It’s been said before but will be said again here: A team’s preseason record has no bearing on what it will do in the regular season. Last year’s Cleveland Browns finished 4-0 in the exhibition schedule and 0-16 when it counted.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
In fact, the following teams finished first or tied for first in their division in the 2017 preseason and failed to make the playoffs: New York Jets and Miami Dolphins (both 2-2 in AFC East), Baltimore Ravens and Browns (both 4-0 in AFC North), Indianapolis Colts (2-2 in AFC South), Denver Broncos (4-0 in AFC West), Dallas Cowboys (3-1 in NFC East), Green Bay Packers (3-1 in NFC North) and Seattle Seahawks (4-0 in NFC West).
That said, if a team wants to win a Super Bowl – and which doesn’t? – it better not finish with a losing preseason record because none of the past 10 NFL champions have. Last year’s Philadelphia Eagles continued the trend with their 2-2 exhibition mark.
The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears kicked off the 2018 preseason schedule last Thursday in the Hall of Fame Game and Baltimore prevailed 17-16, failing to cover a 2.5-point spread. The total stayed under 35 – totals are always comically low in the first two weeks of the preseason because starters play little.
Every team in the NFL is in action in the first full week of the preseason starting this Thursday night with 12 games. The Philadelphia Eagles take the field for the first time as reigning Super Bowl champions and are 3-point favorites against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. Three big stars won’t play in that one: Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who is recovering from injury, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who is holding out of camp, and receiver Antonio Brown, who has a minor injury.
The New England Patriots are -3 over the visiting Washington Redskins on Thursday. It’s not likely that Tom Brady plays much if at all as there’s nothing more for Brady to learn. It should be the Washington debut of new starting quarterback Alex Smith, acquired in a trade this offseason from Kansas City.
Essentially every starter from the Ravens and Bears sat in the Hall of Fame Game but that shouldn’t be the case this week. Baltimore is a 3-point home favorite against the Los Angeles Rams, while Chicago is +2.5 at the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens have now won nine straight preseason games, but they had covered the previous eight before the HOF Game.