NFL Preseason Betting: Insight on All 16 Thursday 8/30 Games

NFL Preseason Betting: Insight on All 16 Thursday 8/30 Games article feature image

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baker Mayfield

  • The NFL preseason slate on Thursday Aug. 30 features 16 games including Patriots-Giants, Rams-Saints and Cowboys-Texans.
  • The public loves Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield, who is expected to play as much as the first half against the Lions.
  • Totals for this week's games have generally dropped with most of the public betting the under.

One more slate! We are officially 16 preseason games away from the real deal. And since it’s Week 4, most (if not all) starters won’t be playing, which means there will be amplified incompetence to go along with simplified schemes on both sides of the ball.

For preseason player projections and daily fantasy analysis, see the FantasyLabs Models as well as our evergreen and slate-specific DFS content.

Now, let’s take a look at key storylines for all 32 teams playing on Thursday.

Betting Odds: Miami Dolphins (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons

  • Miami Dolphins Moneyline: -115
  • Atlanta Falcons Moneyline: -105
  • Over/Under: 35.5
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 7 p.m. ET

Miami Dolphins

Head coach Adam Gase didn’t rule out some starters playing Thursday night. That could include free-agent additions Danny Amendola and/or Albert Wilson as wide receivers DeVante Parker (finger), Kenny Stills (knee) and Jakeem Grant (concussion) are all sidelined. There are 161 targets from 2017 still up for grabs with Jarvis Landry gone.

The spread opened with the Falcons as -2.5 favorites. Just 14% of public tickets have backed the Dolphins, but they’ve received 69% of the money.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons will rest their starters, but will that include Calvin Ridley? The first-round pick played only 16 of Matt Ryan’s 26 first-team snaps in their Week 3 dress rehearsal (per Adam Levitan).

Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu are clearly locked in as the starters in two-receiver sets, but it’d be nice to see Ridley separate from undrafted field-stretcher Reggie Davis, who also played 16 snaps last Thursday.

Betting Odds: New York Jets (-1) at Philadelphia Eagles

  • New York Jets Moneyline: -120
  • Philadelphia Eagles Moneyline: +100 
  • Over/Under: 33.5
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 7 p.m. ET

New York Jets

Head coach Todd Bowles declined to reveal who would be under center Week 1, but Teddy Bridgewater was traded to the Saints, so it’s officially the Sam Darnold era.

It makes sense to play the No. 3 overall pick sooner than later, but Bridgewater did largely outplay the rookie over three preseason games:

  • Bridgewater: 73.7% completion rate, 316 yards, 8.3 yards per attempt, 2 TDs, 1 INT
  • Darnold: 64.4% completion rate, 244 yards, 5.4 yards per attempt, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Only 54% of public tickets have come in on the Jets moneyline, but they’ve received 76% of the money.

Philadelphia Eagles

Head coach Doug Pederson will decide whether Carson Wentz (knee) or Nick Foles will start Week 1 on Friday.

In the meantime, the offense will be led by 2016 sixth-round pick Nate Sudfeld, Aaron Rodgers’ former backup Joe Callahan and notorious bust Christian Hackenberg. The Eagles might not carry three quarterbacks, but each of their signal-callers on Thursday night could garner interest elsewhere if they’re ultimately released.

Betting Odds: New England Patriots at New York Giants (-2.5)

  • New England Patriots Moneyline: +120
  • New York Giants Moneyline: -140
  • Over/Under: 38.5
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 7 p.m. ET

New England Patriots

The Patriots are expected to roll with their backups on Thursday night, but the team’s plan at running back is still unclear entering Week 1.

  • Rex Burkhead is reportedly set up for a big role during Julian Edelman’s absence, but the fantasy-friendly back has missed time with a knee injury.
  • First-rounder Sony Michel recently returned to practice and is primed to work as the offense’s early down back between the 20s.
  • James White is once again locked in as Tom Brady’s pass-down back.
  • Brandon Bolden will be active on Sundays thanks to his special teams ability.
  • Jeremy Hill has seemingly separated himself from Mike Gillislee, but it’s unclear whether the Patriots will keep five active running backs on game day.

