The Daily Sweat: NFL preseason is back, but it's harder than ever to figure out

Two things have changed this NFL preseason.

First, the preseason has gone from four games to three. It's hard to figure out how coaches will play the different schedule, mostly because it doesn't seem like they know the best method themselves.

Also, there's the Sean McVay factor.

Since McVay decided the preseason was absolutely worthless, and other coaches have followed his lead. McVay started sitting every key player the entire preseason, believing that the risk of injury wasn't worth it. It's not like teams don't practice all of August and in a controlled environment to limit injuries. They see and evaluate players there. There was no preseason in 2020, and in 2021 it seems more teams than ever are blowing off the preseason. At times it seems the only thing to handicap is what coaches say about who will play. We're seeing much bigger line moves than we'll ever see in the regular season due to the weirdness.

There are four games on Friday night, with lines on each at BetMGM, and who knows what we'll see.

The Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions are sitting starters in their matchup. Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hasn't said if starters will play against the Carolina Panthers, who plan to give their starters a long look. The Philadelphia Eagles, who have been terrible this preseason, haven't divulged their plan for the New York Jets, who plan to play starters for a half or less. The Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs have old-school coaches who see value in the preseason; starters will play for both teams Friday night.

That's the rundown of how teams are approaching the third and final preseason game. Maybe there's an angle in there somewhere.

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and other Chiefs starters will likely be playing some on Friday night. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and other Chiefs starters will likely be playing some on Friday night. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Friday:

OK, so what are the preseason lines?

Ah, yes. From BetMGM:

Colts (-2) vs. Lions

Eagles vs. Jets (-5.5)

Steelers vs. Panthers (-3.5)

Vikings vs. Chiefs (-4.5)

If there's an angle maybe it's the Vikings, because Mike Zimmer wants to win in the preseason more than any coach outside of John Harbaugh. Zimmer was upset the Vikings lost while sitting starters in the first preseason game, and the Vikings lost a close second game too. A coach with a 20-7 career preseason record isn't going to want to go 0-3.

Anything other than baseball and preseason football?

There is some WNBA action, and looking ahead to the weekend there are some fun English Premier League matches. Yahoo Sportsbook's Nick Bromberg previewed the EPL matches from a betting perspective.

What does the MLB schedule look like?

Unfortunately, most of the series feature at least one team that is playing out the string. The two series that feature playoff hopefuls are the New York Yankees (-150) at the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants at the Atlanta Braves (-115). Wish there were more.

Who cashed tickets on Thursday?

If you're betting the Dodgers and Yankees every day, you're doing just fine. Both teams won again, the Yankees for the 12th straight time. Also a hat tip to the San Francisco Giants, who were a small -115 favorite and won again. The Giants have been undervalued all season and have been phenomenal to bettors.

What's the best bet?

The Giants were the pick here yesterday, and on Friday they're small -105 underdogs. It is absolutely amazing how often you can find a good line on a team that is 83-44 this season. They have Kevin Gausman and his 2.47 ERA on the mound. It's the Giants again, and I assume it won't be the last time they're the best bet this season.