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Bettors cash in on Raiders, overs in NFL preseason

The betting public typically shies away from wagering on the NFL preseason. But they’ve backed the Raiders in their first two preseason games and dealt sportsbooks a loss both times.

The Raiders kicked off the preseason with a 27-11 win and cover as 2½-point favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.

They followed that up Sunday by covering as 4½-point favorites over the Minnesota Vikings in a 26-20 victory at Allegiant Stadium.

“They backed the Raiders in both preseason games heavily,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “The Hall of Fame game is traditionally not a heavily bet game. But we were huge Jaguars fans in that game. And our biggest decision of the weekend was the Raiders-Vikings game.

“We had a much bigger handle on the Raiders-Vikings game than the Yankees-Red Sox game, to put it in perspective.”

The Westgate SuperBook also lost on the Raiders game.

“In the preseason, we’re mostly dealing with sharp play. There’s very little public play outside of the local teams,” Westgate vice president of risk Jeff Sherman said. “But we had a lot of play on the Raiders. The Raiders look like they’re trying to win these games.”

In NFL preseason Week 2, the Raiders are 2-point road favorites over the Miami Dolphins on Saturday, and the total is 41½.

It’s all over

The over cashed in both Raiders’ games and is 14-3 overall this preseason.

Totals closed as low as 30½ in NFL preseason Week 1, which mostly featured second- and third-stringers. But Esposito thinks the NFL’s emphasis this year on calling more illegal contact penalties has helped push more games over the total.

“The league has asked for that call to be made more frequently, and there were a lot more of those penalties in the Raiders-Vikings game and across the board,” he said. “It’s an automatic first down to extend drives, and it’s going to force totals up by the time the season starts unless something changes between now and then.”

Twelve of this week’s 16 games have totals of 40 or higher, but Sherman said the numbers haven’t been adjusted because of the high-scoring start.

“On average, totals are six points higher this week just because of the players expected to play, not because of the results,” he said. “A lot of coaches are saying they want to play their (starters) this week and take next week off.”

Ravens still streaking

The Baltimore Ravens extended their NFL record preseason win streak to 21 in Thursday’s 23-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans. Baltimore, a 3½-point favorite, covered its 10th straight preseason game and is 19-2 ATS during the streak.

The Westgate won on the game after taking sharp bets on the Titans from +5 down to +3½.

“Baltimore was one of the sides we favored,” Sherman said. “We aggressively got to 5.”

The Ravens are 6½-point road favorites Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals.

The Buffalo Bills are riding a nine-game preseason win streak. They’re 4½-point home favorites Saturday over the Denver Broncos.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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