When you go to bet on the NFL preseason games, you will notice that the maximum bet limits are much lower than in the regular season. Why is this? It is because preseason games provide much more value and have the potential to make sharp bettors loads of money.
Take this hint from Vegas and bet preseason games! With a bit of research and watching the line movements, you can determine the best plays and discover tons of value.
I will break down three matchups for this upcoming weekend’s games and explain why I believe they are all must-bets.
Chicago Bears @ Cincinnati Bengals – 8/9 7:00 ET
For 30 of the NFL teams, this is Week 1 of the preseason. The Bears and Ravens played in last weekend’s Hall of Fame game, however, giving them the advantage of having one game under their belt. For rookies especially, the difference between your first game of the season and your second can be like night and day.
In the preseason, I always like to look for coaches who have something to prove. These usually come in the form of coaches on the hot seat or first-year coaches. The Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy is a perfect candidate, as he is entering his first season in Chicago. You know that Nagy desperately wants that first win, even if it is just a preseason game. The games do not count, of course, but heading into September after an 0-4 preseason is a very ominous feeling for a team.
The Bears’ offense was horrendous in a 17-16 loss that featured six combined turnovers and few appearances from any starters. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky did not play against the Ravens, but Nagy has already announced that he will start versus the Bengals.
The Bears are relying heavily upon Trubisky this season. Because he played so poorly last year, Nagy will definitely want to get his quarterback some preseason reps under the new system. The report is that Nagy may play Trubisky for a drive or two, but I believe three drives would not be out of the question.
The Bengals have had the same coach-quarterback duo in place for several years in Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton. Because they are familiar with each other, there is not a pressing need for Dalton to get tons of early reps. I would not be surprised if Dalton does not play at all in this game.
If you are a bettor who likes to follow line movements, you will be encouraged that the money appears to be going on the Bears, as the line has moved slightly in their direction over the past 24 hours.
The Bears are currently 2.5-point underdogs, but I feel they have the better chance to win this game. I’m high on the Bears in this one because they have one game under their belts, plus Trubisky will finally get some reps.
Indianapolis Colts @ Seattle Seahawks – 8/9 10:00 ET
The Colts must travel pretty far in this one – I’ll admit that. The report out of Indy, however, is that Andrew Luck will play the entire first quarter. Compare this to Russell Wilson who will play, at most, two series, and you have found your advantage.
First-year head coach Frank Reich is implementing a new offensive system in Indy, while his quarterback, Luck, is returning from a long-term injury. This combination leads to Luck needing many reps. Also, because this is Reich’s first ever game as head coach, you know he wants to win.
Andrew Luck is one of the most prepared and aware quarterbacks in the league. He realizes how important a good showing is in your first preseason game with a new coach in order to set the tone. Not only is he doing it for his coach, but also for his own reassurance that he can still play at an elite level.
With so many motivators for Luck to play well, I would not want to bet against him. With a new coach in place and a quarterback that has not played in a while, there is understandably much uncertainty surrounding this game on the Colts’ side. This uncertainty has led to the Colts being two-point underdogs, which is terrific for their value. The upside is so great for a big performance that I am all in on Indy.
Detroit Lions @ Oakland Raiders – 8/10 10:30 ET
This one is interesting. Both teams feature first-year head coaches, but I believe that Patricia’s style is more conducive to preseason success than Gruden’s. The Lions do have to travel across the country, but that makes them 3-point underdogs and a great value.
Expectations for these teams are about equal entering into this season. I see the Lions gaining an advantage in this one because Patricia is defensive- minded while Gruden is a quarterbacks expert. In the preseason, teams often forgo game-planning and complex offensive schemes. This negates what Gruden is best at.
Not only will Patricia’s defense have more freedom to operate than Gruden’s offense, but rumors have it that the Lions dislike Patricia’s practices. A major change from how Jim Caldwell ran practice, Patricia has worked his teamed as hard or harder than any other coach in the league.
The Lions are more likely to be in game shape than the Raiders and probably cannot wait to get out and hit somebody from another team. They might not admit it, but Lions players will be trying to win this game to get out of some practice time next week.
There is a small chance Detroit comes out flat after travelling across the country. There is a much larger chance that their defense plays inspired and with abundant energy. Teams traditionally start slow on offense in their first preseason game. If the Lions’ defense plays well, look for the Raiders to really struggle to move the ball. I’m going with the Lions on this one.