Are NFL Preseason Performances Relevant for Early Season Wagering?


nfl-preason-regular-seasonIn our NFL betting section, we have an article on NFL Preseason Betting, which highlights the positives of betting the preseason football. In many ways, preseason markets can be more profitable than regular season betting, but betting limits make it a lot tougher to get a ton of money down compared to a regular season game.

With the preseason in the books, and the regular season beginning (finally!), how much value is there in preseason performances when evaluating early season wagers?

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Ignore Scores and Record

Evaluating the preseason when it comes to wins and losses or by number of points scored are a fool’s errand. There are some meaningful things to draw from preseason games, but the final score line or record of a team in the preseason is not one of them.

Preseason Wins Are Not a Vision of the Future

Winning games in the preseason doesn’t correlate to regular season success. The majority of preseason action doesn’t involve first string players. Much of the guys you see in Week 1 and 2 of the preseason won’t even make the final roster.

Bettors are making a huge mistake when they value a team going into the season because they won all their preseason games or had a 3-1 record. Likewise, if a team loses all of their preseason games, this shouldn’t be a reason that you are downgrading them from your season long or weekly expectations.

Week 3 Focus

Preseason Week 3 is the regular season dress rehearsal for most teams. That means starters are seeing more snaps than any other game in the preseason. In Week 4 of the preseason, it’s rare for the starters to play at all because they have their first regular season game the following week.

Starting Line Getting Play Time

In Week 3, a lot of teams play their starters until the end of the second quarter or later. Although, in recent years, it seems teams have pulled back a bit and are giving their first units a lot less time. Some teams only played their starters for a few series and not even a full quarter in Week 3.

When the first team offenses and defenses battle it out in the Week 3, that’s the closest you’re going to get to regular season action. That’s where your focus should be when watching preseason games, at least when it comes using game action to evaluate how each team has performed.

Core Players Remaining the Same

Offensive and defensive units which have kept much of their core players intact and aren’t transitioning into new systems usually don’t play as much as a team with a lot of new personnel and coaching changes. Bettors can also expect players and units that need to improve or are learning a new system to see more playing time.

Keeping track of when the first team is still out on the field is relatively easy if you’re a fan of the league. Much of the time, the announcers will let viewers know when the first team offense and defense leave the field. Twitter is also great for updates on snap counts for starters and when coaches shift to their second and third teams.

Regarding second and third team action, which makes up the majority of the preseason, there’s still value in watching these guys play.


Let’s say a team’s starting quarterback goes down late in the preseason or sometime during the year. Well, it’s likely that backup hasn’t seen much game action other than the preseason. The same can be said for other positions, but when it comes to QBs, professional level game film truly helps the evaluation process.

Watch the Games

Watching game film helps. It’s one of the biggest reasons why we recommend all bettors plunk down $100 for NFL Gamepass. It’s a far better use of your money than buying picks from some tout.

It doesn’t allow you to view live regular season games, but it lets users watch preseason games live and has full replays of every game played during the season, including the playoffs and Super Bowl. Best of all, they have condensed versions of each game that cut out all the stoppages between plays and the commercials.

About the Author

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti

Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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