Despite the fact that most head coaches view the preseason as a time to prepare their troops physically and mentally for the regular season, there are a number of wagering opportunities that a bettor can review to gain that extra edge.
It is true that most coaches will stick to a simple game plan with fewer plays and less complicated formations early in the year (particularly the first two preseason games) when they run a very basic offense. But even so, stronger deeper teams will generally prevail. Lower scoring games occur early and the levels of effort can change from week to week and from coach to coach.
Stronger teams (Divisional champs) hold preseason value particularly on a team with good depth in its quarterback rotation. Coaches are looking at newcomers in the first two weeks and not overly concerned with winning or putting up points. Betting the UNDER total is a strong move.
New head coaches for cellar franchises are more inclined to focus on winning preseason games to gain team confidence. Coaches with strong winning percentages in the preseason manage to win, while those with poor winning percentages tend to lose.
Sports books are aware that the stronger squads somehow manage to do what’s necessary even in the preseason.
Touchdowns can be at a premium in the first two preseason games when defense is ahead of offense. Starting quarterbacks usually play one or two series before giving way to a much less experienced signal caller. Stronger teams usually have more depth, most notably at quarterback.
An experienced QB can mean a great deal even in the preseason. Teams set with their starter and unsure about the backup will often have very motivated second stringers showing that they’re capable of getting the job done. This creates a solid winning opportunity.
Betting the UNDER early in preseason makes a great deal of sense.
There are usually a few more mistakes in the first two games when inexperienced players are getting more reps. Later in the preseason, the first units play a bit more and the offensive game plans become more diverse and difficult to defend.
Conservatism usually rules, but exceptions could occur when interstate/regional rivals (Giants-Jets, Chiefs-Rams, Browns-Bengals) get together. Some bettors believe that early in the preseason those same turnovers caused by inexperience and more advanced defenses can create scoring opportunities with field position and defensive scores. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Last year, new head coaches were seemingly a dime a dozen. No less than eight teams featured a new CEO running the field operations. Jon Gruden paced the newcomers by motivating the Bucs all the way to the Lombardi Trophy against his old team, the Oakland Raiders (11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS). Yet, Tampa Bay managed only a 1-3 ATS preseason slate.
The Raiders responded nicely to Bill Callahan and began their regular season 4-0 SU, ATS. However, Oakland was just 2-2 ATS before the bell rang. Offensive minded Steve Spurrier (2-2 ATS in preseason) put his stamp on the Washington Redskins, who could manage only a 7-9 log SU/ATS, in his first year. Of course Spurrier still isn’t sure if quarterback Patrick Ramsey is his answer to running the offense.
Remember, even in the preseason, each game can have an opportunity. There may be trends or angles that can give you an edge. Researching some of the above will do wonders in finding that financially rewarding play.