It’s August, which means it’s time for football. No, it’s not real football. It’s better than that. It’s preseason football.
If you’re a true degenerate, the preseason is your SZN — because you’re the only person you know sick enough to bet on this.
Not your weird uncle. Not your high school math teacher. Not your next-door neighbor with the unironic moustache. Not even your mailman.
You. Only you.
And me. And my depraved friends in the FREE BettingPros Discord. We’re all over the preseason.
Let’s lose some money together.
Because we’re dumb enough to bet on NFL preseason games.
The football gods are good.
Here are 10 guidelines for how I’m betting the 2022 NFL preseason.
By the way, you can find the posted odds for every preseason game on our BettingPros odds page.
Abbreviations: Against the spread (ATS), over/under (O/U), return on investment (ROI), adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A)
Note: In case you’re unfamiliar with sports betting terminology, “Lions +4.5” means that the Lions can lose by up to four points while still winning the bet. “Ravens -4.5” means that the Ravens must win by more than four points to win the bet. “Over 42.5” means that the two teams can combine for any number of points over 42 to win the bet. At -110 odds, bettors wager $110 for every $100 they wish to win.
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2022 NFL Preseason Guidelines
Bet on the Ravens
For HC John Harbaugh, the preseason might as well be the Super Bowl. His teams come to play in the preseason, and they are usually deep, disciplined and aggressive, thus hard to beat. Throughout his tenure, the Ravens are 40-12 on the moneyline (45% ROI, per BetLabs) and 36-15-1 ATS.
I doubt we’ll see them as underdogs at any point this preseason (vs. Titans, at Cardinals, vs. Commanders), but if we do I’ll be sure to make them my mega turbo supersized 100-unit whale play (I’m joking): In the preseason, Harbaugh is 17-5 ATS as a dog.
A couple edges the Ravens have:
- K Justin Tucker is better than whatever training camp kickers a lot of other teams roll out in preseason games.
- QBs Tyler Huntley and Brett Hundley are above-average players for where they are on the depth chart.
Moneyline, spread, whatever. I’m betting on the Ravens. They’re -4.5 home favorites vs. Titans in Week 1 (DraftKings).
Fade the Lions … Maybe … But Definitely Take the Under in Their Games
Last year the Lions were true heroes under HC Dan Campbell, going 11-6 ATS overall and 4-1 ATS vs. teams with winning percentages above .500.
And this year they’re the team I like the most relative to the market in my power ratings.
But I’m not the only person who likes them. They’re one of the most popular teams for sports bettors to back entering the season.
The most popular NFL wager by handle in July at @CaesarsSports has been… Lions OVER 6 wins
Additionally, Dan Campbell has drawn the most money overall to win Coach of the Year and D’Andre Swift has drawn the most money overall to lead the NFL in rushing yards.
— Max Meyer (@TheMaxMeyer) July 20, 2022
And that means they could be overvalued in the preseason, especially since they’ll have extra exposure as the Hard Knocks team.
Since the 2007 reboot of Hard Knocks, the featured teams have the following preseason betting records:
– ATS: 21-31
– O/U: 17-34-1
Someone had to do the dirty work. I wouldn’t call myself a hero.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) August 3, 2022
The Lions have one of the league’s most talentless rosters — backup QBs Tim Boyle (3.4 AY/A for his career) and David Blough (4.3 AY/A) are horrendous — so it’s easy to see how they could fail to cover.
But they do have a try-hard ethos, which could enable them on defense to get stops and drive the game to the under.
Maybe I’ll bet against the Lions this preseason. I will almost certainly bet the under in their games.
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Bet Unders — Especially in Warm Weather
Before 2014, overs and unders were fairly balanced in the preseason, but for the past eight years the under is 245-183-8.
I don’t know what changed in 2014 … but I think it might be global warming.
I’m joking, sort of.
In games with a temperature of at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the under is 8-1.
I mention this because I want to show that I can spell “Fahrenheit” on the first try (allegedly), and also it has been a hot summer and we could get some warm games.
For Week 1, these are the contests that might present a weather-informed opportunity for unders.
- Browns at Jaguars: 33.0 (-110, FanDuel)
- Dolphins at Buccaneers: 33.0 (-110, Caesars)
No one wants to exert maximal effort in the Florida heat.
Bet Unders in Rams Games
HC Sean McVay has an established disdain for the preseason. He almost never plays his locked-in starters, especially on offense, which means that the Rams rarely light up the scoreboard. Last year, they averaged just 11.3 points per game in the preseason.
For his career, McVay in August is 10-4-1 to the under.
Bet on Unpopular Moneyline Road Underdogs
We’re really hitting the sweet spot here.
- Moneyline dogs, so we’re getting plus odds.
- Road teams, which people don’t like to back.
- Unpopular bets, so we’re fading the public.
In the preseason, road dogs getting no more than 35% of the moneyline bets are 54-71-1 (14.8% ROI).
Looking ahead to Week 1, I could see the Falcons (at Lions) and Jets (at Eagles) being unpopular road dogs.
Bet on Teams With Quarterback Battles
A few teams have quarterback battles (of varying degrees) being waged right now in training camp.
- Panthers: Baker Mayfield vs. Sam Darnold
- Steelers: Mitchell Trubisky vs. Mason Rudolph vs. Kenny Pickett
- Seahawks: Geno Smith vs. Drew Lock
My thinking is that these teams will have winning ATS records this year for three reasons.
- The backup quarterbacks competing for starting jobs are (probably) better than the backup passers for most teams.
- Because the backup quarterbacks are competing to be starters, they (and their surrounding teammates on the field) will play with more purpose than they otherwise would.
- Because they are evaluating the quarterback position, the coaches for these teams will treat their preseason games more seriously than their opponents do.
I haven’t backtested this theory, so bet it at your own risk.
Bet on the Seahawks
The Seahawks are one of the teams with a quarterback battle, and under HC Pete Carroll they are 26-16-1 ATS in the preseason.
Carroll’s preseason success makes a lot of anecdotal sense to me: He feels like the kind of coach who would prioritize playing hard and winning, no matter the circumstances.
His stupidity is our profit.
Bet on the Bills
The Bills are the the No. 1 team in my power ratings. They have one of the league’s best rosters, including at quarterback: No. 2 QB Case Keenum is a 10-year veteran with 64 regular season starts, and No. 3 QB Matt Barkley has three years of experience with the Bills as starter Josh Allen’s backup in 2018-20.
They have an established coaching staff, and HC Sean McDermott is 10-4-1 ATS in the preseason for his career and 7-0 ATS since 2019, Allen’s first year to enter training camp as the locked-in starter.
They might be chalky, but that likely won’t stop them from dominating.
Bet Under in the Hall-of-Fame Game
If not for the betting opportunity it provides, the Hall-of-Fame game would be an utter waste of time. It’s like the preseason’s preseason. As much as players and teams don’t care about the preseason, they especially don’t care about the Hall-of-Fame game.
Remember how unders started hitting at an increased rate in 2014?
Since then, the Hall-of-Fame game under is 5-1.
Coming from New England, Raiders HC Josh McDaniels seems unlikely to push his team exert much effort in this game, and Jaguars HC Doug Pederson has an Urban Meyer-tainted offense that could struggle to score.
Don’t Bet Your Entire Bankroll
As fun as betting on the preseason is, be sure not to overdo it.
It’s football … but it’s not really football.
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