Before the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducts its Class of 2018, the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens will square off in the unofficial start to the 2018 NFL season. While many new bettors might brush off NFL preseason betting, it can be a great way to get some practice reading the odds and teams before the regular season betting begins.
The Bears and Ravens will play in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Aug.2, and it will be the first game of the NFL preseason. In the weeks leading up to the NFL regular season, GetMoreSports will have odds, analysis, previews and predictions for each preseason game. All odds are courtesy of BetDSI.com, where new members receive a 100 per cent welcome bonus of up to $500.
Wins and losses don’t necessarily matter in the NFL preseason, but teams still compete to see which players are worthy to make the final roster. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers aren’t going to play every snap, and they don’t need to. But most teams have multiple position battles, and the preseason allows teams to gauge the talent on the roster in a competitive atmosphere.
Likewise, NFL preseason betting allows sports bettors an early glimpse at teams before the season officially begins in September. Bettors can see which players look like they’ve lost a step. They can also see which teams have deep rosters, which could come into play during the season if starters are injured.
Winning preseason games doesn’t always mean success in the regular season. For example, the Cleveland Browns were 4-0 last preseason. They finished the regular season 0-16. The New England Patriots were 1-3, while the Philadelphia Eagles were 2-2. Both teams played in the Super Bowl.
To have success with NFL preseason betting, it’s important to read as much information as possible on who is expected to play. Will Cam Newton play an entire half, or will he just play one or two series? Which teams have quarterbacks locked into a battle for first on the depth chart? Established starters typically only play a few series in the preseason, but those competing for a starting job play for longer.
Teams won’t play someone in the preseason that they will meet in the regular season, though they could square off in the playoffs. In many cases, the two teams playing in a preseason game will hold a joint practice session together — especially if they’re from opposite conferences.
NFL Preseason Betting Strategies
There are several different options bettors can consider when betting on an NFL preseason game. For inexperienced NFL bettors, the preseason can serve as practice for the regular season.
Each game will have a spread, moneyline, total, team totals and various prop bets, depending on the sportsbook.
The point spread informs bettors of which team is the favorite and which team is the underdog. For instance, let’s say oddsmakers set the Hall of Fame Game line at Ravens -1.5 (-110). That means Baltimore is favored by 1.5 points, and they have to win by at least two points to cover the spread if you choose to wager on them.
The (-110) is called the vigorish — more popularly referred to as the “vig” or “juice.” This means a bettor has to wager $110 to win $100. That extra $10, or whatever the vig might be, can only be lost. Bettors can’t win $110 in that scenario, but they can lose $110. Sometimes bettors will get (-120) or (-130), meaning they will have to risk more to win $100. If the line was Ravens -1.5 (Even), bettors could risk $100 to win $100.
Alternatively, the Bears would be 1.5-point underdogs. So, if you pick Chicago, you’ll win the bet if they win outright or lose by one point. Spreads typically aren’t as high in NFL games as they are in college football games. Last year, the largest spread in an NFL regular season game was New England (-15.5) over Miami. The Patriots covered as they won 35-14.
The moneyline the most simple concept and an easy starting point for novice bettors. If you take a team’s moneyline, you’re simply picking that team to win the game. There are no point spreads involved. It’s as simple as picking the winner. Sounds easy, right?
Of course, there’s a catch. Let’s say you want to bet the Patriots over the Redskins in Week 1 of the preseason, and the Pats are -220 on the moneyline. If you pick them to win, that means a bettor would risk $220 to win $100. It’s a riskier bet financially, but you’re also not dealing with point spreads.
On the other hand, if a bettor likes the underdog, they can get better odds. If the Pats are -220 on the moneyline, the Redskins might be something like +180. That means a $100 bet would turn a $180 profit — but Washington would have to win outright.
Moneylines can vary depending on the spread. For teams who are favored by a touchdown or more, the moneyline would likely be -300 or more. Furthermore, an underdog of a touchdown or more could be anywhere from +200 and higher.
Sometimes a bettor might not like a particular team in a matchup, but they might have an angle on total. The total simply refers to how many combined points both teams score.
