There is no myth bigger in sports betting than those who claim winning in the preseason is risky business. This defies one of most valuable Golden Rules: oddsmakers (and square players) hate uncertainty, while scores and odds experts pounce on the opportunities.
I’ve stated many times in my articles, videos, and podcasts in recent years that the biggest improvement I’ve made in handicapping was realizing that not all teams will have equal mental state in every game. Motivation is one of those factors. Availing oneself to the indisputable truth that the impetus gap is often at its widest in NFLX betting is why elite gamblers love preseason picks.
Here are some of the natural laws of dominating preseason bets. Some are commandments to follow while others are pitfalls to avoid:
Joey Harrington/Jon Kitna Fallacy
One of the most common mistakes that square players engender in is becoming infatuated with teams that have multiple quarterbacks with 15-20 or more starts under their belt. They completely misconstrue the compilation of recognizable has-beens as depth.
A one-time starter relegated to backup or worse third stringer will be among the least hungry players in a preseason game. In fact, great fade teams year in and year out are squads with an established veteran starter, an entrenched backup, and a third stringer likely to make the team, the substitutes who clearly had their chance to establish themselves as NFL starters and came up short.
Betting on young, hungry quarterbacks with names recognizable more to draftniks than the casual NFL fan will approach the game with regular season intensity is whom successful bettors entrust.
Fade Steam Based on Projected Starter Difference in Snaps of 12 or fewer
I’m not the master of the “bet middler.” There are better minds in projecting which direction the line will move, manipulating the markets and middling bets. My expertise is in picking winners at widely available lines. However, there is no question that if for example one coach says his starters will play 8-12 snaps and the other coach says his players will play 15-20, the odds will move in the direction of the latter team linemakers will confirm.
I generally get this intel before the markets and will bet the latter team initially, but with full intent to middle the bet. However, the stronger play—depending on how far the line moves—is usually fading the line move, the latter wager.
Why? Even if the coaches’ estimates prove to be accurate another of our Golden Rules apply: talent wins long term, emotion covers short-term.
Obviously late regular season when playoff bound teams rest their starters to a team that is playing their top unit, of course this is of enormous benefit to the organization playing their frontline players. However in the preseason, it’s a splendid opportunity for the second stringers to prove themselves worthy. With the window of opportunity generally two series at the most, the adrenalin of the backups very often overcomes whatever talent edge the team playing their starters longer more may have.
Best off all, we are betting on right side of an over-adjusted line move.
Coaches Breaking in New Schemes
Teams are generally very bare bones in the play calling during NFL preseason, not wanting to show anything that could be used against them in game film preparation during the regular season.
However, when teams bring in new head coaches, offensive or defensive coordinators, often it means a major change in schemes. Coaches are generally upfront when they will use more complex packages.
The obvious devil’s advocate question would be if we as handicappers know that a team announced they will be more creative in their play calling, won’t the opposing coach? Absolutely as the best NFL handicapper, I can vouch for but as teams rarely prepare directly for their opponent other than in week three, there is as close to a 100 percent certainly that the team debuting a new offense or defense has spent infinitely more time running it than their preseason foe will have defending it.
In fact, generally opposing coaches view regular season looks from their opponent as the foremost occasion to test their “bubble” players—guys fighting for roster spots more, as it is the best opportunity to simulate the regular season.
So it is a rare case of “conventional wisdom” actually working in sports betting. If Team A says they will do more regular season type play calling and Team B is sticking to the usual preseason formations, there is a big advantage to Team A.
As with every sport in every situation, there are sundry factors that are taken into consideration before finalizing a play. But mastering the above makes you a lot more resourceful than gamblers who foolishly bypass preseason.
Joe Duffy’s Picks NFL and college football Early Bird Special is up which includes all preseason NFL, regular season college and NFL, college football bowl games through the BCS Championship, and NFL postseason through Super Bowl 2015. For the second consecutive year Joe Duffy’s Picks (as will Stevie Vincent) will release picks earlier in the week to beat line moves. All full-season clients will get the picks immediately. Picks may be released throughout week including game day steam.