The NFL preseason slate begins in earnest Friday night.
There are five games scheduled and all but one have a line under two points. The small lines aren’t too surprising; preseason games are tricky to bet given the sheer number of players who play in them and the vanilla playbooks. If you’re going to get in on some action over the weekend, you probably shouldn’t be making sizable investments.
One starter who is set to play on Friday night is the Browns’ Deshaun Watson as Cleveland is a 1.5-point favorite over Jacksonville. Cleveland has said he’ll start the game against the Jaguars in his first action as a Browns player ahead of his impending six-game regular season suspension for myriad sexual assault allegations. The Jaguars are also set to start Trevor Lawrence for a few series. Jacksonville held out a ton of starters over a week ago in the Hall of Fame Game.
The biggest line of the night is in San Francisco where the 49ers host the Packers. The 49ers are favored by 2.5 points as Trey Lance will get an opportunity to lead the 49ers offense ahead of his first season as the team’s starter. Former starter Jimmy Garoppolo will not play at all as he hasn’t been practicing ahead of a likely trade. The 49ers still have Garoppolo on the roster; his asking price in a trade will likely depend on another team’s quarterback situation as the regular season approaches.
The Packers won’t have Aaron Rodgers at all on Friday night. Jordan Love is set to get the start as Rodgers said earlier in the week that he doesn’t see any benefit to playing just a single series in a preseason game. If Rodgers was going to play — and play a significant amount of time — the line would likely be tilted more in the Packers favor.
The defending AFC champion Bengals are 1.5-point favorites against the Arizona Cardinals. Joe Burrow isn’t going to play after he had his appendix removed just before training camp began. The Cardinals aren’t going to play either Kyler Murray or Colt McCoy at quarterback. Trace McSorley will get the start for Arizona.
There are two games Friday night with 1-point lines. The Atlanta Falcons are favored by a point over the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets are favored by a point over the Philadelphia Eagles. Marcus Mariota is set to make his first Falcons appearance while the Jets begin the second year of the Zach Wilson era against the Eagles. The Jets drafted Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson in the first round of the draft to give Wilson some receiving help.
A full weekend of soccer
All five major European domestic leagues are underway this weekend. Spain’s La Liga starts Friday with a matchup between Osasuna and Sevilla, and Italy’s Serie A starts on Saturday with a game between AC Milan and Udinese.
The English Premier League began a week ago, along with the German Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1. The biggest game on the continent this weekend is in England as Chelsea faces off against Tottenham in a London derby. The two teams are the favorites to finish third in the league behind Manchester City and Liverpool. Chelsea is favored to win at +125 while Tottenham is at +210 to win.
Tony Finau favored in Memphis
Tony Finau is two shots off the lead at the FedEx St. Jude Championship and is the favorite to win after the first round. Finau shot a 6-under 64 and is now at +750 to win the tournament. Sam Burns begins Round 2 at +1200 to win while co-leader Si Woo Kim is at +1400 to win. Kim shot a 62 on Thursday.
Big NL Central series
The Brewers and Cardinals begin a huge NL Central series on Friday night. The Cardinals are favored straight up at -160 while the Brewers are at +135 to win Friday night. St. Louis is a half-game ahead of the Brewers for first in the division as Milwaukee is currently 1.5 games outside the final Wild Card spot. Eric Lauer starts for the Brewers on Friday night against the Cardinals’ Jordan Montgomery.
Who cashed bets Thursday?
The Royals won their series against the White Sox with a 5-3 win over Chicago on Thursday. The Cardinals continued their rough time in Colorado with an 8-6 loss to the Rockies, while the Cleveland Guardians eked out a 4-3 win in 10 innings over the Detroit Tigers.
The Giants failed to cover against the Patriots in a 23-21 win. New York was a 2.5-point favorite. The Ravens won their 21st consecutive preseason game in a 23-10 win over the Titans as they covered the spread easily.