It was a great week for football fans and an even better week for Under bettors as the NFL returned with a full slate of preseason games, most of which stayed Under the total. We know those tall buildings in Sin City weren’t built by people winning money from the books, so be careful of jumping on the trend a week too late. If anything, if I were to blindly bet a total on each game this week, I would bet Over, as I expect the books to adjust — and perhaps overadjust, creating some value the other way. Once a trend becomes clear, especially when it’s highly publicized, I often look to buck that trend. Keep an eye out for low totals as we head to Week 2 of the preseason, and let’s find some winners ...
Detroit Lions (+ 6.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
With low-scoring games, we generally see closer games. Ten of the 16 NFL preseason contests last week were one-score games, and the biggest dogs on the board were the Bengals, who were getting 6 but won outright at Tampa Bay. At a similar price this week, the Lions face a Steelers team that already has two preseason wins, so perhaps Pittsburgh’s motivation is curbed a bit. Also, the Steelers are a veteran team used to winning with a coach who’s secure in his position. The Lions, on the other hand, are 0-1 under the highly caffeinated stewardship of Dan Campbell and are looking to reverse a losing culture. The reason I’m betting this is simple: This is too many points for all the randomness that accompanies a preseason game. Lions + 6.5 (might as well wait for a 7) and a little sprinkle on the moneyline are plays for me.
San Francisco Giants (-120) to Win NL West
Admittedly way late to the party here, but better late than never. When Shohei Ohtani’s MVP odds began to plummet from 50-1 to 10-1 to 4-1, you could have said you missed your chance ... or you could have recognized that there was still great value to seize, which there was. The same principle applies here. The Giants, who were 50-1 to win the NL West at some shops as late as April, have finally jumped atop the leaderboard in the eyes of oddsmakers after leading the division for most of the year. The Giants still have 10 games against the Rockies and Diamondbacks and own a four-game lead over the presumptive favorites, the Dodgers. The Giants are simply one of the most improbable success stories in baseball history. At 77-42, they could go winless the rest of the year and still eclipse their season win total. Many thought the Dodgers and Padres might be the best teams in baseball entering the year, so unseating them to win the division would be perhaps the greatest upset in a sport in which a 162-game season does not lend itself to upsets. The Dodgers have already lost pitchers Dustin May, Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias. With only three games head to head against the Giants, the Dodgers are simply running out of time to catch the Giants, who have not stubbed their toes all year, so why would they now?