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NFL preseason full of uncertainty

NFL preseason full of uncertainty

NFL preseason full of uncertainty

Betting exhibition games means guessing which stars come out

There's nothing like the uncertainty of betting on NFL preseason games.

Just think about Sunday's Hall of Fame game between Indianapolis and Washington at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

The Colts, who have won five consecutive AFC South titles, will be without two key, injured players in quarterback Peyton Manning and defensive end Dwight Freeney, and they are expected to rest or give limited playing time to stars Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai and Bob Sanders.

Yet oddsmakers have made Indianapolis a 6.5-point favorite over the Redskins, who will be playing their first game under new Coach Jim Zorn.

Washington, which qualified for last season's playoffs as a wild-card team with a 9-7 record, will also be without several key, injured players in safeties LaRon Landry and Kareem Moore, defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery and rookie wide receiver Devin Thomas.

In any case, the game is an example of how difficult it is to bet on the NFL preseason.

Remember, Indianapolis finished last year's preseason with a 1-3 record but went 13-3 in the regular season, which was the second-best record in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons went 3-1 in the preseason and ended up with a 4-12 record in the regular season.

In other NFL betting news, odds connected with the Green Bay Packers have bounced all over the place since quarterback Brett Favre announced that he did not plan to stay retired.

At, the Packers are listed at 7-4 to win the NFC North, just behind the Minnesota Vikings, who are at 7-5. The Chicago Bears are next at 3-1, followed by the Detroit Lions at 6-1.

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Re: NFL preseason full of uncertainty

Total moneymaker: Betting totals in the NFL preseason
By BEN BURNS | July 30, 2008 |  0 comments
    Successful NFL bettors understand there is a significant difference between handicapping preseason football games and handicapping regular season ones.

This week, I'll be focusing on the final scores of preseason games from the past couple of seasons, breaking those scores down from a week-by-week standpoint. For the purposes of this article, I've included the "Hall of Fame Game" as part of Week 1 of the preseason.

Oddsmakers adjust over/under lines in the preseason to reflect the lower scoring games. However, for the first several years of this millennium, those numbers weren't adjusted quite enough when roughly 55 percent of the preseason games from 2000-2006 fell below the total.

As usual, the oddsmakers and markets eventually adjusted.

Week 1 of the 2006 preseason saw the under go a profitable 12-4-1. The following three weeks were almost exactly even, with the under going 24-23-1.

The 2007 preseason saw nine of 16 games fall below the number. The over bounced back in a big way in the second and third weeks. The over held a slight 33-30-3 advantage for the four weeks combined.

It makes sense that the over might come through more as the preseason wears on. The starters see more playing time in Week 2 than they do in the opening week. In Week 3, the starters see their most playing time, often the entire first half or longer.

Different coaches have different philosophies about the final week of the preseason. Sometimes, the way they handle Week 4 is dependant on how their team performed the previous week. If everything went relatively smoothly in Week 3, the starters typically see very little playing time in the preseason finale.

However, a new coach on a team that is winless, or that struggled in Week 3, may elect to give his starters more playing time in Week 4. They’d like to right the ship before the real thing kicks-off in September. Regardless, starters almost always see the most playing time in Week 3.

Due to each week of the preseason being treated so differently, it's imperative to also handicap each week differently. This holds true for sides and totals.

Beneath, I've broken down the final scores on a week-by-week basis, from the previous three (2005-2007) preseasons. In addition to providing the average scores from each week, I've also noted how many of the games fell above, below and on the key numbers of 34 and 37.

Over the three years of the case study, Week 2 was by far the highest-scoring and Week 3 came next, followed by Week 4. Not surprisingly, the opening week saw the fewest point scored.

Week 1

From 2005-2007, the final combined scores of the Week 1 games averaged just 33.4 points.


Thanks in part to a pair of extremely high-scoring games from Hall of Fame Week (Hall of Fame Game and a game at Tokyo), 2005 saw the highest average of the three-year period, with its Week 1 games averaging 37.88 points. Ten of 18 games stayed below the key number of 37 with one game landing right on 37. Nine games finished above 34 though with two games landing directly on that number.


The opening week of the 2006 preseason was an extremely low-scoring one. In fact, the 17 games averaged just 31.94 points. Not surprisingly, the under was a profitable 12-4-1. Thirteen games produced fewer than 37 points while 10 games fell below the 34 mark. On game landed directly on 34.


Last preseason, the Week 1 games averaged 33.47 points. Eleven games fell below the 37 mark, while 10 of them produced less than 34 points.

Week 2

From 2005-2007, the final combined scores of the Week 2 games averaged 40.15 points.


The Week 2 games in 2005 produced an average of exactly 41 points. Three of the 16 games landed directly on the key number of 34 with 11 of the games finishing above that mark. One game finished with 37 points with nine finishing with more than 37.


The 16 games played in Week 2 of the 2006 preseason produced an average of 36.88 points. Half of the games finished above 34 points while the other half finished below that mark. One game landed directly on the key number of 37 with nine games staying beneath that mark.


Of the 12 weeks analyzed in this study, the second week of the 2007 proved to be the highest scoring. The games averaged a whopping 42.56 points. Twelve of 16 games produced greater than 34 points while 11 of the games finished above the 37 mark. One game landed directly on 37. Note the over was a profitable 12-4.

Week 3

From 2005-2007, the final combined scores of the Week 3 games averaged 37.31 points.


Despite a couple of high-scoring games which bumped up the average, the 16 games played in Week 3 of the preseason averaged only 35.44 points. Eleven games stayed below the key number of 37 while 10 of them produced less than 34.


Week 3 of the 2006 preseason saw the 16 games average 35.19 points. Half finished below 34 points and the other half finished above that mark. Two games landed directly on the key number of 37 with eight of the games producing less than that amount.


The over was 9-6-1 in Week 3 last preseason, as the games produced an average of 41.31 points. Ten of 16 games produced more than 34 points with one landing right on that number. Nine of 16 games finished with greater than 37 combined points, once again with one game falling directly on that number.

Week 4

From 2005-2007, the final combined scores of the Week 4 games averaged 34.94 points.

The final week of the 2005 preseason proved to be relatively high-scoring with the 16 games averaging 40.19 points. Twelve finished with more than 34 points while 11 finished above the 37 mark. One game landed directly on 37.


The final week of the 2006 preseason produced an average of 34.63 points. Eight of the 16 games produced less than 37 combined points with the same eight games also finishing below the 34 mark. Four games finished with exactly 37 combined points.


Of the 12 weeks analyzed, Week 4 of the 2007 preseason proved to be the lowest-scoring. In fact, the 16 games averaged a mere 30 points with the under going a profitable 11-5. Eleven games finished below 37 points with one producing exactly 37. The same 11 games also all finished with less than 34.

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