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NFL Preseason Betting News and Notes Week 1

NFL Preseason Betting News and Notes Week 1

Strategies on Betting and Beating NFL Preseason
By Teddy Covers

I write a ‘How to beat the NFL Preseason article’ just about every year. But this is no ‘cut and paste’ from previous editions, because my strategies for betting (and beating) preseason football have been altered over the years, in some ways quite dramatically.

I updated this piece from start to finish last year and have updated it again for 2013, focusing on how the betting markets have changed here in the 21st century and the ways savvy bettors can take advantage of those changes.

My goal this week is to debunk some of those aging myths while focusing on strategies that work here in 2013.

Coaches vs. Coordinators

I used to be very concerned with finding and interpreting a head coach’s comments prior to preseason games. In the modern era of largely innocuous ‘coach-speak’, I’m definitely more interested in what the coordinators are saying. That goes doubly when we’re talking about first year coordinators installing new systems.

Neither coordinators nor head coaches are likely to give away tidbits in the regular season. But in the preseason, sometimes they’ll tell you exactly what they’re going to do, allowing you to cash some relatively easy winning bets.

Here are a list of the 13 new offensive coordinators around the NFL for the 2013 season: Harold Goodwin, Arizona; Nathaniel Hackett, Buffalo; Mike Shula, Carolina; Aaron Kromer, Chicago; Norv Turner, Cleveland; Adam Gase, Denver; Pep Hamiton, Indianapolis; Jedd Fisch, Jacksonville; Doug Pederson, Kansas City; Marty Mohrninweg, New York Jets; Greg Olson, Oakland;  Pat Schurmer, Philadelphia and Ken Whisenhunt, San Diego.

The Power of the Blitz

Most coaches don’t like to see their star veteran quarterback take big hits in the preseason. I don’t blame them! That simple fact gives teams with aggressive, blitzing defensive schemes a legitimate edge in August.

Teams that blitz early and often tend to have preseason success shutting down opposing offenses. Once again, finding out the coordinator’s gameplan can pay real dividends. And it’s surely worth noting that the Saints are only -3 at home against a Kansas City team breaking in a new coach, new quarterback and new offense this Friday Night.

The Value of ‘3’

NFL bettors are conditioned to think about the pointspread number of + or -3 as being the single most important or ‘key’ number in football betting. That certainly holds true for the regular season, when nearly one out of every seven games finishes with a final margin of three points.

But in August, coaches don’t play for overtime. We saw a prime example of that in Week 1 of the preseason last year. Jacksonville rallied from 17 points down against the Giants, scoring their final TD with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Instead of kicking the extra point to tie the game – making it quite likely that one of the two teams would win by a field goal – Jacksonville head coach Mike Mularkey went for the two point conversion and the win. The Jags made that conversion and won the game by a single point; a great result for line shoppers and a lousy result for the house.

This is not unusual in the slightest. And the lesson here is perfectly clear. The value of pointspreads like 1, 1.5, and 2 increase in August, while the value of the almighty -3 declines rather precipitously. Four games were decided by a single point in Week 1 last year, and that Browns-Lions game was decided by two. We didn’t see a single one of the first 16 preseason games in 2012 finish with a three point final margin.  It was a similar story in 2011, without a single three point decision in the first two weeks of preseason action.

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Three Best NFL Preseason Week 1 Bets Since 1995
By Jason Logan

Betting on Week 1 of the NFL preseason is a bet on randomness. Teams may or may not play their starters. And if they do, it’s only for a few sets.

Second, third and even fourth-string players will decide your fate, so why not wager on teams that have shown some consistency in an otherwise chaotic stretch of schedule.

We look at the best Week 1 NFL preseason bets since 1995 and how those teams look heading into the 2013 exhibition calendar.

