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MLB – Sunday preview and game of the day

Sunday, Aug. 18

It’s a lefty-on-lefty battle on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park as LHP Joey Lucchesi goes for the Padres against LHP Jason Vargas for the Phillies. Lucchesi is 7-7 with a 4.25 ERA with 125 strikeouts across 127 innings. The Padres have been skidding, and they’re 0-6 in Lucchesi’s past six outings, and 1-8 over his past nine. It isn’t likely he’ll be able to right the ship in Philly, as he has been a disaster on the road. Lucchesi is 6-3 with a 2.91 ERA across 74 1/3 innings at home, while going 1-4 with a 6.15 ERA across 52 2/3 innings on the road.

For the Phils, Vargas is 6-6 with a 4.03 ERA and .305 opponent on-base percentage across 111 2/3 innings with 88 strikeouts. In three outings with Philadelphia since coming over from the New York Mets, he has posted an 0-1 record, 4.15 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with two homers, seven walks and just seven strikeouts across 17 1/3 innings. He faced the Padres as a member of the Mets back on July 23, allowing just one hit, four walks and eight strikeouts over six scoreless innings in a victory.

Astros RHP Zack Greinke and Athletics LHP Brett Anderson tangle on Sunday afternoon in the Bay Area. Greinke has allowed seven earned runs and 14 hits with four walks over 12 innings in two outings with the Astros since coming over from the Diamondbacks in a deadline deal. Houston is 2-0 in his two starts with the team, but this will be his first outings inside the AL West. Anderson is 10-8 with a 3.95 ERA and a .308 opponent on-base percentage. He has just 71 strikeouts over 139 innings, as power isn’t exactly his game. The A’s are just 1-3 in his past four outings, and the A’s are just 1-3 in his past four at home, too.

In the Sunday Night Baseball game in the Steel City, Cubs LHP Jose Quintana will face RHP Mitch Keller. Chicago has posted a 10-7 record, 4.11 ERA and .305 opponent OBP across 135 2/3 innings. He is 2-0 with a pair of quality starts on July 4 and 14 against the Pirates, including Independence Day at PNC Park. Chicago is 7-1 across Quintana’s past eight starts dating back to June 22, and he is coming off a 14-strikeouts performance last time out in Philadelphia, a no-decision on Aug. 13. Keller will be making his fifth start of the season, and just his second since being recalled from the minors on Aug. 12. Overall he is 1-1 with a 7.94 ERA and .417 opponent OBP. He was muched better last time out, allowing two runs – one earned – and five hits over five innings in a win against the Angels on the road. It was Pittsburgh’s first win in his four starts this season.

Weather Report

For the second consecutive afternoon, the Mets and Royals will be contending with the winds. This time the winds will be blowing out from 11-14 mph to the left-center field power alley. The Twins and Rangers will also be facing a hot wind blowing in from right field at 10-13 mph for the second straight afternoon.

In the Bay Area, the Astros and Athletics will also be facing 11-14 mph winds blowing out to the left-center field power alley. For the second straight day, too, all MLB venues appear to be precipitation-free.

Game of the day – Astros at Athletics

Newcomer Zack Greinke hopes to continue a personal winning streak while ending his team’s skid when the right-hander leads the visiting Houston Astros up against the Oakland Athletics in the finale of a four-game series on Sunday afternoon.

The A’s have used a variety of means to sweep the first three games of the series, riding five home runs to a 7-6 victory on Thursday night, extra-inning small-ball to pull out a 3-2 win Friday, and station-to-station hitting to grind out an 8-4 triumph on Saturday.

With four straight wins, coupled with Houston’s five consecutive losses, the second-place A’s (71-52) have closed within 6 1/2 games of the first-place Astros (78-46) in the American League West.

Greinke (12-4, 2.91 ERA) will be asked to pick up the pieces after the A’s tortured Astros rookie Rogelio Armenteros and reliever Chris Devenski for eight hits — all singles — and eight runs in the third and fifth innings alone in Saturday’s win.

