If you are an experienced NFL bettor, you know the disclaimer that follows. This is the NFL preseason.
There used to be a time when starters would actually play as much as a full quarter of football, or even more. Those days, however, are over. Most of the veteran stars will not see the field in this first week of full preseason play, and perhaps even any of the preseason.
That makes it tough to make accurate picks, which is both good and bad. Bad, because a lot of wagers are just guesses in the NFL preseason. But good, in that the lines bookmakers post are also largely guesses, and that makes for some exploitable point spreads.
Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) – Thursday
It is the most bizarre streak in the history of the NFL. The Ravens have won 20 consecutive NFL preseason football games, and under head coach John Harbaugh they are 12-1 against the spread in the opening week of the preseason.
It’s nuts, winning that many consecutive games you aren’t really even trying to win. But at this point, the Ravens are trying to win, hoping to keep the streak alive. It will be fun to watch Malik Willis play for the Titans in this one but bet on the Ravens to cover the spread.
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions (+1.5) – Friday
The pick of the Ravens aside, it generally is more profitable to pick underdogs in the preseason. Underdogs have covered the spread 54.2% of the time over the previous two seasons.
Here we have a home dog, and one who is the subject of HBO’s Hard Knocks, which makes us like the Lions even more. Last year’s Hard Knocks team was the Indianapolis Colts, and they won all three of their NFL preseason games.
Go with home dog Lions to cover.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-1) – Friday
The 49ers, with a new young quarterback, will play Trey Lance in their first and third preseason games. They are also expected to play several other starters along with Lance.
Aaron Rodgers hasn’t appeared in an NFL preseason game since 2018, and he won’t be in the field on Friday in San Francisco. For that reason, plus the Packers having to travel, we like the 49ers to cover this nominal point spread.
Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Chargers (Under 30) – Saturday
Rams coach Sean McVay and Chargers coach Brandon Staley hate the NFL preseason. Their only goal in preseason games is to get them over as quickly as possible. In 2021 the Rams scored 6, 16, and 12 points. The Chargers scored 13, 10, and 0. And when they played head-to-head, the final score was 13-6.
It would be a shock if these teams go over 30 total points. For these two teams, hammer that under.
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