New York Giants

The Giants made Odell Beckham Jr. football’s highest-paid receiver on Monday. He’s coming off a broken ankle, but is fully expected to start Week 1. He’ll be flanked by Sterling Shepard, but it’s still unclear who the Giants plan on featuring as their No. 3 receiver.

Evan Engram spent only 29.7% of his snaps in the slot or as a wide receiver, so Cody Latimer, Roger Lewis, Travis Rudolph and Russell Shepard could find themselves fighting for a job on Thursday night.

Eighty-five percent of public tickets and 78% of the money have come in on the under.

Betting Odds: Cleveland Browns (-2.5) at Detroit Lions

  • Cleveland Browns Moneyline: -142
  • Detroit Lions Moneyline: +122
  • Over/Under: 35.5
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 7 p.m. ET

Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield will get the start and could play up to a half on Thursday. The public is apparently enamored with the No. 1 overall pick, as 61% of public tickets and 76% of the money have backed the Browns.

Mayfield hasn’t managed to top his 212-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 1, and the Browns have continued to stand by Tyrod Taylor as their quarterback of the present. Still, the Hard Knocks star has largely outperformed his first-round counterparts through three weeks.

Detroit Lions

The Lions are expected to feature LeGarrette Blount as their short-yardage and goal-line back, Theo Riddick on pass downs and second-rounder Kerryon Johnson everywhere in between.

That leaves fourth-year back Ameer Abdullah on the outside looking in, so the Lions could potentially attempt to showcase the former second-round pick as a trade piece on Thursday night.

Abdullah is a freaky athlete (98th-percentile SPARQ-x score) with theoretical three-down ability, but it’ll take a change of scenery for him to regain fantasy relevance.

Betting Odds: Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)

  • Indianapolis Colts Moneyline: +125
  • Cincinnati Bengals Moneyline: -145 
  • Over/Under: 34
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 7 p.m. ET

Indianapolis Colts

Jacoby Brissett will look to build on a solid preseason as Thursday’s starter.

Overall, he’s averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and completed 61.4% of his passes — numbers that are much closer to Brissett’s production with the Patriots in 2016 than with the Colts in 2017. The 2016 third-round pick has a fantasy-friendly dual-threat skill set, but life could still be tough behind the Colts’ porous offensive line and mediocre receiving corps sans T.Y. Hilton.

Sixty-one percent of public tickets have backed the under after the total opened at 36.5.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have quietly built up a formidable crop of playmakers on offense. A.J. Green, John Ross, Joe Mixon and Tyler Eifert all made their presence felt during the team’s Week 3 dress rehearsal.

The top of the depth chart is set in stone at this point, but the likes of Auden Tate and Cody Core (undisclosed, out) are battling for the last wide receiver spot.

Betting Odds: Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)

  • Washington Redskins Moneyline: +230
  • Baltimore Ravens Moneyline: -280
  • Over/Under: 34.5
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 7:30 p.m. ET

Washington Redskins

Colt McCoy hasn’t practiced all week, so the Redskins are expected to turn to third-year veteran Kevin Hogan and Shepherd University’s own Connor Jessop.

Seventy-one percent of public tickets and 93% of the money have accordingly come in on the Ravens spread since opening at -3.5.

The first-team offense could be joined by running backs Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine, who seem to have lost their early down roles to Adrian Peterson. Peterson, 33, rushed for 56 yards on 11 carries last week, but space back Chris Thompson will undoubtedly be heavily involved.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens will start Robert Griffin III on Thursday night in a potential battle with Lamar Jackson for the backup job. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is certainly the team’s future at the position, but RG3 is probably a more polished passer at this point.

