Week 2 of NFL Pre-Season is Time to Impress Coaches
Going into the 2012 season of the National Football League, there are seven new head coaches — they’re either rookies, or veterans in new situations. With two weeks to go until games start counting, each of them is looking for the right mix of talent for their team, and therefore make it clear to all (including the people who hired them) that they know what they’re doing and the club is on the right path. DALE PERTH is glad he’s not in their shoes, because talent evaluation in the pre-season involves tough decisions and sleepless nights.
It’s a huge task to pick the right 53 players for your NFL team. With only a short month to decide the mix of their teams, all 32 head coaches have a lot to sort through. The second week of pre-season is the moment when dozens of hopefuls want to make their mark and hopefully stick with their teams — or get a shot at a job elsewhere.
Week 2 of pre-season action starts Thursday with two teams — Cincinnati and Atlanta — who made it to the playoffs. The Bengals go into this game without guard Travelle Wharton, gone for the season with a knee injury last week. Also injured were running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, linebacker Rey Maualuga, defensive end Carlos Dunlap and safety Taylor Mays. Andy Dalton is calling the signals, and he needs a better showing after going 4-for-9 for 54 yards against the New York Jets.
Even though the Falcons got kicked around by the Colts last week, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White appear to be in mid-season form already. Jacquizz Rodgers also showed his quickness and explosive speed. NFL betting fans will note that Atlanta has been made four-point favorites against Cincinnati (Over/Under +38.0).
The other game is Cleveland at Green Bay. The Browns may be in some trouble already, but it didn’t really show on the field last week as they came up with a 19-17 victory over Detroit despite being three-point dogs. Brandon Weeden might get less time at quarterback, giving way to Colt McCoy. They also need to take a long look at their backfield options now that Trent Richardson is out for awhile recuperating from knee surgery. It may not matter in the end, as Cleveland is 0-6 straight up (1-5 against the spread) in their past six regular-season games versus NFC North teams.
Meanwhile, Green Bay has its own running game to ponder. James Starks is out for a week after picking up turf toe; that plus his sub-par performance before the injury prompted the Pack to sign talented but troubled rusher Cedric Benson. He could be seeing a lot of action because wide receiver Greg Jennings is out with a concussion and tight end Jermichael Finley is nursing a sore quadriceps muscle. Despite all that, the Packers are three-point favorites.
With a half-dozen games on Friday, Jacksonville appears to be the biggest dog (+6.5 points; Moneyline 2.15). Oakland isn’t being given much of a chance in Arizona as five-point underdogs, while Miami shouldn’t find much more happiness against Carolina as four-point road dogs.
Seven more games on Saturday feature the Giants at the Jets, with Seattle at Denver being labeled at this point as a pick ‘em. San Francisco is the biggest Moneyline dog at 2.40 in Houston. It will also be interesting to see how three-point underdog Dallas performs in San Diego now that they’ll be without tight end Jason Witten for at least the rest of the pre-season after suffering a lacerated spleen last Monday in Oakland.
Two more games are on tap as the Colts visit the Steelers on Sunday, where Andrew Luck will try to repeat the success of his debut; and Philadephia travels to New England on Monday in one of the marquee matchups of the week.