The 2017 NFL pre-season is in full movement, and it’s likely that we’ll see teams picking up the pace as they move closer towards the regular season. The pre-season games are a chance for teams to try out their new rosters, explore depth and strategy, and measure the competition. Of course, the pre-season also comes with a risk of injury, so the type of football that we see is not going to be on the same level of power or intensity that is reserved for the regular and post seasons.If you’re interested in the pre-season games and tracking performance of your favorite teams, or simply looking for betting favorites for the rest of the season, then this time of year can provide you with plenty of excitement. Here are our top picks for seven of the games coming up this weekend.
Carolina Panthers vs. Tennessee Titans
The Panthers are coming off of the back of a strong 27 – 17 win over the Texans from last week, but it was a game that showed some weakness in their defense, which is something that the team will want to address in the pre-season. The momentum that the Panthers have should be enough to give them a win over the Titans, a team that has failed to impress in recent seasons. Prediction: Carolina Panthers for the win.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have already beat the Buccaneers in their first pre-season game, and they’ll be looking to continue that winning form as they take on Kansas City. This game will give both teams the opportunity to trial some of their non-starting players, as they seek to build talent and explore the depths of both teams. Kansas City lost their first game against San Francisco at home. Current odds suggest that the Bengals will be able to win this game, and there are no major holes from their previous performance that would suggest any other result. Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals for the win.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys
These two teams haven’t played together since 2014, in a game where the Cowboys demolished the Colts with a 42 – 7 win. The Colts have already lost in the pre-season, and so have the Cowboys. However, the Cowboys didn’t play their top footballers, which could change this weekend. Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, and Dak Prescott could all see field time. If they do, then this is definitely going to go in favor of the Cowboys. Prediction: Dallas Cowboys for the win.
New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans
The patriots were disappointing in their pre-season opener, but it was clear that their plan wasn’t to go chasing a win. Instead, they ran 40 players, giving the coaching staff plenty to evaluate in the run up to the regular season. New England are still building their backfield as well as their pass rush, and we might not see many of their starters in this game. Despite losing their opening game, this pre-season match should be one that they can easily win. Let’s not forget that the Patriots are coming from a 14 – 2 season, whereas Houston only managed 9 – 7. The Patriots have a better total offense ranking as well as a total defense ranking.Prediction: New England Patriots for the win.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Oakland Raiders
Both of these sides haven’t made huge changes that would impact their current offensive and defensive rankings, and that leaves us with a Raiders team that should easily outclass the Rams, no matter who they decide to play on the weekend. Keep in mind that this is a home game, so Oakland will want to at least do something that will impress the fans. Last year the Rams were ranked 23rd in points surrendered, which is only a few places below the Raiders. We still think that the Raiders will be able to win this one.Prediction: Oakland Raiders for the win.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Atlanta won’t have Devonta Freeman on the field this weekend, thanks to a concussion that has put him on the injury list, however, we will see players like Taylor Gabriel and Julio Jones in the game. The Steelers will also be missing an important player with Le’Veon Bell still not in play due to a contract dispute. The Falcons will likely win this game by a fair margin, and we’re prediction over 20 points for both teams. Prediction: Atlanta Falcons for the win.
New York Giants vs. Cleveland Browns
The Browns wouldn’t be likely to overcome the Giants in a regular season game, but the pre-season is a completely different competition. The Giants are likely to make the playoffs this year and these early games are going to be more about them getting their players field time and exploring their different options for starters and depth. Cleveland will be more eager to get wins in the preseason, because they need confidence going into the season ahead. The Giants didn’t show a strong running game in their pre-season opener, and despite having a stronger defense, we can still see Cleveland taking a win in this game.Predictions: Cleveland Browns for the win.
Do The NFL Pre-Season Games Matter?
There are plenty of fans and even experts that will tell you that pre-season games don’t really matter. In terms of a season record then yes this is true, but they’re still important opportunities to measure different sides, players, and tactics, which can then be deployed throughout the regular season.Although none of the teams in our predictions will be putting maximum effort into their games this weekend, we should still see some tight competition as well as early performances from some new and veteran players.