Pre-season action is back for the NFL, and that means your betting needs are fully covered right here at The Sports Geek!
The NFL pre-season is still serious betting business, with these exhibition games often taking in much more handle than your average baseball, hockey, or basketball match. And though the wins and losses don’t truly matter to most players, coaches, and fans – it doesn’t mean there aren’t some big betting edges and advantages that can be exploited.
One of my favorite things to look at prior to firing away on an NFL exhibition game is the coaches’ plans for playing time. It is essential to know how long the starters will be out there, and who is playing and who isn’t. Beyond that, position battles are also key. You want players to be motivated, and you want to find guys who are fighting for their jobs. It is also helpful to especially take a detailed look at the quarterback depth chart. QB remains an important position and a lot of times in pre-season a quarterback can make things happen with natural ability, when offensive and defensive schematics have yet to be fully ironed out.
Pre-season can still definitely be profitable for you, so be sure to follow along throughout the next few weeks and remember that with every game, we are getting closer and closer to the start of the NFL season. For this week, we’ll take a look at the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants match-up, as both those squads will surely be looking for some positives after disappointing 2017 campaigns.
Browns vs. Giants Odds:
Cleveland Browns -1 (-110)
@ New York Giants +1 (-110)
Over 35 (-110)
Under 35 (-110)
Browns vs. Giants Pick:
It is a rare occurrence to see a road team favored in a pre-season match, especially in the very first week. I think a lot of that has to deal with the fact that Browns coach Hue Jackson knows his franchise needs some positive vibes as they enter the regular season. Their motivation might be higher than other teams to begin with, and it also helps that they’re slated to play top-pick Baker Mayfield an awful lot in game one vs. New York.
Say what you want about Mayfield, but the former Sooner is an elite passer. If he can make the necessary reads and slow the game down, Mayfield has the chance to be great with his pinpoint accuracy and decision-making. He has talked in practice about how he has felt more and more comfortable with the Browns’ offense, and he should be able to take advantage of second-teamers from the Giants on Thursday night.
Before Mayfield takes the pitch though, it’s believed Cleveland will trot out their starting QB in Tyrod Taylor. Cleveland acquired the speedy QB from Buffalo in the offseason, and he’ll do well to take a lot of the pressure off Mayfield. Taylor is a capable QB and with a strong running game featuring Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde – the Browns have the offensive pieces to really trouble some teams this year, beginning with the Giants tonight.
For the G-Men, they too have an elite rookie of their own, which makes this game must-see TV. Saquon Barkley is surely eager to get going and the talented running back from Penn State should get some decent reps against Cleveland. Giants’ coach Pat Shurmur has yet to reveal how long his starters will play for on Thursday night, but with past injuries to Odell Beckham Jr., and the veteran status of Eli Manning – I can’t envision the first team being out there that long.
With the Browns, Hue Jackson has said his starters will likely play “a series or two” before turning the game over to the second-teamers and Baker Mayfield. For a pre-season match, that’s a pretty good guy to turn the game over to. Mayfield has also been working well with the Browns’ second-team offense, and he should be able to have his way with the Giants’ backups.
This is where I feel the Browns hold a clear advantage. They enter as the more motivated group, and this is also a team that did a ton of good things in the off-season. Their improved QB depth is key in a pre-season situation, and if Mayfield doesn’t flourish – they still have projected third-stringer and former starter, Drew Stanton. The Giants meanwhile lack the same depth behind Eli Manning. Davis Webb has shown promise, but he has quite a way to go before establishing himself as a starter. He also barely played last season so rust could be an issue.
With the gap in quarterback depth and overall organizational depth, the Cleveland Browns are the rightful favorite in this contest. Baker Mayfield will get a lengthy look at QB and he should be able to take advantage of the Giants’ backups, en route to a morale-boosting victory for Cleveland to kick their season off on the right foot.
MY PICK – Cleveland -1 (-110)