Preseason Stat Summaries

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

HUGE WEEKEND FOR ROAD UNDERDOGS
IN PRESEASON BATTLES

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

You've probably heard over the years that home field advantage doesn't mean much in the NFL Preseason. This past weekend brought that point home in dramatic fashion!

THURSDAY: New England (+3) crushed Atlanta 28-10 as a road underdog.

SATURDAY: Miami (+1.5), St. Louis (+4), the NY Jets (+1), Oakland (+3), Dallas (+3), Detroit (+3), and Green Bay (+3) also scored outright victories on the road. Pittsburgh also covered as a road favorite, clinching a winning weekend ATS for visitors even before the last two games were played Sunday and Monday nights.

We learned a lot last weekend by crunching some key stat numbers from the Preseason boxes. We're back to do the same thing this week...and we're adding in turnovers now for some additional context. Teams who are avoiding turnovers this early are doing a good job of getting prepared for the season. Teams who are having troubles are a bit behind the curve...unless it's just the backups self-destructing after the starters have sparkled.

Let's go game-by-game Thursday through Saturday and see what the numbers show...

THURSDAY

BUFFALO 34, INDIANAPOLIS 21
Total Yards: Indianapolis 297, Buffalo 367
Third Downs: Indianapolis 4/11, Buffalo 5/15
Turnovers: Indianapolis 4, Buffalo 0
NOTEBOOK: We're not going to let this game influence our thinking much. Indianapolis is notorious for poor Preseason showings. They're now 0-2 ATS this season, continuing their long term LACK of prioritization. Buffalo was fired up to do well in their home opener under their new coach too. In terms of September, we still see Indy as a clear Super Bowl threat...and Buffalo as a distant also-ran. Maybe Buffalo will offer some value in home games.

NEW ENGLAND 28, ATLANTA 10
Total Yards: New England 299, Atlanta 266
Third Downs: New England 11/17, Atlanta 8/15
Turnovers: New England 0, Atlanta 2
NOTEBOOK: Tom Brady was an electric 10-12-0-85 passing, with one TD on the night. The Patriots didn't do much with the backups in the second half, which is why they didn't reach 300 yards of total offense. To this point, the Patriots first team offense has looked sharp and ready to go. We'll be expecting some fireworks before the weather turns in November/December for this year. Atlanta was disappointingly sluggish for a big home TV game...but there's no reason to worry at this point.

FRIDAY

CINCINNATI 22, PHILADELPHIA 9
Total Yards: Philadelphia 270, Cincinnati 345
Third Downs: Philadelphia 2/15, Cincinnati 5/13
Turnovers: Philadelphia 5, Cincinnati 3
NOTEBOOK: Philadelphia put up some big numbers in their opener, so this sloppy night may just have been a matter of blowing off a road game before the dress rehearsal. The night was ABYSMAL for the Eagles offensively, with a horrible 2 of 15 on third down tries and 5 turnovers. UGLY! Cincinnati had some turnover issues themselves, but the Bengals were the superior team on this evening. We'll have our eye on the Eagles this Friday Night in Kansas City for a much better offensive showing. Note that backup Michael Vick was 1-5-2-6 on the evening! That's two interceptions, and only one completion for six yards. Remember when he was supposed to be a difference-maker for the Eagles?

SATURDAY

BALTIMORE 23, WASHINGTON 3
Total Yards: Baltimore 396, Washington 390
Third Downs: Baltimore 1/10, Washington 4/13
Turnovers: Baltimore 1, Washington 4
NOTEBOOK: Washington got stuck in a letdown spot here off the slaughter of Buffalo in Mike Shanahan's debut. That sloppiness showed up in turnovers more than anywhere else. They did move the ball, though McNabb was a disappointing 11-26 passing. First teamers shouldn't throw 15 incomplete passes in an exhibition game. Joe Flacco was a soft 9-16-0-72 himself. Marc Bulger was 13-16-0-130 for the Ravens, possibly hinting at some QB issues once the regular season starts. Flacco's ability to perform late in close games was an issue in 2009. Will Baltimore keep being patient with him?

