Saturday Preseason Previews and A Look at the PAC-12

Let's face it ... There's a slew of NFL teams that utilize these preseason games to fine-tune things but they'd still like to see some results.

In last night's handful of NFL Preseason Week 2 tilts, four of the five losing sides - that's Jacksonville, Washington, Green Bay and Atlanta - were held to 13 points or less and, whether they were back-to-back end zone drops by Falcons receivers in their 22-10 home loss versus the 2.5-point underdog New York Jets or highly erratic play by Redskins' quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins (7-of-14 passing and a sack fumble) / Case Keenum (3-of-7 passing for 52 yards) in Washington's 23-13 home loss against 2.5-point pup Cincinnati, the bottom line is there is reason to be concerned for these squads while inching closer and closer to Opening Week.

P.S., and don't you think the Arizona Cardinals should be a bit concerned following that shoddy showing by #1 draft pick QB Kyler Murray who threw for a grand total of 12 yards in four offensive series and kept committing penalties with his "hand clap" signals ... hey, you won't see the Cards favored too often the rest of the way (they were laying a point-and-a-half in last night's 33-26 home loss against Oakland).


Here's some NFL Preseason Week 2 What-to-Watch items for Saturday's games ...

CLEVELAND (1-0) at INDIANAPOLIS (0-1) - 4 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Here's the $64,000 question when it comes to these 2019 Browns: How did they go from "America's Darling" a year ago to a team that many folks are rooting against (QB Baker Mayfield is right on with his recent comments)? Maybe having WR Odell Beckham, Jr - back on the injury list again - on your roster brings out some venom from non-Browns fans as now it's a "bruised hip" but he's not alone among Cleveland pass-catchers as young TE David Njoku (knee) could be shelved here too and - of course - everyone now know Colts' QB Andrew Luck might well be missing in action from the start of regular-season play with ankle-related issues that appear way bigger than anyone thought weeks ago. Still, the Indy Colts have gone from Pick 'Em to - 3 points at press time in this matinee bash.

KANSAS CITY (1-0) at PITTSBURGH (1-0) - 7:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network
The totals price on this prime-timer has climbed a couple of points - up to 46.5 from 44.5 points - and we saw last week that both the Chiefs and Steelers are putting the pedal to the medal with backup quarterbacks zinging the ball all over the place. Pittsburgh says QB Ben Roethlisberger will sit again here and so the spirited battle for second-string slinger between Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph rolls on (they combined for 176 passing yards in last week's 30-28 win / push against Tampa Bay) while KayCee QB Patrick Mahomes (7-play, 83-yard TD drive in his only series last week versus Cincinnati) figures to play sparingly here. The Chiefs are 2.5-point road favs after this one opened at Pick 'Em.

DALLAS (0-1) vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (0-1) - 10 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Aloha! This NFL Preseason Week 2 game hails from the 50th state - Hawaii's the setting but the locals won't be getting much of a show from "name players" as the Cowboys continue to operate without holdout RB Ezekiel Elliott and WR Amari Cooper (heel) while the Rams simply refuse to play their starters in the exhibition season and - in fact - most of the team's starters won't even before making the trip to Honolulu. Let's see if LA draftee RB Darrell Henderson (just 13 yards rushing on six carries in last week's 14-3 loss at 4.5-point fav Oakland) shows us something as the potential lead backup to Todd Gurley. The 'Boys are 2.5-point favorites after it opened at Rams a 4-point favorite before it became public knowledge that no one was coming!

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL CONFERENCE REPORTS - THE PAC 12
 

THE CONTENDERS - Oregon, Washington and Utah appear to be the baddest boys in the Pac-12 this year but odds are the league is gonna be shut out of the four-team playoff chase once again.

THE DARK HORSE - Stanford. David Shaw's club has copped the Pac-12 South in the odd years of 2013, '15 and '17 and now quarterback K.J. Costello is intent on getting the Palo Alto gang back to the conference title tilt.

BEST PLAYER - Theo Howard, WR, UCLA. If Chip Kelly's second year in Tinseltown is gonna be a roaring success after last year's 3-9 flop, then this senior star will be a 1,000-yard receiver.

CIRCLE THE DATE - Oct. 19, Oregon at Washington. Gotta say there's a few "save the dates" in the Pac-12 this year but the winner here gets inside track at North Division crown and remember the Ducks copped 30-27 OT win last year in noisy Eugene.