2008 NFL Preseason Preview

Excitement Builds in Anticipation of Upcoming NFL Season
By David A. Lane of Predictem.com

In the middle of the summer, talk about NFL football is much like the proverbial oasis in the desert; especially for one who lives in the desert. When it’s 116 outside, talk of Brett Favre’s ‘unretiring’ from retirement, Pac Man Jones long anticipated return, Jason Taylor’s trade to the Washington Redskins, and Chad Johnson’s trying to force a trade then bickering with his teammates, gives rise to daydreaming about cooler temperatures, slamming Bloody Mary’s at 10 am on Sundays again soon (usually after a late Saturday night which includes little or no sleep), and cashing in on 100% of my football wagers (hey, its my dream!) beginning with preseason. All training camps have opened and somewhat like the optimism that prevails among teams during Major League Baseball’s spring training, the folks involved are revitalized, refreshed, and hopeful, for now, since all teams are still even at 0-0. One thing seems apparent thus far, if the regular season lives up to the drama we have been exposed to already, this NFL season will be a great one.

This Sunday night the schedule kicks off on NBC as the Indianapolis Colts face the Washington Redskins in a game I’m already very much looking forward too, even though Peyton Manning won’t be in it. NFL football IS football and its arrival always feels to me to be a long awaited one. Although many expert opinions differ on whether or not to wager on preseason games, matching the new players, coaches, teams, and situations up correctly in the early going leads to cashing more winning wagers later, regardless. There is no better time to measure up various teams’ depth than during the preseason, so watching can be important- difficult as it can be to do at times!

Among the ‘other’ stories I find most intriguing, and there are many, the Miami Dolphins and troubled running back Ricky Williams being teamed with a healthy Ronnie Brown (119 carries, 602 yards, 4 tds) in what looks to be a possibly very talented backfield. My bet here is that somehow Miami General Manager Bill Parcells keeps Williams well grounded and the ‘fish’ finally begin getting there moneys worth out of him. He is certainly past due.

The New England Patriots coming off a terrific 18-1 season, can they possibly not have a let down? It has gone mostly under the radar but dominating teams all season like they did only to lose in the big game has got to be difficult to overcome. They should have a huge chip on their shoulders but will instead slip to an 11-5 season as Randy Moss loses interest and the defense proves to be more porous in my opinion. 16-0 is going to be difficult to live up to anyhow for any team!

How much will Jessica Simpson affect the Dallas Cowboys hopes this year? Last year, Quarterback Tony Romo got lots of flack from the media for spending time with his celebrity girlfriend Simpson in Mexico just a week before the playoff loss to the eventual champion New York Giants. Wide receiver Terrell Owens stood up for his quarterback afterwards in a teary eyed outburst for the assembled press. So far, T.O. has joked about his buddy Romo’s girl, but at some point, or so it seems, this will again reach a boiling point- stay tuned!

To succeed at wagering during preseason, one of the most important factors seems to be if a team has a new or first time coach, they usually want to invoke a winning attitude right away on their team. Also, the players, not knowing what to expect, generally fight for positions harder in these situations and the result can show on the field. Increased concentration is an important factor which is represented by the 12-7-1 record these coaches had for their teams against the spread in the 2007 preseason.

Studying each teams quarterback depth chart and knowing in advance how long a coach will play his starting QB can make a difference for the bettor. A team like Tampa Bay who has three decent QB’s in Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, and Chris Simms, should be able to consistently move the ball throughout the game making them a good wager. First time quarterbacks who play later in games generally, usually don’t put up many points or drive their offense downfield initially. If a team has a rookie third string quarterback who will likely be playing in the fourth quarter, bet against them every time.

Finally, different coaches approach preseason differently. Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy’s team has won only three of their last 12 preseason games mostly due to a choice made by the staff to mostly rest starters and develop depth during them. Obviously, this has translated to on the field success for them later in the season.

Conversely, the Denver Broncos and Coach Mike Shanahan take winning in the preseason seriously. Over the past three they are 9-3 straight up and 7-5 ATS. Building confidence and a winning attitude seems to be more their philosophy, one that translates into making the Broncos a team to wager on.

It may still be summer outside but to me the start of training camp and
exhibition games signal a change of seasons soon to come. The stories may
change from year to year but game on the field is the reason we watch! Even
if it doesn’t cool off until November here and Brett Favre still doesn’t
know where he’ll play, soon it will be time to break out the early morning
cocktails and, of course, nachos when games start at 10 A.M. on Sundays.

Although I might not hit 100% winners, realistically, this season, trying
to do so is most the fun anyhow. Counting $100 bills isn’t so bad either
but I’ve always found wagering to be as much about pride as I do about winning.
However, having lots of both goes hand and hand- if you stoked your pride
by picking winners you should be counting lots of bills!