The first week of NFL preseason can be difficult for sports bettors that haven’t followed the offseason. Plenty of new faces are on the roster for Washington and New England, addressing the prior season’s weaknesses. New coaches are coming in for a handful of other franchises, making them significantly different than just a year ago.
For this reason, lines and totals are generally conservative at sportsbooks. Not many spreads are found beyond the 3-point margin and most totals hover in the mid-30s. Value is in the storylines themselves, along with the mindset of the head coaches. Do they look for momentum in the preseason or is it strictly for player evaluation?
Both Washington and New England are looking to improve their offenses from a season ago. Ranking near the bottom of the league, expect to see both teams looking at their new offensive players and those further along the depth chart in the later stages. Who ends up having the edge?
Washington Implements A New Quarterback
The Football Team’s mediocre offense from 2020 is seeing some significant upgrades. Four different quarterbacks contributed to the third-worst offense in total yards. More consistency should come from longtime veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 38-year-old is playing for his ninth different NFL team.
Expect Washington to come out strong with their new signal-caller. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin should be in the mix early as he prepares for his third season. While hauling in over 1,100 yards in 2020, he reached the end zone four times. Considering he had seven touchdowns during a three-win campaign the season prior, McLaurin will look to improve on that figure.
Beyond the offense, Washington is also looking at new pieces on the defense. They’ve lost longtime defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who moved to Philadelphia. Still, the defense line should still be strong as it was a season ago. The top draft pick in 2021, Jamin Davis from Kentucky, should see plenty of time at the linebacker position.
New England Still Looking To Rebound After Tom Brady
After an inconsistent season in 2020, the Patriots responded by adding playmakers on both sides of the ball. Generally reliant on the tight end position, both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry should boast a powerful punch for the offense. On defense, linebacker Kyle Van Noy makes his return after a year-long stint with the Miami Dolphins.
These players will likely get some time in the first preseason game. But one of the bigger storylines is the debut of Mac Jones at quarterback. New England has re-signed and committed to Cam Newton, but they’ll certainly give a large number of snaps to their most recent top draft pick.
While veterans like Newton may not play much, the Patriots are looking to vastly improve their offense. They averaged 327.3 yards per game last season and scored 326 total points. Both of those figures were seventh-worst in the league. That simply won’t get it done against the surging Miami Dolphins and high-octane Buffalo Bills offense.
Sports Betting Recommendation
- Patriots +2 (-110, BetMGM)
- Over 34.5 (-110, BetMGM)
Under Bill Belichick, New England has taken the preseason seriously. They’ve gone 3-1 in four of the last seven seasons. Within two of those years, they lost the final week of the preseason when all significant players typically have the game off.
The Patriots came up with a victory in their last preseason matchup, 26-17, in 2018. It should be a competitive matchup at first with both teams getting a first look at their new weapons on offense. New England should ultimately pull through with better depth as the game progresses. Receiving two points on the spread and playing at home should also help.