Denver Broncos (10-7 SU, 12-4-1 ATS in Week 1)

The Broncos have a laundry list of offseason issues and may be just trying to get through the preseason without adding to those troubles. Reports out of camp state Peyton Manning may see limited action this summer, with the offensive line missing some key cogs. Denver smoked Chicago 31-3 in last year’s preseason opener and is a 3-point underdog at San Francisco this Thursday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-6 SU, 12-5 ATS in Week 1)

When you read headlines like “Bucs Just Hoping To Survive Preseason”, it doesn’t instill the greatest confidence in Tampa Bay bettors. The Buccaneers’ No. 1 priority is making sure everyone sees Week 1, which could mean plenty of play for third and fourth-string scrubs this summer. The Bucs beat Miami 20-7 as 3-point dogs in Week 1 last preseason and are 3-point home faves hosting Baltimore Thursday.

Seattle Seahawks (13-4 SU, 10-7 ATS in Week 1)

Seattle has the same ATS mark in Week 1 as the Titans and Bengals, but we focus on the Seahawks because they seem to give a crap about winning the warm-ups. Last year, Seattle beat Tennessee 27-17 as a 3-point home favorite in Week 1, en route to a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS preseason. This time around, the Seahawks are plugging the hole at WR left by Percy Harvin’s injury. Sidney Rice is also nursing a bum knee, so the Seahawks' passing game could have its wings clipped this preseason. Seattle is a 2.5-point road favorite at San Diego Thursday.

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Three Worst NFL Preseason Week 1 Bets Since 1995
By Jason Logan

Losing an NFL preseason bet is like burning your hand in a fire. You knew it was hot, so why’d you touch it?

However, after a long summer stranded in baseball, preseason football is salt water to the shipwrecked sailor. You want to drink it up so bad.

If you’re thinking about getting in on the Week 1 preseason action, beware these three teams which have constantly fallen short of the spread during the opening slate of tune-up games. We eye their Week 1 records, going back as far as 1995, and how they look heading into this summer’s preseason:

Dallas Cowboys (5-12 SU, 4-13 ATS in Week 1)

Dallas didn’t look too bad in the Hall of Fame Game, despite all but four starters sitting out. The new 4-3 defensive scheme ran pretty smoothly for the first time around and the offense got a boost from the running game, which is a big plus. The Cowboys are 2-point favorites in Oakland for Week 1 of the preseason Friday. Quarterback Tony Romo is expected to play limited action as are the majority of Dallas’ first-stringers.

Philadelphia Eagles (6-10 SU, 4-10-2 ATS)

Former head coach Andy Reid was known for his lack of interest in the preseason and it shows in the Eagles’ Week 1 preseason mark. But now, with new coach Chip Kelly installing his up-tempo offense, Philadelphia may be putting a little more weight into its exhibition slate. The Eagles are 4-point favorites hosting New England Friday, and will likely march out five different QBs by the end of the night.

Detroit Lions (9-8 SU, 4-10-3 ATS)

There is pressure on coach Jim Schwartz to win right away in 2013, after last year’s disastrous four-win campaign. And that could mean giving more than two craps about the preseason. The Lions will reportedly run a cut-and-dry game plan, not customizing their attack to Week 1 opponents, the New York Jets. Detroit has new RB Reggie Bush atop the depth chart with Mikel Leshoure backing him up. The Lions could stretch the legs and go rush-heavy in order to build their ground game.

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Practice Season

The first full week of NFL preseason football begins on Thursday with six games on tap, followed by ten more over the next three days. Many sports bettors prefer a 'wait and see' attitude at this time of the year because most teams are content to limit activity of starters' while handing most duties to raw rookies making it tough identifying squads that will succeed in these tune-up clashes. However, there are still plenty of good wagering opportunities for those who wish to participate in preseason betting. Studying past histories of teams during August and certain coaches can glean wagering edges. The 'Black and Yellow' squad has shown these August games matter, as they're 19-6 (14-10-1 ATS) with coach Mike Tomlin guiding troops including a sparkling 12-1 (9-4 ATS) playing in front of the home crowd. On the flip side, guys like Andy Reed will likely exert energies evaluating personnel with his new team rather than worry about improving Chiefs 2-14 (1-13-2 ATS) skid in warm-ups. Another angle to keep in mind. Super Bowl winners still on a high are not the best bets in week-one of preseason as the last seven are 1-6 SU with a 2-4-1 ATS mark at the betting window. As for Super Bowl runner ups, they're just as bad opening preseason posting a 2-5 (1-6 ATS) mark. Finally, teams that have established football betting patterns worth consideration are Bucs ridding a profitable 11-1 ATS mark in WK-1, Seahawks with a 9-1 ATS record in preseason road games. Betting on the NFL in August is a completely different exercise than betting on the same sport a month later.