The 35-year-old Greinke has turned in two strong outings since joining the Astros in a trade. He has also pitched brilliantly against the A’s, especially in Oakland, and in the San Francisco Bay Area in general in his long career.

Greinke has gone 6-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 16 appearances (12 starts) against the A’s, including 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 10 games (seven starts) in Oakland. Coupled with a 6-0 record in San Francisco against the Giants, Greinke has gone 9-1 in 18 San Francisco Bay Area appearances.

He will be matched up Sunday with A’s left-hander Brett Anderson (10-8, 3.95 ERA), who hasn’t had much success against the Astros in his career, going 1-4 with a 6.58 ERA in six games (five starts).

One of those losses came at home on June 1, when he allowed a two-run home run to Josh Reddick in a 5-1 defeat. He was charged with three of the runs in 5 1/3 innings.

It’s possible Anderson won’t see Reddick in the rematch. The former A’s outfielder was benched Saturday after having gone 1-for-8 in the first two games of the series and 3-for-23 on the Astros’ current road trip.

He hasn’t homered since June 28.

“I keep encouraging him to find his best swing and find a way to contribute,” Astros manager AJ Hinch explained of Reddick’s slump. “He hit a couple of balls pretty well (Friday night). He hasn’t gotten a ton of luck.

“We do need production out of him. Our best team has a really tough bottom of the order, and that includes Josh Reddick. We’ve got to get him underway.”

The A’s took a similar approach to reliever Lou Trivino’s troubles, and it paid dividends in Friday’s win, when the right-hander responded to an eight-day shutdown by working a season-high three innings to earn a win in the 13-inning affair.

He didn’t pitch Saturday and probably won’t be available in the series finale, but his lengthy effort Friday allowed the A’s to give closer Liam Hendriks a break.

Hendriks wasn’t needed in Saturday’s win, making him fresh for Sunday’s game.

“It was a big night for a lot of guys, and maybe some guys who were struggling a little bit really emerged,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said, referring in part to Trivino, after Friday’s win. “We saw the type of stuff that we saw last year. So hats off.”

NFL-Preseason – AFC West preview

2019 AFC WEST PREVIEW

Denver – Broncos played ‘under’ their regular-season win total each of the last three years … had 5 wire-to-wire losses last year … +7 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

Kansas City – Chiefs had a league-high 9 wire-to-wire regular-season wins last year … will face a league-high 4 opponents with a bye week on deck this year … played ‘over’ their regular-season win total each of the last six years … +9 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

Los Angeles – Chargers will face 3 opponents with a bye week on deck this year … had 6 double-digit regular-season wins last year … +1 net turnover in 2018 regular season.

Oakland – Raiders … will face a league-high 4 non-division opponents caught in the middle of a division sandwich this year … suffered a league-high 9 double-digit losses last year … -7 net turnovers in 2018 regular-season.

Denver Broncos

Season Win Total: 7
O

Like death and taxes, change is inevitable in the NFL. 2019 will go down as the year of ‘the rebuild’ for the Denver Broncos. It starts with new head coach Vic Fangio, recognized throughout the NFL as a defensive guru. Trading for QB Joe Flacco was a no-brainer, given Denver’s shoddy play at the position the last three seasons. Flacco may be long in the tooth and his best days are likely in the rearview mirror, but he’s a dark horse candidate to earn Comeback Player of the Year honors should the chips fall right for Denver this season. If not, drafting QB Drew Lock (thought to be the best quarterback prospect to come to Denver since Jay Cutler in 2006) in round two is a good relief valve.

They also plugged a huge hole at right tackle with the signing of Ja’Wuan James. In addition, second-round draft selection Dalton Risner figures to start at left guard. New OL coach Mike Munchak is a perfect fit for the new additions. Meanwhile, new OC Rich Scangrello comes over from the Kyle Shanahan QBs coaching tree and insisted on nabbing TE Noah Fant in the first round. And to satisfy his defensive thirst, Fangio was quick to sign DB Kareem Jackson from Houston while CB Bryce Callahan followed the coach over from Chicago. Now that’s an overhaul.

