Jimmy Garoppolo will be facing his hometown team when the New England Patriots play host to the Chicago Bears in a matchup that could be a little more intense than the typical Week 2 NFL preseason game.
The Patriots and Bears are having joint practices prior to their game on Thursday, and the first was marred by a near-brawl after a run-in between New England CB Malcolm Butler and star Chicago WR Alshon Jeffrey.
The matchup will provide Garoppolo, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, with another opportunity to get comfortable filling in for Tom Brady. The future Hall of Famer will be serving his Deflategate suspension during the first four weeks of the regular season.
New England is listed as a four-point favorite against Chicago at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Dating back to 2010, the Patriots are 7-3 straight-up and 6-4 against the spread as a home favorite in the preseason.
Patriots TE Martellus Bennett will face his former team, and might perhaps get some extra targets since All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski could opt to play it safe after sustaining a lower-body injury on Monday.
Chicago is 3-7 SU and 4-6 ATS in their last 10 preseason matchups where they were a road underdog according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
Thursday’s slate also includes a playoff rematch, with Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks listed as 3.5-point favorites against the Minnesota Vikings. Seattle, which is 8-2 SU and ATS in their last 10 preseason home games, have had RB Thomas Rawls back at practice, but it’s more likely that rookie Alex Collins will be first up in the backfield.
For the Vikings, playing Seattle is a test for third-year QB Teddy Bridgewater, who has to show more arm strength to take the next step in his progression. Minnesota is 5-5 both SU and ATS in their last 10 preseason road games.
Robert Griffin III is also expected to play most of the first half for the Cleveland Browns, who are 2.5-point betting favorites against the Atlanta Falcons. The Browns are on a 4-6 ATS run as a preseason home favorite.
Two Saturday matchups to monitor are the New Orleans Saints-Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers-Denver Broncos contests. The Texans, who are three-point favorites, are adapting to new QB Brock Osweiler and new RB Lamar Miller. The Saints’ track record on defense isn’t any better in August than in the regular season; the total has gone OVER in 13 of their last 20 games.
Denver is a 3.5-point favorite against San Francisco. Trevor Siemian, judging from his increased share of first-team reps, is ahead of Mark Sanchez in the Broncos’ QB competition. Denver is just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 preseason games as a home favorite, and seven of those matchups have gone OVER the posted total.