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NFL Preseason Betting

Preseason NFL Betting

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

Sometimes betting on preseason NFL football gets a bad rap. It’s understandable why some people disregard it to a large degree. The games don’t really count for anything. A few weeks into the regular season, most people have forgotten about those games entirely. They were just warm-up events, a chance for veterans to get their creaky bones lubricated and for coaches to fill out rosters and tweak depth charts.

Some bettors are hesitant to bet on preseason NFL and use it like the coaches in a sense, as a chance to evaluate talent in an effort to see which teams will be improved and which ones are due for a letdown. One of the reasons bettors like the NFL more than NBA and MLB is because there are only 16 games, which affords no time for slacking off. Every game is important. You don’t really get that with NFL preseason, so the avoidance is understandable.


At the same time, football bettors should be on the hunt for weak lines--period. Who cares in what form in arrives in? It could be a cricket race. If we’re getting +300 on a cricket that’s evenly-matched with another cricket, we take it. A big part of becoming a winning NFL bettor is getting in-tune with exploiting weaknesses in lines and becoming adept at getting on the right side of line movement. We try to pick winners, but the real sharps in this business do not merely rely on their opinions of individual games to stay ahead--they master the art of working between the lines.

In preseason NFL, the bettor has an even greater opportunity to work his magic, as he tap-dances on the edges of point-spreads--searching for value and weak lines. Nothing is set in stone in preseason. A coach may or may not divulge his plans and even if he does, it can change on the fly. Usually, it plays out according to script. A coach says he will be playing the first team for a quarter or a half and that’s the way it goes. But not always.

As a result, we see gigantic movement of spreads in preseason. During the regular season, if a line moves 2 points, it’s considered a volatile line. In preseason, it’s not totally uncommon to see a 3-point favorite close as a 3-point dog. Because during the week, something changed. Normally, a coach tweaked his plan. Maybe a starting quarterback banged his hand on a lineman’s helmet and the coach now wants to sit him for the game. Or maybe the coach just had a change of heart and wants to see more out of some other players he is on the fence with. It can be a lot of different things.

Preseason is a time when coaches are trying to achieve specific things. Find out what those things are and how that can affect their approach in an upcoming game. In addition, pay attention to the local newspapers of the teams you might be betting on or against. This is your best bet if you need to know that something bad happened to a good player in practice or if a coach has restated his game plan. The key is that when you get good information, like a starting quarterback is only going playing two series instead of the full-half everyone thought--act on it quickly and try to seize on what has now become a weak line.

It can be downright rough to try to evaluate a bunch of 2nd and 3rd stringers across a bunch of different rosters to handicap how the second halves of these preseason games will go. Focus on the quarterbacks. Sometimes you will see quite a disparity. Look for veteran quarterbacks who, though not great, have proven they can handle the NFL. Guys like that will usually be better than a rookie who is getting his first taste of real NFL action.

Also don’t forget that you can bet on just the first quarter of preseason games or on first-half lines. Betting on parts of the game like that, you can pretty much cut out the part of the game where a bunch of guys who might not even make NFL rosters are playing.

With preseason NFL wagering, there is a difference in the games. It’s a 4-week season. In games one and two, the games are lower-scoring. Games 3 and 4, where the starters play the most, the games see more scoring. And while the games are relatively meaningless, there are motivational concerns that bettors can play with. Teams don’t want to be squashed two weeks in a row, while a team that won by 40 might get a big head.

If you want to use the preseason to gear up for week one--it’s up to you. But preseason offers some good opportunities for the betting man. If you are able to tap into the different elements that drive preseason point-spreads, you can start using this time of the year for more than just information-gathering purposes.

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