Denver is 20-4 SU in its first four games of the season the last six years.

INSIDE THE STATS: The Broncos are 33-10 ITS in their last 43 division games.

Kansas City Chiefs

Season Win Total: 10.5
O

Safe to say the 2018 season was a coup for Andy Reid’s troops. Not only did they manage to win back-to-back division titles for the first time in the 57 years of KC’s franchise history, but they also unveiled the league’s MVP in QB Patrick Mahomes, who took the NFL by storm last year. The question remains whether or not Mahomes will suffer a case of the “sophomore blues” now that there is game film on him, or if he can lead another charge in 2019 sans the service of his biggest weapon with Pro Bowl RB Kareem Hunt gone.

Nonetheless, the Chiefs were obsessed in ‘going young’ on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, with 26-year old S Tyrann Mathieu and 25-year old DE Frank Clark in, and a pair of 30-year-olds out in S Eric Berry and DE Justin Winslow. Meanwhile, Kansas City will face 4 opponents with a bye week on deck – the most in the league. After finishing 31st in the league in overall team defense, new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. Forced to take on the saltiest non-division strength of schedule in the league this season (87 projected total wins), Reid could be hard-pressed to hold off the L.A. Chargers while in quest of a third straight division title in 2019. Stay tuned.

Andy Reid is 9-0 ATS away off an ATS loss of more than 12 points before Game Eight of the season.P

INSIDE THE STATS: The Chiefs are 67-36 SU the L6Y but only 46-57 ITS in those games.

Los Angeles Chargers

Season Win Total: 9.5
O

After making the NFL Playoffs for the first time in five years in 2018, the Los Angeles Chargers (yes, it still sounds strange) are no longer just a team on the brink. Truth be known, the Lightning Bolts shared a joint-best record in the AFC last season with Kansas City but were forced to play in the Wild Card round as the Chiefs owned a better divisional record. It’s part of the collateral damage that occurs when you’ve lost nine of the last 10 games against Kansas City. And while the schedule is a tad more difficult this year than last (foes projected season win total was 124.5 in 2018), it’s not nuts to think they can overtake the Featherheads this season.

Operating behind veteran QB Philip Rivers, the Chargers inked the future Hall of Famer to an extension this summer. They also signed Tyrod Taylor and drafted Easton Stick this offseason as they begin to get ready for life APR – after Rivers. To which we say it doesn’t hurt knowing that Rivers resides inside our STAT YOU WILL LIKE below. To their credit, they did a fine job of adding talent during the offseason, including stud LB Thomas Davis. And they capped it off with a sterling draft in which six of the seven players were ranked higher than their actual draft position. The Bolts figure to challenge for division honors this season.

Rivers is 14-3-2 ATS as a division dog away from home in his NFL career.P

INSIDE THE STATS: The Chargers are 29-19 ITS away during the regular season the L6Y.

Oakland Raiders

Season Win Total: 6

When Oakland owner Mark Davis hired Mike Mayock as his new GM, he rolled the dice. Mayock’s expertise had been featured within the NFL Network’s extensive coverage of the 2018 NFL Draft, so Davis gave him free rein in this year’s draft – despite having zero previous experience in an NFL front office. Mayock promptly came away with eyebrow-raising choices. Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell was a huge over-reach, while Alabama RB Josh Jacobs is a first-round risk, and Mississippi State S Jonathan Abram has issues in coverage. Ironically, Mayock’s first eight draft picks came from Clemson or Alabama, who faced one another in last year’s College Football Playoff championship game. Fortunately, the Raiders landed the biggest fish in the NFL free-agent market when WR Antonio Brown signed with Oakland. He’ll help QB Derek Carr stretch defenses vertically as he figures to dramatically improve on last year’s 7.3 yards per pass attempt.

