For diehard football fans, preseason football is better than no football. But in Week Three of the Preseason fans will get the closest they’ve come to good football since the AFC Championship game (let’s be real—the Super Bowl was not a good game last year).
With teams not focused on winning, it would be reasonable to think betting on preseason games would be a mistake. But for the gambler willing to do his/her homework, it can be a profitable venture indeed.
Tips For Betting On Preseason Football
Since teams are not concerned about putting their best foot forward in these games, judging a game on talent is a mistake. However, there are several factors that can point you in the right direction:
- Underdogs are a good bet. According to OddsShark.com, preseason underdogs have won 53.5 percent of the time dating back to 1995. It makes sense. The better teams are not going to risk key players in a preseason game, making it more likely an underdog can win.
- Keep an eye on the news about each team. In the preseason, coaches are often not shy about sharing how long they plan on playing certain guys. You can also get an idea of how practice has gone and how well things are coming together.
- Know your coaches. For example, Jason Garrett always errs on the side of caution when it comes to his better players in the preseason and isn’t too concerned about the outcome. Mike Tomlin could care less as well. But John Harbaugh and Pete Carroll want to win.
- Be aware of anyone holding out or injured. If you can get an idea of how good the depth of a roster is, that will help as well.
- Don’t bank on the best teams from the regular season. Those are the guys that could care less about the preseason and don’t play anyone important.
With all that in mind, how should you approach betting on Thursday night’s slate of preseason games?
New York Giants @ Cincinnati Bengals
Money Line: Giants +104 Bengals -124
Spread: Bengals by 1.5
This one could be tough since the backup quarterbacks, Daniel Jones and Ryan Finley are going to see most of the playing time and both have been doing well. But if the Bengals go with Jeff Driskel over Finley, it gets a little easier to figure out. Driskel isn’t bad, but Finley has looked better.
Take the Giants to win, SU and ATS. Go with the under.
Washington Redskins @ Atlanta Falcons
Money Line: Redskins -148 Falcons +123
Spread: Redskins by 2.5
Dan Quinn has not been too concerned about winning preseason games, and that will not change with this game. He already knows what he has in Matt Ryan; Quinn doesn’t need to play his star quarterback (and probably will not play him for more than a quarter).
Gruden, on the other hand, needs to see more out of his two quarterbacks. So, expect a lot of Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins in this one—which should give the Redskins the edge.
Take Washington, SU and ATS, and go with the under.
Carolina Panthers @ New England Patriots
Money Line: Panthers +132 Patriots -157
Spread: Patriots by 3
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera says he is planning on playing his starters against the Patriots, but you know they will not be in the game for long. Right now, they don’t have a decent No. 2 QB, so don’t expect much from Carolina’s offense once the starters are out. But the Patriots have a future star in Jarrett Stidham as their No. 2. He has been the best backup QB in the league during the preseason and will likely be so again Thursday night.
Take the Patriots to win, SU and ATS. This may be the one game that could cover the over.
Baltimore Ravens @ Philadelphia Eagles
Money Line: Ravens -205 Eagles +170
Spread: Ravens by 4
The Eagles are not going to play Carson Wentz; there is no way the risk him getting hurt. But it wouldn’t be surprising if the Ravens give Lamar Jackson a solid half. With no viable backup quarterback (Josh McCown hasn’t been with the team long enough to count), the Eagles offense is going to look anemic. Most of the scoring will be in the first half by Jackson.
Ravens win, SU and ATS. Take the under.
Green Bay Packers @ Oakland Raiders
Money Line: Packers -177 Raiders +145
Spread: Packers by 3
If the Packers can’t say whether Aaron Rodgers is going to play, then that more than likely means he will not. That, in turn, means the Packers offense is going to be sporadic at best. If the Raiders defense comes out half as hard against Green Bay as they did Arizona last week, they may shut the Packers out in the first half. The Raiders are in good shape at the QB position between Derek Carr, Mike Glennon, and Nathan Peterman.
Without Rodgers, the Packers don’t stand a chance. Take Oakland to win, SU and ATS. Take the over in this one.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins
Money Line: Jaguars +110 Dolphins -129
Spread: Dolphins by 1.5
The Jaguars have not been playing their key people, and that trend will likely continue this week—so, don’t expect much (if anything) from the offense (they’ve scored ten-point the last two weeks). Miami, on the other hand, is still trying to figure out their QB situation. Expect them to put their best foot forward in an attempt to evaluate their QBs under game conditions.
Take Miami to win, SU and ATS, in what will likely be the only game they are favored in all season. Definitely go with the under.