Griffin has made a compelling case to serve as Joe Flacco’s direct backup in 2018:

  • Griffin: 65.9% completion rate, 5.9 yards per attempt, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 52 rushing yards
  • Jackson: 47.2% completion rate, 5.6 yards per attempt, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 111 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs

Betting Odds: Jacksonville Jaguars at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5)

  • Jacksonville Jaguars Moneyline: +105
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers Moneyline: -125
  • Over/Under: 35.5
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 7:30 p.m. ET

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have one of the more-compelling backfields in the league. Each of bell-cow Leonard Fournette’s backups — T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant — has exhibited big-play ability at the NFL level.

  • Yards per carry (min. 25 rushes) in 2017: Grant — 8.3 (1st); Yeldon — 5.2 (5th)
  • Breakaway rate (% of runs 15+ yards): Grant — 54% (1st); Yeldon — 37.2% (14th)

Neither will carry a substantial role while Fournette is healthy, but Thursday could help demonstrate some of the firepower on the Jaguars’ sideline.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Peyton Barber has locked up the Buccaneers’ No. 1 running back job by vastly outperforming second-rounder Ronald Jones all preseason.

  • Barber: 15 carries, 87 yards, 5.8 yards per carry, 2 TDs, 3 catches, 2 receiving yards
  • Jones: 18 carries, 18 yards, 1 yard per carry, 1 TD, 1 catch, 37 receiving yards

Pass-down back Charles Sims (knee) has been placed on injured reserve, so Jones could still carve out a fantasy-friendly receiving role if his execution improves.

Betting Odds: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)

  • Carolina Panthers Moneyline: +125
  • Pittsburgh Steelers Moneyline: -145 
  • Over/Under: 36
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 7:30 p.m. ET

Carolina Panthers

First-rounder DJ Moore has lost some hype since the start of training camp. Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith and even Jarius Wright have worked ahead of Moore for stretches of the preseason, and last year’s second-round pick Curtis Samuel has also made his presence felt.

It’s way too early to worry about Moore’s long-term outlook with the Panthers, but early predictions that he would emerge as the offense’s top target in 2018 might’ve been a bit extreme. Amari Cooper is the only one of 13 first-round receivers drafted since 2015 to gain at least 500 yards as a rookie (per Evan Silva).

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seventy percent of the money has helped drive down the under since the total opened at 38.

James Conner has established himself as the Steelers’ backup running back, and he appears positioned to slide into a three-down role in the event workhorse Le’Veon Bell is forced to miss any time.

DeAngelo Williams averaged 19 rushing attempts and 3.7 receptions per game in 14 outings with Bell sidelined from 2015-2016, proving that the Steelers’ backup running back is one of the most fantasy-friendly handcuffs in the league.

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Betting Odds: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (-5.5)

  • Los Angeles Rams Moneyline: +205
  • New Orleans Saints Moneyline: -245 
  • Over/Under: 34.5
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 8 p.m. ET

Los Angeles Rams

The public isn’t expecting much from two of last season’s top-four scoring offenses, as 88% percent of public tickets and 96% of the money have backed the under.

Neither Jared Goff nor Todd Gurley will play a single snap. Backup quarterback Sean Mannion hasn’t inspired much confidence with his performance, either, averaging only 3.7 yards per attempt. But backup running back John Kelly has flashed all August by gaining 197 yards and scoring three touchdowns on 46 carries (4.3 yards per carry).

It remains to be seen whether Kelly or incumbent backup Malcolm Brown will serve as Gurley’s handcuff.

New Orleans Saints

It’s still not clear who the Saints’ No. 3 wide receiver will be come September. Third-rounder Tre’Quan Smith appears to be the front-runner, as he’s reportedly excelled in practice and posted a preseason-long 11-147-1 line.

Still, Austin Carr has received plenty of preseason snaps, and the Saints aren’t paying Cameron Meredith $9.5 million over two years to sit on the bench.