From a scheduling standpoint, the Raiders catch 4 non-division foes in the middle of division sandwiches this season – the most in the league. That’s good news. Regrettably, the Black-and-Silver will play consecutive away games before crossing the pond to play the Bears in London. FYI: Only two teams in NFL history have done the same and each was trounced, 20-0 and 33-8, in England. Forced to fly the most miles in 2019, they were also given one of the most brutal travel stretches in the history of the NFL. After playing in Oakland in Week 2, the Raiders won’t return home until Week 8, which means they have to go 49 days without playing at their home stadium. It’s an ugly situation, for sure.S Jon Gruden is 0-11 SUATS away in his career with a losing record when coming off a SU win.

INSIDE THE STATS: Oakland is 1-7 SUATS in its L8 games following a zero turnover game.

NFL-Preseason- AFC South preview

2019 AFC SOUTH PREVIEW

In addition to the previews outlined below, these interesting scheduling statistical notes merit consideration, compliments of the 2019 MTI Regular Season NFL Win Report:

Houston – Texans will face zero opponents coming off a Thursday or a Monday night game this season … +13 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

Indianapolis – Colts had 6 double-digit and wire-to-wire wins last season … +3 net turnover in 2018 regular season.

Jacksonville – Jaguars have played ‘under their regular-season win total 7 of the last 8 years, and suffered 7 double-digit losses, and had zero victories by 1-3 points, last season … -12 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

Tennessee – Titans had 4 double-digit victories and 4 double-digit losses last season… -1 net turnover in 2018 regular season.

Houston Texans

Season Win Total: 8.5

The Texans know where their bread is buttered and used the draft to bolster the offensive line with OT Tytus Howard in the first round and OT Max Scharping in the second round. It’s music to the ears of QB Deshaun Watson, who at times resembled a human piñata last season. “We have to have guys that can be bodyguards for Watson, man, and you’re going to be that guy,” head coach Bill O’Brien told Howard. Keeping Watson upright and out of harm’s way will give the talented QB time to survey the field. The added return of star WR Will Fuller (ACL) is critical, too, as the speedster is the perfect complement to DeAndre Hopkins. The 25-year-old Fuller has missed 17 regular-season games in his career.

With J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney healthy and anchoring the defense, Houston hopes to get back to 2015 and 2016 standards when they were ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in overall team defense in the league. The confidence factor for this team is there, as they became the first team since the 1970 NY Giants to reel off six consecutive wins after opening the season 0-3 last year. If O’Brien can maintain his ways against losing teams (20-4 SU in his career) and stay even against winning opposition, his troops could be playoff-bound again in 2019.

Houston is 8-0 ATS when favored versus foes coming off a double-digit loss under O’Brien.

 The Texans are 8-15 SU and 7-13-3 ATS in games after committing zero turnovers.

Indianapolis Colts

Season Win Total: 9.5
O

With three of the first 59 picks in the draft and six of the first 135, the Colts slayed the NFL draft this season. Coupled with a 2018 draft class that was headlined by two first-team All-Pros going into this season, it’s a precursor of what’s to come in Naptown these days. A healthy Andrew Luck, for the first time in three off-season’s, underscores the strength of what’s being built in Indy – a group that should be the strongest surrounding Luck since he came out of Stanford in 2012. The 2018 Colts won nine of their last 10 regular-season games, then a playoff game before falling to the Chiefs and league MVP Patrick Mahomes in the divisional round of the playoffs. Adding elusive Ohio State WR Parris Campbell gives Luck a true home run threat. Paired with T.Y. Hilton and TE Eric Ebron, the passing game suddenly becomes lethal.

Better yet, Frank Reich capitalized on an exceptionally strong defensive draft with 7 of his first eight selections. It’s no coincidence that Reich has made six appearances in the Super Bowl, both as a player and a coach. Indy also struck gold in the Free Agent market when they landed former All-Pro LB Justin Houston from Kansas City. Yes, it’s safe to say the future in Indianapolis looks bright.

