Whether you're an NFL odds aficionado or just a die-hard football fan, you've probably heard the old saying that the preseason "means nothing," or that you "shouldn't bet on preseason NFL football because it's so unpredictable."
The truth, however, is that you can properly forecast preseason games if you know what to watch for. Let's put this theory into effect and make picks for Friday night's NFL games.
Friday, Aug. 28, 8 p.m. EST
Favorite: Patriots -3
One of the tricks to betting on preseason football is asking yourself, "What, if anything, do these teams have to play for?"
The Patriots are solidly established already this preseason. Tom Brady looks healthy, having posted big yardage in his first preseason game and having shrugged off some big hits last week.
Now that the Pats know Brady is ready to go, they have nothing more to learn or prove. They know they'll have a running-back-by-committee approach and that Randy Moss and Wes Welker will be the focal points of the passing game.
The Redskins haven't played as well as the Pats in the preseason, but I like them to pull off the upset this week, because they'll have more motivation to win. Quarterback Jason Campbell is struggling, perhaps distracted by trade rumors surrounding him over the summer; he was just 1/7 against Pittsburgh last week.
His No. 2 receiver still isn't determined, as Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly are reportedly neck-and-neck for the job. Don’t you think, then, that the Redskins' passing offense will (a) play a few more series than Brady's unit and (b) work extra hard? Toss in a stingy defense and Washington looks good Friday night.
NFL pick: Redskins +3
Friday, Aug. 28, 10 p.m. EST
Favorite: Cardinals -3.5
Here's a game that would've been tough to predict a couple of weeks ago, but now gives us plenty of hints based on the first two preseason games. The Packers look razor-sharp on both sides of the ball.
Aaron Rodgers is firing lasers, Ryan Grant is running with purpose, and the new 3-4 defensive scheme may be ahead of schedule. This was evident when the Pack shut out Cleveland in their opener and were ball hawks in their win over the Bills, sacking them four times and picking them off twice.
The normally potent Cardinals offense seems out of whack. Whether it's because they can't establish a running game with Chris Wells on the mend or because Kurt Warner is battling hip pain, they're not themselves.
It's smarter betting management to go with another upset here and pick the Pack.
NFL pick: Packers +3.5