We’ve been on the sidelines to this point in the NFL preseason but we’ll look for opportunities to get involved going forward.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 4:00 PM PACIFIC

It’s no secret that NFL preseason wagering is an entirely different dynamic than its regular season counterpart. In the regular season—and particularly in the NFL more than any other professional sport—you can assume at least a nominal effort from each team. Sure, teams will encounter ‘letdown’ or ‘flat’ spots and will have games of greater and less significance but on balance NFL teams would rather win than lose. Even on losing teams late in the season the effort is still there—it may be on a more ‘micro’ level at this point with players fighting to stay in the league or earn a starting spot over an underachieving veteran. Coaches face the same pressures—late in the year a losing coach can try to save his job with a good effort down the stretch. Factor in the shortest schedule of any professional sport and every NFL regular season game has a sense of urgency to it on some level.

Depending on the specific situation in the NFL preseason some of these concepts may not be in play. Every team has different goals during the preseason—often the teams that are the most likely to be in the postseason hunt have the least to play for during the preseason. At one point preseason handicapping factors like coaching philosophies, quarterback rotation and competition for open starting positions were known only to ‘wise guys’ but now they’re common knowledge and factored into the line.

If you’ve been listening to our nightly radio show, The EOG Sports Hour, you’ve heard a very compelling question posed several times: at what point is an ‘obvious’ play no longer the right play? There’s no cut and dried answer to this, but no matter what sport you’re handicapping it doesn’t pay to be a ‘contrarian’ just for the sake of being ‘contrary’. In the big picture, of course, going against the public is usually a good idea. In some cases, however, the ‘obvious’ play is also the smart play.

By now everyone is familiar with the Indianapolis Colts’ horrible preseason record. It’s clearly reflected in the pointspread on Colts’ preseason games—there’s no way that the Washington Redskins would be a favorite on the road at Indianapolis during the regular season. At some point it may become advisable to take a contrarian position and play “on” the Colts’ in the preseason if the line is adjusted too far in the opposite direction.

We sure don’t think it’s reached that point. Even at the price on this game it doesn’t accurately reflect the lack of emphasis—and resulting lack of effort—the Colts place on preseason games. Tony Dungy was notorious for this and current Indy coach Jim Caldwell has continued his ‘legacy’. Since Caldwell took the reins the Colts are 1-8 SU/2-7 ATS in the NFL preseason. Peyton Manning seldom gets much playing time in the preseason and won’t play at all this week—and possibly won’t play at all this preseason—as he recovers from neck surgery. This leaves the Colts with a QB rotation of Curtis Painter, recently acquired Dan Orlovsky and Nate Davis.

Mike Shanahan’s teams are 45-28 SU in the preseason and he played the Redskins’ starters for the entire first half last week. There’s a lot of competition for open jobs on the team so even when the reserves come in the effort should still be there. That won’t be the case with the home team.

Bet Washington Redskins -5′ over Indianapolis Colts

ATLANTA FALCONS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 5:00 PM PACIFIC

The Falcons have their own ugly backup rotation—once you get past their talented starter Matt Ryan (who won’t see much action here) you’ve got a rotation of Chris Redman (who completed one pass in the first preseason game), John Parker Wilson and Adam Froman. The Jaguars ran into the New England Patriots juggernaut last week—a formidable challenge compounded by the absence of starting quarterback David Garrard. We’re not big on Garrard, and he’ll see limited playing time here but the Jaguars rotation of Garrard, Blaine Gabbart, Luke McCown and Todd Bouman is better than their Atlanta counterparts minus Ryan. Jack Del Rio has been a good preseason coach going 21-12 SU/21-11-1 ATS. We look for a strong bounce back performance from Jacksonville after their loss to New England last week.

Bet Jacksonville Jaguars -2′ over Atlanta Falcons

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