The National Football League preseason is kicking off across the league, and gambling on the most popular sport in the country is heating up once again as August progresses.
Even though the games don't technically matter, fans can't wait to get back in on the action. Online NFL betting sites, including FanDuel Sportsbook, have lines for every preseason game available and are even offering a range of prop markets in the preseason as well. Not everybody likes to wager on preseason football without having seen much of these teams yet, but others prefer it for that exact reason since oddsmakers are in the same boat.
If you're someone who wants to take a shot at making some money before the regular season kicks off, we'll go through some tips below before making NFL predictions for the opening week of the 2019 preseason using odds from FanDuel, the current industry leader when it comes to the amount of money in bets taken inside New Jersey.
NFL Betting Tips: Preseason Edition
Believe it or not, there are some very specific things to be aware of when it comes to gambling on football that are only relevant in the preseason. Finding value is tough when the games don't matter, making every wager more of a dart throw than an educated guess, so try to keep the following things in mind:
- Who Is Playing?
The preseason in general, but the first game especially is notorious for starting-caliber players sitting out whether they're healthy or not. The final game is the same way, but this is something to be conscious of all preseason long. Even if the better players suit up, it's likely they won't be out there very long. Coaches don't need important pieces taking or delivering more hits than necessary before the season even gets underway. Second and third-string units are the ones that own these games, so that bears more of the focus when making NFL betting picks on the preseason.
- Sloppy Play Can Lead To Unders
One of the first things that come to mind when you think of preseason is sloppy play. This happens more so in the first and fourth games, but it's a staple of preseason football nonetheless. Offenses generally aren't crisp and points can be hard to come by. Oddsmakers already know there aren't any juggernauts out there with totals routinely set in the 30s during the first week of the preseason. Don't be afraid of low numbers and attack some unders.
- Internal Position Battles
If any specific position groups are on the line regarding the two teams in the game you're considering, you should be aware of it. There's a lack of general urgency in preseason games since the results don't matter, but an offensive or defensive unit can go all-out if there are jobs on the line. As the preseason moves on, it becomes a bit easier to tell whether a team will be motivated so take it game-to-game.
For more information on football wagering, visit our guide on How To Bet On The NFL Online.
NFL Preseason Week 1 Predictions
The first preseason game of the year is usually a feeling-out process for everyone. Many starting players either don't suit up or just go out there for a few snaps before packing it in, so much of the game is played by backups. The football tends to get ugly in the second half but still features some critical battles for roster spots on both sides of the ball. Admittedly, it's hard to know what to expect, but we're taking the logical route for our free NFL picks against the spread for Week 1 of the preseason.
New York Jets (-2.5, O/U 34.5) @ New York Giants - Thursday, 7pm
The co-tenants of MetLife Stadium meet in a Giants home game with the Jets as slight favorites on sports betting sites in NJ like FanDuel.
The way we see it, the most important part of this game for either team (aside from avoiding additional injuries) is the Giants' need for receiving help. While several wideouts are vying for a role in Eli Manning's offense, they'll be catching passes from Daniel Jones as the No.6 makes his professional debut. Ultimately, he will likely struggle, leading to chances for the Jets' second, third or fourth stringers to put up a few points.
On the other side, the Jets have backup QB Trevor Siemian, an NFL veteran, likely to get plenty of time under center. He'll be working with a dynamic group of running backs battling for position behind Le'Veon Bell who who wont make his Jets debut just yet.
Pick: New York Jets -2.5 (-110)
Indianapolis Colts (-2.5, O/U35) @ Buffalo Bills - Thursday, 7pm
The AFC South-favorite Colts are 2.5-point favorites in Buffalo to open up the preseason, but they won't be at full strength.
Quarterback Andrew Luck is still working his way back from a calf injury and it's not currently known when he'll play. Jacoby Brissett is slated to get some action, but Indianapolis also needs to be careful with their backup in the event Luck cannot begin the season. On Buffalo's end, second-year QB Josh Allen likely won't be seeing much of the field in game one and Matt Barkley will take the reins early on with a ton of new faces on offense for the Bills.
Overall, we see both offenses struggling to get going in the opening game. Throw in the bad weather, and this is a big-time candidate for an under at FanDuel Sportsbook
Pick: Colts/Bills Under 35 (-102)
Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers (-4, O/U 36) - Saturday, 9pm
The Cowboys travel to San Francisco as four-point underdogs and with plenty of questions to be answered. The most important one concerns running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is currently holding out of training camp for a new contract.
While it's hard to imagine Dallas entering the season without one of the best runners in the league, online NFL betting during the preseason is actually effected by this. How alternative options like Tony Pollard and Mike Weber perform may dictate just how urgent Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are in re-signing their star running back. Success for other players behind Dallas' offensive line could also give the front office some leverage in negotiations, whereas struggles could make the Cowboys think they need Elliott no matter the cost.
The Elliott drama is far from over, but we think Pollard and Weber rise to the occasion with a huge opportunity on the line. We like Dallas +4 for the last of our online NFL betting picks for Week 1 of the preseason.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys +4 (+100)
Best of luck!