After an off-season that seemed to last far too long, the first full slate of NFL match-ups will be back on our television screens this evening. Though it’s just pre-season, and traditional starters won’t be getting many reps, it’s still football and we here at The Sports Geek are back in 2014 to whet your betting appetite. The NFL’s annual Hall of Fame Game began the festivities on Sunday, though tonight marks the first full set of games. While betting the pre-season can be tricky, it doesn’t always have to be. Focusing on local news reports of how long the starters are expected to play, consulting interviews with the head coaches, and perusing the quarterback depth of the teams involved should all help you in making your wager.
Tonight, we’ve gone through that criteria to focus on an intriguing clash between the New England Patriots and the Washington Redskins. Of course, the Pats are constantly the envy of the league – frustratingly consistent and expecting yet another divisional title in 2014. The Redskins meanwhile were brutal in 2013, boasting a dismal 3-13 record behind an unhealthy Robert Griffin III. Entering camp there’s been a wave of optimism surrounding Washington with new personnel and a new head coach in Jay Gruden. After many years running the Bengals offense, it’ll be interesting to see how his play-calling impacts the Redskins. We should receive some insight in that regard tonight. Football is finally back, and we’ve got you covered for tonight’s clash. Read on below for our first official pick of the pre-season.
Patriots vs. Redskins Betting Odds:
New England Patriots +1.5 (-110)
@ Washington Redskins -1.5 (-110)
Over 38.5 (-110)
Under 38.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Patriots vs. Redskins Pick:
Betting the pre-season in the NFL can be beat – if you do your research. Focusing on key factors like the plans of the head coach, the minutes of the starters, and overall quarterback depth will always help you win your wagers. For tonight’s game, there seems to be a vast discrepancy in both motivation and quarterback depth.
This match-up marks the first-ever game as a head coach for Jay Gruden with his new Redskins team. It’s a new era in the nation’s capital and he has already stressed the importance of getting off to a winning start and building that culture in D.C. By all accounts and reports, his new offense has worked well in practices and walk-throughs, and the starters should get a full quarter tonight to implement what they’ve learned. RGIII is raring to go, and while Pierre Garcon won’t suit up, it’s believed that the speedy DeSean Jackson has shaken off an ankle injury and could feature tonight.
Conversely, the Patriots always seem to care less about the pre-season. When you’ve won all that they have over the past decade or so, match-ups like this can be pretty meaningless. It’s expected that Tom Brady and his fellow starters will be on a strict 8-10 play count. Beyond that, the depth of the Patriots can be questioned. While Ryan Mallett is arguably one of the top back-up quarterbacks in football, he’s hardly played the past few years and it’s tough to account for how he’ll fare with actual in-game action. New England’s third-stringer is a raw second-round rookie out of Eastern Illinois named Jimmy Garoppolo. There’s a reason why you haven’t heard of him, and he’s expected to get the bulk of work tonight – perhaps up to an entire half.
For the Redskins, their three quarterbacks all have some impressive traits. Firstly, they all have starting experience. RG3, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy have all been deemed good enough to at one point start in this league, and they should be able to hold a decisive advantage over the defensive substitutes of New England. It can definitely be argued that Cousins is a capable starter and McCoy is far too good to be a third-stringer. Both should be hungry to impress on Thursday night, perhaps playing themselves into a more favourable position.
Lastly, the Pats boast a more set-in-stone and veteran-laden group than Washington. The players on the roster are aware of their role and position for Week 1 and that’s not even close to the case with the Redskins. Having a new coaching staff brought in has made all players hungry to impress, and a variety of positional battles are ongoing across the field. Expect a motivated Redskins squad to turn in a solid performance and get an important victory for their new head coach in his home debut. Expect the quarterback play of the Redskins to make a difference, and have no concerns about laying the 1.5 with them tonight.
PICK = Redskins -1.5 (-110)