Betting the NFL Preseason in 2019
by Jeff Hochman
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 1st, 2019, the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons 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.
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 opportunity 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 2019.
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 New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill, and JT Barrett looks like a fearsome foursome. Even if Brees plays very little, the next three should give teams fits in August. Look for Hill & Barrett to have big preseason stats with their arms and legs, especially in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Don’t forget, the Saints have been running Sean Payton’s system for 12 years. On the flip side, the Cincinnati Bengals will break in a new head coach (see below), new offensive coordinator, and new defensive coordinator. Andy Dalton, Ryan Finley, Jeff Driskel, and Jacob Dolegala will be implementing a brand new offense. I think the Bengals will struggle on both sides of the ball for most of the preseason.
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 Saints have four very good options under Center. After going 3-1 SU and 3-1 ATS last preseason, they’re poised to have another winning preseason. Last year, the Saints got screwed in the playoffs. I would expect the Saints to play with a “chip” this preseason.
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 Denver Broncos for example. They are breaking in a new head coach (Vic Fangio), new offensive coordinator (Rich Scangarello), and new defensive coordinator (Ed Donatell). 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 eight for the 2019-20 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 four years ago, 5-2 ATS three years ago, 4-1 ATS two seasons ago and 4-3 ATS last year. That adds up to a a bankrolling 19-7 ATS mark the last four preseasons combined! 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 don’t recommend just blindly playing all these teams in their first home game!
Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals)
Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals)
Freddie Kitchens (Cleveland Browns)
Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos)
Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers)
Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins)
Adam Gase (NY Jets)
Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Bucs)
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 treats to the preseason as the regular season. That would be John Harabaugh of the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are 13-0 ATS over the past three preseasons. His 33-12 ATS record in the preseason would have made you a small fortune. 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. Dallas went 0-4 ATS last year. Garrett’s 12-21 ATS record in the NFL preseason is the worst active record in August with at least 20 games played. The oddsmakers are going to inflate the Cowboy’s opponent lines this August. Be careful! Keep an eye on the Seattle Seahawks this August. Pete Carroll has always played to win in the preseason, evident by a 22-14 ATS record. Seattle went 0-4 ATS last preseason. That was the first time Pete Carroll and the Seahawks never cashed at least one preseason game. I would expect Seattle to make bettors money this August.
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 three very good examples above that should hold true once again this upcoming preseason.
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.
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 Broncos and Falcons 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 past few years with the new OTA rules in place.
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 12 years are 70-44 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.
Jeff’s #1 NFL Preseason Team to Play On in 2019
Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll has never had back-to-back losing preseasons. Seattle normally does very well in the preseason after losing in the playoffs the year before. Russell Wilson, Paxton Lynch, and Geno Smith all have fourth quarter experience. Lynch and Smith should have success going against 3rd and 4th string defenses.
Look for more Football articles in the coming weeks. Jeff was ranked No. 3 in the NFL last season, No. 3 in the 2017-18 NFL regular season, and No. 1 (tied) in the postseason at The Sports Monitor of OK, cashing just under 70%. Jeff has shown a profit in 7 straight football seasons, fully documented. Jeff is a 4x NFL Top 10 Handicapper. Early Bird Football and season packages are now available.
Good Luck this Football Season!