For the starters, week 4 is an absolute throwaway week. Week 3 was the time to iron out some kinks and put on a little bit of a preview for the regular season. However, week 4 is ever so crucial for players trying to make the team. You can bet you’re going to get some competitive football out of them. Also, generally, this is the last opportunity for quarterbacks that don’t start to move up on the depth chart, or impress future employers. Depth is more critical than ever this week. Those are just a few things to consider before locking in your wagers for this week.
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The Miami Dolphins will welcome the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night to finish up the preseason for both clubs. The Cowboys are fresh off a decent performance against the Minnesota Vikings, managing to pick up the 23-17 victory. The victory was due to a productive defensive effort, and mistake free football from the offense. I have a feeling the Cowboy’s starting defense won’t be receiving much praise come the regular season, though. However, that’s a different story for a different pick.
Demarco Murray, rookie running back of the Cowboys, saw his first action in the NFL last week and should see an elevated role against the Dolphins. Murray was a standout at the University of Oklahoma, and figures to be a vital part of the Cowboys offense in 2011. Against the Vikings, he didn’t blow anyone away; however, it wasn’t too shabby considering it was his first game action. Murray finished with 32 yards on 7 carries, good enough for a 4.6 yard per carry. Keep an eye on him in the preseason finale. I feel he is hungry to showcase his talent against lesser talent. Tony Romo looked sharp, finishing with 15 for 20 completions. Little attention should be given to Romo in the preseason finale, however. With the starters projected to only play a series or two, Romo will be irrelevant when the cover is in the balance. Backups Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee didn’t need to do much in mop-up duty, simply handing the ball off for the most part. Stephen McGee will be a focal point of the Cowboys game plan in week 4, though. McGee has already said that the preseason is his regular season. In this respect, McGee isn’t going to go through the motions because it’s a meaningless game. I can see McGee fighting for a backup spot for next season in this game. Jon Kitna isn’t getting any younger, and continues to fight injuries; the job is shaping up to be McGee’s.
The Miami Dolphins looked fairly “vanilla” against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 17-13 loss. Their starting defense looked above average once again, but the offense struggled to do much with the ball. Other than the 60-yard TD pass to Brandon Marshall, they were just average. Dolphins’ fans are worried about the passing game, but I feel the run game should be a little cause for concern. Signing Larry Johnson at this point in his career is not a good sign. I think the Dolphins were hoping to get a lot out of rookie Daniel Thomas, but that has yet to be seen in training camp or any preseason games. Don’t bet on Reggie Bush carrying the load this season. The Dolphins haven’t used him much this preseason, and I feel they would be stupid to start now. If they plan on him being a feature-back, he better be fresh and healthy. In other words, expect a heavy dose of Daniel Thomas and Larry Johnson. Matt Moore will follow Chad Henne in the rotation, and Kevin O’Connell will take over in the fourth quarter, presumably.
I feel in week 4 of the preseason, more than any other week, lines makers are a little lost on how to set the line. For the most part, you’ll notice that the home teams are going to be field goal favorites over the visitors. This tells you one thing: lines makers believe the game is even, with the field goal getting tacked on for home field advantage. Well, I’m not sure if the home crowd in Miami will be a factor in this one. The team has already made it public that there may be several blackouts in the Miami region this year for regular season games. In that regard, are any Dolphins fans going to get up for week 4 of the preseason? Simply put, no.
The Cowboys run game, behind Demarco Murray should chew up the clock, with Stephen McGee being a solid game manager. In fact, McGee wasn’t just a good game manager against the Dolphins last year in the preseason, he torched them. McGee threw for 304 yards and a touchdown in a 27-25 win. I feel that we’re getting pretty good value with +3.5 on the Cowboys. Back a motivated McGee, and solid running game of the Cowboys.