All four Super Bowls the Colts franchise has played in – 1968, 1970, 2006 and 2009 – have taken place in Miami, Florida, site of Super Bowl LIV this season.P

The Colts are 40-12 SU and 38-14 ATS in games in which they outyarded foes behind Andrew Luck.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Season Win Total: 8

Get used to not seeing much of the Jaguars this season. Despite the fact that Super Bowl-winning QB Nick Foles will be behind center for Jacksonville in 2019, the only prime-time games for the Jags this season occurs in Week Three at home against Tennessee (unless, of course, they are flexed during the second half of the season). It’s what happens when you fall off the radar in the NFL after going from 12 wins in 2017 to 5 wins last year. And speaking of the schedule, for only the seventh time in the franchise’s 25-year history, the Jags will get a home game to finish the season. FYI: they are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS in these games. In a scheduling quirk, the Jaguars will have a 34-day stretch between home games sandwiched between October 27 and December 1.

Plus, in addition to adding Foles to the roster, Jacksonville struck gold in the first two rounds of the draft with DE Josh Allen and OT Jawaan Taylor, both expected to be immediate impact players. If Foles can resurrect an offense that fell 11 points and 58 yards per game last season, the Jags always-reliable defense will have a chance to shine. Remember, Foles is 15-6 SU and 12-8-1 ATS as a favorite of 6 or fewer points, as well as 13-5 SU from Game Thirteen out. His reunion with former Eagles OC John DeFilippo should pay huge dividends. Play accordingly.

Jacksonville is 1-7 SUATS against teams from the NFC South since 2011.

After going 16-6 at home ITS the previous 3 years, the Jaguars went 2-5 last year.

Tennessee Titans

Season Win Total: 8

Mike Vrabel’s rookie season with the Titans paralleled that of QB Marcus Mariota. A third-straight 9-7 season last year was enough to keep the wolves off Vrabel, but in Mariota’s case, it’s time to let it ride with Tennessee picking up the $20 million-dollar fifth-year option of his rookie contract as the No. 2-overall selection in 2015. The Titans hedged that bet when they traded for Ryan Tannehill, a 2012 first-round pick who failed to materialize with Miami. Hence, should Mariota fail to deliver the goods, you can look for Tennessee to do what the Dolphins did with Tannehill and cut the cord. According to NFL analyst Charlie Casserly, Tennessee’s wide receiver additions of Adam Humphries and A.J. Brown (2nd round selection), along with former 1st round WR Corey Davis, can take the offense to another level. We like quality quarterbacks in contract years and with it look for Mariota to turn loose this season.

On the other side of the ball, expect veteran TE Cam Wake to make an immediate difference. He was the glue to the Miami defense and with his athleticism and desire (he’s a ‘young 37’ who made an immediate impact in summer OTA’s). He’s also a mentor who considers it a responsibility to pass on knowledge to younger teammates. Look for these Nashville cats to once again be in the AFC South hunt.

Tennessee is 11-5 SUATS all-time versus NFC South opponents, including 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS versus .500 or fewer foes.P

The Titans have gone only 15-25 ITS at home the L5Y.


NFL-Preseason-AFC North preview

2019 AFC NORTH PREVIEW

In addition to the previews outlined below, these interesting scheduling statistical notes merit consideration, compliments of the 2019 MTI Regular Season NFL Win Report:

Baltimore – Ravens have not played ‘under’ their regular-season win total in any of the last five years… -3 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

Cincinnati – Bengals have played ‘under’ their regular-season win total 3 straight years …+1 net turnover in 2018 regular season.

