The NFL season is just around the corner, and for a lot of people, this signifies the end of summer. For gamblers, it means a lot more – it means the end of a drought of sports on which to bet. Yes, this year was an anomaly with the World Cup of Soccer in June, but aside from that, baseball is the only major game in town. Gamblers are all getting ready for the fall beeting season to begin, and it all starts in September with Week 1 of the NFL season.
With all of the hype around legal sports betting coming to the U.S., there has been more talk than ever about gambling across traditional media. Betting lines and Superbowl odds are being plastered on the screens of sports networks, and in a handful of states, you can already start placing bets. All this excitement has brought on some increased excitement about the NFL season that when the preseason games started last week, books saw an increase in handle on the early games.
Now, conventional wisdom says that betting on preseason sports is absolutely ridiculous. Teams are learning new systems, trying to avoid injuries, and testing out players who are on the bubble for making rosters. Why would any intelligent being wager on the outcome of these games? Well, we can’t say that we disagree with that line of thinking, but we are also here to tell you that there are loads of things you could bet on and be somewhat safe. Let’s review a couple of them here.
First quarter score
As you know, the presumed starters of an NFL team are really only playing preseason to get in some reps and work on new plays. As a result, the star players tend to stop playing after one or two quarters. To be on the safe side, we can say that it is likely a team will play its starters for only the first quarter of the game. Therefore, the play in the first quarter is most likely to resemble a regular season game. If you can find a place to bet on the 1Q score or line, then you should bet that rather than the entire game.
When it comes to inexperience, an offense is going to suffer more than a defense. Missed reads, charging linebackers, dropped passes and such are all part of what we see in preseason games. If this is what we expect to see, you can imagine that not a lot of points are going to be scored. If you want to bet on the full game, we would suggest betting on the total score, and likely that this score will be under the posted line.
Prop betting is a great way to have action on a game without having to worry about the final score, and in the preseason, the best bet of all of these is without question the number of turnovers in a game. Teams are going to rollout their newly drafted receivers and quarterbacks, and this is a recipe for disaster. We see far more INTs in the preseason than in regular season games, simply due to inexperience. Have a look at totals set for interceptions and total turnovers in a game and bet on the over.
Kickers don’t change
With all the crappy offense being played in preseason games, betting on the kicking stats can be profitable. Ok, bear with us here. We understand how boring that sounds, but if it can make you money, how bad can it be? Most teams don’t audition new kickers and punters – they get through training camp and so many are incumbents that when it comes to the preseason games, these positions are typically set. However, as we said, there will be a lot of kicking going on if these offenses are rusty. Look for prop bets that cover kicking – total number of punts, longest punts, FG made etc -and try to find some value.
So, if you must bet on a preseason NFL game, those are some places you may find some value. However, we cannot stress enough that preseason games are unpredictable at best. Although we gave you some options to consider on where to find some value betting on these games, you are much better off just watching the games and looking for angles that you can take into the regular season. This year, more than ever, the U.S. betting market will have a keen eye on the league, its teams and players, so it is going to be tougher to find good lines. You can still come out a winner, but it is going to take a little more effort. Bet on the preseason if you must, but stick to low limits so you can get to Week 1 without being in as big a hole as the Cleveland Browns.