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Best Over/Under Bets of NFL Preseason Week 1
By Jason Logan

If you’re tackling totals this NFL preseason this week, take a look at which teams lean towards the over or the under during Week 1 of the exhibition schedule.

Records as of 1995.

Best NFL preseason Week 1 over bets

New York Jets (7-10 SU, 12-5 O/U in Week 1)

The Jets offense was a joke last preseason, leading to a 1-3 over/under mark. Now that the cat’s out of the bag and the scoring struggles are frontpage fodder, New York’s totals could get a serious haircut this summer. Books have set the number at 36 points for the Jets Week 1 preseason date in Detroit.

Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8 SU, 11-5-1 O/U in Week 1)

The Jaguars are another team known for their anemic offense. Jacksonville is bouncing between Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne at QB and will likely be without RB Maurice Jones-Drew for the preseason opener versus Miami Friday. Oddsmakers have the total at 35.5 for that matchup.

Best NFL preseason Week 1 under bets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-6 SU, 3-14 ATS)

Tampa Bay is working in a new defense, hoping to stop the bleeding against the pass. With the emphasis on that and the franchise wanting to get a good look at rookie QB Mike Glennon, the unders could continue to come. The Bucs have a total of 35.5 for their Week 1 preseason tilt with the Ravens, who are 4-12 O/U in Week 1 of the preseason since 1995.

Washington Redskins (9-8 SU, 4-13 O/U in Week 1)

There will likely be no RG3 sight this preseason, with Washington playing it cool with Robert Griffin III’s wonky knee. Backup QB Kirk Cousins will handle the majority of the passing duties, especially in the Week 1 preseason opener with Tennessee. The total is set at 35.5 points.

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NFL Preseason Pointers                     
By Jim Feist

The pro football preseason kicked off this past weekend in the Hall of Fame game as the Dolphins battled the Cowboys. Remember that each season is different, with players changing teams, new coaches and assistants coming aboard, and star college players joining the pros as highly touted rookies. August football offers fans their first peak at all the new additions.

It's a short week for the Cowboys who have to head to Oakland to play the rebuilding Raiders. Dallas was a flop on defense last year so they dumped defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and brought in 72-year old Monte Kiffin. Despite sack masters DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer itís going to take time to change their 3-4 defense into a 4-3 Tampa-2 scheme. As for the Raiders, for the second straight season they're overhauling everywhere. QB Matt Flynn is still trying to prove he's a legitimate NFL starter and is battling Terrelle Pryor and rookies Matthew McGloin and Tyler Wilson. Career starts for the 28-year old Flynn: 9 TDs, 5 INTs, 13 sacks.

The Dolphins also have the short week traveling to rebuilding Jacksonville. Jacksonville was outscored by -189 points last season, second worst in the NFL while going 2-14. Former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is the new head coach and brings in Jedd Fisch as offensive coordinator, who ran the Miami Hurricane's offense last season. The offensive line was a mess adding to the team's quarterback woes with QBs Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne sacked 50 times.

A potential Super Bowl preview appears on the card as the Broncos are at San Francisco. However, it's Week 1. You're likely to see far more of Brock Osweiler and Colt McCoy behind center than QBs Peyton Manning and Colin Kaepernick lighting up the skies.

