Information about team and coach intentions, rotations, and readiness is the only thing the handicapper has to work with in the Preseason. This year, a new dimension has been added in the early games that has made obtaining information even more important than normal.
Due to the lockout, the teams have barely had enough time to get their starters in shape to play. That has created a situation in which there has been less time to evaluate or prepare the new players.
This situation has caused a great deal of debate about what it will mean to the Preseason games. There is no single answer. Various coaches are handling the matter differently, and it is important to winning in the opening round of games to know how what each coach will be doing.
To no one's surprise, Packer coach Mike McCarthy has said that the starters will play even less than normal to avoid injuries due to being out of shape, and that he will be primarily looking at the younger players in tonight's game.
New coach Ron Rivera of Carolina says that he will be giving the young players little time to show what they can do, and that he will keep the first and second stringers on the field longer because they need more work than might normally be the case.
Buffalo Bills coach, Chan Gailey says that trying to evaluate the young players will be his primary goal in tonight's game, because there has been less time than normal to evaluate them in camp. Of course, that Gailey will be doing nothing that may cause his team to win a Preseason game (or a regular season game either for that matter) is nothing new.
St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo will have his starters in only for one drive in order to avoid injury to players who still are not up to speed physically or mentally.
The other coaches tonight have said that the short training camp will not change what they normally would do in the first game of Preseason.
Knowing what the coaches will do in this new situation can give a strong clue as to their team's performance tonight. Ignore it at your peril.