Motivation is one of the most important factors in handicapping preseason games, and that assertion is substantiated by the fact that Week 2 underdogs coming off a loss are 72-33-2 ATS (68.6%) since 2000. NFL teams that lost in their preseason opener are generally more motivated to put forth a better effort in the subsequent game, whereas undefeated teams are generally more content in just evaluating personnel and limiting injuries before the real “dress rehearsal” in Game 3. Let’s also note that Week 2 NFL preseason favorites off a straight-up win are a money-burning 46-62-1 ATS (42.5%) since 2000, which further substantiates the motivation angle outlined above.
The good news for Dallas investors is the fact that the technical analysis favoring the Cowboys only gets stronger as I dive deeper into my database. Specifically, one of my favorite things to do is to invest on certain winless preseason teams in Week 2 if they are matched up against an undefeated opponent as these squads are a profitable 66-24 ATS (73.3%), including an incredible 31-3 ATS (91.2%) since 2004. Please note that the foregoing system contains two additional parameters that will remain for my eyes only. Needless to say, it’s my favorite (and strongest) preseason. We also want to invest on Week 2 preseason teams coming off a loss when they are matched up against an opponent off a win as these teams are 70-42-1 ATS (62.5%) since 2000.
Based on last week’s disparate results, the knee-jerk reaction is to grab the Raven tonight against a Dallas squad that looked lost in their 27-7 loss to San Diego. However, that reaction is misplaced in that Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh is 1-6 ATS off a double-digit win and recently stated that several starters would be on a strict “play count.” Harbaugh also indicated that most starters would only get “a quarter or maybe more” of action tonight. Meanwhile, the Cowboys had 27 inactive players in Game 1 of the preseason so the final results against San Diego are not indicative of how good (or bad) Dallas is.
The Cowboys will field more starters tonight, including quarterback Tony Romo, who did not play in Week 1. I was also impressed with how former Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden looked against the Chargers as he completed 13-of-17 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown to tight end James Hanna. Returning to the motivation factor, the Cowboys are more focused than ever on avenging their humiliating loss last week. Grab the point with Dallas as my free sports pick and invest with confidence.
Oskeim Sports Free Sports Pick: Dallas Cowboys (+1.5) (-110)
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