Betting the NFL Preseason in 2017
by Jeff Hochman of JH-Sportsline
The Hall of Fame Game is the first NFL preseason game of the year, which closes the annual Hall of Fame enshrinement festivities. On August 3rd, 2017, the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys will get the party started at Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium in Canton, Ohio.
You will hear people say "Don't bet on NFL Preseason Football". Big Mistake! It's actually easier than capping the regular season. In most cases you can read ahead of time the exact game plan for each team. I feel the NFL preseason is a great opportunity to start and build a nice bankroll for the upcoming regular season.
Many handicappers have the opinion that the preseason games should be left alone and not bet on. I feel just the opposite. If you do your homework, the preseason offers the betting public a tremendous chance to make a lot of money. Here are some things and teams to consider when betting NFL Preseason football in 2017.
This one is obvious. Jo public gets so worked up about the starters and skill position players on certain teams during the regular season. But they're the same in the preseason. Teams that can go two-and three-deep (sometimes four-deep) at the skill positions have a decided advantage over a club that has a few stars that will be sitting after the first or second series. A perfect example of a team like that this season, is no other than the Arizona Cardinals. They have three solid quarterbacks and a very capable rookie. Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert. All three QB's will have lots of success going up against second, third, and sometimes fourth-string defenses. Arizona has a fourth QB and his name is Trevor Knight. That's the same Oklahoma U QB who was named MVP of the 2014 Sugar Bowl, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns in a record-setting performance against Alabama. The Cardinals have a distinct advantage over a club like the Dallas Cowboys, who have a solid #1 superstar in Dak Prescott, an up-and-down #2 in Kellen Moore, but unproven #3 & #4 in Cooper Rush and Zac Dysert respectively. I doubt Prescott plays much early in the preseason and I can see Dallas as a "play against" team once again this August. After all, head coach Jason Garrett has gone 7-14 ATS in the Cowboys' past 21 preseason tilts. He really doesn't like to show his hand in the preseason and usually has a very generic game plan on both sides of the ball. More on him later.
Quarterbacks and continuity are key. NFL Preseason wagers, just like those during the Regular Season, often come down to the last eight minutes of a game. So find teams that have solid depth at QB and/or has some experience or success in the league. They'll have a tremendous advantage in the closing moments of a game against a third and/or fourth-string defense. The New England Patriots have a 3-headed monster under center. Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jacoby Brissett all can run the same offense without restrictions. The system/culture has been in place for almost two decades and barring a Super Bowl Hangover this team should play close games in August.
I don't necessarily mean which team has the most grizzled veterans on it. In fact, experience can be a detriment. Most Vets hate preseason games. And teams that have established players in certain positions or roles will often see those guys mail it in during the preseason because they know the games are "meaningless" and already have their "jobs" locked up.
However, experience is a key factor when it comes to coaching systems. Organizations that haven't experienced much turnaround have a significant advantage over those that are easing in a new brain trust. For example, Seattle has been running Darrell Bevell's system since 2011. The Seahawks are going to be much sharper than a team that is changing offenses. Take the Atlanta Falcons for example. They are breaking in a rookie from Alabama who has never coached in the NFL. Steve Sarkisian is a talented guy but unproven for now. Keying on clubs that have familiarity & continuity, and finding teams that are much less comfortable with their new systems is a big key when wagering on preseason games.
3) First-Year Head Coaches with new team (Full Season)
We have five for the 2017-18 season in no particular order. First year head coaches can be tricky but generally perform very well in their first August home game. They went 6-1 ATS in their first home game two years ago and 5-2 ATS last season! Lets keep it rolling. A lot of expectations are put on these guys coming in. They want to show the Owner, General Manager, and fans that he is the right man for the job. Setting the tone early means playing to win in the preseason.
Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills)
Vance Joseph (Denver Broncos)
Anthony Lynn (LA Chargers)
Sean McVay (LA Rams)
Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49's)
If you know how head coaches were raised and what their philosophies are than you will have a big advantage this August. I know all the personalities/traits of every single HC in the NFL which helps me beat the books in August. I will give you one HC that preaches competition from his players down to the ball boy. That would be Pete Carroll of the Seahawks. His philosophy at USC was to create competition along with a winning attitude. That has continued since moving to the NFL. Pete Carroll is 30-14 ATS in his career when playing in August. On the flip side is Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys. He uses the preseason basically to scout his younger guys and it shows. His 8-17 ATS record in the NFL preseason is the worst active record in August with at least 20 games played.
If you watched the NFL for any number of years you should know that not every Head Coach cares about winning in the NFL Preseason. Different HC's have different agendas when playing August Football and they all pretty much stick to their beliefs. I gave you two very good examples above that should hold true once again this upcoming season.
Each coach handles the preseason differently. Some put a premium on the second game. For some it's the third or even the fourth. Some coaches just mess around and tinker with their lineups during the preseason and use it to evaluate their younger guys. But here's the key - and this is a big difference between the regular season and preseason football - most coaches are forthright about what the game plan will be. All you have to do is a little research from the local beat writers.
The preseason schedule generally isn't too taxing on the teams and players. But there are quirks. The two teams that play the Hall of Fame Game are a good bet to fade in their next game. If some key players are a bit banged up then you can expect those guys to be watching in street clothes. Keep a close watch on how the players from Dallas and Arizona come out of the Hall of Fame game. Also, NFL teams who play on the West Coast (with little to no humidity), and than travel to play a high humidity East Coast game. It would be wise to fade those West Coast teams, especially if installed as a favorite. This worked for me in week #1 of the preseason as one of my higher rated plays on the Titans over the Chargers!
7) Fading Super Bowl participants as significant Chalk
Now, it's hard to just blindly play against Super Bowl teams from the previous season (New England/Atlanta) as a favorite of 7 or more points in every preseason game. You have to pick your spots. Over the past six seasons alone, these teams are just 3-9-2 ATS, so you would have made a huge profit. The odds-makers have caught on in recent years and you will notice very few preseason games with any point spread of 7 or more.
Jeff's NFL Preseason system to consider
If you are looking for a very solid system/angle in the NFL preseason here is one to consider this year. Teams that begin 0-2 straight up over the last ten years are 58-39 ATS in their very next game. Head Coaches/owners tend to get very nervous when they get off to a bad start, even in the preseason, and they have their team ready for that third game. Most undefeated teams will take that 0-2 team lightly, thus making those winless teams a smart play by the "Wise Guys". If two 0-2 teams are facing each other, its a no play and that's reflected in the record above.
Jeff's #1 NFL Preseason Team to Play On
Tennessee Titans. Mike Mularkey has done very well in his third year with a new team. Tennessee has a lot of talented young players that most people don't know about and a solid QB rotation. I have the Titans' offensive line ranked No. 4 and a defense that will be much improved. Another year in the same system should only help. The Titans could be a nice sleeper pick in the regular season too.
Look for more Football articles in the coming weeks. Jeff was ranked No.2 in the 2014-15 NFL regular season at The Sports Monitor of OK, cashing just under 70%. Jeff has shown a profit in seven of the past eight years in football, fully documented. Jeff was ranked No. 3 last season. Early Bird Football packages will be posted soon.
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