NFL: Odds and ends as Game 1 approaches

So you can learn so much and yet so little from watching pre-season games. And as the world of fantasy drafts starts rockin’ and rollin’ (my big one is Saturday), the rest of the “real” gambling community is closely watching other aspects of a team’s performance and decision-making. So what have we learned in the last couple weeks?

For one, Big Ben ain’t as injured as we thought he was. Rest easy, Pittsburgh nation, you’re savior will be there to guide you through the tumultuous AFC one more time. And good for that, not only to save all of us who already bet the Steelers as a pre-season favorite to repeat as champs (7/1 in futures), but because I think the fan in all of us wants to see the Steelers/Patriots playoff matchup when both teams are at their best with every weapon in their arsenal fully functional.

Give me that, and will all the parody and uncertainly at the back position, and it’s going to be a hell of a ride through 2009.

And how about Cutler putting all the early Chicago doubts to rest with a strong, powerful outing against his old team? No fireworks, no drama, just a well-executed 27-point display. The real question with this group is just how much will Cutler’s presence open up the middle for a Matt Forte who already was on the verge of busting loose as one of the top six backs in the league. Now the sky’s the limit for this stud.

And on the other side of the gambling coin, I wouldn’t count on either poor QB option carrying the Bucs to even a .500 record. Leftwich might be healthy, but he continues to disappoint to the point where he’s actually in a battle for the position with somebody who should never even be considered as a starter to begin with. Heck, the Bucs are a 17/1 shot just to win their own conference. They shouldn’t even enter your mind each week unless it’s to bet the under. They might compete for the worst offensive production in football this year.

And finally, to end on a positive note, Moss and Brady proved (as if there were any doubt) they still have the magic. 90 yards and 2 Tds will do wonders to reignite the Patriots gambling craze. They are, after all, the overall 4/1 favorite to win the Super Bowl this year. And man do I hope Moss drops to the 12 spot in my draft (that’s right, I’d take him over a RB this year).

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