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NFL Preseason Week 1 – Three Things We Learned

Quarterbacks to Watch

Early Observations

The NFL preseason could feel a bit pointless. The games don’t count toward any standings in the league. Head coaches will take varied approaches with some putting more emphasis on the outcomes of these games than others. Play-callers will invariably hold their cards close to their chests, trotting out their most basic plays only, and regular starters will make cameo appearances (if at all), usually amounting to one or two drives.

And yet, these preliminary NFL games are enthusiastically welcomed by NFL fans. They’re a timely reminder that the upcoming NFL season is just around the corner and, importantly, act as a harbinger of what’s to come when the real season begins in September.

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers signals to receivers while under center in the fourth quarter during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks
Kenny Pickett - Justin Berl/Getty Images/AFP

This is true for a number of situations. In particular, with teams that underwent some level of change in the offseason, these can include limited positional or wholesale changes to the roster. It’s a great assessment tool for rookies looking to earn their places on the 53-man roster or in the case of quarterback starter battles as well. In all these circumstances, the preseason provides a glimpse of what might be.

So, with the first week of NFL preseason action in the books, there were many noteworthy observables. As ever, we evaluate and provide insight in order to keep you ahead of the NFL betting game.

To narrow the scope, we’re going to focus on the quarterback position. We’ll dive into our three key observations at this integral position from the first week of the NFL preseason, examine the relevant impact on the NFL odds and take into consideration the latest NFL news, trades, injury reports and more before delivering our way too early NFL picks and predictions.

Deshaun Watson’s Makes Rusty Debut

Was all the drama, hoopla and distraction of signing Deshaun Watson worth it? Well, if the league’s richest quarterback’s first flurry on the field in almost 600 days were any indication, the resounding answer is: No!

Sure, the embattled Watson might have looked resplendent in his new Cleveland Browns gear, but that’s about all one can say about his debut. His performance was anything but splendid. And to add insult to injury, he was met with cascading boos during his three series of work.

It’s not so much that Watson was rusty. There was bound to be some rust, of course, seeing as his last game as a Houston Texan was on Jan. 3, 2021. But to go 1 of 5 passing for seven measly yards must be setting a new nadir for rustiness – by a player that was, let’s not forget, a three-time All-Pro.

Watson’s first pass was a majestic overthrow that set the tone for his forgettable outing. He managed to go without posting a single first down and by the time Kevin Stefanski decided to put a stop to his misery, the Browns were down 13-0.

Is it too early to write off the Browns? Maybe. But think about it. The sportsbook exchange tipped Cleveland as the third-best bet to win the AFC North at relatively low NFL odds of +300. This price-point was set despite everyone knowing that the Browns would likely be without Watson for at least several games at the start of the season.

Now, one wonders if his level of rust is more concerning than initially expected. If this is what it looks like after nearly 600 days of inactivity, what will be the level of rustiness after 700 or 800 days of inactivity?

The Browns might want to start thinking about a Plan C and/or D because they’re in serious danger of failing to launch in 2022.

Kenny Pickett the Real Deal

Talking about dazzling performances in the first week of the preseason, Kenny Pickett stole the show in his Pittsburgh Steelers debut.

Pickett’s first drive stats were as follows: 5 of 5 passes for 33 yards and a touchdown. And he even connected on the two-point conversion. He finished his debut with 13 of 16 passes for 95 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. It was an unbelievable performance as far as preseason debuts go, capped off with an overall passing rating of 132.6 – higher than any other rookie in the last 30 years with a minimum of 10 pass attempts in a game.

Pickett’s standout performance is great news for Mike Tomlin and Steelers Nation, but it might be bad news for Mitch Trubisky, who is looking to win the starting job in Pittsburgh. Trubisky did well in his debut as a Steeler, but he was overshadowed by the rookie. Pickett galvanized the crowd and outperformed everyone’s expectations. It’s hard to see Picket coasting on the bench for the whole season.

As far as the betting goes, maybe don’t sleep on the Steelers to make the playoffs. BetUS has the Steelers priced at a tasty +300 to make the playoffs as we look at the latest NFL playoff specials. futures odds.

Matt Ryan Leaves Much to be Desired

The Indianapolis Colts’ quest for a quarterback is starting to look a bit like the elusive pursuit of the Holy Grail. They’re on to their third quarterback in three years after trying out both Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz for a year each in the last two seasons.

Matt Ryan is the latest to step up to the plate and fans got an eyeful of the 37-year-old veteran in his Colts debut this weekend.

What’s the verdict on Ryan? Well, it wasn’t great. It wasn’t bad, either. It was somewhere in the middle. Ryan went 6 of 10 for 58 yards and zero touchdowns. If there is one bit of good news, then it’s the fact that he didn’t throw an interception.

OVerall, Ryan’s performance was lacking and the Colts altogether left much to be desired entering 2022. If the Colts are to come through as the preseason AFC South odds-on favorites at -135, they’ll need to be better. For the time being, the Tennessee Titans at +165 to win the division look to be the value bet.

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