Raiders Packers Football

U.S. and Canadian flags are presented on the field before an NFL preseason football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Packers and Raiders had to play on an 80-yard field due to poor end zone conditions. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

It’s another big milestone for me this week as a football fan, as until now I had never seen an NFL game on a surface so bad, they only played on an 80-yard field. The Packers and Raiders had to do that in Winnipeg on Thursday night when field conditions led officials to shorten things to do away with the subpar end zones.

The NFL should just come out and make that their marketing slogan. “The preseason … you HAVE to buy tickets, even if the game doesn’t resemble pro football.”

It’s the preseason for people who like to bet too, although I’d never condone trying to win money on a preseason game. Putting a sawbuck down that the fourth-stringers for the Vikings can beat some future Home Depot employees in Bills uniforms doesn’t seem like a wise investment, but there are plenty of other wagers available for the rest of the season to try and peak your interest.

Will Dallas win more/less than 9 games?

The Cowboys are America’s Team, which means that most American sports fans are rooting for them to win or lose, there’s no middle ground there. That makes the Cowboys a major draw for television, marketing and compulsive bettors, and Las Vegas always pays extra attention to Dallas. Nine seems like a low number, although I’ll bet getting Ezekiel Elliott in camp would raise that figure by at least a half a game. Two games against the Eagles will be tough but the rest of the division is a clown autopsy, and getting to play the AFC East is a big help. I’ll go over, and expect a 10-6 season.

Will the Dolphins win more or less than 4.5 games?

I’ve always said it’s a lot easier to pick the worst than it is the best. Miami has a bad roster, a rough schedule, and a quarterback situation best described as “none of the above.” To make matters worse, add in a first-time head coach and an awkward management situation, and this team’s got 2-14 written all over them. I’d take the under here, and also bet them to be the worst team in the league in 2019.

Will Baker Mayfield have 7.5 more passing touchdowns than the entire NY Giants?

This is what’s called a “Prop Bet,” which is for people who like to make weird wagers on things like coin flips, national anthem lengths, and how many movies Kevin Hart can do in a calendar year without actually acting. I think Mayfield will have great numbers this year and the Giants should be awful, but there’s just too much that could go wrong here to take him. Give me the Giants quarterbacks, in probably the only time this year I’ll pick them to do anything.

Who will be the first coach fired?

This is my favorite speculation annually and I’ll admit, it’s a morbid one, but the fact is coaches get fired in the middle of the season every year. It’s just part of the job. Washington coach Jay Gruden is the favorite here, or however you’d like to put that dubious distinction, but I’ll take Lions coach Matt Patricia to be the first man out. He was brought in to bring the “Patriot Way” in Detroit. That seems like such a simple concept, it makes you wonder why Bill Belichick’s assistants have been almost universally atrocious as NFL head coaches.

By the way, Jason Garrett is in the top 10 for most likely firings, but I wouldn’t take that bet. Not only is Jerry Jones still loyal to Garrett, even if things came completely apart there’s no one else in the coaching room who could take over. Kellen Moore is a first-year offensive coordinator, and the last time Rod Marinelli had his own team, they were the winless 2008 Lions. Garrett is the Cowboys only hope this season.

Will Jason Witten have more than 39.5 receptions?

This is a tough one, with Witten returning after a bad year in the broadcast booth. Witten will help with a pedestrian tight end roster, but after a year away, will he catch 40 balls? I just don’t see it, especially since Dak Prescott generally throws the ball to Elliott and Amari Cooper most of the time, and everyone else is left looking for scraps. I’ll take the under here, although I do think Witten is going to be a big help in the red zone, and also the locker room.

On the bright side, Witten won’t have to work with a guy called “Booger” anymore. So this season is already a victory for him.

Reid Kerr also picks the Chiefs to win at least eleven games, but the Browns to win nine or fewer. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

TWITTER: @PhilHicksETFS

Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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