The last time every team in the NFL was in action was New Year’s Eve of 2017 to close the regular season. All 32 clubs will take the field in the official Week 1 of the preseason with 12 games Thursday, two Friday and two Saturday. A few games stand out from the others.
The NFL Network has the national telecast of Cleveland Browns at New York Giants on Thursday and fans/bettors get their first pro football look at No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield of the Browns. Of course, the quarterback was last season’s Heisman winner at Oklahoma – he wasn’t even projected by most scouts as a first-round NFL draft pick entering 2017.
Mayfield won’t start the game for Cleveland as trade addition Tyrod Taylor will, but Mayfield is expected to play two quarters.
The Giants are 1-point favorites on the NFL preseason odds because home teams almost always are short favorites in the preseason. They took Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, and it’s thought Barkley will play but it won’t be much as the Giants want to protect him. It’s not as important for a running back to “learn” an offense in game conditions like a quarterback.
On Friday, it’s the Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders, with the Silver & Black listed as 3-point betting favorites. It’s the head-coaching debut of Detroit’s Matt Patricia, the former New England Patriots defensive coordinator. It’s the return to head coaching for Oakland’s Jon Gruden. He became famously known as “Chucky” in his tenure for the Raiders from 1998-2001 and then was traded to Tampa Bay before the 2002 season.
Gruden won a Super Bowl that year with the Buccaneers but was fired by the team following the 2008 season. He had spent most of his time since in the ESPN “Monday Night Football” booth.
In Saturday’s marquee matchup, the Minnesota Vikings visit the Denver Broncos with that pegged as a pick’em. Why isn’t Denver favored like most home teams? Because Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is a stellar 14-3 straight up in his preseason career and 12-5 against the spread. Then again, Broncos coach Vance Joseph was 4-0 SU and 3-0-1 ATS last year in his first preseason.
Each team has a new quarterback this year: Kirk Cousins with the Vikings and Case Keenum with the Broncos. Keenum led Minnesota to last season’s NFC title game, but the team had eyes for Cousins this offseason and didn’t attempt to re-sign Keenum. Thus, Saturday could be a bit personal for Keenum.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.
Source: Heavy Sports