NFL Picks, Predictions: Preseason Previews for All 6 Friday Night Games
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images. Pictured: Kenny Pickett.
It’s the preseason, which means nothing is a given and all we can do is speculate roughly when QBs will be in the game. I try to estimate when certain QBs/units will be in the game to plan my pre/in-game betting strategy. Everything is subject to change and I update these charts as we get more information.
Packers vs. Bengals
Jordan Love is expected to get the start and play for 2-3 drives. He will likely be playing with the entire starting unit while in the game. Sean Clifford and Alex McGough will then split the remaining snaps. It’s unclear which one will come in after Love, but it probably doesn’t matter for spread/total purposes.
The Bengals are expected to have either Trevor Siemian or Jake Browning under center for most of the first half, then let the other handle the second half. Reid Sinnett could get most of the fourth-quarter reps.
The Packers will have a clear edge in the first half, specifically in the first quarter, when the entire starting unit will be going up against the Bengals’ second unit. I’ll be looking to take the Packers to win the first quarter if the price is -150 or lower (there may be other info at the time that would lead me to raise/lower that threshold).
One factor that would lead me to raise my threshold would be if Jake Browning was to get the start. It would only increase the edge the Packers have in the first half. It would also mean the Bengals could have a slight edge in the second half with Trevor Siemian/Reid Sinnett vs. Alex McGough/Sean Clifford.
FanDuel is currently floating the first half total at 16.5, with the over juiced to -120. That number offers exposure to the key number of 17 and is a nice way to invest in the Packers playing the first-team offense for most of the first quarter. It’s key to grab that number since I expect them to move it up to 17.5 or higher by kickoff. I would pass on this once it gets there.
Giants vs. Lions
The Giants aren’t expected to play their starters, which means we will likely see Tyrod Taylor get the start. Taylor is a solid veteran who will still have some decent WRs at his disposal, including third-round rookie and camp standout Jalin Hyatt.
I’m guessing Taylor plays most of, if not the entire, first half which should give the edge to the Giants. However, he will be replaced by undrafted free agent Tommy DeVito. DeVito doesn’t have much rushing upside, which is going to make it tough for the Giants to sustain drives once he’s in the game.
The Lions will likely start Nate Sudfled, who could even play into the second half. He will then give way to Adrian Martinez, an undrafted free agent out of Kansas State who has massive rushing upside.
The Giants have a slight edge in the first half, and that's reflected in the first-half market. However, once we get DeVito vs. Sudfeld/Martinez, the edge will shift toward the Lions. I’ll be looking to time getting them at plus odds for the remainder of the game shortly before the QB change (Tyrod getting pulled for DeVito) happens.
Falcons vs. Dolphins
Neither team has been too open in regards to expected playing time. We may see neither or both teams play their starters in the first quarter. I’m guessing we see Desmond Ridder play the first few series with Taylor Heinicke finishing out the first half for Altanta. Then, we should see Logan Woodside play most of the second half.
The Dolphins will likely rest their starters and give Mike White the start at quarterback. I would assume he would play most of the first half and Skylar Thompson will see most of the second.
It’ll mostly be an even matchup throughout the game, with the Falcons having a slight edge in the first quarter if they do play most of their starting unit. I’m in line with the pregame market and I’m not sure there are any in-game angles for this matchup either.
Steelers vs. Buccaneers
The Steelers have four quarterbacks on the active roster, and I would not be shocked if we see them each play a quarter in this order: Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Tanner Morgan.
The Buccaneers are going to give Baker Mayfield the start this week, then Kyle Trask the start next week. I’m guessing we see each QB play for about 1 1/2 quarters since they're in a battle to see who will be the Week 1 starter.
It’s a matchup where we at least see fringe starting caliber QB play for most of the game. I could see both teams having fairly aggressive play calling in the first quarter in order to get starters good reps and in the Bucs case, an ongoing QB battle.
I’m locking in the 1st quarter over 7.5 (+105, DraftKings). Once we get to the fourth quarter, we could see the Bucs gain a slight edge with John Wolford vs. Morgan. It would also likely be a low scoring final quarter, so I’ll be looking to potentially bet on these angles in-game
Commanders vs. Browns
Sam Howell is expected to start for the Commanders and he should get a few series with most of the starting unit. Jacoby Brissett will likely play the rest of the first half and then give way to Jake Fromm for most of the second half.
Deshaun Watson is likely to get a couple of series with the rest of the Browns starters. He will then give way to Joshua Dobbs for the rest of the half. From there, we will likely see Kellen Mond/Dorian Thompson-Robinson split the second half — it’s unclear which QB will check in first of the two.
This matchup sets up as a higher scoring 1Q/1H than most Week 1 games, but we should see scoring drop off in the second half.
I’d like to wait for a bit more clarification as to who will start the game, but will be looking to bet either the 1Q or 1H over and then potentially bet on the 2H under.
Broncos vs. Cardinals
Sean Payton said Russell Wilson and the rest of the Broncos starters should play around 15-18 snaps, which means we could see them play the entire first quarter. Backup Jarrett Stidham will then replace Wilson and finish out the half, possibly playing into the third quarter, with Ben DiNucci getting the rest of the game.
The Cardinals will be giving Colt McCoy the start. I’m expecting him to play most of the first quarter before giving way to rookie Clayton Tune.
The two QBs are in a battle for the Week 1 starting job, so I expect fairly aggressive playcalling in the first half in order to properly evaluate them. Then, we will see some combo of David Blough/Jeff Driskel to close out the game.
The Broncos have a huge edge in the first quarter with their entire starting unit likely playing the full 15 minutes. It’ll also likely be a high-scoring quarter/half.
The game itself should be fairly high scoring. The main stretch I'd want to fade the Cards — or the over — is when David Blough is under center.
It looks like the market is pretty sharp here, so I will stay away for now. But we could see some in-game opportunities here.