NFL preseason ends with whimper

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN City newsletter) 

August 30, 2018 12:02 AM

Transition Thursday! NFL preseason comes to an end just as the first big weekend of college football begins. Details, plus a night of contenders LOSING in Major League Baseball. Time never stands still in VSiN City.

NFL: Two backup QBs traded; exhibition finales for all 32 teams Thursday night

Before we get to Thursday night’s point spreads, a quick look at two high profile NFL trades completed Wednesday. 

*Teddy Bridgewater traded from the NY Jets to New Orleans

Bridgewater missed two seasons recovering from a horrific leg injury suffered in late August of 2016. He performed well enough in a preseason trial with the Jets to confirm that he can at least contribute as a backup right now. NYJ sent Bridgewater and a sixth-round draft pick to New Orleans for a third-round draft pick. 

Most observers are assuming rookie Sam Darnold from USC will get the starting QB job for the season opener in Detroit. Though, Josh McCown was far from a disaster last season. New Orleans appears to have given up on Taysom Hill as their “quarterback of the future” after Drew Brees retires. The Saints were high on Hill initially…but he’s more of an “athlete” than an NFL quarterback in terms of play style. Bridgewater provides important insurance for making a playoff run if Brees gets hurt. 

*Brett Hundley traded from Green Bay to Seattle

Hundley played 11 games for the Packers last season after Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury. His lack of consistent production and growth during that test convinced GB they should seek a different backup! The Packers were happy with Deshone Kizer, one of last year’s starters for the Cleveland Browns this month. Wednesday, they traded Hundley to Seattle for a sixth-round draft pick. 

Don’t be surprised if more trades are announced between Friday and early next week. We won’t see any Thursday because everyone has a game to play!

All 32 pro teams close out their exhibition games this evening. We haven’t talked about them much here in VSiN City because they’re barely exhibitions. You’ll see in Wednesday night’s lines that Over/Unders are much lower than last week. Teams will be anxious to get their games over quickly so they can prepare for the regular season. 

Here’s a quick look at South Point’s point spreads at press time. The numbers represent how the most important influences perceive EFFORT tonight, rather than the caliber of the teams, or anticipated public betting. The public really doesn’t bet the finales with much enthusiasm because there are REAL games in college football. 

Games are presented in Nevada Rotation order…

Indianapolis at Cincinnati (-2.5/34)

Miami at Atlanta (pick-em/35)

NY Jets at Philadelphia (pick-em/34)

Cleveland (-2/35.5) at Detroit

New England at the NY Giants (-2.5/38.5)

Washington at Baltimore (-6/36)

Carolina at Pittsburgh (-2.5/36.5)

Jacksonville at Tampa Bay (-1.5/36)

Buffalo at Chicago (-3/37)

Minnesota at Tennessee (-1/36)

LA Rams at New Orleans (-5.5/34.5)

Dallas at Houston (-4/34)

Green Bay at Kansas City (-3.5/36)

Denver at Arizona (-2.5/35.5)

LA Chargers at San Francisco (-3.5/35.5)

Oakland at Seattle (-3/35)

The NFL Network will show Cleveland at Detroit live at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. in Las Vegas), followed by followed by Denver/Arizona at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. in Las Vegas, time-changed from earlier schedules).. 

College Football: Northwestern at Purdue is the showcase game Thursday on ESPN

If you’re new to VSiN City, you should know that we don’t post formal selections in this complimentary weekday publication. We’ll try to find key stat information to help you make decisions in important games. We’ll run as many game summaries as time allows so you can apply lessons to future bets. No stats to work with in season openers. Here’s a quick look at offensive/defensive rankings and returning starters for the most attractive game on the betting board Thursday. That, of course, is the Big 10 season opener matching Northwestern and Purdue. Both teams earned stellar 9-4 records against the point spread last season because both were disrespected by the markets. 

NW With the Ball

NW ranked #55 on offense, returns 7 starters

Purdue ranked #52 on defense, returns 4 starters

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson is listed as questionable. He tore knee ligaments in Northwestern’s bowl game with Kentucky last season. The game is being priced, and BET, as if Thorson’s going to play. Not a bad spot to consider “in-game” betting so you can evaluate his mobility for yourself before putting any money down. Chris Andrews of the South Point announced Wednesday that his sports book will be dramatically increasing in-game options this season.

Also worth noting…Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm is a former quarterback who got a lot of deserved credit for turning the Boilermakers around so quickly. Don’t assume that was all offense. Purdue’s defense actually ranked better than its offense last season. Can it overcome the loss of so much experience?

Purdue With the Ball

Purdue ranked #61 on offense, returns 8 starters

Northwestern ranked #34 on defense, returns 6 starters

Purdue did a great job of exploiting the softest defenses in its schedule last season. But, it really struggled vs. quality defenses. Only 10 points vs. Michigan, 9 at Wisconsin, and 13 in a road loss to these very Wildcats. It’s a pretty fair summary of 2017 to say that Purdue covered the spread vs. vulnerable defenses, but was very dicey vs. good defenses. 

Turnover Differential

Northwestern: plus 7

Purdue: plus 4

You assume smart teams like Northwestern will have a shot to exploit the risk/reward challenge. Brohm did a great job of improving Purdue’s execution. This category looks to be a wash. Though, if Thorson can’t go, then Northwestern could become the more mistake-prone team in a challenge road spot.

