Green Bay vs. Cleveland Clash for Preseason Upper Midwest Shrine Game

For fans of NFL Football, the preseason activities give an interesting look under the hood of each team as they prepare for the regular season, set to begin in just 3 short weeks. For Week 3 of the preseason, the Thursday night games present yet another opportunity to look at some teams that should be making waves during the 2012 campaign, including the Green Bay Packers, who take on the Cleveland Browns, and the Cincinnati Bengals, who travel south to take on the Atlanta Falcons. With both games getting underway in just a few hours’ time, let’s take a look at the Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland match-up available for online sports betting, and see where the money is going and what the best betting lines will be at Bookmaker sportsbook, today’s top reviewed online sports betting website.

Both the Packers and the Browns are trudging through the preseason with battered lineups, short in the backfield specifically. For the Packers, 4 different running backs will be out of action, including Cedric Benson, recently acquired to fill the void left by Ryan Grant’s departure. With James Starks, Du’ane Bennett, and John Kuhn also missing tonight’s match-up, Alex Green is going to see plenty of carries but plenty of question marks revolve around whether the 2nd year back will be able to perform throughout the night as he’s coming off an ACL injury from last season. Fortunately for the Packers, they aren’t the only ones with issues behind the offensive line, as this year’s 3rd pick in the NFL draft, Trent Richardson has been shut down for the preseason with knee issues. Expect to see plenty of Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson in the running back rotation for Cleveland, but with little going on in the ground game last week, we’ll look to the battle in the air to decide tonight’s showdown.

For Green Bay, we can expect to see no more of Aaron Rodgers than perhaps a series or two in the first quarter. The Packers seem squarely set on tonight’s game being an opportunity to test their young players, with many starters hurt and with a regular season team pretty much locked in place, rather than a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Look forward to checking out rookie back-up QB Graham Harrell, who is the only back-up quarterback in the league who has not taken a regular season snap. He’ll be minus TE Jermichael Finley and WR Greg Jennings as leaders down field, but after firing 27 passes in Week 2 of the preseason, don’t expect that to deter the young Texas Tech QB from gunning downfield, especially with little to no support in the backfield. While Green Bay is certainly hurting in the backfield and on defense, expect their offensive line to stand strong for the rookie Harrell tonight, as he’ll be likely their only weapon for scoring and will need support to hold back the Cleveland Browns pass rush.

The QB situation for the Browns is certainly an intriguing one. 28 year-old rookie QB Brandon Weeden will get yet another start tonight, after struggling through the first preseason game against Detroit last week. While the Packers are definitely focused on trying out young players, Cleveland will be scrambling to pull out a full-on dress rehearsal for the regular season, as they won’t have an opportune time to do so next week against Philadelphia (who they’ll meet Week 1 of the regular season). Cleveland always seems to play well in the preseason, and that is because they are always seemingly trying out their first squads against tough opponents who are resting starters and/or already have their positions figured out. With the Browns trying to get their starting rotation figured out, expect to see Weeden get a good, hard look tonight in the first half, but with back-ups Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace also getting time to prove themselves later on in the game. He likely won’t have Mohamed Massaquoi in uniform, so expect plenty of looks between Weeden and Josh Gordon if that is the case. At any rate, for the Browns to pull out a win at Lambeau tonight, they’re going to have to come out strong in the passing game early on, and hope that their back-ups can salvage a second half that could turn ugly if the Browns defense can’t hold on. With both teams banged up, the later stages of this game may become very slow on both sides of the ball, so expect the first half to decide the overall outcome tonight.

Betting lines for Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns at Bookmaker Sportsbook.

The money has been shifting all over the place on this match-up, and currently the Green Bay Packers are straight up favorites on the money line at home, getting -155 odds to win. Three-quarters of wagers placed so far are siding with the Packers, however, with the Browns winning 2 straight preseason games against the Packers, including last year at home. Cleveland, despite injury problems, will be sending out way more starters than Green Bay will tonight, and once Rodgers is out of the game, the advantage may turn to Cleveland, especially in the second half. We like Cleveland as a high-reward play with a small wager taking +135 odds, but caution against expecting too much from a batter Cleveland team with little in the backfield and a shaky starter at QB.

For the spread, Green Bay gets -3 points as favorites, needing to cover a field goal in order to earn spread pickers EVEN money. Last year’s game came down to a 13-10 decision in favor of the Browns, and with both sides looking to struggle to find offense and scoring tonight, expect another 3-point ballgame to be in the works. If you’re wagering on Green Bay to win, you might as well take them to cover the spread and pick up the better odds here.

For the over/under, we’re surprised to see 41 points offered up, considering that both QBs who will be playing the most time are rookies, and that both teams are hurting in the running and receiving games. Unless Rodgers comes out swinging early and puts a couple touchdowns on the board, or Colt McCoy goes off in the second half, temper your expectations of a breakout of total points. Even though 60 percent of wagers thus far are taking the over bet, with defense looking light for both teams, the potential for offensive struggles has us chasing the under wager at -110 odds.