If you look at the Ravens and Bears matchup for Week 1 of the preseason. It’s the first week of the preseason, so the total might be lower than normal. The total for this matchup is 34.5 (-110). So, if you take the over, you’re betting that the Ravens and Bears will combine to score over 34.5 points in the game. If you take the under, you’re betting on less than 34.5 points.
Points can come from either team or both. If you bet the over and the Ravens win 35-0, you’d win. If you bet the under and the Bears win 23-10, you’d win.
Bettors can also bet team totals. This narrows down the total bet even more specifically. So, we’ve determined that the Ravens are 1.5-point favorites, and the overall total is 34.5. In that case, Baltimore’s team total would likely be about 18, while Chicago’s would be about 16.5.
If you take Baltimore over, you’re betting on the Ravens scoring more than 18 points. If they score 18 points exactly, it’s a push, and the bet is cancelled. If they score under 18 points, you win.
NFL Preseason props might be a bit more limited than regular season prop bets. Nevertheless, there still should be plenty of opportunities to bet on props for preseason games.
Prop bets include betting on individual players to reach a certain benchmark during the game. For example, let’s say there’s a prop on Joe Flacco’s completions during the game. Oddsmakers might set the over/under for Flacco’s completions at 6.5 (-110). If you thought Flacco was going to play more than a few series, you might take the over.
Props for individual players can include pass completions, touchdown passes, interceptions, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Another popular prop bet it first person to score a touchdown. Several players from each team are listed, and there’s also the option for betting on the field. First touchdown bets don’t include quarterbacks throwing for touchdowns, but rushing touchdowns do count for quarterbacks.
Here’s an example of what the first person to score prop might look like for Bears/Ravens:
Alex Collins (+300)
Jordan Howard (+350)
Allen Robinson (+550)
Michael Crabtree (+700)
Tarik Cohen (+900)
Mitch Trubisky (+1000)
Nick Boyle (+1150)
Willie Snead (+1200)
Joe Flacco (+1400)
If you bet the field, you’re betting that someone not on that list scores first. The odds are in a bettor’s favor for every player because it’s pretty difficult to predict which player will score first.
NFL Preseason Week 1 Games of the Week
All eyes will be on the Hall of Fame Game as the Ravens and Bears give fans their first taste of football for the season.
Baltimore fans will get their first glimpse of first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson at quarterback. Joe Flacco is still the starter, but it will be intriguing to monitor if he can hold onto the job all season considering the Ravens can shed his after this season. Jackson, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville, could potentially steal Flacco’s job during the 2018 season.
Chicago fans will also get to see first-year coach Matt Nagy in action for the first time. The Bears might not be a playoff team this year, but they’re a candidate to improve in 2018.
Other rookie quarterbacks on display are Josh Allen with the Bills, Baker Mayfield with the Browns, Sam Darnold with the Jets and Josh Rosen with the Cardinals. It’s unclear if any will start Week 1 of the regular season, but they will each have opportunities to shine during the preseason.
Another game to watch in Week 1 of the preseason involves the defending Super Bowl champions. The Eagles host the Steelers, and the biggest question will be if Carson Wentz is ready to play. Nick Foles guided the franchise to its first Super Bowl win, but Wentz is still the man in Philadelphia.
As for Pittsburgh, well, they always have drama. Will Le’Veon Bell be pleased with his contract situation? Perhaps the sides reach a deal, but it’s not likely. Ben Roethlisberger discussed the possibility of retiring last year. How much left does he have in the tank? Plus, the Eagles and the Steelers don’t like each other. This could be a very entertaining preseason game.
There’s also some intrigue surrounding the Patriots entering the preseason. Tom Brady will turn 41 a few days before the Pats take on the Redskins. Brady won the MVP at age 40. He can’t possibly keep this up, can he?
New England’s receiving corps will look much different, and it will be intriguing to monitor how Brady meshes with new targets. Julian Edelman is suspended for the first four games, and the team might be extra cautious with him considering he tore his ACL in last year’s preseason. Brandin Cooks is no longer there, and neither is Danny Amendola.
New England’s opponent, Washington, also has several new faces. The Redskins traded for Alex Smith to replace Kirk Cousins, and Smith will be tasked with developing chemistry with his new receiving corps.
NFL Preseason Week 1 Betting Strategy
For the opening week of preseason games, it’s always a smart idea to read as much information to determine how much playing time certain players will receive. You don’t want to bet a large amount on the Patriots over the Redskins assuming Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are going to play the majority of the game.