Cleveland – Browns suffered 4 losses by 1-3 points last season … +7 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

Pittsburgh – Steelers went ‘under’ their regular-season win total last season for the first time since 2013 … -11 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

Baltimore Ravens

Season Win Total: 8.5

The Ravens become the fourth team since the NFL switched to a 16-game schedule in 1978 to receive a perfectly balanced schedule, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Over the past 41 years, the only other teams to alternate home and away every game of the season were the 1985 Atlanta Falcons (finished 4-12), the 1991 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13) and the 2012 Falcons (13-3). Digging deeper, four of the Ravens’ first six games are against losing teams last year that changed head coaches, including their first two. And for the first time since 2006, neither game between Baltimore and Pittsburgh is slotted for prime time – despite the fact that only 7 of the last 25 games in this series have been decided by more than 7 points.

Furthermore, the Black Birds will tackle 6 foes this season that amassed double-digit losses in 2018. Thus the question begs: will the arsenal of wide receivers Baltimore acquired in the offseason be enough to keep Lamar Jackson in the pocket where he belongs? Or is his instinct to run-first and pass only out of necessity embedded in his DNA? It’s apparent the Ravens are all-in with Jackson, making them mavericks in the current pass-crazy NFL. Then again, Bret Maverick constantly found himself in and out of life-threatening trouble during his time as a TV gambler on the run.

The Ravens are 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS at home following its bye week since 2002. After going 3-9 ITS in division games the Ravens went 4-2 in 2018.

Cincinnati Bengals

Season Win Total: 6

It took three successive losing seasons for the Bengals to show HC Marvin Lewis the door. Now Zac Taylor, the former LA Rams quarterbacks coach, assumes the reins. And because the NFL is a copycat league, Cincinnati is hoping he can do for the Bengals what Sean McVay has done for the Rams. McVay, though, inherited a good defense and a blossoming offense. Unfortunately, Cincinnati does not check either box. Despite finishing last in overall defense last season, only ONE of the Bengals first four picks in this year’s draft were defensive players. Go figure.

They’re going to need production from TE Tyler Eifert who has played more than half of a 16 game schedule only three times in his 6-year career. If the talented tight end is healthy and plays to his level, he can help lift the offense to new heights. A lot more offensive production will need to come from suddenly aging Andy Dalton. The Red Rifle is listed as the 34th favorite to win the MVP award at +10000, and that likely tells you all you need to know about Taylor’s chances for success this season. Nonetheless, Cincinnati wants to believe Dalton’s sterling 17-11 SU and 17-8-3 ATS career record in September (3-1 last year) is a building block they can lean on. Good luck with that.SThe Bengals own the NFL’s longest winless drought in the playoffs: 28 years Since it bye week in 2017, the Bengals are 6-19 ITS in their last 25 games.

Cleveland Browns

Season Win Total: 9

No team has appeared in fewer prime-time games over the past 10 seasons than the Browns (11). That’s about to change this season when Cleveland breaks through in four main attraction affairs. It’s safe to say the Browns have elevated excitement about the team. After inserting quarterback Baker Mayfield into the starting lineup and then winning five of its final seven games in 2018, they won the offseason, too, with trades for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., pass-rusher Olivier Vernon, and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Coupled with another strong draft, and a roster stockpiled with talent, the Browns are suddenly the “it” team in the NFL this season.

But before being anointed as Super Bowl champions, they would serve themselves well to remember they enter 2019 with 11 consecutive losing seasons, as well as missing the playoffs 16 years in a row. The last playoff victory was in 1994 (when they were last coached by Bill Belichick). In fact, according to Jarrett Bell of the USA TODAY, since the NFL realigned divisions in 2002, the AFC North title scorecard reads: Steelers 8, Ravens 5, Bengals 4, Browns 0. The thinking here is they would be better served approaching the season as a hungry underdog rather than the “new Patriots”, as OBJ declared. For a team with a whole new persona, let’s hope they adhere to Mayfield’s “Humble Over Hype” reminder bracelet.

