Take everything you know about wagering on regular season NFL games and throw it out the window during the exhibition season. That’s because the rules are completely different, the rosters are full of unknowns and coaches are looking to evaluate personnel. In other words, there isn’t much of an emphasis on winning. And that’s why there are some vanilla lines at top NFL sportsbooks during the preseason, and especially when it comes to the first week of games.
Typical for the preseason a majority of Week 1 games have an opening line between 2-4 points with totals for every game in the mid-30s. In addition, there are four road teams favored, which is atypical of preseason games. An oddity is the line for the game between the Rams and Raiders. Again, we don’t usually see lines stray from the field goal range, that’s why seeing Oakland as a 6-point favorite is eye-catching.
A little sniffing around tells us why that number is the highest on the board. The Raiders are integrating a number of new players into their roster and they certainly want to have a good showing. On the other hand, Sean McVay has tipped his hand on handling players during the preseason. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley didn’t take a snap last year and they had a run to the Super Bowl. I guess you could say the exhibition games are overrated.
Week 1 of the NFL preseason gets started on Thursday, August 8 with 11 games. Two contests are slated for Friday, August 9, and three more on Saturday, August 10. BookMaker.eu will have spreads and point totals for every game on the schedule.
NFL Preseason Week 1 Schedule and Odds
Thursday, August 8
Indianapolis Colts ( -2, 35 ) at Buffalo Bills
New York Jets ( -1.5, 33 ) at New York Giants
Washington Redskins ( -2, 35.5 ) at Cleveland Browns
New England Patriots ( -1.5, 35 ) at Detroit Lions
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins ( -4, 35.5 )
Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles ( -3, 37 )
Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens ( -5.5, 31.5 )
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears ( -3, 37 )
Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers ( -2.5, 36 )
Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals ( -2, 35.5 )
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks ( -1, 36 )
Friday, August 9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers ( -2.5, 37 )
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints ( -3, 37.5 )
Saturday, August 10
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs ( -3.5, 36.5 )
Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders ( -6, 35.5 )
Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers ( -4, 36 )
Now that the Hall of Fame Game is out of the way we can focus on a full slate of matchups. More interesting than the contests is seeing how some of the new NFL players perform. All eyes will be on the Cardinals on Thursday when top overall draft pick Kyler Murray unveils the Kliff Kingsbury offense against the Los Angeles Chargers. Similar to the Rams/Raiders game this one offers teams looking for something different in the preseason.
The Cards have a rebuilt roster and a new coaching staff and that’s always reason for optimism. We don’t know how much Murray we’ll see, but he is expected to take the field to show what he’s learned in camp. The Bolts know what they have and they are eager for the regular season to start. We’ll see a number of LA’s backups at the opening bell and that’s an advantage for the home team.
Does Denver and Atlanta have an edge in their games since they already played a week earlier in Canton? Oddsmakers don’t think so with both clubs underdogs entering their matchups. It also doesn’t help that both are on the road. The Broncos won Vic Fangio’s first game last week and they are getting 1-point for their tilt with Seattle.
The Falcons head to South Beach as a 4-point dog against the Dolphins. The spread would likely be reversed if this were a regular season game, but the Fins have to figure out their starting quarterback situation so you can expect Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick to see plenty of action.
Oddsmakers are trying to figure teams out during the preseason as well, so the house doesn’t have an advantage. Odds for most games are going to be around a field goal, give or take a few points. It’s not going to deviate much from that and you aren’t going to see a lot of line movement. If after doing your research you still have doubts about a game, the best strategy is to take the points.
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