Preseason football is a funny thing. You never know what will happen. Or do you?
Most avid bettors stay away from betting preseason football. I am not one of them. That said, I’m not blowing massive wads of dough on preseason games. I don’t even do that on regular-season or playoff games. It’s all about picking your spots correctly, minimizing risk, and thinking of pitting yourself against the sportsbooks as a war of attrition. It’s not Team X versus Team B. It’s your judgment against the line set by the books.
We didn’t get any preseason ball last year, which is unfortunate. But I still have my stats ready through the 2019 season. Some coaches give us tangible preseason patterns over the years, no matter the team they are coaching or the level of talent and personnel they have at the time.
So, let’s cross-reference a few games and see if we can find any betting value.
NOLA Saints @ Baltimore Ravens
If there is one coach who loves to win during the first week of preseason play, it’s John Harbaugh. However, he’s just 20-25-1 throughout the four weeks of scrimmage play all-time. That said, he’s 31-15 against the spread which is 67.4%. In the first week of preseason football, John Harbaugh owns a 12-1 record with straight-up victories. This number goes against Sean Peyton’s 8-8 Week 1 preseason number.
Seattle Seahawks @ Las Vegas Raiders
There might not be any coach in the league who loves winning the preseason’s first game more than Jon Gruden, since he’s undefeated. He loves to coach for the win the first time the team steps on the field and then do a bit more evaluation coaching in later preseason games. If he didn’t step away from coaching for a decade, I’ll bet he would be 20-0 … or at least 19-1
But this meeting with Seattle will be interesting because Pete Carrol likes to win in this situation as well. Through 2019, he’s 7-3. But I don’t think it means as much to him as it does to Jon Gruden. Plus, the Raiders will be at home, and Gruden will want to get the crowd pumped up for the upcoming season.
Denver Broncos @ Minnesota Vikings
Vic Fangio is 1-1 during the first week of ‘it doesn’t count NFL football’. On the flip side, Mike Zimmer is well on his way to a Jon Gruden-like path. The Minnesota Vikings head coach is 7-0 in this situation, and again, like the Raiders, we have a coach that feels the need to win the first game the team plays together each season playing at home.
These are three games that I will be throwing a few bucks at. I figuratively guarantee that two out of three of these predictions hit. I’ve been making money on preseason football each summer using this system for years.
Most people are scared of preseason play because they are not looking close enough. They see spotty play and what looks like coaches that don’t care if they win or lose because they are busy evaluating their team to make cuts and finalize their rosters. However, these coaches have patterns. It doesn’t matter if they swap teams; they tend to care more about winning during specific preseason weeks.
There are a few other coaching trends worth looking at, but nothing that provides clear-cut value like the three games I just supplied you with. It’s worth keeping an eye on the NY Jets vs. NY Giants. Sportsbooks already released the spread on this one, lining it out with the Giants favored by one point. Adam Gase is 0-3 in Week 1 scrimmage ball, but we don’t have any data for Joe Judge.
Last season was his first as an HC in the NFL, and well, no preseason in 2020—thanks Crown Virus.
Another to have a gander at is Tennessee vs. Atlanta. Dan Quinn is 1-5, but our Mike Vrabel sample size is too small (1-1). This spread might be worth looking at with this one if the Titans are underdogs in Atlanta.
Tennessee has emerged as a unique force to be reckoned under Mike Vrabel. Will the addition of Julio Jones put this team over the top in the AFC? @adamrank explores the state of the Titanshttps://t.co/WHCY5QU8N3 pic.twitter.com/WU3GtGaueM
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) July 8, 2021
Stay tuned, and just maybe, I’ll dish out picks for the 2021 NFL preseason’s Week 2 in the coming weeks..