This weekend the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens head to Florida to take on Tampa Bay. It's a game the defending champs probably could care less about while the rebuilding Bucs might want to get up for the game to impress their home fans.

One of the big stories at the NFL draft was the Jets taking West Virginia QB Geno Smith. The Jets are at Detroit and will unveil QBs Smith, Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms to try to find someone reliable to throw the pigskin. The Lions had some impressive stats but a train wreck 2013 season losing a string of close games. Detroit has an impressive QB rotation in August deep in experience in Matt Stafford, Shaun Hill, Kellen Moore and Thad Lewis.

Speaking of quarterbacks the Redskins are at the Titans this week with QB Robert Griffin still rehabbing after the playoff loss to Seattle. That means QBs Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins and mobile Pat White will be running the offense. Washington Coach Mike Shanahan is an impressive 24-13 SU, 22-14-1 his last eight preseasons (6-2 SU/ATS the last two years).

Meanwhile, Tennessee has new looks all over the offense. QB Jake Locker (10 TDs, 11 INTs) completed just 56% of his passes and will get some competition from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, released by the Bills. The Tennessee passing game has WR Nate Washington (746 yards), Kenny Britt and speedy WR Kendall Wright (626 yards), plus they add WR Kevin Walker from the Texans and rookie WR Justin Hunter (Tennessee) with the No. 34 overall pick.

Another thing to keep an eye on is subtle strategic adjustments. Five years ago the Saints loaded up in the offseason trying to improve a defense that was 26th overall. They moved up in the draft to take USC nose tackle Sedrick Ellis with the 7th pick, along with DT DeMario Pressley (5th round, NC State) and CB Tracy Porter to improve the 30th ranked secondary. It took just one season for those moves to pay big dividends as the Saints attacking style defense under their new defensive coordinator went on to win the Super Bowl.

Unlike last preseason there is only one game where with a long travel time: The Cardinals fly to Green Bay this weekend. A year ago the Packers were at San Diego in Week 1 of the preseason, Tennessee headed to Seattle, while the Vikings head to the Bay Area to play San Francisco. Tennessee looked jet-lagged in a 27-17 defeat as did the Vikings in a 17-6 loss to the 49ers and the Packers got beat up at San Diego, 21-13.

Two years ago the 49ers had the longest Week 1 road trip, travelling from the West Coast down to the Bayou to play the Saints. They looked gassed in a 24-3 Week 1 preseason loss. The 49ers then went 2-1 SU/ATS the rest of preseason, then wound up in the NFC Championship game in January, so don't read too much into Week 1.

Also keep an eye on home field. In August of 2004, home teams went 21-10-1 against the spread the first two weeks of preseason. Seven years ago, the home team went 10-5 SU/ATS the first week of exhibition play, and in 2006 went 11-5 SU, 8-7-1 ATS. Last season home teams went just 9-7 SU, 8-8 ATS, but in 2011 they went 11-5 SU/ATS in Week 1. There are edges in August football, you just have to know where to look and what to look for.

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Preseason Tidbits

Around the NFL, every team approaches the preseason differently. Some teams are working in an entire new coaching staff with new philosophies. Some teams have established quarterbacks while others have a competition among 2-3 players. Some just want to keep players healthy and don't show much of their offensive or defensive game plans. Knowing some of recent trends can help you find favorable matchups and get you off to a quick start before the regular season even kicks off. Enjoy our 'tidbits' for the NFL exhibition season.

Arizona Cardinals are 1-7 ATS in their last eight preseason games. They are under a new coaching regime. New head coach Bruce Arians is breaking in a new offense with a new quarterback, Carson Palmer. Arians was 3-1 ATS in the preseason as a member of Indy's coaching staff last year.

Buffalo Bills are 1-8 SU & 2-7 ATS in the last preseason games. Head Coach Doug Marrone is in his first season as an NFL head coach. He has an all new coaching staff with new offensive wrinkles. Expect the Bills to be more competitive as they break in a new offense with a heated battle between Kevin Kolb & EJ Manuel at quarterback.

