Split ticket: 1 bet on NFL, 1 on MLB

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Surely some of you have these types of people in your life: “You bet on the NFL preseason?” Those who judge you for betting on the NFL exhibition slate are just evidence that you need to keep better company, not alter your betting habits. The preseason is a great time to make money. Proof is that the books’ limits typically are extremely low, as opposed to regular-season games, where they will let you bet as much as you please. As bettors, we can actually hold some advantages in the preseason because information is so valuable and is as accessible to us as it is to the books. And since books hang very low limits, they often don’t dedicate the time or effort to making the numbers as airtight as possible. Who is going to play their starters or second string more? Which coach is really emphasizing winning the game? These are things we can learn from reading coaches’ comments and listening to news conferences for clues. The information is out there, and it’s up to us to obtain it and use it to win.

Much like bowl games, especially the lesser ones, there is value in grabbing shorter numbers when playing the underdog, and it’s a better idea to play the moneyline when betting a favorite. Why? Teams don’t want to play overtime. They don’t really like playing four quarters, much less a fifth. So, for example, when a team scores when down a touchdown, it will often go for two instead of kicking the extra point to tie it. Many games land on 1, so grabbing 1.5 and 2 are more valuable than in the regular season, while laying 1.5 and 2 is more dangerous as well. The preseason is now mere hours away, so let’s find some winners …

Jaguars + 3.5 Over Browns, Preseason Week 1 (Aug. 14)

This fits a few angles I like to play. Not only does value exist in taking a short number, but we have a home team with a new coach. The Packers, Chiefs, Bucs and others have bigger fish to fry than Week 1 of the preseason, since they hope to be playing in February. But Urban Meyer, or any new coach, is trying to establish a winning culture and eliminate losing habits. Results mean more to new coaches, who want to start positively. In this game you get the new coach angle, you get points, you’re at home and you get a heck of a quarterback group. Trevor Lawrence will likely play a series or so, followed by Gardner Minshew, who is as good as any backup in the league. Third-stringer C.J. Beathard, who hopes to be out of COVID-19 protocols by then, has started 12 games and has a 22-12 TD-INT ratio. Fourth on the depth chart is Jake Luton, who started three games last season and showed flashes that he has what it takes to be at least an NFL backup. The Jaguars will be a team I’m looking to play on throughout the preseason, and maybe even into the games that count. The 3.5s are out there, but I’m not sure how long they will last. The Jaguars are a strong play here.

Phillies To Win NL East (+ 350)

This number is shrinking along with Mets’ once-commanding lead in the division. We’ve seen mediocrity in the NFC East for years, with the top teams unable to get out of their own way, and we’re seeing it in the NL East this year. The rash of injuries makes the Mets very susceptible to coughing up a division they have led since April. Jacob deGrom remains shut down after experiencing more tightness in his forearm (gulp), and the Mets are in a free fall. The question is: Who will rise up and take it from them? Even the Nationals, who sold off everything except their World Series trophy, remained only 6.5 out as of Tuesday afternoon, and they have blown four saves in the last nine days. With the Braves’ injuries and the Nationals’ fire sale, the Phillies have the rotation and the soft schedule to jump up and snatch a bid to October. They added All-Star pitcher Kyle Gibson to the rotation to go along with the dynamic 1-2 punch of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler and had cut the Mets’ lead to 2.5 games. The Mets added Javy Baez to the lineup, but he came up limping Monday night with a sore leg. It’s a bad time to be beaten up for the Mets, who will embark Aug. 13 on a 13-game stretch when they play nobody except the Dodgers and the Giants. Wheeler could steal the Cy Young Award from deGrom, and the Phillies might steal the Mets’ ticket to the dance. The Phillies are a good bet at plus money.

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