Our first full slate of NFL preseason game arrives on Thursday night, with popular teams like the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots hosting week one tilts.
We’ve already gotten a mild taste of NFL preseason betting, as the Hall of Fame game sounded off last week and Deshaun Watson hit the field with the Texans last night. We nailed both of our preseason NFL picks for Wednesday’s game, as the Panthers defended their turf in a 27-17 win and the game also hit the Over.
While we won’t break every game down like we did for those individual game slates, we do have a full 7-game slate on our hands tonight. There are plenty of bets to consider, so we’ll take a look at the most attractive NFL preseason betting opportunities and see which way you may want to lean at Bovada:
The Vikings travel to Buffalo to battle the Bills. Teddy Bridgewater for sure won’t play as he continues to rehab the knee injury he sustained last year. We might see light field time out of Sam Bradford, Tyrod Taylor and some of the other starters, but odds are if they do play, it’s for a series or two.
Both quarterback situations tire out quickly after the starters, but the Vikes may have the leg up. Case Keenum is their top backup and at least has had some success as a starter. It’s unclear how long he’ll play, but he may have better luck against Buffalo’s second team defense than T.J. Yates will for the Bills.
Minnesota might be the better bet to get off to a fast start, too. Their defense is self-proclaimed to be the best in the league, while they also have a nice stable of running backs – led by rookie Dalvin Cook – to fuel their offense.
The Vikings are understandable -150 favorites heading into this one, but there isn’t much value with picking them, straight up. Instead, given the weak quarterback play and defensive talent on both sides, playing the Under on a 37 Total makes solid sense.
Pick: Under 37 (-115)
We should see even less of the top Atlanta players. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and others might play, but I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to see them sit or be severely limited.
For Miami, Matt Moore draws the start under center with Ryan Tannehill (knee) likely out for the year and newly signed Jay Cutler not yet ready to hit the field. Star running back Jay Ajayi is also unlikely to play after suffering a concussion last week.
On the surface, the Falcons should be stacked with far more talent and even veteran backup quarterback Matt Schaub looks like an asset against Miami’s second team defense. In a surprisingly tight line, we’ll gladly side with the Falcons at -125 tonight.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons to Win (-125)
Kirk Cousins leads the Redskins into Baltimore to take on a strong Baltimore defense. He and the other ‘Skins starters shouldn’t play much, but they have a tough matchup against one of the better defenses in the league, regardless.
Joe Flacco (back) remains out as he rests up for the regular season, while the Ravens have been hit with injuries at running back and tight end already this year. That could leave them strapped for talent in week one of preseason play while pushing the erratic Ryan Mallett out onto the field probably doesn’t help their betting value in this spot.
Colt McCoy is the more reliable option under center on the other side, while he and the Redskins have some interesting young talent to work with. Backup rookie running back Samaje Perine is just one reason why Washington is the more attractive bet in this matchup.
Washington is appropriately favored here and we’ll roll with Vegas. Luckily the line is still pretty tight, so the value isn’t too bad at -125.
Pick: Washington Redskins to Win (-125)
New England Patriots
The Pats welcome the Jags to town and open as the second biggest favorites on the night. Blake Bortles could get a decent amount of work as he tries to prove he still isn’t terrible, so it’ll be interesting to see how Jacksonville’s offense does in this matchup.
On paper, it’s not a good matchup, as New England is stacked with talent on both sides of the ball. We know Rob Gronkowski won’t suit up for this one and we can expect other absent star players, but Tom Brady tends to play in the preseason more than you’d expect.
The real attention turns to Jimmy Garoppolo, who tends to light it up during preseason play. He’s one big reason why it doesn’t make sense to go against the Pats, but here are two things that do: rookie rusher Leonard Fournette could impress in his pro debut and the Jaguars have a deep and talented defense.
With some incentive (+140), the only bet I love in this game is the Jags as a fun preseason upset pick.
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars to Win (+140)
Green Bay Packers
Speaking of elite quarterbacks taking a seat in week one, we know that Aaron Rodgers won’t suit up for the Packers. Jordy Nelson is also a strong candidate to sit out and it’s likely that Green Bay will sit or limit a lot of their starters.
While that could hurt Green Bay’s odds here, they are at home and they actually are pretty deep on offense. Backup quarterback Brett Hundley has been one of the better performers in preseason play in recent years and should start and play a fair amount. He could thrive in this setting and has plenty of weapons to work with.
Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis are two receivers that could shine tonight, while the Packers will also understandably want to see what they have in rookie running back, Jamaal Williams.
The Eagles will probably limit Carson Wentz and most of their starters, especially since their franchise passer got hurt in the preseason last year. Philly doesn’t have a loaded defense and their depth isn’t as enticing as Green Bay’s, so I’m not too keen on betting in their favor tonight.
Bovada doesn’t offer a Money Line for this bet as we run through this thing and the spread is way too tight, so we can aim high and lean on the offense. Green Bay has the goods to put up 20+ points in this one and their defense still doesn’t look tough (or deep) on paper, so the Eagles should help them top a 38.5-point Over with relative ease.
Pick: Over 38.5 (-105)
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson could perhaps suit up together for the first time tonight, but it’s possible All Day wait at least one more game to make his Saints debut. New Orleans as a whole should hold out or limit most of their top studs, too, which could put the Browns in play as a nice preseason upset pick tonight.
Cleveland should start Brock Osweiler and let him play a bit, while they surprisingly have some viable passing talent in Deshone Kizer and Cody Kessler behind him. Still, we need to race out and snatch up the Saints at +150 as soon as possible.
I’m not sure if it’s just a huge gaffe by the sportsbooks or what, but the Browns are never to be trusted and that’s just really nice value for a preseason game.
Pick: New Orleans Saints to Win (+150)
This is the toughest game to pick on the slate (probably), as we should see a good amount of talent under center. Mike Glennon and Trevor Siemian will start for the Bears and Broncos, respectively, but we’ll also see a lot of Paxton Lynch and Mitchell Trubisky.
Trubisky might show us something against the Broncos’ bench defense, but the idea of trusting Mike Glennon against Denver’s top defense is hilarious. And probably a mistake.
I can’t go there, especially since we get no value by rolling with the Bears. Denver doesn’t give us anything, either, but given the depth at quarterback on both sides, I like the possibility of this game producing points. Most preseason games put the Over in play with really low Totals and we get that again here with the lowest Total (36) on the slate.
Pick: Over 36 (-115)
That does it for our Thursday night NFL preseason breakdown. If you’re betting, remember to check in on any player/injury news that could impact how you wager. With that, good luck and enjoy the games!
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