NFL preseason betting concepts for 2023
Betting the preseason is an altogether different challenge than the regular season. The goals teams share in these contests are never the same. In any given exhibition tilt, one of the teams may be playing to win and build momentum, while the other may be simply hoping to get through unscathed. If you go through the recent game logs of teams, you’ll see that certain coaches seem to believe in different preseason playing strategies. Nevertheless, in any grouping of games that provide enough data, I am always able to pull out worthwhile nuggets that bettors can use to their advantage.
Using some foundation principles as the basis for them, take a look at eight different betting concepts I was able to uncover after analyzing my preseason database from over the last decade or so, plus some of the top team-by-team situational trends that will be in play for the next few weeks.
All of these angles will be tracked and qualified on a week-to-week basis this NFL preseason in our upcoming VSiN Analytics NFL Preseason reports.
Line ranges have proven very telling
Oddsmakers have essentially led bettors to water in the preseason, although it is easy to see how these prices can seem tricky to bettors. Since 2010, there have been 11 teams that have been favored by more than 7 points. Eight of these heavy favorites won their games outright. However, they were 3-8 ATS. At the same time, favorites in the “sweet spot” range of -3.5 to -7 have been quite reliable, going 130-100-4 ATS for 56.5%. Most games, however, tend to land in the -1 to -3 range, and those contests are where the underdogs THRIVE. Since 2015, underdogs in the +1 to +3 range own a highly profitable record of 149-102 ATS, good for 59.4%!
Home-field advantage usually means very little in tight-lined games
In looking at the home/road results of the last 11 NFL preseasons, there have been only two years where home teams finished with a record of better than .500 ATS, including last year, the most profitable at 28-17 ATS. If you’re simply guessing on these games, or wagering them for fun, side with the road teams, as the points given to hosts by oddsmakers for their “home-field advantage” tend to tip the ATS ledger to the visitors. In fact, since 2011, road teams own a 343-307 ATS edge, good for 52.8%, and essentially enough to make a reasonable profit. However, the absolute best time to back road teams is in spots where they are underdogs of 2.5 points or less, as they have gone 69-35 ATS as such since 2015, good for 66.3%!
“37” is a magic number for totals
Since 2010 in the NFL preseason, the number 37 has proven to be quite the benchmark in terms of totals. Totals less than 37 have gone Over at a rate of 58.4% (269-192), while those 37 or higher have gone Under at a 56.9% clip (512-387). Take away the regular occurrence of Unders in the HOF game, and that first trend is even greater.
Big wins have a carryover effect
NFL teams coming off preseason wins of 20+ points and favored are on a 21-5 SU & 16-8-2 ATS (66.7%) surge since 2013. Most bettors tend to favor a yin-yang strategy in the preseason, assuming that the scales balance out, but in truth, big wins have provided big momentum for the next game as well.
Teams off double-digit losses are bad bets at home, good on the road
Double-digit games are noteworthy indicators of the potential performance of the losing team in the follow-up game. When these teams have played at home the following week, they have gone just 33-46 ATS (41.8%) since 2013. When they faced their next contest on the road, they performed well, 46-38 ATS (54.8%) in that same time span. This 13% variance is something you are going to want to give consideration to in the final two weeks of this year’s preseason.
Teams that scored very well last game tend to come back down to earth
Offensive outbursts one week don’t tend to carry over to the next game in the preseason, as teams that scored 34 points or more in their previous exhibition game have gone just 10-14 SU and 9-14-1 ATS (39.1%) since 2015 (also 15-9 Under). None of these 24 teams reached 30 again either.
Teams that didn’t score well at all are good Over bets the next game
Struggling offenses tend to bounce back well in the next outing of the preseason as teams that were held to fewer than 10 points in their previous preseason contest have gone 73-55-1 Over the total (57%) in the next game since 2010. These teams average 20.2 PPG in the next contest while giving up 21.0.
Fade home teams that had huge defensive efforts last time out
Teams playing at home after allowing seven points or fewer in their previous preseason game are just 18-27 SU and 15-28-2 ATS (34.9%) since 2010. Their average points allowed in the follow-up contest balloons to 20.5 PPG, a lofty total by preseason standards.
