Betting the NFL Preseason in 2018

Betting the NFL Preseason in 2018

by Jeff Hochman (JH-Sportsline)

The Hall of Fame Game is the first NFL preseason game of the year, which closes the annual Hall of Fame enshrinement festivities. On August 2nd, 2018, the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will kick-off the preseason at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. The game starts at 8:00 PM E and can be viewed on NBC. The Ravens will be making their first Hall of Fame game appearance ever, while the Chicago Bears have played in this game five times. Chicago is a perfect 4-0 SU in their previous four Hall of Fame game appearances.

You will hear people say “Don’t bet on NFL Preseason Football”. Big Mistake! It’s actually easier than capping the regular season. In most cases you can read ahead of time the exact game plan for each team. I feel the NFL preseason is a great opportunity to start and build a nice bankroll for the upcoming regular season. Many handicappers have the opinion that the preseason games should be left alone and not bet on. I feel just the opposite. If you do your homework–the preseason offers sharps and squares a tremendous chance to make a lot of money. Here are my personal keys, stats, systems, angles, reasons, and teams to consider when betting NFL Preseason football in 2018. I started in 1998. This is my 14th edition of this annual NFL article. WOW! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. Enjoy!

1) Depth

 

This one is obvious. Jo public gets so worked up about the starters and skill position players on certain teams during the regular season. But they’re the same in the preseason. Teams that can go two-and three-deep (sometimes four-deep) at the skill positions have a decided advantage over a club that has a few stars that will be sitting after the first or second series. A perfect example of a team like that this season, is none other than the Green Bay Packers. They have the best arm talent in the league and future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers. Brett Hundley showed flashes in extending playing time. He’s ahead of schedule. DeShone Kizer fits their offense well and should play a lot this preseason. Tim Boyle is a big kid from Eastern Kentucky who should have success going against third and fourth-string defenses. On the flip side, The New York Giants have Eli Manning who is on the back nine of his career. Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta, and Alex Taney are unproven at this level. While I think the Giants will be improved this season, they could struggle in August with this current QB rotation.

Quarterbacks and continuity are key. NFL Preseason wagers, just like those during the Regular Season, often come down to the last eight minutes of a game. So find teams that have solid depth at QB and/or has some experience or success in the league. They’ll have a tremendous advantage in the closing moments of a game against a third and/or fourth-string defense. The New Orleans Saints have a 4-headed monster under center. Drew Brees is a top 10 all-time QB. Tom Savage is above average as the second guy. J.T. Barrett will be a handful with his arm and legs against young defenders. Taysom Hill completed 14 of his 20 attempts with two passing TD’s and one running TD for the Packers last preseason. All four can run the same offense without restrictions. The system/culture has been in place since 2006. I think the Saints will have a winning preseason in 2018.

 

2) Experience

 

I don’t necessarily mean which team has the most grizzled veterans on it. In fact, experience can be a detriment. Most older players hate preseason games. And teams that have established players in certain positions or roles will often see those guys mail it in during the preseason because they know the games are “meaningless” and already have their “jobs” locked up.

However, experience is a key factor when it comes to handicapping coaches/systems. Organizations that haven’t experienced much turnaround have a significant advantage over those that are easing in a new brain trust. For example, New England has been running Josh McDaniels system since 2012. The Patriots are going to be much sharper than a team that is going through changes. Take the Indianapolis Colts for example. They are breaking in a new head coach (Frank Reich) and new offensive coordinator in Nick Sirianni. Both guys have never been in their current roles. Keying on clubs that have familiarity & continuity, and finding teams that are much less comfortable with their new system is a big key when wagering on preseason games.

 

3) First-Year Head Coaches with new team (Full Season)

 

We have seven for the 2018-19 season in alphabetical order by team. First year head coaches can be tricky, but generally perform very well in their first August home game.They went 6-1 ATS in their first home game three years ago, 5-2 ATS two years ago, and 4-1 ATS last season. That adds up to a a bankrolling 15-4 ATS mark the last three preseasons combined! Lets keep it rolling. A lot of expectations are put on these guys coming in. They all want to show the Owner, General Manager, players, and fans that he is the right man for the job. Setting the tone early means playing to win in the preseason. I would not just blindly play all these teams in their first home game. Pick your spots or sign up for my NFL Preseason package. Here we go!

