The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals Plan to Ruin the Public Consensus. The betting public is decidedly in favor of playing both the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos in their first preseason contests. The Pack welcomes the Cleveland Browns to Lambeau Field, while the Broncos head east to tackle the Cincinnati Bengals. In each situation, bettors should consider fading these public favorites at a shop like Bodog or Bookmaker.
The Green Bay Packers (2 ½ point favorites) are currently backed by about 70% of the public, and for good reason. After losing a heartbreaking shootout to the Arizona Cardinals in the 2009 playoffs, Green Bay is poised to make a serious run at the Super Bowl.
But head coach Mike McCarthy has indicated that Aaron Rodgers will play only a series or two, and then be relieved by Matt Flynn for the rest of the first half and some of the second half. Ryan Grant, Greg Jennings, and Donald Driver will all likely see limited playing time as well.
For the Browns, new quarterback Jake Delhomme will see at least a quarter of action. After the Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn fiasco of last year, head coach Eric Mangini wants to see his new star take a good number of snaps. Backing up Delhomme will be Seneca Wallace, the former Iowa State Cyclone standout and long-time backup to Matt Hasselback in Seattle. The capable Wallace will likely play the second quarter, and then probably a series or two in the second half. The remainder of the game will be in the hands of Colt McCoy and Brett Ratliff. Unfortunately for the Browns, running back Montario Hardesty will be shelved with a bum knee. But Jerome Harrison will look to pick up where he left off last season. Over the final three games of last year, Harrison racked up 561 yards and 5 touchdowns, including an astounding 286 yard effort in Kansas City.
In addition, the new president of the Cleveland Browns is former Green Bay head coach, Mike Holmgren. Although Holmgren will not be in attendance (foot surgery), his team is undoubtedly aware that this game holds a little extra meaning for the new president. Yes, this is still the preseason. But a win in Green Bay would be special for this Browns team. Look for a tremendous effort from Cleveland.
In Cincinnati, the Bengals will be taking on the Denver Broncos with nearly 90% of the public backing the Broncos as 3 ½ point underdogs according to the current NFL spreads. This, too, is another opportunity to fade a public favorite with a satisfying result.
The likely reason that so many people are jumping on the Bronco bandwagon is the poor performance of the Bengals against the Dallas Cowboys in last Sunday’s Hall of Fame game. Cincinnati was held to under 200 yards total offense, turned the ball over 4 times, and basically looked awful.
However Cincinnati already has one preseason game under its belt. The team knows what they need to work on, and have had all week to correct mistakes they saw in last week’s game. Look for Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco, and Terrell Owens to see more playing time.
For Denver, injuries are the story. Running backs Correll Buckhalter, Knowshon Moreno, and LenDale White are all banged up. So are rookie wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. And outside linebacker Elvis Dumerville is out for the season with a torn chest muscle. On top of that, the Broncos are led by a stable of questionable quarterbacks: Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn, and Tim Tebow. That should be a welcomed sight for Bengals fans on Sunday night.
Also worth mentioning is the last time these two teams met. In week 1 of last season, with only seconds remaining, Bronco wide receiver Brandon Stokely hauled in a deflected pass and rumbled 87 yards for the shocking, game-winning score. I doubt Cincinnati has forgotten.
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