Another great NFL preseason betting strategy is looking into seeing which rookie quarterbacks are going to play the most — particularly those battling for a starting job. Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield will likely both get reps in the Browns’ opener at the Giants. Cleveland was undefeated in the preseason last year, and both quarterbacks will have something to prove.
Before betting on teams like the Steelers, Patriots, or Packers, ask yourself how much those teams really care about winning in the preseason? Sure, those will be three of the best teams. But Bill Belichick doesn’t care what his record is in the preseason.
2018 NFL Preseason Week 1 Betting Odds and Schedule
Thursday, Aug. 2
Hall of Fame Game: Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens (NBC, 8 p.m.)
The NFL preseason kicks off with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. While the rest of the teams begin playing preseason games a week later, the Bears and Ravens get a head start on the remainder of the league. However, don’t expect to see too many starters on the field for either team.
Typically, starters see the most playing time in the second and third weeks of the preseason. Fans waiting to see how Lamar Jackson looks with the Ravens might be in luck since backup quarterbacks usually get the majority of the reps.
For bettors chomping at the bit to wager again on the NFL, the preseason can serve as an opportunity to familiarize themselves with each team. BetDSI.com currently has the Ravens favored by 2.5 (-116) over the Bears (+2.5, -101). A bet on the Ravens -2.5 means they have to win by more than three points for you to win. Baltimore is -145 on the moneyline, while Chicago is +119. That means a bettor has to risk $145 to win $100 on the Ravens to win, while a $100 bet on Chicago would profit $119.
The over/under for the game is 32. The over of 32 is +101, while the under is -123. If you bet the under, you will have to risk $123 to win $100. If you bet the over, a $100 wager would win $101. The Hall of Fame Game usually isn’t an offensive showcase. Four of the last six games have resulted in a combined total of 30 points or less.
Week 1 of the preseason is mostly an opportunity for backups, but it’s a good thing to have football back.
Thursday, Aug. 9
Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers (7 p.m.)
The Cowboys’ trip to Northern California to face the 49ers won’t have the appeal of yesteryear, though there are several players and position battles worth watching.
First and foremost is Dez Bryant’s replacement. Terrance Williams is an option, but he did little with past opportunities and is recovering from foot surgery. Rookie third-rounder Michael Gallup is the more intriguing player. He should get plenty of chances to show what he can do.
For the 49ers, Joe Williams and Matt Breida will be the players to watch. Newly-signed Jerick McKinnon is getting plenty of love in fantasy circles due to the belief that he could be something between Devonta Freeman and a three-down back. But if he is Devonta Freeman, who will be Tevin Coleman? Williams, Breida and Jeremy McNichols are all in the mix.
For those more interested in betting on the game than scouting for fantasy, there will be some significant players missing from both teams. The 49ers are already ruling Richard Sherman out. The same goes for linebacker Brock Coyle, who is coming off his best season. It also wouldn’t be a surprise if they sat veterans Joe Staley and Pierre Garcon until later in the preseason.
The Cowboys are unlikely to play the aforementioned Williams. They’d also be wise to sit Sean Lee, who is extremely important, yet injury prone.
For what it’s worth, the 49ers suffered their worst loss of the 2017 regular season in a Week 7 home game against Dallas. But that was before Jimmy Garoppolo’s arrival and the 49ers’ subsequent turnaround. Plus, the Cowboys played almost none of their starters last year in the Hall of Fame Game and Week 1 of the preseason. The Niners (-3.5) are a solid choice.
Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills (7 p.m.)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles (7 p.m.)
Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals (7 p.m.)
Cleveland Browns at New York Giants (7 p.m.)
New Orleans Saints at Jacksonville Jaguars (7 p.m.)
Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens (7:30 p.m.)
Washington Redskins at New England Patriots (6:30 p.m.)
Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers (8 p.m.)
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (8:30 p.m.)
Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks (10 p.m.)
Friday, Aug. 10
Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets (7:30 p.m.)
Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders (10:30 p.m.)
Saturday, Aug. 11
Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos (9 p.m.)
Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals (10 p.m.)
Check out our other NFL Preseason Betting Guides: