As we roll through Week 3 of the NFL’s preseason campaign, football fans are treated to a number of ‘dress rehearsal’ games from teams that are still testing out their starters for this year, and also given a look at a number of new, young faces that will be trying to make a mark for their club before the regular season commences. For Friday night, 6 games are available for online sports betting at best online sportsbooks reviewed at CR, so let’s take a look at some of the key points for each match-up and some of the things to watch for this evening.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Detroit Lions – 8:00 PM ET, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
Tonight’s nationally televised clash between the Ravens and the Lions should provide football fans with a great look at two teams that are set up well to make yet another run to the NFL playoffs. Matt Stafford, Detroit’s starting QB, will have plenty to improve upon after a weak showing against the Cleveland Browns, which saw him throw a drive-killing interception early in the game that may have been the difference maker. Though he won’t be seeing more than first half reps, expect him to come out guns blazing to improve his confidence, and to make up for the lack of running game Detroit has right now. With both Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure out of action, Detroit will look to air it out a lot tonight, especially against a tough rush defense like the Ravens.
On the Ravens side of the ball, look out for plenty of action at quarterback, as both Tyrod Taylor and Curtis Painter get set to see a lot of snaps after Joe Flacco gets his snaps in. Painter showed up bigtime in the first preseason match-up against Atlanta, throwing for 3 second-half touchdowns, but expect to see more from the speedy and elusive Taylor tonight, who led the Ravens with 51 yards rushing last week. There won’t be too many appearances for star running back Ray Rice, as the Ravens will look to stay healthy in their most critical positions, so expect a big onus to be placed on the Baltimore O-line, tasked with protecting the three QBs in action tonight.
Betting lines find the Ravens as a -135 favorite, behind their solid offense and defensive lines, and the fact that they are 11-2 in the preseason in their last 13 games before the regular season. However, despite Detroit’s loss last week, they had won 7 consecutive preseason games, which may push more wagers toward the +115 odds line taking the Lions to win. Against the spread Baltimore is a 2 point favorite, getting -110 odds to cover. The over/under on total points stands at 39, with -110 odds for either way you want to wager there.
Tennessee Titans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:00 PM ET, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Florida
All eyes are set on Jake Locker of the Titans for this game tonight, as he’ll be looking to prove to everyone in Tennessee that he’s worthy of taking the starting quarterback job and helping the Titans back to the postseason where they belong. Tennessee expects to give Locker 20-25 snaps at QB tonight, and no doubt the 2nd-year player should be gunning for a strong performance to boost the confidence that head coach Mike Munchak has in him. No doubt Matt Hasselbeck will see some snaps to stay limber, but with either quarterback in the pocket, we like Tennesse to have a bit of an advantage via the air tonight.
After dropping their first preseason game to the Seattle Seahawks 27-17, expect a bigger emphasis on defense tonight for the Titans, as Tennessee tries to contain Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay offense, which will be working in newly acquired free agent Dallas Clarke at tight end. Also expect to see more looks for Tampa’s rookie running back Doug Martin, who will be vying for starting time with LeGarrette Blount. Also be on the lookout for more explosive performances from Daruis Raynaud of the Titans, who scored both Tennessee touchdowns last week, and for Kendall Wright to be a main target for Jake Locker downfield. It’s yet to be seen how many carries start running back Chris Johnson will have tonight, but bet it’ll be around 10, considering he’ll want to improve upon an awful 8 carry, 5 yard night last week against Seattle. However, don’t expect Tampa to simply lay down and get walked over tonight on either side of the ball. Tampa has won 6 out of the last 8 meetings between the two teams, and 4 straight. Expect to see more looks at Vincent Jackson, who didn’t catch a pass in Week 2 of the preseason, and for the running back game of the Bucs to be hitting holes hard tonight.
Betting lines on this game find the Tennessee Titans as a tantalizing underdog pick against the spread (+1.5 points at -110 odds), and getting +105 odds straight up on the money. Tampa at home is a -125 favorite to win straight up, and the over/under for the game tonight stands at 37.5, which should be able to be eclipsed considering that the QB position will be tested for both teams.
Make sure to check out the other match-ups for NFL preseason action today as the Miami Dolphins are a 3 point underdog at Carolina, the Minnesota Vikings host the Buffalo Bills with the Vikes -135 favorites to win straight up, and the New Orleans Saints taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars, getting the biggest points against the spread at -6.5 tonight. Don’t count out a good match-up between the Oakland Raiders and the hosting Arizona Cardinals either, as it’s a great opportunity to side with the heavy underdog Raiders to cover the points spread set at +6 at Oddsmaker sportsbook today.