Steve Wilks (Arizona Cardinals)

Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears)

Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions)

Frank Reich (Indy Colts)

Pat Shurmer (NY Giants)

Jon Gruden (Oakland Raiders)

Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans)

4) Competition/Philosophy

 

If you know how head coaches were raised and what their philosophies are than you will have a big advantage this August. I know all the personalities/traits of every single HC in the NFL which helps me beat the books in August. I will give you one HC that preaches competition from his players down to the ball boy. That would be Pete Carroll of the Seahawks. His philosophy at USC was to create competition along with a winning attitude. That has continued since moving to the NFL. Pete Carroll is 34-14 ATS in his career when playing in August, including 4-0 SU & 4-0 ATS last season. On the flip side, Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys clearly hates the preseason. He uses August basically to scout his younger guys and it shows. Garrett’s 10-20 ATS record in the NFL preseason is the worst active record in August with at least 20 games played. Keep an eye on the Seahawks‘ spreads as the odds makers might inflate their lines after going 4-0 last preseason.

 

5) Motivation

If you watched the NFL for any number of years you should know that not every Head Coach cares about winning in the NFL Preseason. Different HC’s have different agendas when playing August Football and they all pretty much stick to their beliefs. I gave you two very good examples above that should hold true once again this upcoming season.

Each coach handles the preseason differently. Some put a premium on the second game. For some it’s the third or even the fourth. Some coaches just mess around and tinker with their lineups during the preseason and use it to evaluate their younger guys. But here’s the key – and this is a big difference between the regular season and preseason football – most coaches are forthright about what the game plan will be. All you have to do is a little research from the local beat writers.

 

6) Scheduling

 

The NFL preseason schedule generally isn’t too taxing on the teams and players. But there are quirks. The two teams that play the Hall of Fame Game are a good bet to fade in their next game. If some key players are a bit banged up then you can expect those guys to be watching in street clothes. Keep a close eye on how the players from the Ravens and Bears come out of the Hall of Fame game. Also, NFL teams who play on the West Coast (with little to no humidity), and than travel to play a high humidity East Coast game. It would be wise to fade those West Coast teams, especially if installed as a favorite. This has worked extremely well over the last few years with the new OTA rules in place.

#7) Jeff’s NFL Preseason system to consider

If you are looking for a very solid system/angle in the NFL preseason here is one to consider this year. Teams that begin 0-2 straight up over the last 11 years are 63-41 ATS in their very next game. Head Coaches, GM’s, and owners tend to get very nervous when they get off to a bad start, even in the preseason, and they have their team ready for that third game. Most undefeated teams will take that 0-2 team lightly, thus making those winless teams a smart play by the “Wise Guys”. If two 0-2 teams are playing each other, its a NO PLAY and that’s reflected in the record above.

#8) Jeff’s #1 NFL Preseason Team to “Play On” in 2018

Cleveland Browns. I think this team will play with a “chip” on its shoulder after going 0-16 last year. Look at the QB rotation. It’s got to be one of the most improved groups in the entire league. Tyrod Taylor is a two-way (arm/legs) threat with playoff experience. Drew Stanton is better than average. Baker Mayfield has something to prove and should have success against vanilla defenses. Joel Stave is really good and might be elsewhere as as solid backup when the regular season arrives. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley will bring fire and experience to the offense. And while the Browns might be learning a new offense, there are mitigating factors that suggest the Browns will have success this August. I love them in week two against the Buffalo Bills as a 3-point home favorite. The Browns could be a solid ATS sleeper team this Fall/Winter as well.

Look for more Football articles in the coming weeks. Jeff was ranked No. 3 in the 2017-18 NFL regular season and No. 1 (tied) in the postseason. Jeff was ranked No. 2 in the 2014-15 NFL regular season at The Sports Monitor of OK, cashing just under 70%. Jeff has shown a profit in eight of the past nine years in football, fully documented. Early Bird Football and season packages are now available.

Good Luck this Football Season!

Follow me on Twitter @jhsportsline

My No. 1 Fantasy Football Running Back

May 25, 2016; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs with the ball during organized team activities at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I know, I know. We’re still in June, but I can’t help starting to make my preliminary fantasy football rankings.

Care to guess who my No. 1 running back is? Here’s a hint: His name isn’t Adrian Peterson. Here’s another hint: He’s never carried the ball in the NFL. Yep, I’m going with Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys‘ first-round draft pick.

Elliott just could be the most complete running back coming out of the draft since … well… Peterson. He’ll be running behind arguably the best offensive line in football. Because of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, defenses won’t be able to stack the line either on Elliott.

Dallas has the easiest schedule in the league, too.
He is already being drafted as the TOP PLAYER in early Fantasy Drafts.

Written by Stephen Nover of VegasTopDogs.com

2015 NFC East Preview

Eagless

The NFL regular season is here. I would like to give you a quick look at the NFC East.

