How to Bet the NFL Preseason

Head coach John Harbaugh. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP

The NFL Preseason or exhibition games, which they truly are, have been shortened from four weeks to three to add another contest to the regular season. For most football fans, that is a bonus. However, for football bettors like this writer, we are not thrilled about it.

Why? Because we have been taking online sportsbooks’ money for years at about a 60 percent rate over close to two decades in August. This year will bring change and some of it might not be pleasant or easy, but if you bet on football, you have to continually adapt and this will be the next aspect we encounter.

Know the Coaches to Create Success

If you want to succeed in betting the NFL Preseason, there is certain knowledge you must have. We will start with the priorities of the head coaches. Every head coach has a different method to prepare for Week 1 and the rest of the season in August.

Some want to win while building their roster, others are indifferent and are more interested in just assembling their team and wanting effort and execution. This is something to watch for and similar results typically have followed. This has been true for years and we’ll share some hot trends to ponder.

  • Bill Belichick (NE) – 20-10 ATS as underdog
  • Mike McCarthy (DALL) – 12-4 ATS in the conference and 13-3 OVER off a loss
  • Mike Zimmer (MINN) – 17-8 ATS
  • John Harbaugh (BALT) – 34-14 ATS and 21-4 ATS when the total is 35.5 to 42
  • Pete Carroll (SEA) – 37-19-1 ATS

First-Year Coaches Want to Win

Though not every rookie head coach or experienced coach with a different team will beat the NFL odds in the preseason, it won’t be because they didn’t want to. This year, there are seven new ball coaches and all but one of those teams has low expectations coming off one or more poor seasons.

These taskmasters want to teach their players the way they want them to play. However, they also want a payout for his guy’s efforts, which would be winning games. That makes teaching and buying in easier. Find these coaches against those who place little value in victories and you will pick up victories, just like the team.

Something New That Has Developed

With the reduction in games and frontline starters playing, coaches are paying increasing value on controlled scrimmages against other opponents. This can be valuable information and beat reporters for all the teams will provide insight about what they witnessed, often over a couple of days. This can both help you against the NFL odds in the preseason at OddsTrader, and if you take a few notes, for the early portion of the regular season.

Week 1 of Preseason – Tread Lightly

Again, there is the great unknown this season, but we are of the opinion that when reviewing the OddsTrader site for numbers, most will reflect the few key players that will see much if any action. That is why it makes the most sense to be choosy and follow the principles we stated. As seen below, you can find updated injury reports at OddsTrader.

Too many football bettors become excited and end up losing more than they would have imagined. Be smart. Also, this is true of the entire preseason, cut your regular bets in half this time of year, win or lose, save it for the regular season, which is what you are interested in most.

Weeks 2 and 3 – Be Prepared to Fire

This is where it gets tricky. Our thought is that Week 2 will become the key week, but with no games leading up to Labor Day, it’s not certain when clubs will have a dress rehearsal for the regular season. That’s why following what the teams’ intentions are will be a big factor and those that are dialed in will have the best chance at success.

Some teams might do Week 2, others Week 3, just pay attention. One aspect to look for in both weeks is if a team won or lost by 13 or more points as a favorite or underdog by less than four points. Teams can become too casual after such a triumph, while the losers are extra motivated to make amends. This can be especially true for those fighting for roster spots. Also, the practices might be easier or harder after such an outcome, which could lead to how the team responds.

In Conclusion

Take the time to review the box scores. What this is for is future reference. This can lead to insights into any team’s depth. Every NFL squad is going to have injuries. By reviewing the box scores this time of year, you might find a team that has built up 17-0 or 20-3 leads with the first-team players in two different games and ends up losing both contests in the second half.

This could be a red flag when this club has injuries during the regular season when the drop-off could be precipitous. Most importantly, don’t overanalyze, follow the coaches of the 32 teams, and have fun. is your sports betting command center. Read featured betting strategy compiled from a panel of leading sports betting experts.

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