NFL Preseason Week 2 Betting Guide: How to Bet Jets-Falcons, Every Thursday Game
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dan Quinn
- Ian Hartitz breaks down the betting odds for Thursday's NFL Preseason Week 2 matchups.
- See his analysis and picks for Packers-Ravens, Jets-Falcons and the three other games.
We get a five-game slate of preseason football on Thursday night. It’s only Week 2, so don’t expect to see many starters play for more than a quarter or two in most cases. Either way, offenses and defenses will largely rely on simplified schemes.
Let’s start with a look at key storylines and actionable betting takeaways for all 10 teams playing on Thursday.
All odds as of late Wednesday
- Spread: Jaguars -3
- Over/Under: 34.5
- Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Eagles are tentatively expected to sit most of their starters after backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld suffered a wrist injury that’s expected to sideline him for up to six weeks.
The absence of full-time starters means we should again get a healthy serving of 2019 second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who looked the part of a Year 1 contributor against the Titans last week.
Perhaps the Eagles will choose to attack the Jaguars with their beastly offensive line as well as with their new running backs Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Still, Jalen Ramsey and Co. deserve credit as one of the league’s most complete defenses in 2018.
- Points allowed per game: No. 4
- Overall in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA: No. 6
- Rush defense DVOA: No. 6
- Pass defense DVOA: No. 7
- vs. No. 1 WR DVOA: No. 4
This week’s marquee preseason #RevengeGame involves Nick Foles taking on the squad that he led to a Super Bowl victory fewer than 24 months ago.
However, the focus this week should instead be on the usage of Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars rank first in available snaps (930), fourth in available carries (196) and first in available targets (109) at the running back position based on their production lost from their 2018 roster to now.
Fournette’s quest to return to greatness would be aided by improved health across the offensive line, which was pretty much a walking-and-talking graveyard in 2018.
- Left tackle Cam Robinson (knee): 13 missed games
- Left tackle Josh Wells (groin/concussion): 9
- Left tackle Josh Walker (ankle): 7
- Left guard Andrew Norwell (ankle): 5
- Center Brandon Linder (knee): 7
- Right guard A.J. Cann (triceps): 1
- Right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee): 3
I like the Jaguars to capture this victory thanks to their superior defensive depth and potential to play their starters for longer than the Eagles.
PICK: Jaguars -3
- Spread: Falcons -1.5
- Over/Under: 44.5
- Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
New York Jets
It’s safe to say new head coach Adam Gase is taking this whole preseason thing fairly seriously.
Did Adam Gase just take smelling salts before a preseason game? pic.twitter.com/gVINzrkcjW
— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) August 8, 2019
Unfortunately, the same guy that drinks five to six 20-ounce coffees a day happens to also consistently run one of the league’s slowest-paced offenses.
Situation Neutral Pace Ranks (per Football Outsiders):
- 2015 (Bears): 27th
- 2016 (Dolphins): 31st
- 2017 (Dolphins): 29th
- 2018 (Dolphins): 31st
It’d make sense if Gase runs a faster offense with Sam Darnold than he did with Jay Cutler, Ryan Tannehill or Brock Osweiler. Still, failure to do so will inevitably hurt the fantasy production of Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson and Chris Herndon alike.
At least for Thursday night, the biggest problem facing the Jets comes down to their banged-up secondary. It’d behoove the Falcons to go after a pass defense that’s dealing with a myriad of issues:
- No. 1 cornerback Trumaine Johnson (hamstring) is considered week-to-week.
- The Jets chose not to re-sign Morris Claiborne.
- The Jets released Derrick Jones on August 10.
- Undrafted rookie Kyron Brown left Monday’s practice with an injury.
The Falcons have quite the schedule in 2019, as they’ll play 13 games indoors — including each of their first nine matchups.
This is particularly great news for Matt Ryan, who has performed much better inside than outside throughout his career.
- Outdoor (69 games): 63% cmp, 7.13 yards per attempt, 4.4% touchdown rate, 92.8 QB Rating, 17.3 fantasy points per game
- Indoor (115 games): 67% cmp, 7.8 Y/A, 5.1% TD rate, 99.2 QB Rating, 18.2 FP per game
Of course, staying away from mother nature still hasn’t managed to propel the Falcons to preseason success during the Dan Quinn era: Their head coach is a pitiful 4-14 against the spread (ATS) in the preseason.
Ryan is expected to make his 2019 preseason debut, but I’m still inclined to take the under on the week’s second-highest game total.
PICK: Under 44.5
- Spread: Ravens -4
- Over/Under: 37
- Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are expected to have Aaron Rodgers and Co. on the field for roughly one quarter. It’s unclear if this will include presumed starting running back Aaron Jones, who just recently returned to practice after missing time with a hamstring injury.
Jones has certainly earned the right to get fed the ball: His average of 5.5 yards per carry since entering the league in 2017 is the highest mark among all backs with at least 100 rush attempts. Jones’ 55.6% rushing success rate trails only Todd Gurley (55.7%) and Alvin Kamara (58%) over the past two seasons (per NFL.com’s Graham Barfield).
The concern is whether new head coach Matt LaFleur will continue to utilize committee backfields like he did in Tennessee last season with Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. Monitoring Jones’ snaps with the first-team offense, as well as the health of Jamaal Williams (hamstring), will be of the most importance Thursday night and beyond.
The Ravens are expected to again play Lamar Jackson for roughly three series of work before handing things off to Trace McSorley and Joe Callahan.
The more intriguing question ahead of this matchup is whether we’ll see Mark Ingram make his debut in purple.
