Odds Shark Top Sportsbooks
*Terms and Conditions apply to all bonus offers on this website. Visit operator for details.

NFL Preseason Betting: Wagering on Exhibition Football Games

The preseason for any sport provides an opportunity for new players to get accustomed to playing in front of a huge crowd on a professional level. For bettors, it could prove to be a money-making endeavor and an optimal online betting experience. You don’t have to wait until September and the regular season to start betting. The NFL preseason can offer a chance to make smart picks if you follow our tutorial.

Starting off with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at the beginning of August, there are four weeks of games that are ripe for the betting. Below we’ll give you tips and strategies for betting on football that are different from what you’d use for the Super Bowl or the regular season.

Betting on NFL Preseason Games

As soon as training camps end, the preseason begins. Last year’s Super Bowl winner may have the odds in their favor, but that doesn’t mean you can bet on them blindly. Sure, the New England Patriots will always be an attractive moneyline option, but before you lay down money on Belichick and Brady, do a little handicapping homework. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Here are our top strategies and tips for preseason NFL betting:

Don’t Look to the Future

Starters often get to rest for some portions of the game. Most head coaches will sit their stars in order to protect them from injury. For instance, you may not see Drew Brees at all during the fourth quarter of a preseason game because Sean Payton wants to keep his No. 1 player healthy. If you were going to bet on a Saints vs Eagles game, it’s assumed that stars would spend at least one quarter of the game on the bench. You might think that looking at newbies could give you an edge. Now, if a player is straight out of college, their NCAA football stats aren’t going to tell you much about how they’ll play in the NFL.

The only thing you have to go on is training camp and even that won’t paint the whole picture. Instead, focus on the team as a whole. There will be media reports if a team isn’t getting along. There may be camp holdouts and injured players who won’t factor in August’s NFL games. Paying close attention to breaking news stories regarding the team you want to bet on will help you stay on top of your bets.

While you will never find NFL head coaches – more on them in a moment – sitting down with the media during the regular season to share their total plans, the same doesn’t apply for the preseason. Instead, coaches will often provide key info worth betting on, like exactly how long the starters will play, and how much field time the backup quarterback and new offensive linemen are going to see.

Our NFL Betting News page can give you all the information you need to keep up with your bets.

Head Coaches are Key

Not all coaches are created equal when it comes to their approach to preseason games. Some want to win, especially new coaches who want to establish a winning culture right away or those who feel they have scores to settle with their division opponents. Others do not care, and instead treat the exhibition game the same way they would treat training camp or practice – get their players on the field and let them learn or make mistakes until they get it right.

Preseason coaching records become valuable handicapping tools to help you identify betting trends associated with each team from year to year. There are different motivations that each coach uses when planning for a game, depending on their team, coaching staff, and if they are new to their job or incumbents.

Pay close attention to the men at the helm of each team and you will likely find NFL betting edges. An old pro like John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens) is known to cover the spread, with a record of 20-10 ATS in the preseason since 2011. Conversely, another old pro, Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), has an ATS record of 13-17 for the same time frame. Both head coaches are Super Bowl winners yet have vastly different game plans when it comes to attacking NFL preseason games.

Watch for Line Moves

Remember how we said that you shouldn’t look to the future because who knows how a newbie will play, especially if he’s fresh out of college? This still applies. However, what you can watch for are line moves.

Football odds during the NFL preseason are generally limited to around a field goal for one side or the other unless there is extra information available affecting the game that could impact betting lines. Let’s pretend that the New England Patriots are facing off against the Green Bay Packers and the line opened like this:

Patriots -3.5

Packers +3.5

On Thursday, Pats QB Tom Brady is confirmed to play the first three quarters of the game, but Aaron Rodgers is sitting this match out. Oddsmakers will take this into consideration and move the betting odds to something like this:

Pats -7.5

Packers +7.5

Oddsmakers move the line from a field goal to a touchdown because it’s assumed that without Rodgers, New England’s defense will have a great advantage over Green Bay’s offense.

When information becomes available to the public, sportsbooks will rapidly change the odds to reflect said info. As a bettor, watching for line moves will give you an advantage during the preseason so you can pounce on better odds.

Watch Your Wallet

Money management is key when gambling on sports, and like regular-season wagers, preseason betting also requires capital. Nothing in this life is free – except for our Picks page – and you need to ensure that you’re not draining your online betting account by recklessly backing the Dallas Cowboys by ignoring the consensus or the NFL preseason odds.

Some bettors separate their money into weekly sections in order to guarantee they’re not betting beyond their means. Bet smartly, and responsibly, otherwise you could find yourself lacking the funds to bet during the regular season. This applies to all sports, not just football.

Are Futures Bets the Same as Preseason Bets?

There is often confusion surrounding futures bets and the preseason. A futures wager is a bet that you can make at any point before the NFL season starts until the playoffs. These are long-term bets like which team will win the Super Bowl, which team will win their division, or who will be named MVP. This type of betting has nothing to do with the preseason, but is often confused with betting on exhibition games. Make sure when you’re at your sportsbook of choice that you don’t accidentally select futures odds on Matt Ryan or Russell Wilson leading their teams to the big game instead of betting on a Falcons vs Seahawks match in August – unless, of course, that’s your intention.

How to Sign up at a Sportsbook

If you don’t already have an online betting account, it’s time to get one so you can start wagering on football. We have vetted all the sportsbooks we recommend to ensure that they are trustworthy and safe. Look for bonuses and promotional offers that are specific to the preseason when you make your first deposit. Some online betting sites will give bettors discounts or match their first deposit if they use Bitcoin or PayPal.

The Value of Betting on the NFL Preseason

Unlike other sports like spring training for MLB or the G League in the NBA, NFL preseason betting does have value to bettors. Online betting sites will offer lines and odds on everything from the Hall of Fame Game to what may seem like a meaningless match between the Saints and Colts. The preseason schedule attracts huge interest from casual betting fans and sharps alike because there is money to be made for football bettors who pay attention to free agency, training camps and holdouts.

Even though the NFL preseason lasts only four weeks, that is still an extra month of games to wager on regardless of who is on the field and for how long. As we touched on above, both of those factors should be considered when handicapping an exhibition game. However, the most important thing is to have fun. The whole point of betting on football is to enjoy yourself. Yes, there is money involved but if you’re not having a good time watching a preseason game, what’s the point of betting on the NFL at all? If you use our strategies, we cannot guarantee that you’ll win tons of cash, but we can promise that you’ll have a blast trying.