The exhibition season has been reduced to three games, giving teams less time to evaluate backups while at the same time trying to allocate enough reps to the starters.
So, what does this mean for the NFL bettor and what do we need to do to be successful in betting on the first preseason contest? Let’s break down some of the most important factors.
Preseason Game 1 Is for Scrubs
It’s a whole new world now that the exhibition slate has been abbreviated because now there are only three games in which to determine who makes the roster and who doesn’t. But one thing of which you can be certain – teams are not carrying a back-end player to an official preseason game unless they are going to play him and give him a look.
Coaches must be able to evaluate how a player reacts when he is in a game against NFL-caliber competition and not just a team scrimmage. Therefore, expect to see a bunch of guys playing that could very well be selling insurance by the end of the month. This is not the time to review how these teams fared against each other over the last few years or how the offenses and defenses stack up.
The historical data you are reviewing on each team has nothing to do with the players on the field in the opening preseason affair. The only thing they have in common with the past performances you have researched is the franchises on which they are playing. This is a glorified tryout so treat it as such and cut your units to the bare minimum.
The Only Record That Counts
Sports handicappers have often espoused betting on the motivated team in the preseason. But that’s rather difficult considering the majority of the players playing significant minutes in the first game of the preseason will be those whose very career is in jeopardy of coming to a screeching halt. That would serve as plenty of motivation for every player on the field, regardless of which uniform they are wearing.
Thus, there is enough motivation and incentive to go around so don’t try to manufacture a reason that isn’t there or not apparent on the surface. However, what may provide a glimpse into “motivation” that counts is the head coach’s preseason record. Some coaches could not care less about wins or losses in the exhibition season while others believe it is a stepping stone to forming a winning attitude inside and outside of the locker room.
General Rule of Thumb
Because we don’t have a very good idea as to which teams are what in the preseason, as most of the names on the jerseys are completely foreign to us, it becomes a flip of the coin. But what if one side of that coin had a few extra points attached to it? That would probably be the side worth betting on, assuming our knowledge of each side is so severely limited.
And to that end, the underdog is often an advisable play because of two reasons. First and foremost, the betting public loves to wager on favorites and the over. The oddsmakers know this and they skew the lines accordingly.
Secondly, we are betting on a game in which there are two teams, both of which are unknown commodities. If the baseline is even, then any points over and above have to be considered +EV. Therefore, be a contrarian, bet on the underdog, and fade the public. And if you must bet the total, go low because the public likes to fly high!
Be an Educated Consumer
Would you buy a car at the first dealership you visited? Well, unless you have more money than you know what to do with, the answer is a resounding – No! But those of you who would dutifully shop around for a car, a set of golf clubs, or a fishing rod and reel, are the same who are, amazingly, using only one sportsbook.
It makes no sense because there are quite often disparities in the NFL odds and lines that we see. Even a half-point, the proverbial “hook” as we call it in the sports betting parlance, can mean the difference between a cover and a push. A full point or more in the lines could be the difference between a win and a loss.
If you are not taking advantage of the line changes that the top sportsbooks offer then you are doing yourself a disservice. There is no reason in the world why an NFL bettor does not have, at the very least, two or more sportsbooks to compare and contrast the lines.