Carolina Panthers are 1-10 SU & 3-8 ATS in the last 11 preseason road games. The Panthers haven't been strong on the road in preseason. They play at Philly on August 15 & at Baltimore on August 22.

Cincinnati Bengals are 1-6 ATS in the past seven preseason road games. Cincy will play its first preseason game on the road at Atlanta on August 8th and will be playing without top WR, AJ Green.

Denver Broncos are 1-5 ATS the past six preseason games as favorite. QB Manning won't see much action in the preseason, especially in the first couple of games. Expect a lot of uneven play from Brock Osweiler, Ryan Katz, and Zac Dysert splitting reps under center.

Detroit Lions are 9-2 SU & ATS the last 11 preseason games. Detroit has a proven backup QB in Shaun Hill and behind him Thaddeus Lewis has experience. This offense will stay strong the entire game with proven backup QB's. The Lions are also 7-3-1 OVER in the last 11 preseason games.

Green Bay Packers are 15-5 OVER the last 20 preseason games. Aaron Rodgers won't see a ton of plays, but there's a strong quarterback battle for the no. 2 spot between BJ Coleman and Graham Harrell. This offense has strong depth and we expect it to continue to put up points even with Rodgers on the bench.

Jacksonville Jaguars have played six straight preseason OVERs. Jacksonville has allowed 29.3 points per game over that stretch. New head coach Gus Bradley is a defensive specialist and will want to change that. The offense is still in rough shape with uncertainty at the QB position, so the Jags could be in for some low-scoring affairs in the preseason.

Kansas City Chiefs are 5-28-1 ATS in their last 34 preseason games. There is a new coaching staff but don't expect much of a change in their preseason woes. Head Coach Andy Reid never put a heavy emphasis on preseason in Philly as he went 9-13 ATS in his last 22 preseason games.

New England Patriots are 1-5 SU & 0-6 ATS their last six preseason games. New England hasn't put a lot of emphasis on preseason action under Bill Belichick. Tom Brady won't see many snaps and they'll opt to keep their top playmakers healthy. The Pats are also 45-27-1 OVER under Belichick in the preseason.

New York Giants UNDER is 8-2 their last 10 preseason games. The GMen have never been big on showing a lot of their starting offense in the preseason. Eli Manning won't see a ton of action and coaches will want to keep star WR's Cruz & Nicks healthy. Expect more low scoring games as they try to get their swagger back on defense as well.

New York Jets are 0-5 SU & ATS past 5 preseason games. Coaches are trying to determine if rookie QB Geno Smith is a better option than the embattled Mark Sanchez. Both Smith and Sanchez will see a good share of reps under center. And we don't expect stellar results from either.

Oakland Raiders are 2-8 SU & ATS past 10 preseason games. There isn't a ton of talent on this team and very little depth to speak of. QB Matt Flynn will try to hold off Terrelle Pryor and rookie Tyler Wilson. None of the three QB's are great and the receiving corps is very weak. It'll be tough to score and the Raiders' woes may continue this preseason.

Pittsburgh Steelers are 6-1 SU & 5-2 ATS in their past seven preseason games. Pittsburgh has also won 11 straight preseason home games since 2007.

St. Louis Rams are 11-3 SU & ATS past 14 preseason games. St. Louis is the buzz-team of the summer. A lot is expected from this up & coming team and the excitement could spill over into another solid preseason.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is a strong 19-9-1 in preseason action (4-0 in 2012). He has a strong stable to QB's to work with as well. Tavaris Jackson and Brady Quinn compete to backup star sophomore Russell Wilson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 9-2 ATS past 11 preseason road games. Tampa Bay plays at New England on August 16th and at Miami on August 26th. The Bucs apparently aren't sold on Josh Freeman as the starting QB of the future, so expect rookie Mike Glennon to get a long look under center.

Washington Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan is a career 44-34-2 ATS and 50-30 OVER in preseason games. Star QB Robert Griffin III is not expected to take any reps in the preseason.

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