The Dallas Cowboys finished last season 13-5 SU and 10-8 ATS. The Cowboys have really improved their depth at the linebacker position for this upcoming season and with Sean Lee returning from an ACL injury they should be solid at the LB position. Dallas also used 5 of their first 6 picks on the defensive side of the ball. Dallas should be contenders especially if quarterback Tony Romo who lead the league in passer rating last year can come up with similar results. Here’s a trend to keep in mind Dallas is on a 10-0 run as non conference underdogs.

 

It’s no secret the pressure is on for the New York Giants this season. The Giants have missed the playoffs the last 3 years with their last playoff appearance coming in 2012 where they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. New York finished last season 6-10 SU and 7-9 ATS. The Giants have made some moves in the offseason to improve on a couple of weaknesses. The Giants’ draft included picks to improve their defense and offensive line. Wide receiver Victor Cruz will return after missing 6 games due to a knee injury last season. Cruz and WR Odell Beckham give quarterback Eli Manning two lethal targets. Manning has had his share of struggles over the last two season. The Giants will definitely improve on their record from last year and squeak into the playoffs. Here’s a trend to keep in mind the Giants are 15-2 ATS vs the AFC East when listed as underdogs.
The Philadelphia Eagles finished last season 10-6 SU and 9-7 ATS missing the playoffs. Head coach Chip Kelly made some splashes this offseason with the hope of sending his Eagles into postseason play. The Eagles traded away running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Nick Foles. The Eagles replaced those two with running backs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, and quarterback Sam Bradford. The defense should be improved this season with the additions of LB Kiko Alonso and DB Byron Maxwell. Only time will tell if these moves will payoff. Here’s a trend to keep in mind the Eagles are 1-8 in their last 9 vs the NFC West.
The Washington Redskins finished last season 4-12 SU and 5-11 ATS. The heat is on for quarterback Robert Griffin III this season. The Redskins drafted to improve their offensive line to protect QB Griffin. The Redskins will be without LB Brian Orakpo this season which will definitely hurt them but Washington also made some changes to improve on the defensive side of the ball. Redskins’ GM Scot McCloughan has been quoted as saying the team wants to get back to the ground and pound style of play. This team is heading in a positive direction especially if WR DeSean Jackson, RB Alfred Morris and TE Jordan Reed play up to their potential. I’m optimistically hoping for at least an 8-8 season. Here’s a trend to keep in mind the Redskins are 7-1 before Thursday games.

NFL Football is finally back!
Written by Tony Acosta for VegasTopDogs.com

Dallas Cowboys Return to Mediocracy in 2015

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant reacts towards the fans during a warm up session before playing the San Diego Chargers in an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Dallas has one thing going for them in 2015.  Their loaded offensive line, I believe the best OL in the NFL. Other than that one area of strength, there are serious flaws all over this Cowboys roster. Combine that with an extra dose of incredible luck from last year and a much tougher schedule in 2015 and we have a team primed for regression.

In 2014 the Dallas Cowboys faced one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. Nine of their 16 regular season games came against teams that were in the bottom third of the league at the time. They had two big wins. One came in October against Seattle, but the Seahawks got off to a 4-4 start, and against the Colts in December in a game where the Colts were a complete no-show. The only other games they played all year against playoff teams were a home loss to Arizona and a pair of playoff games, they were lucky to escape with a non-spread covering win over Detroit, before the Packers sent them home. This team feasted on the weak, plain and simple.

The Cowboys face a first place schedule in 2015. Given the expected improvement in the NFC South and the AFC East; two divisions that combine to have only one team lined below 7.5 wins (Tampa Bay). The Cowboys face all eight teams from those two divisions. Dallas went 4-2 against the NFC East last year; a division with only Washington lined below 8 wins. I don’t see any improvement off that 4-2 division mark from 2014. The Cowboys, coming off a first place finish, now must face a first place schedule, with their two extra games coming against Green Bay and Seattle.

The Cowboys defense was horrific in 2013, ranked at or near the bottom of the league in just about every key statistical category. Last year the defense improved marginally in large part because the offense was able to play ball control, keeping their awful defense off the field. They’re counting on the return to full strength for linebacker Sean Lee, a comeback season from embattled pass rusher Greg Hardy and an immediate return from first round draft choice Byron Jones at cornerback; none of which are locks. Considering the Cowboys defense finished #2 in the NFL with 31 takeaways last year, we can certainly expect a decline in their turnover margin this year.

Dallas was a .500 team in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Last year, they won all the close games, going 4-1 in games decided by a TD or less, and outperformed their statistical profile by a fairly wide margin, due to their #3 ranking in time of possession.
I am convinced that their 2014 breakout was caused by the stars lining up in their favor and not a sign of things to come. Look for Dallas to return to 8-8 this season.

Written by Brian Hay.