Betting Odds: Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears (-3)

  • Buffalo Bills Moneyline: +130
  • Chicago Bears Moneyline: -150 
  • Over/Under: 36.5
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 8 p.m. ET

Buffalo Bills

Week 4 of the Bills’ preseason quarterback competition is here. A.J. McCarron (collarbone) has returned to practice and is still in the race after seventh-overall pick Josh Allen failed to impress in his Week 3 start.

Meanwhile, incumbent backup Nathan Peterman has been the clear winner on the stat sheet.

  • Allen: 24-of-44 passes completed (54.5%), 210 yards, 4.8 yards per attempt, 2 TD, 0 INT
  • McCarron: 10-of-16 passes completed (62.5%), 128 yards, 8.0 yards per attempt, 0 TD, 0 INT
  • Peterman: 33-of-41 passes completed (80.5%), 431 yards, 10.5 yards per attempt, 3 TD, 1 INT

Chicago Bears

The Bears overhauled their receiver room, adding Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton in free agency then drafting Anthony Miller in the second round. This has left 2015 first-rounder Kevin White on the outside looking in, although he’s managed to finally flash going into his fourth season.

White has played in five of a possible 48 games since entering the league but offers a size/speed combination that is lacking on the Bears roster.

Betting Odds: Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans (-1)

  • Minnesota Vikings Moneyline: +100
  • Tennessee Titans Moneyline: -120 
  • Over/Under: 36
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 8 p.m. ET

Minnesota Vikings

Laquon Treadwell has won the team’s No. 3 receiver job. It would be shocking if he receives more targets than Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen or even Kyle Rudolph, but the 2016 first-round pick is at least at least in a position to build on an uneventful first two seasons that produced a combined 21 catches, 215 yards and zero touchdowns.

Treadwell is expected to work opposite Diggs in three-receiver sets, allowing Thielen to continue thriving from the slot.

Tennessee Titans

Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur oversaw the league’s fastest-moving offense in pace neutral situations for the Rams in 2017 while the Titans ranked only 28th.

It remains to be seen if second-year receiver Taywan Taylor will have a chance to benefit from the change, as he worked behind Tajae Sharpe and Corey Davis in Week 3 while incumbent starter Rishard Matthews further muddled the depth chart by returning to practice.

Betting Odds: Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans (-4)

  • Dallas Cowboys Moneyline: +170
  • Houston Texans Moneyline: -195 
  • Over/Under: 34
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 8 p.m. ET

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys will likely utilize a committee at tight end regardless of who winds up with the starting job, but there’s a chance they keep only three of their four players at the position.

  • Blake Jarwin: The undrafted free agent averaged a gaudy 16.3 yards per catch at Oklahoma State in 2016 and might be the most well-rounded contender.
  • Geoff Swaim: He’s seen just 11 targets in three seasons with the Cowboys while working strictly in a blocking role.
  • Dalton Schultz: This year’s fourth-round pick reportedly isn’t as pro-ready as the team anticipated, despite catching six balls this preseason.
  • Rico Gathers: The 6-foot-6, 282-pound former basketball player has mixed inconsistency and mental lapses with breathtaking ability as a receiver.

Houston Texans

The Texans averaged 34.7 points per game over Deshaun Watson’s six starts last season and only 13 with any other quarterback under center, creating fantasy-friendly opportunities for everyone — including the team’s less-featured players.

Braxton Miller has posted an underwhelming 34-261-2 line in 21 career games, but he’s currently winning the battle for slot receiver. The Texans’ No. 3 receiver could carry an enhanced early season workload depending on the status of Will Fuller’s hamstring.

Betting Odds: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs (-4)

  • Green Bay Packers Moneyline: +166
  • Kansas City Chiefs Moneyline: -195
  • Over/Under: 36
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 8:30 p.m. ET

Green Bay Packers

The Packers’ No. 4 receiver spot remains unsettled heading into Thursday night. Fourth-rounder J’Mon Moore, fifth-rounder Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and sixth-rounder Equanimeous St. Brown are each vying to work behind Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison in an offense that’s poised to put up points into perpetuity as long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy.

