When it comes to betting NFL preseason games there are two distinct trains of thought. Many bettors shy away from the preseason games, believing they are too unpredictable and don’t want to risk their money on players who won’t be in the league on opening day. Others will jump into the fray with the Hall of Fame Game, believing that many times the preseason games offer better value than the regular season.
There is no question that preseason games can be a little more unpredictable than regular season games. Many games are decided on the basis of what an undrafted free agent rookie quarterback does in the fourth quarter. But bettors can use the unpredictability of games to their advantage by looking for certain situations that occur during the preseason.
The best of the bunch has been the large preseason underdog, which is those receiving six points or more. Between 2003 and 2012, these teams were 34-20 (63%) against the spread, including a 4-1 record in 2012. Digging a little bit deeper, these teams were 9-7 against the number in the first two weeks of the preseason and an impressive 25-13 (65.8%) in the final two weeks.
Preseason home underdogs have historically been good bets, going 61-46-4 (57%) against the spread since 2003, but have fallen on hard times the past two seasons, going just 9-15-1, as more head coaches are placing less emphasis on the exhibition schedule.
Two key factors when it comes to betting preseason football are the coaches and the quarterback rotation. Since the coaches are the ones who determine the quarterback rotation, they have to be given a bit more consideration. Most head coaches are pretty good about letting the media know their plans for an upcoming game, such as how long the first and second units will play, and how long each quarterback will see action.
Some coaches place more emphasis on wins and losses in the preseason than others. Detroit’s Jim Schwartz is 12-4 against the spread in his four years with the Lions, while Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin is 18-7 ATS since taking over the top spot with the Steelers. On the other side, Atlanta’s Mike Smith is just 7-13 against the number.
In the preseason, coaches who want to win can often do just that, so look for situations where a coach may have a bit of added incentive for a good effort. Coaches under fire are often decent bets when the team is at home, while a coach fired from a team or one who was blown out in the regular season the year before may try to settle the score a bit.
Betting preseason football is as much an art form as it is a science, but with a little discipline and picking those spots where you have an edge, you have a very good chance of starting the regular season with a few more dollars in your bankroll.
Cole started off as a part time handicapper and a full time computer programmer. After developing a computer program that consistently provided winners in NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports Cole went into full time handicapping. The computer program and his knack for winners made him a rising star in the handicapping world. His complex computer program based on algorithms and analytical calculations have led to a 60% ATS rate.