NFL pre season football

The second full week of the 2019 NFL preseason gets rolling Thursday evening, with five games on tap, including a matchup in Georgia between the Falcons and the Jets.

New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons, 7:30 p.m.

TeamSpreadMoneylineO/U
New York Jets+1.5 (+100)+110O 44.5 (-105)
Atlanta Falcons-1.5 (-110)-125O 44.5 (-105)

In the regular season I am much more interested in uncovering advantageous matchups than I am in unveiling random trends, but when a team has lost 10 straight preseason contests, there might be something more to it than bad luck. That is the case with the Atlanta Falcons, who head into their third exhibition game of the year in search of their first preseason victory since 2016.

Falcons have been plagued by errors in preseason

No coaching staff goes into a preseason game hoping to lose, but clearly Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn has not put much of a premium on coming out ahead when the final gun sounds in games leading up to the regular-season opener. Resting players and holding back much of the playbook can play a major role in failing to outscore your opponent in August, but this lack of success can also be attributed to far too many mistakes being committed by Atlanta. A plethora of errors in the preseason has been the norm under Quinn, and little has changed over the first two exhibition contests of 2019.

The Dirty Birds gave up three sacks and committed an atrocious 12 penalties for 98 yards in a 14-10 loss in the Hall of Fame Game on August 1 against the Broncos. The Falcons followed up that performance by yielding four more sacks and committing 12 more penalties against the Dolphins last week in South Florida. They will need to clean up these mistakes if they want to get a win before the regular season, and counting on that to happen is problematic.

Expect big minutes from Schaub and Simms

It is possible starting quarterback Matt Ryan could play a series or two at home against the Jets and that would certainly help the Falcons’ offensive efficiency, but once again the majority of snaps will be taken by 38-year-old veteran Matt Schaub and journeyman Matt Simms. Schaub played a bit better in Miami after a dreadful performance in the Hall of Fame game, but relying on either of these signal callers to limit mistakes and make winning plays is not something I am willing to do on Thursday night.

Siemian and Falk have looked sharp

The Jets lost their preseason opener against the Giants, but head into 2019 with renewed confidence. Second-year quarterback Sam Darnold has looked the part in training camp and moved his team down the field for a touchdown in his only possession last week. Darnold is unlikely to play much Thursday, but his backups Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk instill far more confidence than Schaub and Sims. The duo combined to complete 22 of 27 against the Giants last week and should continue to play well against backup defenders in Atlanta.

The Jets defeated the Falcons in the preseason last year 17-0 and should find a way to come out on top again Thursday night.

Pick: New York Jets (+1.5)

Philadelphia Eagles at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3), 7 p.m. ET

Former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles takes on his old team, but is unlikely to see any action. Carson Wentz and his new backup, Nate Sudfield (wrist), are also unlikely to play. Expect a low-scoring affair in TIAA Bank Field.

Pick: Under (35)

Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens (-4), 7:30 p.m. ET

Lamar Jackson showed some improvement in his limited work against Jacksonville, but rookie Trace McSorley saw the bulk of the action for the Ravens in a 29-0 shutout of the Jaguars. Deshone Kizer may be a bust, but his athleticism versus a vanilla defense should be good enough to keep the Pack in this one.

Pick: Green Bay Packers (+4)

Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins (-3), 7:30 p.m. ET

I thought a bit more of the Bengals coming into the 2019 season than most, but injuries to the offensive line and to star wide receiver A.J. Green are a major issue. The Skins find a way in the nation’s capital.

Pick: Washington Redskins (-3)

Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals (-3), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Quarterback Kyler Murray continues to get rave reviews, but we will see a lot more of Brett Hundley in this spot. The Raiders are unlikely to win a lot of games in the regular season, but they’ll make it to 2-0 in the preseason with the upset on the road here.

Pick: Oakland Raiders (+3)