Tips For Betting on NFL Preseason Games
The 2015 NFL season is finally here. The preseason, that is. NFL bettors can’t wait for the real thing, but maybe they don’t have to. Sure, you can’t use your same tricks you’re accustomed to, but if you’re a stranger to betting on NFL preseason games, you needn’t be scared away.
NFL preseason games are still two things: pro football and something to bet on. Of course, before you start betting the farm on Johnny Manziel’s Cleveland Browns upending Robert Griffin III’s Washington Redskins, there are a few things you should know.
Let’s prepare for week one with a little refresher course for the veterans and a crash course for the newbies:
It Means Nothing
The most important thing to remember about preseason football betting is that no one cares about these games. Truly, no one (not even the coaches) care whether they win or lose and these games are largely used to figure out position battles, install plays and evaluate young talent.
You know how the entire “feel” of the game changes when you go from the regular season to the playoffs? Same story here, except it’s far less and the completely opposite direction. Winning is not the end game here, even though you, the bettor, have to try to pick the eventual winner.
Lines are a total joke, too. Vegas is simply guessing and they’re probably using data pulled from past season’s that tells us something about these specific teams. But the star players really only play a lot in game three of the preseason (probably the only week where it feels closer to regular season action and betting), so you’re betting on guys who may not even be donning uniforms in a month.
This is precisely why you can’t just bet on a whim (unless you like to roll like that) and researching rosters, depth charts and team rotations is pretty key in trying to figure out who is going to win.
For instance, Aaron Rodgers is awesome and the Green Bay Packers tend to be awesome. Usually that’s not a combination to bet against. But A-Rod’s direct backup and the spare bench players in Green Bay? Not always so awesome. That doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t win a game, but it naturally drops down the likelihood (depending on their opponent).
Knowing the key players aren’t going to be in the game very long works in your advantage, especially if you’ve put in the time to figure out key rotations. Once you spot the teams with the quality depth, it’s easy to see which second and third units could have some solid success, and even easier to find the matchups worth targeting.
The research aspect is still there with preseason football. It’s just a little more rigorous and a lot more volatile.
Check Injury Reports
In addition to roster and depth chart knowledge, you need to know who is in and out or who isn’t 100%. If a starter is out, that doesn’t just give one guy a bigger workload, it gives everyone at his position a bigger workload. And if a starter isn’t 100% and still plays, he probably will play less or won’t be as effective.
You can use this information to your advantage in two ways. For one, if a guy like Eli Manning has a sore shoulder and doesn’t play at all, you know the New York Giants are rolling with their shaky backup quarterbacks for the entire game. Picking against the Giants on that day would probably be a good idea.
Secondly, if a running back like Adrian Peterson sits out, the rushing load will be heavily forced on his main backups – Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata. They’re actually suitable talents, so while Peterson is out and the talent is downgraded, you know the Vikings are still going to run the ball a decent amount and probably do so fairly well. That doesn’t make the Vikes a lock to win their game, but there’s isn’t a situation you’d want to freak out over.
The idea remains the same with all teams and positions, however. Know the starters, know who is hurt, who is playing and how long they’re expected to play.
Ultimately, NFL preseason betting is going to look like a crap shoot. In a lot of ways, it is. But you’re still dealing with talented players competing at the sport of football and ultimately most of the guys that hit the field are trying to win a specific job or just a job in general. Find the right combination of coaching, starters, matchup and depth players, and you’ll find yourself a solid pick in preseason action.
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