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Five Essential NFL Tips For Betting The Preseason

NFL tips for betting the preseason

The NFL preseason is practically a different sport from the NFL regular season. That means it’s a completely different approach to handicapping it. 

With that in mind, here are some tips that will help you win more often when betting the NFL preseason:  

Why Bet Underdogs?

If you simply took the underdog in every game, you’d be up money in the NFL preseason. That’s going back to 1995, which is as far as our Odds Shark database goes. 

Underdogs are 844-727-51 (53.7 percent) against the spread since then, which is well above the break-even mark in sports betting of 52.4 percent. Dogs also went 56 percent over the last five preseasons combined (126-99-8). Just about any way you break it up, taking the points has been a consistent moneymaker in betting the preseason. 

It makes sense. Better teams like the Kansas City Chiefs typically have their rosters put together going into the preseason schedule and have little motivation for winning these exhibition contests. It leaves oddsmakers in a tricky spot, though, because their talent levels dictate them as favorites as opposed to a team like the Detroit Lions.

Focus On The News, Not The Numbers

Normally I’d say look at the data first and the NFL Betting News last when you’re handicapping just about any sport. With NFL preseason games, it’s the exact opposite. 

With NFL preseason predictions, we’re looking for how much playing time starters like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers will get in a game, what the motivations are and how teams and players are performing in practice. Those are all items you learn about by reading and watching news. 

So clean off your reading specs and get ready to comb through the team beat reports. This is the stuff that matters during the pretend season. 

Follow The Money

I give more weight to preseason line moves than I do to regular-season ones. The NFL preseason week is a time where professional bettors shine because they regularly have access to information the general public doesn’t. 

That's why the limits on these exhibition games are low – often only $500 per game – but these are still moneymaking opportunities for bettors in the know as they take advantage of bad lines. This doesn’t happen as often during the regular season and though the limits might be higher, the lines are also much sharper. 

Why Bet On Coaches?

Certain coaches take winning in the preseason more seriously than others. It’s not a bad strategy to just bet on or bet against certain teams throughout August. 

John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens are one of those teams. Harbaugh doesn’t like to lose whether it’s horseshoes or fantasy football. The Ravens had runs of 12-0 straight up and 10-2 against the spread and are 18-2 against the spread over the past five years. 

The Seahawks and Pete Carroll are 11-8 SU and ATS over the past five preseasons, and 7-6 ATS in their last 13 at home. 

Mike Tomlin and the Steelers are also 11-8 against the spread over the past five preseasons (with one Push). They're often far more concerned about offensive line position battles and staying healthy in August with intentions on winning the AFC North or at least securing a wild card, than they are about winning the Hall of Fame Game or any other preseason games.

Manage Your Money

  • • Separate preseason betting money from NFL regular-season betting money.
  • • Open a separate account and bet a little less on the preseason just to keep a healthy bankroll for the fall, which is when most bettors prefer to bet.
  • • Bet smartly, bet responsibly. And use these tips to help you win more NFL preseason picks.