The long-time Saints running back is a perfect fit in the Ravens’ run-heavy attack and could feasibly reach new heights thanks to the pressure that Jackson’s rushing ability puts on opposing defenses.
Gus Edwards averaged 17.4 carries per game in seven regular season starts alongside Lamar Jackson.
Mark Ingram (PPR RB23 ADP) rush attempts per game last five seasons …
2018: 11.5 (RB28 in PPR per game)
2017: 14.4 (RB8)
2016: 12.8 (RB10)
2015: 13.8 (RB6)
2014: 17.4 (RB11)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 13, 2019
Ingram is undoubtedly the Ravens’ best running back when it comes to pass protection. He’s also not the easiest running back to get to the ground once he works up a head of steam.
Long-time Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is a league-best 30-15-1 against the spread for his career. I believe this is due to the Ravens consistently stockpiling talent throughout their depth chart, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. I expect them to again boast this advantage against the Packers.
Lean: Ravens -4
- Spread: Redskins -3
- Over/Under: 41
- Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
The Bengals were quietly #NotBad during the first half of last season. Overall, they racked up five wins in their first eight games while averaging 27.6 points per game (10th) with a mostly healthy offense outside of stud running back Joe Mixon, who missed two games over that stretch.
The wheels proceeded to fall off as injuries to pretty much every position group on the roster derailed the offense and defense alike.
This has been the story of Andy Dalton’s career. He’s performed admirably at times with a strong and available supporting cast, but we’ve seldom seen ‘The Red Rocket’ elevate his offense with superior individual performances.
Andy Dalton’s Adjusted Yards per Attempt by Season
- 2011: 6.2 (No. 21 among quarterbacks with eight-plus starts)
- 2012: 6.6 (No. 17)
- 2013: 6.9 (No. 12)
- 2014: 6.3 (No. 28)
- 2015: 8.9 (No. 3)
- Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones leave
- 2016: 7.5 (No. 12)
- 2017: 6.6 (No. 17)
- 2018: 6.8 (No. 24)
The biggest x-factor during A.J. Green’s (ankle) absence is expected to be Tyler Boyd, but don’t be surprised if ex-Rams offensive coordinator turned new-Bengals head coach Zac Taylor gets Mixon more involved than ever as a pure receiver.
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor spent 2017 and 2018 with the Rams …
Todd Gurley targets in 2015-2016: 84
Gurley targets in 2017-2018: 168
Joe Mixon targets in 2017-2018: 89 pic.twitter.com/MHIcgoN7nT
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 4, 2019
Things didn’t go great for Dwayne Haskins in his preseason debut last week, as he tossed two atrocious interceptions and was constantly pressured behind Washington’s sad excuse for an offensive line.
Still, Haskins did average a sturdy 8.4 yards per pass on his 14 attempts and chipped in 17 yards on the ground. He’ll need to continue to display improved mobility in order to have any hopes for Year 1 success as long as stud left tackle Trent Williams continues to hold out.
It’s tough to call any form of preseason action “good” football, but this matchup between two of the league’s worst teams could prove to be particularly tough on the eyes.
I’ll take my chances on betting against either of these underwhelming offenses finding much success in this glorified scrimmage.
PICK: Under 41
- Spread: Cardinals -3
- Over/Under: 40
- Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
You might’ve heard Antonio Brown’s name in the news cycle once or twice this week. We still don’t have a definitive answer to #HelmetGate, but AB at least is expected to be ready to go for Week 1 despite his continued foot issues.
The last time we saw Brown in a competitive football situation was Week 16 against the Saints, when he caught 14-of-19 targets for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His final catch with the Steelers converted a crucial fourth-and-15 and served as one final reminder that “Tony Toe-Tap” is pretty much impossible to cover when he’s at his best.
AB wasn’t the most efficient version of himself last season, but he still was good enough to join Rob Gronkowski, Dez Bryant, Jimmy Graham, Calvin Johnson, Dwayne Bowe and Jordy Nelson as the only players to catch at least 15 touchdowns in a season since 2010.
Volume is obviously a concern given Derek Carr’s and Jon Gruden’s general reluctance to feed a single receiver over the years, but we did see Gruden feed an aging Joey Galloway an average of 147.5 targets as recently as 2005 and 2006.
AB won’t be on the field this Thursday night, although it’s safe to say Gruden (14-8-2 against the spread in the preseason) will still have his team properly motivated.
The Kyler Murray era started off well enough last week, as the first overall pick completed six-of-seven passes (86% completion rate) for 44 yards (6.3 yards per attempt) in one drive’s worth of action.
The better news for the Cardinals was simply how comfortable Murray looked while operating in Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid attack. The offense already featured plenty of plays that allowed Murray to either pass or utilize his exception speed (self-proclaimed 4.3-second 40-yard dash).
The not-so-great news was that the defense didn’t exactly show a ton of talent behind studs Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson. The first half of the season should feature plenty of high-scoring affairs between the Cardinals and whoever they happen to be matched up against.
Arizona defense: third-most zone-coverage in 2018
New DC Vance Joseph: second-most man-coverage in 2018
Patrick Peterson (suspended 6 games)
Robert Alford (PFF's No. 115 CB in coverage out of 131)
David Amerson (No. 96)
Tramaine Brock (No. 84)
Byron Murphy (rookie)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 19, 2019
The Cardinals are everyone’s idea of a fun darkhorse, but realize that they boast a league-worst Vegas win total of just five for a reason.
LEAN: Raiders +3