In going from zero wins to seven wins last season, the Browns defense regressed 65 YPG.P The Browns are 1-28 SU and 2-27 ATS the L29 games in which they are minus in net TO’s.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Season Win Total: 9
O

While many Steelers fans mourn the loss of star WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell this offseason, the hardest defection of all may be one that doesn’t show up in the stat sheets. After five years coaching the Steelers offensive line, Mike Munchak took the same job with the Denver Broncos, only his third NFL coaching stop in 25 years. His job was to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright and to create holes for the running game. Both Bell and Brown’s production benefitted mightily from Munchak’s know-how. With all three gainfully employed elsewhere, there will certainly be a new learning curve this season.

Running back Benny Snell (Kentucky) was tapped in the 4th round of the draft and will likely compete with James Conner to fill Bell’s shoes. Wide receiver Diontae Johnson (Toledo) heard his name called in the 3rd round and will team with Ju-Ju Schuster and James Washington to somehow spell Brown. On the other side of the ball, LB Devin Bush (Michigan) was the Steelers No. 1 choice to fill a big gap left by the unfortunate blow suffered by Ryan Shazier. The 3 stars on the Steelers helmets represent materials used to produce steel: yellow for coal; orange for iron ore; and blue for steel scrap. Understandably, the fans are more concerned about the 3 stars that are no longer visible.

Teams who upset the Steelers are 2-18 SUATS away when coming off consecutive SUATS wins. The Steelers are an incredible 123-48 ITS in all games since 2009 .

NFL-Preseason-AFC East preview

2019 AFC EAST PREVIEW

In addition to the previews outlined below, these interesting scheduling statistical notes merit consideration, compliments of the 2019 MTI Regular Season NFL Win Report:

Buffalo – Bills will face 3 foes with a Thursday game on deck, 3 foes with a Monday game on deck, and 3 foes in the 2nd of two or more away games … -5 net turnovers in 2018.

Miami – Dolphins will face 2 foes coming off a bye week …+5 net turnovers in 2018.

New England – Pats have failed to play ‘under’ their season win total 10 straight years … will face 3 foes coming off a bye week … +10 net turnovers in 2018.

NY Jets – Jets will face 2 foes coming off a Thursday game, and 2 foes coming off a Monday game … -10 net turnovers in 2018.

Buffalo Bills

Season Win Total: 6.5

Some say the best part of dating a Buffalo Bills fan is that you know she ain’t looking for a ring. It may be cruel but the fact of the matter is it’s been a long time (1995, 23 seasons ago) that Buffalo last enjoyed a playoff win. It’s also been since 2006 the last time the Bills opened a season with their first two games on the road – and both of them in the same stadium, no less. It’s been even longer when Buffalo was featured on Thanksgiving (1994). And so former Dallas Cowboy Cole Beasley, signed by Buffalo as a free agent in the offseason, returns to the Big ‘D’. It’s part of a brutal four-game season-ending trek for the Bills when they meet Baltimore at home and then hit the highway again for consecutive road games at Pittsburgh and New England in December.

Ironically, Buffalo will also take part in what could be a quintet of 2018 first-round quarterback battles when Bills QB Josh Allen faces Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Sam Darnold (twice). Through it all, GM Brandon Beane is at the forefront of a massive reconstruction, bringing Ken Dorsey in as its quarterback’s coach. Dorsey worked for five seasons with NFL MVP Cam Newton in Carolina and figures to polish up Allen’s skills. Aside from reforming the roster with plenty of free agent signings the past two seasons, Beane appeared to hit a home run with defensive tackle Ed Oliver with the ninth pick in this year’s draft. Oliver figures to make everyone around him better with his freakish athleticism. Bills fans attending games nowadays will finally need a program, and that’s a good thing.

2019 marks the 8th year in the last 9 seasons in which the Bills will feature a new wide receivers coach. The Bills are 1-21 SU in division games the L9Y when they commit 2 or more turnovers.

