NFL betting: Breaking down the Friday preseason games, including 'Hard Knocks' Lions

In the NFL preseason, coaches are far more willing to share plans about playing time. That means we can search through their comments and try to figure out which teams will take the preseason more seriously than others.

We looked at the Thursday games from a betting standpoint already, and here's a look at what each coach in Friday's games have said about their planned approach:

Atlanta Falcons (-1) at Detroit Lions

This is how you know it's the preseason: Falcons coach Arthur Smith and Lions coach Dan Campbell spoke to each other about their plans for playing time. Both coaches said they were going to use starters for about a quarter.

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If you saw the first episode of "Hard Knocks," you know that Campbell is focusing on getting his team ready by live reps rather than rest.

"You just can't mimic game speed and game intensity," Campbell said about taking the preseason seriously.

Smith, coming off a poor first season as Falcons coach with a team that is in the middle of a rebuild, seems to be taking preseason seriously too. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is on board with playing as much as he's asked.

With both teams coming off bad seasons and seeing the value in sharpening up in the preseason (Smith and Campbell posting 0-3 preseason records last year), keep in mind the Lions are the better of the two teams and they're a home underdog.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell plans to use his starters a bit on Friday night.  (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell plans to use his starters a bit on Friday night. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Cleveland Browns (-1.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Last year, Kevin Stefanski didn't play starters until the final preseason game. This season could be different. The Browns are expected to play Deshaun Watson, assuming no last-minute ruling on his suspension appeal that would keep him out. The Akron Beacon Journal said Stefanski's plan is to play most starters on Friday, then not as much in the second preseason game after two joint practices against the Eagles.


The Jaguars, coming off a poor performance in the Hall of Fame Game in which they sat just about everyone, will play the starters some. New coach Doug Pederson doesn't want a second straight flop to start the preseason.

“I’m going to let the starters play, you know, get their feet wet a little bit for a couple of series,” Pederson said, via News4Jax. “I just want them to get a feel of the game.”

The line has swung this week from the Jaguars -3 to the Browns being a small favorite.

Arizona Cardinals at Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5)

The Cardinals will play a few players vying for a starting job, but it sounds like they'll mostly punt at least the first game.


“We’re going to play some guys that have a chance (to start),” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday, via Arizona Sports. “Offensively, not too many guys [will play] that I think will crack that starting lineup.”

The Bengals have a similar plan. Coach Zac Taylor said most starters won't play. There won't be many recognizable names on the field in this game.

New York Jets (-1) at Philadelphia Eagles

Jets coach Robert Saleh said starters will get a series or two at Philadelphia. Saleh played starters last preseason too, and coming off a bad first season he'll want to get his team off to a fast start when the regular season kicks off.


Eagles coach Nick Sirianni didn't share his specific plans, but said (according to the Philadelphia Inquirer): “We don’t have to make a decision until we get out there [Friday night], but we’re thinking one or two series with the starters.” Philadelphia has had some starters sitting out practice due to injuries, so Sirianni may be more cautious.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5)

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is going with the plan to use starters in the first and third preseason games, which means we should see Trey Lance and some other starters on Friday. It'll be important to get Lance, a second-year player taking over the starting role, a few more meaningful reps this month.

“I’d like to get good guys to play in this game mainly because I don’t want them to play in the second game… So hopefully a little in one, a little in three and then we’ll have 17 days to get ready for Week 1," Shanahan said via KNBR.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur doesn't believe in using starters during the preseason, so the Packers will have a big group sitting out. Green Bay went 0-3 in the preseason last year. This seems like a pretty good opportunity to take the 49ers laying less than a field goal.