Justin Fields & ,Adam Redmond
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, left, is congratulated by Adam Redmond (62) after throwing a touchdown pass against the Miami Dolphins during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/David Banks)

NFL Preseason Best Bets, Aug. 21

As the NFL rolls into week 3 of the preseason, the regular season is coming in hot, but there is still money to be made off of these somewhat predictable exhibition games. Even with each team rotating between 90 players throughout the course of a preseason game, there are still noticeable betting patterns and trends among certain teams. This weekend will be the last before some form of regular season football returns, so it’ll be important to take advantage of the juicy value in this slate before the hype of other upcoming games takes over.

Bills (+4.5)
Beginning in the Windy City, head coach Sean McDermott and the Buffalo Bills face off against Matt Nagy and the Bears. Chicago is a considerable points favorite in this matchup after a headline performance by Justin Fields against the Miami Dolphins. The Bills on the other hand limped to just a one-point victory over the Lions. Although the line has moved a little in either teams favor, the current spread sits at 4.5 where it opened up at. The flashy play of Justin Fields in last week’s game raised eyebrows all over the NFL with critics awarding him “performance of the week”. However, with their lack of offensive playmakers and non-existent running game, I don’t think Fields will repeat last week’s near flawless display. Chicago’s offensive line is plagued with injury, including their highly anticipated 39th overall pick in this year’s draft Teven Jenkins, who is supposed to be out for a couple months. Expect to see them struggle to consistently run the ball against a stacked Buffalo front due to their ailing O-line. On the other side of the ball, the Bills have a 3-man competition going on at running back that includes their two starters last year, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. With Josh Allen sitting out another preseason game, Buffalo’s backup QB play of Mitch Trubisky and company will have to improve from their mediocre play against Detroit. While the Chicago defense was able to force two turnovers last week, don’t expect to see that against this well-disciplined Bills team, who are known for being sharp under Sean McDermott. In the past five NFL preseasons, underdogs have been performing above the break-even mark at 53% ATS, and in preseason with a team that is as deep as the Buffalo Bills, 4.5 is too many points to give up against this overhyped Bears squad.

Ravens (-3.5)
In another cross-conference exhibition, the Baltimore Ravens travel to Carolina to play the Panthers. The line is currently at 3.5 with Baltimore as the favorite which was the opening line for the game. Second year coach Matt Rhule faces a daunting task in seeking a victory over John Harbaugh and his intimidating 38-12 career preseason record with the Ravens. After suffering a three-point loss to the Colts, it’s evident nothing much has changed in Carolina since last season. The Panthers let up nearly 450 yards of offense to a Colts squad without probably its three best offensive players: Carson Wentz, Quenton Nelson, and Jonathan Taylor who would be playing if they weren’t injured. When asked if Lamar Jackson is going to play in this upcoming game, Coach Harbaugh stated that he was not going to disclose who’s starting or not, which leaves a chance that the MVP might play. Regardless of if he plays or not, offensive threats like J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill combined with the defensive play of Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Patrick Queen, who all played in the first preseason game, make that 3.5-point value even sweeter. They’ve been a premier organization in demonstrating elite front office moves along with superior player development, and this formula used by the Ravens has paid dividends on the field with their young team. Give me Baltimore by a billi’ against the Panthers.

Broncos (-5.5)
My last best bet for this slate takes place at Lumen Field in Seattle as Pete Carroll and the Seahawks take on Vic Fangio and the Broncos. This spread opened up with the Broncos as a massive six-point road favorite and it currently stands at Denver -5.5. Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater will be on full display at quarterback for the Broncos as they battle it out for QB1 position. Not a bad situation to have two quarterbacks with multiple seasons as starters playing 75% of snaps for your offense during preseason, whereas Seattle has the likes of Geno Smith and Sean Mannion at quarterback with little to no key players, leaving no help around them. Additionally, they’ll have to find fluidity against a disruptive defense led by future All-Pro corner and rookie from Alabama, Patrick Surtain, not to mention the fifth overall pick and speed rusher Bradley Chubb, who expects to play Saturday night. Denver has proved to be one of the most valuable preseason teams this year by having such a young roster that allows for intense competition at seemingly every position. Behind a sturdy offensive line, Drew and Teddy will also have a lot of young talent to work with on offense, like Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. After convincingly blowing out the Vikings in their game last week, I plan on riding the coattails of the red-hot Broncos until the regular season.

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