When it comes to the betting value of NFL preseason games, it all depends on how you approach each matchup you actually decide to wager on. Some avid sports bettors are looking for any kind of football action this time of the year. I have often touted the value in the betting lines for each week’s limited selection of CFL games. These guys are playing for real this time of the year and most times at a fairly high level.
Offense tends to lag behind defense early in training camp which is why NFL preseason total lines are much lower than in the regular season. Teams that are thin in talent at playmakers’ positions are likely to struggle scoring points. Look for matchups between a team with a thin depth chart at quarterback facing teams that are built deep on the other side of the ball. This could be a great recipe for betting the UNDER even if a game has a very low total line.
Betting Quarterback Depth
Most of the home teams in any preseason contest will open as three-point favorites given a half point either way. By the time each team is playing deep into the second half, the only distinct difference between them is their backup quarterbacks. If a team has decent depth at that position, this could be enough of a reason to bet that way regardless of the spread.
Betting First Half Spreads and Totals
If you can find the first half lines for preseason games, there could be some solid value in the numbers. The first half of exhibition games are going to closer to the real thing depending on how long the starters remain in the game. The sweet spot for this type of bet is Week 3.
Most NFL teams will use the first half of their third preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the offensive and defensive starters. This used to be especially true years ago. More and more, NFL coaches are far more concerned with keeping star players healthy than playing them past the first few series of the game. Still, it stands to reason that Week 3 of the schedule will be the closest things get to an actual regular season contest.
Betting Games Based on Local Team Reports
Reading up on a team’s training camp reports is a good way to gauge how they will approach their preseason schedule. If a player is already banged up a bit, you can almost guarantee they will not be playing that week’s exhibition game. Many of the minor injuries that do not make the national media will be covered in local team reports.
Local news for handicapping purposes is always much more useful than national publications that rely on a news wire for information. The group of reporters or other media figures covering the home team during summer camp will give you the insider’s edge of who might be in or out for the next upcoming preseason game. This can help to paint a much clearer picture for the starting lineups as well as how long the starters on either side of the ball might actually play.