What We Learned from Preseason Week 1

The experts managing the NFL betting odds for Week 1 of the regular season have had a busy few days as the first week of preseason action has come and gone. We have our first sample of all 32 teams, which means the odds for futures, regular season win totals and the Week 1 can be adjusted. It’s basic NFL betting tips but if you’re quick to process the information – the injuries, the depth chart changes and the performances of the rookies – there’s some good value to be had on the lines.

Here’s a look at some of the things we learned from the first full week of exhibition action:

Alex Smith Fits the Chiefs

A lot of people have been wondering how well Alex Smith – a quarterback who traditionally has had a high completion percentage but has struggled to make downfield throws – would fit with the Kansas City Chiefs and Andy Reid’s pass-happy offense. After one week of preseason action, so far, so good. NFL online betting handicappers watched Smith orchestrate a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the Chiefs opening series (and his only series). He finished seven-of-eight for 68 yards.

Those who bet on the NFL seem to forget that Reid’s offenses have been run successfully by a number of quarterbacks who have “lacked arm strength”. See: Jeff Garcia, Kevin Kolb and even A.J. Feeley – to a certain extent. Smith and Reid should provide a big boost to the team that finished with the fewest passing yards in 2012.

Cardinals Passing Game Improved

Speaking of aerial attacks that should be improved, you can count on Arizona’s passing game being much better. Like with the Chiefs, a quarterback and coaching change should be the catalysts.

Last season, the Cards trotted out Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, John Skelton and Brian Hoyer at quarterback. That foursome combined for just 11 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and a meager 187.8 passing yards per game. Nobody is confusing Carson Palmer with Joe Montana but Palmer did pass for 4,018 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season. Compared to the signal callers that Arizona had, he’s a vast upgrade. We saw that in the preseason opener as Palmer finished four-of-six for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Unlike last season, the Cardinals will be able to move the ball through the air and you can expect their NFL lines – specifically, their totals – to be affected because of that. They are in St. Louis in Week 1 of the regular season and we’ve already seen the NFL odds climb on the total from 40 to 41.5.

Rookies that Made a Good Impression

Sticking with the Cardinals, the much ballyhooed third-round pick, Tyrann Mathieu, was all over the field in his debut. Remember, he didn’t play football all of last season after being booted off the LSU team but the Honeybadger had two tackles, a sack and a nice 24-yard punt return.

The Bills gave their rookie quarterback plenty of time to get his feet wet as he played the entire first half on Sunday. On the whole, the results were pretty positive. E.J. Manuel finished the day 16-of-21 for 107 yards and a touchdown while rushing three times for 28 yards. It’s looking more and more like he’ll be the opening day starter for the Bills. They are a seven-point home underdog on the NFL point spread in Week 1 to the New England Patriots.

A couple of rookie receivers shined this weekend as DeAndre Hopkins, the 27th overall pick in the 2013 draft, had four catches and 52 yards for the Houston Texans. He had a particularly impressive 34-yard touchdown where he leaped over the defender to bring down the ball. The 28th overall pick, Cordarrelle Patterson of the Minnesota Vikings, looked very Percy Harvin-like while catching four balls for 54 yards and showing some great after-the-catch ability. He also returned a kickoff for 50 yards.

From the not-so-impressive department, St. Louis Rams rookie receiver Tavon Austin saw a pass skip off his hands and finished the day with nothing to report on the stat sheet. Also, Chargers rookie linebacker Manti Te’o played two series but failed to register a tackle.

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