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Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for the week of Aug. 5-9. In this column, we’ll set the stage for Keystone State sports bettors’ week ahead and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities.

With football officially back in season, we’ll start by touching on the first week of NFL preseason for Pennsylvania sportsbooks, as well as next Sunday’s ArenaBowl 32. Then, we’ll stay with the pigskin and offer betting takes on both the Eagles’ and Steelers’ preseason tilts coming up at the end of the week.

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Football takes center stage at Pennsylvania sportsbooks this week

Sportsbooks know the power of the pigskin well. Football season is the most lucrative multi-month period of the sports betting calendar by far. Last Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game between the Falcons and Broncos technically marked the start of NFL exhibition season. Yet this Thursday, Aug. 8, kicks off the first full slate of preseason. The Eagles and Steelers are in action Thursday and Friday, respectively, as we’ll cover below. Although the NFL naturally garners the headlines, there’s one other professional football league playing a pretty important game to cap off next weekend.

The Arena Football League (AFL) will play its championship game, the ArenaBowl, next Sunday. The Albany Empire and Philadelphia Soul will do battle in what could be a shootout for the ages. The Soul boast a quarterback with plenty of championship pedigree in Dan Raudabaugh. The veteran helped Philadelphia to ArenaBowl championships in 2016 and 2017 while throwing for a combined 183 touchdown passes in those regular seasons. But the Empire will counter with Tommy Grady. Albany’s gunslinger boasts a 243:23 TD:INT ratio over the last three seasons. With the Soul as one of this season’s ArenaBowl participants, it will be interesting to see how much action Keystone State sportsbooks take on a league with a modest but loyal following.

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This Week’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks

NFL Preseason

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tennessee Titans, Thursday, August 8, 7:30 p.m. EDT

  • SugarHouse Casino Total Points Odds: Over 37 (-110)/ Under 37 (-110)
  • FanDuel Sportsbook Total Points Odds: Over 37 (+105)/ Under 37 (-125)
  • Rivers Casino Total Points Odds: Over 37 (-110)/ Under 37 (-110)

Last Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game provided a tangible reminder of how inept offenses can look in preseason. That’s especially true when the quarterbacks are primarily a combination of rookies and undrafted free agents. The Eagles and Titans should represent an upgrade over what the Falcons and Broncos trotted out in the HOF Game. Nate Sudfeld and Ryan Tannehill ought to see plenty of work for Philadelphia and Tennessee, respectively. There’s also a chance Carson Wentz and Marcus Mariota get at least one series in to open the contest.

Then, the signal-callers behind the second-stringers have some pro experience to fall back on. The Titans will bring Logan Woodside out behind Tannehill. Woodside did a solid job as the starting quarterback of the San Antonio Commanders in the Alliance of American Football (AAF) this past spring. The Eagles do have fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson in the latter portion of the quarterback depth chart. But they also have Cody Kessler, who does have 17 games of NFL experience and the ability to get the better of the third- and fourth-string defensive backs he’s likely to encounter.

It’s also worth noting both teams have some decent depth at the skill positions. Tennessee has a group of receivers that includes Tajae Sharpe, Taywan Taylor, Darius Jennings, and Tanner McEvoy. All have varying degrees of NFL experience. Then, Philadelphia will roll out Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams as reserve running backs. And in the passing game, they’ll count on Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Charles Johnson and Braxton Miller, all known commodities. Greg Ward and Marken Michel also check in with AAF and CFL experience, respectively.

With some decent firepower on the back end of each of these rosters, I see the game going Over.

The Pick: Over 37 points

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Friday, August 9, 7:30 p.m. EDT 

  • SugarHouse Casino Total Points Odds: Over 37 (-110)/ Under 37 (-110)
  • FanDuel Sportsbook Total Points Odds: Over 37 (-125)/ Under 37 (+105)
  • Rivers Casino Total Points Odds: Over 37 (-110)/ Under 37 (-110)

The Steelers and Buccaneers are also two teams with some solid depth on offense. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians is rolling out a new offense in Tampa this season. Therefore, Jameis Winston is likely to see a couple of series of playing time with the rest of his first-team offensive teammates.

Then, the Bucs are likely to give 2018 second-round pick Ronald Jones II plenty of run. The second-year pro is battling Peyton Barber for lead-back snaps and struggled plenty throughout his injury-shortened rookie campaign. However, Jones has been one of the stars of camp thus far, and offseason workouts prior to that. Arians and his staff are champing at the bit to see what the underachieving speedster is capable of in game action.

Tampa Bay also features a solid collection of reserve wideouts: Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson and sixth-round pick Scotty Miller. Antony Auclair and Jordan Leggett both have pro experience at tight end behind O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. And backup quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin have plenty of preseason experience in particular.

The Steelers match up pretty well in terms of preseason-quality offensive depth. Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs are both serviceable behind Ben Roethlisberger, who could see at least one series. In the ground game, 2019 fourth-round pick Benny Snell and Trey Edmunds could form an effective duo in the second half. Then, a back end of the receiver depth chart that includes 2019 third-round pick Diontae Johnson, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer and former CFL star Diontae Spencer could make some hay against deep reserves in the Bucs secondary during the latter portion of the game.

As with the Titans-Eagles, I envision some of each team’s offensive depth outclassing the respective defenses enough in the second half to send this game Over the total.

The Pick: Over 37 points

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