Also Thursday night…

Central Florida (-23.5/71.5) at Connecticut (on ESPNU)

New Mexico State at Minnesota (-22/46.5) (on Big 10 Network)

Wake Forest (-6/57.5) at Tulane (on CBS Sports Network)

There are several “added” games matching major conference schools against non-board teams. You can check the odds page on our website for game-day lines in those. 

College football coverage continues tomorrow with a recap featuring key stats from Northwestern/Purdue, and previews for marquee Saturday matchups. 

MLB Wednesday: Houston beats Oakland on a walk-off in the ninth; several contenders LOSE as favorites

The Astros took two out of three in their crucial home series against the Oakland A’s. If these teams meet again in October, it’s going to be a heckuva series. A’s will have to get through the New York Yankees AND Boston to make that happen. Too bad this was probably the final meeting of 2018 between the A’s and Astros. 

Houston (-150) 5, Oakland 4

Total Bases Plus Walks: Oakland 16, Houston 22

Starting Pitchers: Cahill 3.1 IP, 3 ER, Keuchel 6 IP, 3 ER

Bullpen: Oakland 5 IP, 1 ER, Houston 3 IP, 1 ER

Houston didn’t hit the ball as well as “22” would make it seem. Ten of those offensive bases came on walks! Game winning home run was hit by Tyler White. 

Houston’s lead in the AL West is back to 2.5 games. Astros are 82-51. A’s are 80-54. Houston wins the season series 12-7 thanks to early-season dominance. That means Oakland is 73-42 when not playing Houston! Oakland’s a 100-win caliber team when not facing the Astros. 

In other Wednesday early finishers involving playoff contenders…

*The Chicago Cubs (-185) LOST to the NY Mets 10-3 (after winning the delayed finish of Tuesday night’s game 2-1 in 11 innings). Gives us a chance to remind everyone about the Mets’ road offense. Though, this was the only win of the series for NYM. Cubs are now 78-54, 44-24 at home…which could prove important if Chicago wins home field through the NL brackets as expected. 

*Philadelphia (-140) beat Washington 8-6. Phils are having trouble winning anything easily. But, they at least stop the boat from leaking for one day. Phillies now 71-62 on the season…getting back within arm’s reach of Atlanta atop the NL East. 

*Milwaukee (-150) won at Cincinnati 13-12 in 10 innings. Wild game. Do we need to point out that Milwaukee’s bullpen can be spotty? Brewers move to 74-60, and pick up a little ground on the Cubs. More important is the game they pick up on the Cardinals. 

*St. Louis (-160) LOST to Pittsburgh 2-0. Finally a cool down, at least for a night. Cards are still 16-4 their last 20, and 26-13 since the All-Star break. A 74-59 record leaves them a half-game behind Milwaukee for second-place in the NL Central. Not at all out of the question that the Central could get three teams into the NL brackets. We might be saying that about the NL West in a week. So much can change so quickly. 

*The NY Yankees (-275) LOST to the Chicago White Sox 4-1. Yanks are fairly locked in to where they’re going to be barring surprises. Still 84-49 with this loss. Let’s talk for a second about the resurgent White Sox. They won two of three in this series at huge underdog prices. That brings them to 5-1 their last six, and 11-4 their last 15. CWS will have a winning record in August, sitting at 16-11 with only two home games against Boston left. Lately a great money-making opportunity under the radar. 

*Cleveland (-185) LOST to Minnesota 4-3. Scoring has slowed down in this ballpark after months of fireworks. Indians have five weeks to get ready for a likely divisional round series vs. Houston. 

*Seattle (pick-em) LOST at San Diego 8-3. From August 9-12, Seattle SWEPT a four-game series in Houston. Since then, the Mariners are 5-9…at a time when there was no margin for error. Current record of 74-59 has them 5.5 games behind Oakland for the final Wildcard spot. Those two begin a four-game series in Oakland Thursday night, then play again in Seattle September 24-26.  

*Boston (-360) beat Miami 14-6. Sox back to 50 games over .500 at 92-42. Ending the season at 50 games over .500 would mean 106-56. Lead over the Yankees back up to 7.5 games atop the AL East. Yanks would have to close 22-7 to finish with 106 wins. 

*Atlanta (-130) LOST to Tampa Bay 8-5. Braves become the SIXTH contender to lose on this Wednesday night of action. Still in good shape at 74-58 for at least a Wildcard. Lead over the Phils is 3.5 games atop the NL East. 

*LA Dodgers (-165) won at Texas 3-1. Not the scoring explosion you’d expect to see in this park. Just nine combined hits. Dodgers will take the win. LAD now 72-61. Five-game winning streak has them back in the thick of a very tight NL West race. September is going to be something in the Senior Circuit!

We'll see you again Friday to close out the week. Don't forget to watch VSiN's weekly NASCAR show Thursday afternoon. "Gone Racin'" returns as #88 Alex Bowman joins Ron Flatter, Brendan Gaughan, Jeff Motley, and handicapper Jeff Cogliandro at 5 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. here in Las Vegas. 

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