Table of Contents
On his latest podcast appearance, Professional Bettor, and the only 2X winner of the Westgate SuperContest, Steve Fezzik laid out the 4 essential concepts to know when handicapping Preseason NFL. Let’s use these principles as a lens to look at the Annual New York Preseason showdown this Sunday between the Giants and the Jets.
Concept #1: Coaching Tendencies
Fezzik asserts here that while all coaches discount the value of a preseason win – some coaches historically places more emphasis on the results of these games than others. For example, Jon Harbaugh is on an 8-0 run in the preseason. Meanwhile, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has now lost 9 preseason games in a row after last night’s loss to the Broncos.
Giants Head Coaching Tendencies Grade: C
Giants Pat Shurmer is only in his second year as Head Coach so we have a small sample size of preseason games on which to judge. The Giants went 2-2 in last year’s preseason, and I find no anecdotal evidence that Shurmer cares more or less about these exhibitions than a typical coach.
Jets Head Coaching Tendencies: D
New Jets hire Adam Gase coached 3 years in Miami previously. Over that span the Dolphins went 5-7 in the preseason. Typically new coaches will value getting preseason wins more than experienced coaches, because they haven’t had the opportunity feel what’s it like to captain a win before. In-line with that script, Gase won 2 of his first 3 preseason games with the Dolphins, and lost 5 of his last 7. From his press appearances, Gase seems accustomed and unburdened by the ups and downs of being an NFL HC these days. He openly described new acquisition Le’Veon’s Bell’s contract as overly expensive. I don’t think he sweats a loss here and will gladly lean more toward player development than winning the battle of the scoreboard.
Concept #2: Quarterback Rotation
Unlike Regular Season games, Preseason games are far more likely to be decided by the 2nd and 3rd string players. For this reason a backup like Saints’ Taysom Hill may be far more important to the betting line than a starter like Drew Brees. Extrapolating from this principle, a team with 3 viable quarterbacks battling to be the starter is far more dangerous than a team with 1 star quarterback and 2 below average backups. Additionally, Fezzik contends that since offensive line play is disjointed and generally bad in the preseason, mobile quarterbacks will be more valuable than pocket quarterbacks.
Giants QB Rotation: B
Veteran Eli Manning might see a series or two in this game, and also might not. More prominently featured will be 1st round draft pick Daniel Jones. Despite being a rookie Jones has impressed in the early innings of training camp and might already be an average backup in the league. Jones ran a solid 4.81 in the 40 yard dash and ran for over 1300 yards in his Duke career. Likely eager to assuage the skeptical NY fanbase, I like the chances Jones shows us something with his legs if a play breaks down. Behind Jones, Alex Tanney is a career backup who appears to have played about average in his 21 career preseason games. At the very least, he is very used to these exhibitions.
Jets QB Rotation: B
The worst case scenario for the Jets is that they do not have their marquee QB available Sam Darnold available for opening day. That said, the same was true last year and Darnold played in 3 preseason games, recording an extraordinary 83.9 QBR in those games. Feels like the Jets ought let the young kid have some fun in this one. Behind him, we have Trevor Siemian, a recent NFL starter that has decent athleticism. And behind him we have Davis Webb, an athletic, young player, who has generally underwhelmed in his 7 career preseason games.
Concept #3: General Conditions
Unlike the regular season, the motivation of teams in preseason play may be wildly divergent. Fezzik takes for example an 0-1 team vs. a 1-0 team in week 2 of the preseason. An 0-1 team will likely place more emphasis on winning to avoid the threat of going 0-2 and eventually 0-4. Conversely, a 1-0 team may place more emphasis on player development, because going 1-3 is really no big deal for an exhibition season.
Since this is an opening contest between 2 cross-town rivals, and both coaches have a lot of to prove in the market, I do not see and edge for either side in terms of their general conditions.
Giants General Conditions: C
Jets General Conditions C
Concept #4: Late-Breaking Info
During the regular season – and especially the post-season – coaches have no incentive to tell the world any aspect of their strategy or game-plan. In fact, it may be more likely that they are trying to confuse or distract the competition through their public comments. However, in the preseason, such subterfuge serves little purpose. Coaches might as well be straight-forward. For example, the Broncos made it plain that Joe Flacco and most of their starters would not make an appearance in last night’s Hall of Fame Game.
For this reason, sudden line movements are of critical importance in the preseason. If a key player in announced out, the line may move drastically. Fezzik also asserts that in the regular season line movements are more often overreactions, while in the preseason they are often correct or even under-reactions to breaking news.
Neither coach has made public comments about their game-plan for Sunday. It definitely is something to keep an ear out for over the course of the weekend.
Giants Late-Breaking Info: N/A
Jets Late-Breaking Info: N/A
It’s a close call but the Giants have a newer coach that may have more to prove after a disappointing debut season. As a brand new coach in NY, Adam Gase seems more assured of his place in the league and his plan to turn around this franchise. The Giants have a QB rotation that as a good mix of experience, athleticism and youth. Obviously since they play in the same stadium there is no home-field advantage. It feels like the odds for the Giants should be a Pick’em at worst. At +2, I like them to get the Cover.
Angle: Giants +2 is my FanDuel Best Bet