A look at the NFL preseason matchup between the Browns and Colts
We dipped our toes into our first betting action of the NFL preseason in Week 2, and completed a pair of touchdown passes with the Raiders and Ravens victories. I spend very little time handicapping NFL preseason football, and rather research what's going on and evaluating teams in preparation for the regular season.
However, some betting tips and strategies can assist you when wagering on preseason pro football. Understanding and evaluating quarterbacks and rotations, coaches quotes and tendencies along with late week information and potential motivational spots are part of the process. Taking in as much meaningful news and information from NFL team sites, beat writers and sites like Pro Football Focus can assist bettors and fantasy football enthusiasts alike. Trying to anticipate and stay ahead of line moves and following the leading online sportsbooks can help you understand where the betting market is moving. Sites like Sports Insights, which tracks live NFL odds with spreads, moneyline and over/under percentages of bets from a consensus of seven leading online sportsbooks including BookMaker and 5Dimes along with BetOnline.
The Raiders took sharp money as the more motivated team and built a 26-10 halftime lead at Arizona. The Cardinals piled on some garbage yards and a pair of late 4th quarter touchdowns in a 33-26 defeat as the Raiders improved to 2-0 SU/ATS this preseason.
The Ravens won another preseason games to run their NFLX record to 15-0 SU and 13-2 ATS under coach John Harbaugh over the past four seasons. Green Bay was off a phony high-scoring Week 1 win over Tennessee 28-26. But their was nothing phony about the Ravens ground assault in Baltimore's 26-13 win. The Ravens out-rushed the Packers 171-55, and while QB Aaron Rodgers was sitting for the Packers, duel-threat QB Lamar Jackson was starting for the Ravens.
But in Saturday's Colts game against the Browns, which is the first of five NFL preseason games on Saturday and broadcast on NFL Network starting at 4:00 ET, Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck will sit again, as he remains out with a lower leg injury. The Colts have 'guarded optimism' that Luck will be on their side and Andrew Luck will be able to start the season at quarterback when Indianapolis kicks off the regular season Week 1 on the road against the LA Chargers.
The games may not count in the preseason, but sharp bettors and professionals move the market much more than during the regular season. BetOnline and other offshore and online sportsbooks took a hit when the Raiders rolled over the Cardinals Thursday night. A Colts win and cover Saturday against the Browns will burn the leading online sportsbooks as well, as Indianapolis (-3) has been bet up and is taking near 67% of the spread bets according to Sports Insights.
Betting the Colts (-3) over the Browns
Situationally, the Browns are off a satisfying win over the disinterested Redskins 30-10 in Week 1. The Colts meanwhile were getting beat at the line of scrimmage in a 24-16 Week 1 loss at Baltimore. Fundamentally, the Colts were out-rushed 163-105. More than nine Bills players rushed the football, while Colts fourth string rookie quarterback Chad Kelly rushed for more than half of the Colts yards.
Indianapolis coach Frank Reich was pretty pissed off about the effort across both the offensive and defensive lines. That motivation and expected improvement should show up this week for the Colts, who went 3-1 SU in last year's preseason including 4-0 ATS. Recall coach Frank Reich was a longtime backup to Bills QB Jim Kelly, Chad's uncle. He's built up the protection for Andrew Luck and improved the running game thanks to a pair of top draft picks along the offensive line last year. Pro Football Focus rates the Colts offensive line a top-5 unit heading into the 2019 regular season.
Reich told reporters the team's starters will play "probably about a quarter" on Saturday against the Browns, including QB Jacoby Brissett. New Browns star WR Odell Beckham (hip) sat out Thursday's practice and joint session with the Colts, and will be watching again in Saturday's preseason game.
The Colts fit a positive profile and betting situation this week that is better than 62% ATS success over many years as 0-1 preseason teams take on 1-0 teams in Week 2. Look for a Colts home win and while you can't watch QB Andrew Luck, there are plenty of other new faces and players to pay attention to on the Colts and Browns.
The Colts offseason was about building onto and shaping the current roster rather than making major changes. However, they did add three key defenders with more speed on defense including the aptly named linebacker E.J. Speed. And on offense, quarterback Andrew Luck has a pair of dynamic receivers to join T.Y. Hilton and more talent and depth along with a trio of quality tight ends that will make coverage even more difficult for opposing defenses once Luck returns.
KEY NEW PLAYERS
DE/LB Ben Banogu / Justin Houston
WR Parris Campbell / Devin Funchess
LB Bobby Okereke / E.J. Speed
S Khari Willis
CB Rock Ya-Sin
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
S Morgan Burnett
RB Kareem Hunt
G Eric Kush
DT Sheldon Richardson
LB Sione Takitaki
ED Olivier Vernon
CB Greedy Williams
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay