint isn’t nearly as nice. Washington is just 4-9 SU and 5-8 ATS over the last three preseasons with Gibbs at the helm, including 0-4 marks last season. One advantage the Redskins have is solid depth behind starting signal-caller Jason Campbell. Mark Brunell and Todd Collins have a combined 28 years of experience and both are very comfortable in the offense. Their experience could lead to more second-half scoring.

Jeff Fisher’s career 24-21-2 ATS preseason record is nothing to sneeze at but the last two years haven’t gone nearly as well. The Titans are just 2-6 both SU and ATS the last two preseasons, going 1-3 SU and ATS both years. The two years prior to that stretch saw Tennessee go a perfect 8-0 ATS, though. Vince Young and Kerry Collins don’t figure to see much action in the opener as Fisher will want to keep Young healthy while Collins doesn’t need the work. That leaves most of the snaps to Tim Rattay and Kent Smith.

Carolina (+1) at New York Giants
Saturday – 8:00 pm EST

Carolina has been one of the best preseason teams in the NFL under head coach John Fox’s watch, going 13-3 SU and 12-3-1 ATS over the last four years. Carolina’s quarterback situation could keep that success going. Jake Delhomme doesn’t figure to see much action in the opener but free-agent acquisition and former first overall draft pick David Carr has impressed in camp and should see significant action. A change of scenery could be just what Carr needed.

New York head coach Tom Coughlin is a no nonsense kind of coach and, while that may rub some players the wrong way, it has produced great preseason success. The Giants went 4-0 both SU and ATS in the preseason last year and have won seven straight preseason contests overall. Overall, Coughlin is 28-17 SU and 25-19-1 ATS for his career. Coughlin, perhaps more than any other coach in the league, has his head on the chopping block and will need a strong showing to help solidify his status.

Chicago (-1) at Houston
Saturday – 8:00 pm EST

The Bears come into this weekend as the only road favorite on the schedule. While part of that line is due to the Chicago defense and the overall ineptitude in Houston, Chicago’s depth at quarterback also played a part. Rex Grossman won’t play much but that may be a blessing in disguise. Second- and third-stringers Brian Griese and Kyle Orton have both enjoyed regular season success as starters and fourth-teamer Chris Leak is fresh off leading the Florida Gators to the national championship. These three make scoring a strong possibility for the Bears throughout the game.

Texan head coach Gary Kubiak puts a strong emphasis on preseason success and that was evident in Houston going 3-1 SU and 3-0-1 ATS last season. Kubiak’s drive for a strong postseason will be just as strong this year. A shaky quarterback rotation may prevent that, though. Prized acquisition Matt Schaub is still learning the offense and won’t play much anyways. Backup Sage Rosenfels has experience but little success on his resume. And Bradlee Van Pelt and Quinton Porter have combined to complete two passes in their careers.

Arizona (+2) at Oakland
Saturday – 10:00 pm EST

Ken Whisenhunt makes his coaching debut in Arizona after coming over from the Pittsburgh staff in the offseason. Whisenhunt comes from the Bill Cowher school of thought, which put little emphasis on preseason. But Whisenhunt, like most first-year coaches, will want to make a strong first impression. There’s not much depth behind starting quarterback Matt Leinart and backup Kurt Warner, though.

Oakland head coach Lane Kiffin joins Whisenhunt in making his NFL head coaching debut tonight. One advantage that Kiffin has on Whisenhunt is quarterback depth. While Daunte Culpepper, Andrew Walter and Josh McCown can hardly be considered strong starting candidates at this point, they could all see great success against second-, third- and fourth-string defenses. McCown will get the start but all three will get equal action with Walter coming in second and Culpepper finishing up.

Seattle (+3.5) at San Diego
Sunday – 8:00 pm EST

No active NFL coach right now has more preseason games under his belt than Seattle top man Mike Holmgren. The results have pretty much been a mixed bag. The Seahawks have gone 2-2 ATS in each of the last four preseasons and Holmgren is 33-30 SU and 30-32-1 ATS for his career. Solid quarterback depth could push Seattle over that .500 mark this year, though. Starter Matt Hasselbeck won’t play much but he’s healthy after an injury-riddled 2006 season. Backup Seneca Wallace has been in the system for five years now and third-stringer David Greene is fresh off a strong performance in the intrasquad scrimmage.

The Chargers and Seahawks have become very familiar with each other over the last four preseasons, playing three times. San Diego won last year’s meeting 31-20 behind its incredibly deep, top-to-bottom roster. The Chargers fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter but outscored Seattle 31-6 the rest of the day, which is a true testament to one of the deepest rosters in the NFL. Norv Turner stated his starters will get about one quarter of action in the opener, apart from LaDainian Tomlinson, who rarely plays in the preseason.

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