Brett Hundley was traded to the Seahawks, so former Browns starter DeShone Kizer and gunslinger Tim Boyle will work under center.

The public remains all over the Green Bay spread, with 70% of public tickets and 58% of the money backing the Packers.

Kansas City Chiefs

There are more than a few mouths to feed in the Chiefs’ explosive pass offense featuring Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt and Sammy Watkins.

Still, the Chiefs featured three wide receivers on 54% of their snaps last season, so No. 3 receiver Chris Conley should still see plenty. The 6-foot-2, 213-pound receiver has a 97th-percentile SPARQ-x score and a 4.35-second 40-yard dash time. He caught 44 passes for 530 yards in 2016, and averaged a team-high average target depth of 14.9 yards.

Betting Odds: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks (-3)

  • Oakland Raiders Moneyline: +140
  • Seattle Seahawks Moneyline: -160 
  • Over/Under: 34
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 10 p.m. ET

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders don’t exactly have the league’s best situation under center when Derek Carr is healthy, and things are beginning to look especially problematic at backup quarterback.

Connor Cook has completed just 50% of his passes through three weeks while averaging a putrid 5.7 yards per attempt, while EJ Manuel has found the end zone only once despite better efficiency metrics.

Seattle Seahawks

Rashaad Penny’s (finger) Week 1 availability remains unclear, but Chris Carson figures to start regardless of the rookie’s status. Add in a suddenly-healthy C.J. Prosise, and a committee seems imminent.

It’s tough to get excited about anyone involved in a rushing “attack” behind the 31st-ranked offensive line in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards per rush.

The public is expecting Pete Carroll to find a way on Thursday night, as 71% of tickets and 66% of the money has come in on the Seahawks.

Betting Odds: Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)

  • Los Angeles Chargers Moneyline: +155
  • San Francisco 49ers Moneyline: -175
  • Over/Under: 35
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 10 p.m. ET

Los Angeles Chargers

It’s almost Week 1 and Antonio Gates is still a free agent.

A Gates reunion with the Chargers seemed possible following Hunter Henry’s torn ACL, but the offense appears ready to move forward with Virgil Green and Braedon Bowman. Green has never gained more than 237 yards in a season since entering the league in 2011, but he’s a 6-foot-5, 255-pound target with a 92nd-percentile SPARQ-x score on an offense short on red-zone options.

San Francisco 49ers

Jerick McKinnon (knee) and Matt Breida (shoulder) are expected to suit up for the Week 1 matchup against the Vikings, but recently signed Alfred Morris made a push for a roster spot with a hard-earned 84 yards on 17 carries while working alongside Jimmy Garoppolo and the starters last week.

The 49ers paid McKinnon way too much money to sit on the bench, although the team’s backfield pecking order grows more mysterious by the day.

Betting Odds: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)

  • Denver Broncos Moneyline: +120
  • Arizona Cardinals Moneyline: -140 
  • Over/Under: 35
  • Kickoff: Aug. 30, 2018 – 10 p.m. ET

Denver Broncos

Head coach Vance Joseph didn’t rule out using the regular cast of running backs on Thursday night, but the competition has largely already been won by third-rounder Royce Freeman … on the stat sheet. Third-year back Devontae Booker worked alongside Freeman with the first-team offense for the entire preseason, indicating an early-season committee is on the horizon.

  • Freeman: 15 carries, 84 rush yards, 5.6 yards per carry, 3 TDs, 23 first-team snaps
  • Booker: 9 carries, 33 rush yards, 3.7 yards per carry, 25 first-team snaps

Arizona Cardinals

David Johnson is one of the league’s true game-changing talents regardless of position. The massive role Johnson’s talents command means the Cardinals’ backup running back is better positioned than most second-stringers to inherit a workhorse role should anything happen to the starter.

Fourth-rounder Chase Edmonds has emerged as the favorite for such duties in 2018.

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