For NFL fans, August is a month of restrained enthusiasm; NFL teams give their first taste of the season to come and optimism runs rampant as the regular season approaches. But, for those betting on pro football, the preseason is already the beginning of NFL betting. While the results may not matter for the NFL standings, the preseason is a golden opportunity for NFL bettors to make some serious money. The unique nature of the NFL preseason offers a number of ways to bet strategically and successfully.
Rule #1: Evaluate Depth in NFL Preseason Betting
While depth shouldn’t be understated when it comes to regular season success, it may be the single greatest factor in predicting the outcome of preseason football. An NFL team’s first string will play up to a half of football in a preseason game depending on the circumstances, but by the time the fourth quarter has begun, the game is often being decided by players buried on the depth chart fighting tooth-and-nail to make the 53 man roster.
The easiest and most important position to evaluate for preseason performance is often the quarterback. The quality of the starting quarterback is usually obvious, but the second, third, and even fourth string QBs become much tougher to predict. Experience in a coach’s system can become very important. Veterans with a number of years running the same offense can often pick apart an opponent’s makeshift defense. On the other hand, an undrafted rookie quarterback coming from a spread offense (which is often the type of player attempting to lead the team in the fourth quarter) will struggle to make the proper reads and will have more issues turning the ball over. NFL teams with multiple players competing for the starting QB spot may have better overall play than a team with an entrenched starter and little depth. The Seattle Seahawks (Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn, and Russell Wilson) and Tennessee Titans (Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker) are great examples of this in 2012.
Look for teams that may be loaded with talent at the bottom half of the roster. For this, you may want to examine a team’s class of undrafted free agents to see which NFL teams landed several sought after players. NFL teams with a reputation for successfully drafting and developing players will often have a deep group of players competing against each other.
Rule #2: Know Who’s Suiting Up for NFL betting
The state of an injury report in the NFL is important during the regular season, but is usually more transparent than an injury report in the preseason. In the preseason, starters with minor injuries are likely to sit, and star players will occasionally sit out even when they’re completely healthy. Waiting until the final hour before a preseason game to place a bet will avoid the gut-wrenching instance of seeing the team you picked place a slate of key players on the inactive list. Biding your time to figure out who will be playing (and for how long) will let you know which teams to wager on and which to wager against. If you’re looking for an earlier scoop, try perusing the websites of local newspapers to see what beat writers already know.
Rule #3: Special Teams Matters when betting on the NFL
For a huge number of players competing for a roster spot, the best way to make an impression is on special teams. Because the special teams units are made up primarily of backup players in their first NFL games, it becomes incredibly difficult to predict. The outcome of many preseason games can swing drastically on any given return. Explosive return men can take advantage of coverage teams that over-pursue or find themselves out of position. Try to find teams with successful return men, whether their success to this point has been at the pro or collegiate level. A player skilled at reading holes in the return game can capitalize in the preseason.