Why Our Staff Loves Betting on the NFL Pre-Season?!

Here at UndertheCovers, we love the NFL pre-season.  It’s a chance to see the rookies and free agents with their new teams and it means that the regular season is only a few weeks away.  But more than that, it gives us the opportunity to build our bankroll before the season even starts. 

Betting the pre-season is much different from the regular season when it comes to handicapping the games.  In the regular season, we lean on our power ratings, situational edges, analyzing relevant statistics, etc.  In the pre-season, we throw almost all of that out the window… we are focusing on three key elements – motivation, matchups, and perhaps most importantly, the quarterback rotation.

When it comes to motivation, some coaches really want to win their pre-season games, and they’ll leave starters in longer, open up the playbook, and try to capture some momentum going into the regular season.  The king of all preseason coaches is, without question, Baltimore’s John Harbaugh.  If you have blindly bet the Ravens in every preseason game since Harbaugh started coaching, you’ve made some serious cheddar.  He is 40-12 straight up in the preseason and the Ravens are currently riding a 20! Game preseason win streak going into 2022.  The games may not count, but the tickets sure as hell cash the same! 

Pay Attention to “Coach Talk” Leading up to Pre-Season Games.

Coaches will often tip their hand as to how long they are going to leave their starters and second teams in.  In these preseason games, we are looking for significant stretches of the game when we may find the ultimate mismatch – a first team playing against a second team, or a second against a third.  This happens all the time in the preseason.  The only times you’ll see it in the regular season are at the end of a blowout game or in the last week of the season when one team is resting its starters rolling into the playoffs.

In our opinion, the most important piece of the preseason game handicap is being aware of the quarterback carousel.  In the regular season, there’s nothing better than having one of the elite QB’s slinging the ball for you, but in the preseason, those guys rarely play.  So while the great QB’s are grabbing pine – the good, the mediocre, and the future accountants are fighting for backup jobs and spots on the practice squad.  The teams we want to bet on are the teams that are undecided on what their regular season rotation is going to look like.

A team we like for this NFL pre-season based on this approach is the Pittsburgh Steelers.  With the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have arguably the most interesting QB camp battle between Mason Rudolph, Mitch Trubisky, and rookie Kenny Pickett.  They will all see significant playing time in the preseason.  All three are legit NFL quarterbacks – not elite but not bound for a practice squad either.  Depending on the rotation, we will see one or two of them playing against third-teamers in the 2nd half of preseason games.  These are highly motivated players who will be playing against defenders they can potentially dominate.  We want to take advantage of these situations by playing on the Steelers and looking for 2nd half bets so we can further exploit this matchup advantage.

Final Tips & Analysis when Betting the NFL Pre-Season…

We’ll leave you with a couple of more points when it comes to betting on the NFL pre-season.  First, there is no overtime in the preseason.  From a betting perspective, this is important because it gives more value to the short underdog. 

For example, if Team A, a 2-point underdog is down by three at the end of the game and kicks a last-second field goal to tie it up, in the regular season you are off to overtime where you can still win or lose your bet.  In the pre-season, the kick ties the game and you are a winner because you are getting those two sweet points.  Moreover, you can expect most coaches to not play for the tie if, for instance, an extra point were to tie the game.  Instead, the coach will play for the one-point win or one-point loss – again making a short underdog a winner. 

Lastly, don’t forget there are only 3 preseason games now, not counting the Hall of Fame Game.  Therefore, expect to see the most action from starters in Week 2, and practically none in Week 3.  In Week 2, we’ll be looking to play on some of the better teams in the league and may look towards first-half bets so we can take advantage of starters vs starters only.  In week 3, we will rely much more on the quarterback rotations and look closely to play unders in games in which the quarterbacks are simply not NFL caliber.

 Good luck this preseason and keep visiting Underthecovers for NFL Preseason winners!!!

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