NFL Preseason Betting
NFL Preseason betting, similar to the preseason or exhibition games of most of the major US-sports is an afterthought for most bettors. They wait until the regular season to begin wagering on the most popular sport in the country. From there, it’s a weekly pleasure up until the conclusion of the playoffs with the Super Bowl.
Are bettors making a mistake when they write off the preseason regarding betting opportunities? The evidence overwhelming points to yes. Several factors make NFL Preseason a viable market and one that bettors should consider throwing into their betting rotation.
Best NFL Betting Sites 2018
NFL Betting – Low Wagering Limits
As discussed in our article on small market sports, when sportsbooks have lower wagering limits on particular markets compared to others it shows a lack of confidence in their odds. There’s a reason a bookmaker might accept $20,000 on regular season sides and just $2,000 on the same markets in the preseason.
Remember, there’s only so much time oddsmakers can devote to each market. Many bets with lower maximum wagers, such as propositions, generally move automatically once a specific betting limit is reached.
Believe it or not, the markets that the sportsbooks are sharpest at, by a large margin, are NFL sides and totals. If you take a look at the wagering limits at just about any US-facing sportsbook, the limits for sides and totals on NFL regular season games will dwarf just about any other sport.
A sportsbook’s confidence in their lines is directly related to the wagering limits. Their trust in NFL Preseason odds is much smaller in comparison.
Sportsbooks move their lines to adjust to betting action but would like to do so as little as possible in relation to their opening number.
Flurries of line movement indicate the original line wasn’t too sharp (or a serious change in information, such as crucial injuries or changing weather) and opens up sportsbooks to steam chasers and arbitrage players.
Significant Moves Are Common
Week by week, the NFL regular season follows much of the same script. Several sportsbooks release their lines for the coming week after the late afternoon games on Sunday. They have a good barometer of how these games might play out and have already factored in fundamental injury concerns.
Barring big changes in information or injuries, it’s very rare that NFL sides and totals move more than 3-4 points in either direction, in particular through critical numbers. 3-4 points is a massive line move, and it’s rare for a line to move that much during a week in the regular season.
This isn’t the case when it comes to NFL preseason betting markets. Lines move much more often, and drastic movements on the point spread as large as 6-7 points are relatively common. The market is pretty dynamic as a whole.
Why is this the case? Well, there’s a lot more questions about playing time, along with coaching motivations and strategy during the preseason compared to the regular season. Think about it, the plan for coaches during the regular season is simply to win the game and utilize the best players on his roster to do so. Sure, coaches may want to manage individual players’ reps some weeks, but the general strategy doesn’t change much in the regular season.
That’s not the case in the preseason. The games aren’t relevant in terms of standings and much of the preseason is managing starters’ reps while getting a look at younger guys trying to make the roster.
Each coach has their philosophy when it comes to playing NFL preseason games. Some don’t mind losing if they get the looks at players they may want on the roster, and others take winning these exhibition contests a little more seriously.
Turning Information Into Betting Profits
Betting NFL preseason football is all about soaking up as much information as possible. Reading beat writers, watching the press conferences of coaches and keeping an eye on social media can help give bettors an edge before new data is adjusted into the line.
Similar to our article on NBA propositions, sometimes the sportsbooks don’t have the manpower or the resources to beat bettors to the punch.
It’s important not to follow the same line of thinking when it comes to regular season wagering. Just because the Steelers may be a better team than the Browns in an ordinary regular season matchup, this fact is of little consequence in terms of preseason handicapping.
Instead, the preseason is about factoring in playing time for starters versus reserves and getting inside coaches’ heads in terms of weekly motivation. First-year coaches may feel they have more to prove than more established coaches and may press harder to win games. Some rest their starters with even minor ailments while others are more apt to let them play more through injuries.
Keeping up with local beat writers and watching press conferences may not be possible for some with regular day jobs and packed schedules, but it does help if you can make the time. Following line movement and chasing steam is an excellent way to notch some profits in the preseason and beat the market without spending time intensely following each team.
Final Thoughts On NFL Preseason Betting
There are several advantages to betting the preseason. Most notably are the low wagering limits and the lack of confidence in the lines by most betting sites evidenced by their low limits.
Another aspect of preseason betting is it offers familiarity with players and personnel.
Watching backups and second string players will give you a much better barometer of how these players might impact the team if a starter goes down, especially when it comes to rookies or impact players who are nipping at the heels of one of the starters. Having a deeper understanding of the personnel and system of each team will help you later in the season with handicapping.
The third preseason game is as close to a regular season game as bettors will see during the preseason. Although we caution treating it as a regular season game from a handicapping perspective, it’s an excellent look at first-team offenses and defenses for an extended period.