The NFL’s preseason can be tricky when it comes to sports betting. Some teams play to win all three contests; some don’t care if they win any of them. The second game is usually the most likely to be a dress rehearsal, while the first and third games often feature players who will never see more than a few plays in an NFL regular season game. Even so, there are some tips that can help you take advantage of imbalances in the point spreads to consider in your NFL betting odds.
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Figure out who’s more motivated to win
Seattle’s Pete Carroll is the one NFL coach who seems to prize preseason wins, and the Seahawks win more than they lose most preseasons. Motivation plays a huge role in finishing these games well, and few coaches are more consistent motivators than Carroll. However, there seems to be an inverse relationship between expectations for the regular season and performance in the preseason. Teams that consider themselves primed for a deep playoff run are less likely to put it all out there on the field during the preseason; established veterans are also likely to rest more during these three August games.
Teams that are younger and hungrier are more likely to expend maximum effort to the last whistle of a preseason game. Coaches who have their first head job and players entering the NFL for the first time both want to prove that they are the right people for the position, so they are more likely to push for preseason wins.
You can also rely on what coaches say the week before the game more during the preseason than you can during the regular season. During the preseason, coaches are more likely to tell reporters what their game plan is; during the regular season, when the games mean more, coaches are more likely to be cagey. Finally, teams that have more starting positions open may show more intense effort as players are trying to get those roles.
Each week has a different purpose
Week 1 will generally show more effort to win from new coaches; established coaches are already using the first week to sort out who they want to keep and to figure out who they will eventually drop off the roster. Week 2 is often the closest thing to a dress rehearsal, and Weeks 2 and 3 are often used to sort out quarterback competitions – but these competitions may be about the #2 vs the #3 quarterback, which means that the offense may be limited. TEams heavy in veterans may use the entire preseason to avoid injuries, which means that veteran stars may not play more than a few series in the entire preseason.
Check out the schedule
Teams that play in the Hall of Fame Game have an extra preseason game, and while that first game is rarely more than an exhibition of the bottom half of the depth chart, that adds to the risk of injury. Preseason games are also scattered from Thursdays to Mondays, which means that teams can end up playing on four or five days’ rest. Teams in this situation are more likely to be cautious with their stars and will work to avoid injury. Some teams end up playing three preseason games in ten days, which makes recovery hard. If your team holds training camp a long way from its home city, then even the “home” games involve a lot of travel. If you find a game where a team is playing its second preseason game against a team making its preseason debut, the team going into its second game generally has a significant edge because they have already gotten through the process of shaking off the rust.
The point spread isn’t as valuable
Most of the point spreads in the preseaason fall between 1 and 3 ½ points, but you’ll see that game results show a lot of variance. A lot of coaches will go for two late in regulation instead of trying to tie the game (so they can avoid overtime). This makes trying to avoid a whole-number line isn’t as important in the preseason. You’re also going to see line movement happen more quickly because the action levels are a lot lower. This means that, instead of waiting for the line to move, you should just follow your own research.
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TeamsOddsKansas City Chiefs+590Philadelphia Eagles+720Buffalo Bills+860San Francisco 49ers+920Cincinnati Bengals+1025Dallas Cowboys+1425New York Jets+1500Baltimore Ravens+1775 Detroit Lions+2100 Miami Dolphins+2300 Jacksonville Jaguars+2500 Los Angeles Chargers+2500 Cleveland Browns+3100 Seattle Seahawks+3200 New Orleans Saints+3600 Minnesota Vikings+3800 Denver Broncos+4200 Pittsburgh Steelers+4700 New York Giants+4900 Chicago Bears+5200 Green Bay Packers+5200 New England Patriots+5600 Atlanta Falcons+6200 Las Vegas Raiders+6000 Los Angeles Rams+6600 Carolina Panthers+6600 Washington Commanders+6800 Tennessee Titans+7500 Tampa Bay Buccaneers+9000 Indianapolis Colts+9500 Arizona Cardinals+18000Houston Texans+18000
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