Team Situational Trends
- Atlanta is on a 4-17 SU and ATS skid in the preseason
- Baltimore has won 23 straight preseason games and is 24-4-1 ATS in the last 29
- Buffalo is on a 10-1 SU and ATS surge in the preseason but did lose its final game of ‘22
- Dallas won its final two preseason games of ’22 SU and ATS after going 6-21-3 ATS in its prior 30
- Denver is 10-2 Under the total in its last 12 preseason games
- Detroit has won just two of its last 16 preseason games outright, allowing 25.9 PPG, and is 3-11-1 ATS in its last 15
- Las Vegas is on an impressive 10-3 SU and ATS preseason surge
- Miami has gone 8-3 SU and 9-2 ATS in its last 11 preseason contests
- New Orleans has gone 16-4-1 Under the total in its last 21 preseason tilts
- The NY Jets have not lost any of their last seven preseason contest (6-0-1 SU and 6-1 ATS)
- Philadelphia has gone 3-11-1 SU and ATS in the last 15 preseason games
- Washington is just 2-10 SU and ATS in the last 12 preseason games
- Atlanta broke a 10-game home ATS losing streak in its final preseason game of 2022
- Baltimore is currently on an 11-game road preseason winning streak and is 11-0-1 ATS in its last 12 games
- Chicago is on an impressive run on 8-2-1 ATS in its last 11 road preseason games
- Cincinnati has gone 7-1 ATS in its last eight road preseason tilts
- Cleveland boasts an 8-1 SU and ATS mark in its last nine road preseason contests
- Dallas is 1-15 SU and 3-13 ATS on the preseason road since 2012
- Detroit has lost its last 7 home preseason games SU and ATS
- Green Bay is on a 10-2 SU and ATS run at home in the preseason but has lost its last seven on the road (0-7 SU and 0-6-1 ATS)
- Indianapolis is on a 9-2-1 ATS surge on the preseason road
- Jacksonville home preseason games have been a struggle, 4-13 SU and 4-12-1 ATS in the last 17
- Las Vegas has won its last six preseason home games SU and ATS, holding opponents to 8.7 PPG
- New England is 11-4 Under the total in its last 15 preseason road affairs
- San Francisco has gone Under the total in its last seven road preseason games
- Seattle is on an 8-1 Under the total run in home preseason games
- Since 2013, Tampa Bay is just 4-13 SU and 3-14 ATS in home preseason contests
- Washington has lost its last six home preseason games ATS
Off SU Win/Loss Trends
- Carolina is on an 11-2 SU and 10-2-1 ATS run in its last 13 preseason games following a loss the week prior, but 2-9 ATS in the last 11 games following a win
- Chicago has gone 6-0 Over the total in its last six games following up a preseason loss
- Dallas is 4-14-2 ATS in the last 20 preseason games following a loss
- Detroit has gone 9-0 Over the total in its last nine games following a preseason loss
- Houston is 8-1 SU and ATS in its last nine games rebounding from a preseason loss
- The last seven LA Rams preseason losses were followed up by an Under on totals
- New Orleans has gone Under the total in the last eight games following up a preseason win
- Seattle is 13-3 SU and 12-4 ATS in the last 16 preseason games following up a win the week prior
- Washington has gone 8-1 Under the total in the last nine games following up a preseason loss
- Buffalo is on an 8-1 SU and ATS surge as a preseason underdog but did lose last time out
- Chicago is 13-3 ATS since 2015 as a preseason underdog but 1-7-1 ATS in its last nine games as chalk
- Cincinnati is on a 7-1 ATS surge as a preseason underdog
- Cleveland is 11-3-1 ATS since 2012 as a preseason underdog
- Denver is 10-2 Under the total in its last 12 as a preseason favorite, allowing just 11.3 PPG
- Green Bay has lost seven straight games SU as preseason dog (0-6-1 ATS)
- Indianapolis is on an 8-0-3 ATS surge as a preseason underdog
- Jacksonville is just 3-9 SU and ATS in its last 12 when laying points in the preseason
- LA Rams have covered just once in its last nine preseason games as favorites
- New England is 8-1 Under the total in the last nine as preseason underdog
- NY Giants are 9-2 ATS in its last 11 as preseason underdogs but 1-7 ATS in its last eight as favorites
- Pittsburgh is 9-3 SU and ATS in its last 12 as preseason underdog
- San Francisco is on a 5-0-1 ATS streak as preseason underdog
- Tampa Bay is 5-11 SU and 4-12 ATS in its last 16 as preseason favorite
- Washington has lost seven straight games SU as preseason underdog while going 1-6 ATS