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As discussed here, Steve Fezzik, only two time winner of the Westgate SuperContest, recently provided four key concepts to use when handicapping the NFL Preseason. These are very much distinct from the concepts needed to handicap Regular Season NFL games. The Preseason is simply a different animal. Fezzik contends handicapping preseason vs. regular season games is as distinct as a company that produces tangerines versus one that produces fiber-optics. Today, I use these tangerine concepts to examine the Bears trip to the Meadow-lands to face the New York Giants in Week 2.
Concept #1: Coaching Tendencies
The first thing to look at when handicapping preseason is how the Head Coaches have tended to treat these exhibition games in the past. All coaches would like to win these games – none would like to win 1 of these games 1/100th as much as they would like to win even one quarter in the fall. All coaches will have to strike a balance between competitiveness and putting their young players in a place to develop and demonstrate their potential value to the team.
Bears Coaching Tenancies: C-
Matt Naggy is 2-4 in the preseason since taking over as Head Coach for the Bears last year. Usually a leading offensive innovator, the Bears have been almost meticulously vanilla when playing in these exhibitions. Last year, the Bears displayed completely novel variations on the first drive of the regular season, all of which had been no where to be found in the preseason. Last week against Panthers, the Bears needed 30 passes to amass just 200 passing yards.
Giants Coaching Tendencies: B-
Pat Shurmer is now 3-2 in the preseason since taking over as Head Coach for the Giants last year. The Giants seems to be in a transition year – so preseason wins may be the most effective way to earn any victories, i.e. positive PR moments. I would adjudge Shurmur to place slightly more emphasis on winning in this preseason than the average coach.
Concept #2: Quarterback Rotation
Since starting QBs play only a series or two in these games, the most important personnel to access in the Preseason is the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings guys on the quarterback depth chart.
Bears QB Rotation: C
Bears starting QB Mitch Trubisky has played in only 2 of 6 games under Matt Naggy. Trubisky played in week 2 last year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a short appearance. Backup Chase Daniel, a 10-year veteran of the NFL, has played 39 preseason games. Daniel is not a very mobile QB, often an essential skill in the preseason where the offensive line play is seldom finely tuned. Behind Daniel, Tyler Bray is younger but hardly any more mobile. In 16 preseason games, Bray has less than 0 rushing yards.
Giants QB Rotation: B+
Eli Manning got a customary series to check down and generally be average last week. Thankfully, the Giants primary ambition in this preseason is to develop and display the skills of their 1st round draft pick, Daniel Jones. Jones looked excellent in his preseason debut, going 5-5 with a TD for a perfect 158.3 QB Rating. Giants owner John Mara recently stated his 2019 goal is that Daniel Jones never sees the field in the regular season. That sounds like they are that much more likely to give him the reigns to show what he can do in these exhibitions. And I love what I’ve seen so far. 3rd and 4th string QBs, 2nd year QB Kyle Lauletta and veteran QB Alex Tanney, both have strong career preseason stats.
Concept #3: General Conditions
Some scenarios in the preseason will present a-symmetric motivation for each team. Principally, when a win-less squad goes against a team that has already gotten off the snide and could care less, you would generally want to bet on the win-less team. That’s what we have here, the ideal 1-0 vs. 0-1 situation. Advantage Bears.
Bears General Conditions: B
Giants General Conditions: C-
Concept #4: Late-Breaking Info
With seemingly every important player questionable for any given preseason game, it is vital with betting these games to keep your hear out for who’s in and who’s out. Of primary importance to look out for is whether Bears QB Mitch Trubisky or Giants RB Saquon Barkley will get their feet wet in this game. As of now, nothing to report.
Bears Late Breaking Info: N/A
Giants Late Breaking Info: N/A
Like many, many of these preseason games, there is not much to separate these teams. The Giants have home-field advantage and a much superior QB rotation. Theoretically, the Bears will have more of an incentive to earn their first win in this game – but I think the Giants, too, want to get as many wins as possible before the real hard work begins in September. My Fan Duel Best Bet for this game is NYG -2.