Betting sports is always challenging, but the NFL preseason is a particularly risky realm for bettors. Yet, if you thought that the NFL preseason in general was tough to deal with, consider the fourth and final preseason game for all NFL teams. It’s one thing to make a prediction on a week three preseason game, when teams play their starters for a full half, sometimes into the third quarter; it’s quite another matter to predict week four preseason contests, when the starters usually get the whole night off and the entirety of a game is devoted to the second- and third-stringers. Coaches need to make final roster cuts and get their teams reduced to 53 players by the weekend. With all NFL preseason games in week four being on Thursday night, coaches are focused on evaluating the battles for the final roster spots at various positions on the field. Games in which backups are the whole show – not just part of the event – are extremely prone to variations and uncertainties. How in the world are you going to find good betting selections for week four of the NFL exhibition season? You have to look very closely.
One game that looks like really good value is the contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets. The Eagles are a 3.5-point favorite over the Jets, and they should be favored by more. New York’s quarterback problems are well documented, with Geno Smith not being remotely ready to perform and Mark Sanchez having been injured this past Saturday night against the New York Giants. New York’s best able-bodied quarterback at the moment might be Matt Simms, and that reality means that Philadelphia, even with its own backup quarterback in the saddle, should be able to perform a lot better than the Jets in this game… certainly enough to win by at least four points and cover the number.
Another good target in the preseason’s final week is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are a 2.5-point favorite against the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta’s starters are much better than Jacksonville’s starters, but since this is an all-backup game, Jacksonville’s in very good position to win. Jaguar quarterback Chad Henne has experience as a starter, and he’s going to play at least two and a half quarters in this game if not three. With Atlanta’s Matt Ryan resting, Jacksonville will have the quarterback who is much more likely to play well. Take the Jaguars minus the points.
Finally, the third choice on the docket is the Seattle Seahawks, who are 7.5-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders. Seattle goes all-out in preseason games, for one thing. Second, the Raiders got embarrassed in the first half by the Chicago Bears last Friday. Third, the Raiders’ best quarterback just might be Terrelle Pryor, who is just not that good. Seattle backup quarterback Brady Quinn is a better quarterback than Pryor. Take the Seahawks here.
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