Betting NFL preseason games can be profitable proposition

The days of being labeled a degenerate for betting on NFL preseason games are long gone. Now your friends can only call you crazy if you parlay a preseason game with the WNBA and Canadian Football League.

In fact, sharp bettors consider the NFL preseason, which starts in earnest Thursday with 12 games, to be their best chance to make money.

“Preseason football is much more profitable than the regular season,” professional sports bettor Ron Boyles said. “The (NFL) regular season is the toughest nut to crack.

“There’s a reason the books take 20 dimes ($20,000) on an NFL side in the regular season and only one dime in the preseason.”

Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons estimates that sharps account for 70 to 80 percent of the wagering handle in the preseason versus 10 to 20 percent of the action in the regular season.

“It’s definitely different from what you see in the regular season,” he said. “I think anyone in this industry has respected people that bet the limit on preseason football.”

Information game

Boyles and Salmons agreed that information is the key to success in preseason wagering.

“It’s an information game, and whoever gets it first gets the advantage,” Boyles said. “If you get to the information before the market gets it, you get the best of it by two or three points.

“As soon as you find out who’s playing, the motivation for the coach and how long the quarterback or offensive line is going to play, it’s a huge edge.”

Line moves

For example, Salmons noted that the Patriots were 4½-point favorites over the Redskins before news broke that Washington quarterback Alex Smith was expected to see extended playing time Thursday at New England. The line quickly dropped to 3.

Likewise, the Jets opened as 1½-point favorites over the Falcons in Friday’s game, but the line has since climbed to 3½ after reports that quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold will split the bulk of playing time. Returning starter Josh McCown isn’t expected to play much, if at all.

“All the reports I’ve read are that Darnold’s looked great in camp,” Salmons said. “That’s two starting quarterbacks who’ll play the whole game. I can’t imagine Matt Ryan is going to play at all in that game.

“You have to read stuff between the lines.”

In general, Boyles advises backing teams with quarterback competitions.

Key characters

Coaches and quarterbacks are the biggest factors in preseason handicapping.

Besides guiding the Bills to four straight Super Bowls, former Buffalo coach Marv Levy was well known for losing in the preseason.

“Marv Levy was like 0-4 every year and wouldn’t cover any of the games. He was like an ATM machine,” Boyles said. “Some guys just do not care. (Steelers coach Mike) Tomlin doesn’t care. (Ravens coach John) Harbaugh does. (Vikings coach Mike) Zimmer does.”

Seattle coach Pete Carroll has the best preseason record ATS, at 34-14-1, followed by Harbaugh (27-14) and Zimmer (12-5).

Pittsburgh is on a 6-16 spread slide in the preseason under Tomlin, according to OddsShark. The Steelers also are on an 0-7 preseason under streak and have gone under in 29 of 46 preseason games under Tomlin.

Steelers-Eagles under

Boyles expects that trend to continue in Thursday’s Steelers-Eagles game. The total opened at 35 but is down to 33 at most books.

“That’ll be a snoozefest,” he said. “I’ve got a feeling they’ll run the ball and do absolutely nothing in that game.”

New coaches typically want to win in the preseason, as do those trying to keep their job — such as Cleveland’s Hue Jackson, who went 4-0 in last year’s preseason between 1-15 and 0-16 regular seasons.

New coaches

The NFL’s new coaches are Oakland’s Jon Gruden, Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel, Detroit’s Matt Patricia, Arizona’s Steve Wilks, Chicago’s Matt Nagy, the New York Giants’ Pat Shurmur and Indianapolis’ Frank Reich, who played for Levy.

Flip-flop theory

Handicapper and ESPN 1100 radio host Bernie Fratto subscribes to what he calls a flip-flop theory in the preseason.

“The flip-flop has been pretty solid for me. If a team loses its first game and doesn’t cover, look for them to come back and cover the next game,” he said. “But be very selective. You have to be careful, because probably 50 percent of the guys playing in these games are going to be working for NAPA Auto Parts next month.”