PITTSBURGH 24, NY GIANTS 17
Total Yards: Pittsburgh 412, NY Giants 280
Third Downs: Pittsburgh 6/12, NY Giants 3/10
Turnovers: Pittsburgh 1, NY Giants 1
NOTEBOOK: This was the Rhett Bomar Bowl...with Bomar getting all the snaps for the Giants because of injuries to their other quarterbacks. He did lead a rally from down 24-7 in the fourth quarter...but couldn't cover the large 6-point spread. Ben Roethlisberger saw some action for the Steelers, though he won't be allowed to play in September once the games start. Note that Dennis Dixon was 7-8-0-82, trying to make a case for himself over Byron Leftwich as the September starter. Congratulations to all of you who hit this one hard as a JIM HURLEY STEAM RELEASE.

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MIAMI 27, JACKSONVILLE 26
Total Yards: Miami 341, Jacksonville 275
Third Downs: Miami 6/13, Jacksonville 4/11
Turnovers: Miami 0, Jacksonville 2
NOTEBOOK: Very sharp game for Miami, as Chad Henne was 11-14-0-151 at quarterback...and the team won every major stat on the road. We mentioned in our divisional previews that the Dolphins are worth keeping an eye on this year. They were better than you realized last year against a very tough schedule.

TAMPA BAY 20, KANSAS CITY 15
Total Yards: Kansas City 366, Tampa Bay 312
Third Downs: Kansas City 8/17, Tampa Bay 5/13
Turnovers: Kansas City 3, Tampa Bay 0
NOTEBOOK: Kansas City had the best of it except for the turnover category. That 3-0 deficit trumped their other edges. The QB's threw a lot of passes for the Chiefs (43 from Cassel and Palko), but it was mostly short stuff. Note that Josh Freeman got hurt at QB for Tampa Bay, and will probably miss the rest of Preseason. It was a fracture on the thumb of his throwing hand, which is something that could prove to be an issue much longer than the team is currently letting on. That's been a common theme in recent years. Thumb injuries are stubborn about healing!

ST. LOUIS 19, CLEVELAND 17
Total Yards: St. Louis 172, Cleveland 285
Third Downs: St. Louis 6/19, Cleveland 5/13
Turnovers: St. Louis 0, Cleveland 5
NOTEBOOK: Remember when the football world would get excited about a showdown between Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy? Bradford was an awful 6-14-0-24 on the night. That's right, just 24 passing yards on 14 attempts. McCoy, dealing with a hand injury from last week, only threw two passes with the third team (both incomplete). The good news for Browns fans is that Jake Delhomme was 12-16-0-127 in the air...suggesting his new surroundings are helping him get his form back. The bad news...the team as a whole suffered five turnovers and lost to the horrible Rams! St. Louis looks like a disaster waiting to happen in the regular season based on their stats thus far. Don't let the final score here fool you. Most opponents won't give them 5 turnovers.

NEW ORLEANS 38, HOUSTON 20
Total Yards: Houston 291, New Orleans 409
Third Downs: Houston 1/8, New Orleans 8/16
Turnovers: Houston 2, New Orleans 1
NOTEBOOK: New Orleans is ready to go...popping 400+ yards and 50% on third down conversions. And, that was with Drew Brees staying fairly quiet. Chase Daniel threw for three TD's in a backup role. The Saints rushed for 198 yards. Disappointing performance for Houston, who usually plays more competitively than this in the Preseason under this head coach.

NY JETS 9, CAROLINA 3
Total Yards: NY Jets 112, Carolina 175
Third Downs: NY Jets 5/19, Carolina 6/18
Turnovers: NY Jets 2, Carolina 5
NOTEBOOK: We told you in our Saturday preview that these two teams were virtual clones. Neither offense could move the ball! Most offenses would be disappointed with 287 yards. These two COMBINED for that (and seven turnovers). Mark Sanchez was an invisible 5-10-0-12, getting a bit of a rest after a busy Monday Night vs. the Giants. Matt Moore was 6-17-1-57, before Jimmy Claussen's 9-22-1-72 followed him up. Maybe NONE of the 'big four'quarterbacks from last year's draft are going to amount to anything. Tim Tebow was out this week with bruised ribs. The Bradford/McCoy/Claussen composite went 15-38-1-96 against mostly backups (Bradord didn't start this week, but relieved Feeley early).

OAKLAND 32, CHICAGO 17
Total Yards: Oakland 338, Chicago 274
Third Downs: Oakland 8/17, Chicago 2/14
Turnovers: Oakland 2, Chicago 2
NOTEBOOK: Jay Cutler sure isn't responding well to the Mike Martz era just yet. Reports came out this week that his practice completion percentage is very low in scrimmages (for scrimmage standards). Here he was 7-15-0-99, with decent yardage volume hiding a dismal night on third down conversions. Jason Campbell was 10-20-1-170 for Oakland, which is at least better than what JaMarcus Russell was bringing to the team. Kyle Boller was 7-9-0-55, as he recognizes a chance to salvage his career. We may have to think about Oakland next week in their home opener/dress rehearsal game vs. cross-bay rival San Francisco.

DALLAS 16, SAN DIEGO 14
Total Yards: Dallas 194, San Diego 294
Third Downs: Dallas 6/15, San Diego 5/13
Turnovers: Dallas 1, San Diego 2
NOTEBOOK: Dallas was short players on the offensive line, so they kind of coasted through the game to get it over with. Some late points vs. the San Diego scrubs let them steal a victory. Nothing like a very late safety to put you over the top. Philip Rivers was 11-15-1-125 for the Chargers, with the interception marring an otherwise sharp night.

DETROIT 25, DENVER 20
Total Yards: Detroit 392, Denver 339
Third Downs: Detroit 7/14, Denver 5/13
Turnovers: Detroit 1, Denver 2
NOTEBOOK: Quite a shootout by Preseason standards, with both teams topping 330 yards (only Baltimore/Washington matched that, but five turnovers kept scoring down there). We may see a lot of this with Detroit this season. Quarterback Matthew Stafford should continue to improve. He was 13-18-0-130 here. But, the defense is horrible. Kyle Orton of Denver responded well to his contract extension with a 16-22-1-177 performance. The pick was a negative...but 177 yards is huge for a first-teamer this week. Detroit's backups wanted the game more...and pulled out the underdog victory.

GREEN BAY 27, SEATTLE 24
Total Yards: Green Bay 421, Seattle 272
Third Downs: Green Bay 9/15, Seattle 4/12
Turnovers: Green Bay 3, Seattle 2
NOTEBOOK: Green Bay turnovers helped keep this close. This was more like a double digit whitewash than a field goal nailbiter in terms of the raw stats. Aaron Rodgers was a very sharp 8-11-0-116 in the air. A lot of the elite QB's seem ready to go already. Matt Hasselbeck was 11-15-0-127 for Seattle, which is a good sign for their hoped for turnaround under Pete Carroll. Charlie Whitehurst fell back to earth with a thud, going 9-20-2-73 a week after making some big plays against Tennessee. Scouts fall in love with height. Height by itself isn't enough.

That wraps up our look at the key stats from this past weekend's NFL action. Our football coverage continues daily this week in the NOTEBOOK. We're looking forward to all the dress rehearsal games on tap. And, college football is now just a week and a half away.

Selections from WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY can be purchased online. Look for seasonal packages here at the website. Or, just purchase game day releases a few hours before kickoff. Arizona/Tennessee is our featured game tonight. We know you'll be watching that one on ESPN. Note that NETWORK is 9-4 ATS the past two weekends in exhibition action.

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