Avoid the Vig
How to Bet the NFL Preseason
Want to bet NFL Preseason Football? You most certainly can, unless, of course, you want to bet more than a dime. Sportsbook have $1,000 limits on the preseason. Why would bookmakers have such low limits on inconsequential games when they allow five figure bets in the regular season? The answer may be a mix of being distracted by the MLB, fluidity of information, and straight up fear. Regardless of the reason, there is one thing for certain: The NFL Preseason is a great opportunity to make money.
The main stream media will have you believe if you bet the preseason, you have an issue. We see you Trey. When I started betting, I told a friend that I was betting the WNBA. He asked where I draw the line. The answer was simple: I will bet any time on anything I can make money on. The preseason is ripe for the picking and if you are not willing to bet it because of perception, you are missing out on perhaps the only opportunity to bet the NFL where you have a consistent advantage on the house.
In order to effectively bet the preseason, throw out everything you think you know about the NFL. The best teams in the league may be horrible bets in the preseason. The opposite may be true for the weakest teams. Follow these keys and you are greatly increasing your odds to make money in the preseason.
The first and most important concept to handicap is simply identifying the coach. If you have blindly bet on John Harbaugh, Mike Zimmer, Pete Carroll, Jon Gruden and faded Dan Quinn and Jason Garrett you would be 10-0-1 thus far in the preseason. There are coaches that simply value preseason and prioritizing winning and others that don't. This has been the principle handicapping to many of our free plays, which has netted us +11 units in just two weeks. In order to determine which coaches to play and fade, check out our Betting NFL Preseason articles.
Identify the teams that have motivation to win. For example, teams that have struggled the previous year in the regular season, those that are looking to move to a new city (Raiders), teams that are winless in the preseason, etc. These are all potential betting opportunities. In week 1, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots destroyed the Detroit Lions 31-3. Detroit was held to 21 passing yards...for the game! The Lions coach? Former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Don't tell me Belichick didn't have motivation to hand it to his former co-worker. It was personal. Find the teams that are motivated and exploit the opportunity.
Taysom Hill is a gadget, swiss army knife of a player. He is a wrinkle to Sean Payton's well-run offense, which features future Hall of Famer Drew Brees at the helm. Hill may punch it in at the goal line or convert a short yardage first down. He's a fun and exciting player to watch. In the preseason, he's is a different animal entirely. Taysom Hill finished 11/15 for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 53 yards on the ground and very nearly ripped the heart of every bettor holding a Los Angeles Chargers +2.5 ticket. Hill was dominate against the third and fourth teamers for the Chargers. Drew Brees is a clearly superior quarterback, but in the preseason, the Taysom Hills of the world can matter more. Identify teams with solid quarterback depth or those that have a quarterback controversy. Taysom Hill proved to be the former. He is also a scrambling quarterback that can make plays when things break down. Preseason is ugly. Many players don't even know the whole playbook. Finding a quarterback that can improvise and pick up a first down with his feet is very valuable in these exhibition contests.
Surely, weather should be taken into consideration when betting any outdoor sport. But this is even more true in the preseason. When there is inclement weather, teams overreact in these exhibition contests. After all, it is a meaningless game. This is a tremendous opportunities for unders to cash easily. The game no longer becomes about winning, but escaping unscathed and healthy. It is also prudent to be mindful that you take this into consideration when betting sides. For instance, in week 2, Andy Reid stated that he would play Patrick Mahomes for the first half. After an hour weather delay, the first half changed to just one drive. A solid KC bet fell flat with their star QB sitting on the sidelines.
Coaches lie constantly. In the regular season, you should never believe what comes out of their mouths. The preseason is a different story. Coaches have no reason to lie when it comes to a meaningless game. They usually will tell you how long the quarterbacks are playing, how much time the second unit will see, or if they plan on sitting the starters entirely. Things can certainly change, like in the aforementioned example of Mahomes only playing one drive instead of one half, but that is exception to the rule. When Nagy stated that he was sitting all 22 starters against the Giants in week 2, you should have been scrambling to take the G-Men. Find the beat reporters on Twitter and get the reports as they are being tweeted. If you can get to that information before the books do, you could be in line for a profitable payday.
HALL OF FAME GAME
The Hall of Fame Game has gone under in ten consecutive years. These teams play an extra exhibition game which takes place in the first week of August. The coaches do not game plan. I'm not even sure they know all the names of their players yet. They have one goal, avoid injuries. Take the under in the Hall of Fame Game no matter how low the total looks.
In an effort to drive interest, the NFL has been scheduling games away from their home stadiums and sometimes out of the country entirely. Teams that are normally home are now only home on paper. Traditionally, home teams receive an automatic three points to the spread. When both teams are away, neither team receives the additional points. Unless you are the Los Angeles Rams this past week. The Rams opened up as a three point favorite against the Cowboys. However, the game was in Hawaii. The Cowboys were bet up and quickly became favorite. The closing line was off by over 6 points at most books from the opening line. The reason? That is a great question. Maybe the books just valued the Rams that much higher than the rest of the world. Maybe they failed to notice that Sean McVay really doesn't care about the preseason. Or maybe the oddsmakers were lazy. Maybe they saw the Rams were listed second and just assumed they were the home team. Don't underestimate the ineptitude of a disinterested oddsmaker. Identify these potential opportunities and get ready to pounce if they make the same mistake again.
1-0 vs 0-1
Perhaps the longest running trend for the preseason is the 1-0 team versus the 0-1 team. Coming into this preseason, blindly betting the winless team in week 2 of the preseason against an undefeated team is a winning bet 62% of the time since 1994 (104 wins - 62 losses).
TAKE IT ALL INTO CONSIDERATION
When deciding who to bet, do not rely on any one aspect of the handicap. For example: the Giants/Bears game featured a 1-0 team against a 0-1 team. 62% of the time, that's a winless team being victorious. However, handicapping games is complicated and, oftentimes, downright convoluted. Sure, history was on the Bears side, but the Giants have a deeper quarterback rotation with a potential quarterback controversy. The Giants have been disappointing the last few years and traded away/released their best players on both sides of the ball this offseason. They are extremely motivated to win and change their losing narrative. On the other hand, the Bears coach, Matt Nagy, pretty much declared the preseason insignificant. Before the game, it was reported that Nagy intended to sit all 22 starters. Had you just relied on the 62% trend, you would be walking into a loser. When handicapping the preseason, make sure you take all aspects into consideration when deciding who to bet.
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