Miami Dolphins

Season Win Total: 5

Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel put it best when he said that not having the burden of winning in the first year for a new regime is often the head fake of any rebuild. So it is for new Dolphins GM Chris Grier and new mentor Brian Flores. As a result, Grier didn’t fill holes in the offseason, he made them. Gone are Miami mainstays Ryan Tannehill, Cam Wake, and Robert Quinn. In is young, cheap talent with an upside (read: AAF signees). In other words, meet the “Miami Apollos”. No, it won’t be quite that bad for Flores and Grier, not with the addition of talented QB Josh Rosen, the former 10th pick in the 2017 draft acquired via a trade on Day Two of this year’s NFL Draft from Arizona.

While Rosen’s 66.7 Passer Rating as a rookie with the Cardinals did not jump off the page, it was higher than the rookie ratings of Tom Brady, John Elway, Kurt Warner, Eli Manning and Troy Aikman – Hall of Famers all. Remember, the Fins allowed 6,257 yards last season, the worst in franchise history, while the offense gained fewer than 200 yards in five games. And for all of this, Adam Gase is the Jets’ new sideline boss. WTF? And so the rebuild begins.

Miami is 42-18 SU at home in September since 1980.The Dolphins are 11-27 ITS in December since 2006.

New England Patriots

Season Win Total: 11

Following last season’s 13-3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, iconic QB Tom Brady now owns a Super Bowl ring for every round of players that were drafted ahead of him. Meanwhile, Pats owner Robert Kraft owns enough jewelry to keep his name off courtroom dockets. It was also the first time since 1972 (Miami Dolphins) that a team lost a Super Bowl game one season and came back to win the Super Bowl the following season. So what does New England do for an encore this season? It’s always difficult for defending Super Bowl champions to play to the same level the following season. Making matters worse, the retirement of megastar TE Rob Gronkowski and top free agent Trey Flowers, along with multiple staff departures, certainly leaves a void.

So what will life be like with the fallout of the aforementioned personnel? As one NFL executive put it, “Belichick is the guy who climbs Everest without oxygen just to see if he can do it. It’ll work out for them.” Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and Dante Scarnecchia are still there, and that’s key. With it, New England is chasing Dallas’ record of 20 straight winning seasons, and ironically the Pats will host the Cowboys the final Sunday in November. From a schedule standpoint, the Patriots take on the softest itinerary in the league from an opponent season-win projection. This also marks the third straight year the Pats will close the season with consecutive home games. Life is great if you’re a Patriot.

Bill Belichick is 17-1 SU in the playoffs against foes that he did not face during the regular season. The Patriots have 3 or more turnovers in only 6 of their last 101 games.

New York Jets

Season Win Total: 7.5

Some way, somehow, Adam Gase managed to convince acting Jets owner Christopher Johnson that he was their man. In typical Gase fashion, his first move was a power struggle with GM Mike Maccagnan, resulting in Maccagnan’s firing. Gase then promptly traded away LB Derron Lee. The fact of the matter is Gase’s primary objective is to develop Sam Darnold into a Pro Bowl-caliber franchise quarterback. If he does that, no one will care about what happened this offseason. If it doesn’t, Mr. Congeniality will be looking for work sooner than later. We have serious reservations, though, given the fact that Gase’s offenses in Miami declined each and every season during his three-year tenure with the Dolphins, ranking 24th, 25th and 31st.

Furthermore, Gase’s system threatens to choke out Darnold’s potential by ordering him to throw too many too-short passes. Perhaps the addition of RB Le’Veon Bell, an excellent receiver out of the backfield, will aid in the transition. Visit FootballOutsiders.com for more on the metrics involved in Gase’s shortcomings and you can draw your own conclusions. Through it all, the Jets enjoyed a strong Draft led by the selection of Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama with the 3rd overall pick. On paper, the Flyboys look improved. On the sidelines, they come up short.

The Jets are 5-23 SU and 8-16-1 ATS in games in which they’ve been outyarded the L3Y.