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

Raiders Videos
Marshawn Lynch Retires, Raiders Draft Pick Preview - Video
The Oakland Raiders are preparing for their 2019 draft pick in the first round, but Marshawn Lynch has announced he is retiring and will not be playing next season. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over the potential Raiders 2019 draft pick and Marshawn Lynch's retirement.
Vegas Nation: 2019 NFL Draft Predictions - VIDEO
The Oakland Raiders have three first round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Michael Gehlken breaks down possible options for the silver and black before Thursday's draft.
Vegas Nation: 2019 NFL Draft Predictions - VIDEO
The Oakland Raiders have three first round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Michael Gehlken breaks down possible options for the silver and black before Thursday's draft.
Raiders Stadium Area Property Causing Developers Hurdles
With property values increasing around the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas, what other barriers do developers face?
Will Land Around Las Vegas Raiders Stadium Turn To Gold
Property owners around the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium are getting a lot of inquiries about selling.
Will developers face hurdles with property near Raiders stadium?
With property values increasing around the new stadium what other barriers do developers face? (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Will land around Raiders stadium turn to gold?
With values increasing, property owners around the new Raiders stadium are getting a lot of inquiries about selling. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Raiders Backup Plans and Deadline for Stadium - VIDEO
The Raiders Stadium is closer to being completed as the weeks go by. Reporters Ed Graney and Rick Velotta bring all the updates including from the stadium authority meeting and new technology being used.
The Cast of FS1's "Lock It In" talk Raiders and Golden Knights futures
With Las Vegas growing as a pro sports town, the cast of Fox Sports 1's "Lock It In" give their betting predictions on if the Vegas Golden Knights can make another run at the Stanley Cup and if the Raiders will make a Super Bowl in 2020.
Raiders Make Trades, Let Go Of Players During Free Agency - VIDEO
As NFL free agency continues, the Raiders continue to build off of acquiring Steelers player Antonio Brown. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over all of the key acquisitions and signings as well as who was let go of the roster.
Latin Chamber of Commerce hosts Las Vegas sports leaders
The Fourth Annual Latin Chamber of Commerce Business and Networking Luncheon hosted a panel of sports leaders to discuss the economic power of sports in Las Vegas and their contributions to the Latino community. (Michael Quine / Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Antonio Brown Raiders Press Conference Highlights - VIDEO
Antonio Brown gives his first press conference as a Raider from the team's headquarters in Alameda, California on March 13, 2019. (Courtesy: The Raiders)
Raiders Trade for Antonio Brown - VIDEO
Former Steelers' WR Antonio Brown will be making his way to Oakland after a late-night trade between the two organizations was made public.
Mike Mayock Settling in as Raiders' GM
As the NFL Combine is in full swing, Raiders beat writer for the Las Vegas Review- Journal Michael Gehlken gives us an update from Indianapolis regarding Mike Mayock and his roll as the Raiders' general manager.
Mike Mayock set for first NFL Scouting Combine with Raiders - VIDEO
How Mike Mayock will approach the NFL Scouting Combine might be a mystery, given this combine is his first as Raiders general manager and a league front-office employee, if not for the hours of conference calls, news conferences and real-time TV commentary he has produced.
Las Vegas musician Rick Maiani writes promotional theme song for Raiders
Las Vegas musician Rick Maiani talks about writing a theme song for the NFL's Raiders, his musical background and having been high school teammates with UNLV legend Randall Cunningham. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders stadium construction not slowed by rain and snow
Raiders stadium in Las Vegas continues to take shape without little to no impact from the winter storm that passed through the Valley on Wednesday and Thursday this week. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Did the Weather slow down construction?
The Raiders stadium in Las Vegas has made significant progress over the past month, and Review-Journal writers Ed Graney, Rick Vellota and Mick Akers go over all the updates including what name of the stadium may potentially be.
Kelsey Martinez no longer listed on Raiders’ coaching staff
Kelsey Martinez, the first female assistant in Raiders history, is no longer listed as with the organization, according to the team’s website. Martinez joined the club in March 2018 under Tom Shaw, the department’s then-coordinator who was dismissed in December. Before joining the Raiders, Martinez worked for 4 years at Tom Shaw Performance at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando. The Raiders did not return requests for comment on Martinez’s status.
Monorail extension will likely not be finished for Raiders 2020 opener
The planned extension to the Las Vegas Monorail system, has not even broken ground yet, and will likely not be completed in time for the Raiders season opener in 2020. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Limo Driver Dan Holmgren Fired
Dan Holmgren was terminated as a Las Vegas limousine driver for leaving his car to chat with Raiders owner Mark Davis and president Marc Badain in front of Caesars Palace on Jan. 28. Dan gives his story to Elaine Emerson in the RJ Studio.
Raiders Stadium Roads
A bevy of road projects that will impact travel to and from the Las Vegas stadium are planned to occur even after the stadium opens in 2020.
Roger Goodell Addresses Media About Raiders Next Season - VIDEO
Roger Goodell addresses media about where the Raiders will play next year and the controversial Rams vs Saints game. Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto go over the details.
Senior Bowl a valuable scouting opportunity for Raiders - VIDEO
The Raiders are looking for better defensive prospects at the Senior Bowl due to the results of the 2018 season. Michael Gehlken goes over what the Raiders general manager and head coach are looking for at this years Senior Bowl.
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing