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NFL Preseason Betting Strategies, Trends & Tips to Consider

Bill Williamson for Bookies.com

Bill Williamson  | 5 mins

NFL Preseason Betting Strategies, Trends & Tips to Consider
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While the NFL preseason is usually a bore for fans because often players who have little chance of making their 53-man roster play extensively, it is anything but a bore to fans of NFL betting. The games may not count, but the money wagered on these games certainly does.

Traditionally, sharp bettors find the preseason quite profitable. Here is a guide to consider when betting NFL preseason games.

RELATED CONTENT: NFL Hall Of Fame Game Betting Tips

Monitor Beat Writers of Teams Like a Hawk

Information is king in the preseason. Beat writers ask the key questions. They know how many series that starters will play. They know what players will be held out because of injuries, which means teams will have to make preseason adjustments at those positions.

In recent years, more and more coaches have stepped away from using starters in the preseason. It won’t be a surprise if that trend grows around the NFL, as coaches opt to sit all of their starters. Beat writers will have all of that information. They know what young players will get extra playing time. Follow the twitter accounts of beat writers of teams in the days leading up to games.

Keep in mind, too, that players coming of serious injuries will likely be held out or play only limitedly. For instance, a player the caliber of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who injured his shoulder in 2018, could very easily sit the entire preseason. There’s no reason not to know that ahead of time.

Bet the Coaches

Many NFL coaches look at preseason games as a necessary evil. Their primary goal is to avoid injuries and to get young players playing experience. Yet, there are some coaches who believe winning is always important, and they want that to start in August. So, bet on those coaches.

From 2015-18, some trends with established coaches have become clear. Let’s take a look:

NFL Preseason Trends: Coaches Records 2015-18

Coach 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total
John Harbaugh1-34-04-05-014-3
Mike Zimmer4-14-02-23-113-4
Andy Reid4-02-22-22-210-6
Bill Belichick2-23-11-33-19-7
Pete Carroll2-23-14-00-49-7
Jay Gruden3-13-12-21-39-7
Sean Payton0-40-42-23-15-11
Dan Quinn2-23-10-40-45-11

Source: walterfootball.com

Throw Out Regular Season Expectations

Good preseason teams aren’t always good in the regular season. There have been two teams in NFL history to go 0-16 in the regular season entering the 2019 season: The 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns. They both went 4-0 in the preseason those seasons. What an incredible example of the difference between the preseason and the regular season.

In the 2018 preseason, the Cardinals went 3-1, then matched that number of wins in the entire regular season. Oakland was 3-1 and went 4-12. Some teams for 2-3 and break out, like the 2018 Chicago Bears, who won 12 games in the regular season and made the playoffs. The preseason should be bet based solely on the information of that game and not regular-season expectations.

Bet on Teams with Strong Rookie Classes

The preseason is about the young players. Study the bottom of rosters and the key competitions. The players on the field are all fighting for the NFL lives. Might as well bet on the best young groups. This approach is especially relevant in the first and fourth preseason games. Those are the games were the young players play the most.

Pay Attention to the Week

NFL Preseason Betting Strategies, Trends & Tips to Consider 1

The preseason normally has an arc for most coaches. In the first preseason game, most starters play a series or two. Then, in the second preseason game, they may play three series. The third preseason is where many coaches play their starters into the second half and they game plan the most for. The Hall of Fame Game takes place before Week 1.

Betting on the better teams is probably more important in the third preseason game than any other week.

Bet the Under

Let’s take a look at the fourth week of the preseason in 2018 (the third preseason game for many teams). Look at some of these scores: The Browns beat the Eagles, 5-0. The Raiders beat the Packers, 13-6. The Steelers beat the Titans, 16-6. The Jaguars beat the Falcons, 17-6.

There is a lot of poor quarterback play by backups and sloppy play in general in the preseason and that can keep the scores down in many games.

Along those lines, study the weather. Some preseason games are going to be played in extremely hot weather. Games in Florida and Southern California could get rather oppressive. They might be a good time to bet the under as well.

About the Author

Bill Williamson for Bookies.com
Bill Williamson
NFL reporter Bill Williamson, who has more two decades of experience covering the NFL, including with ESPN, covers the NFL, the NFL Draft, the AFC West and the Raiders.