NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Tell the Truth
by Dennis Ranahan

There is a stark contrast on how gamblers view preseason football. First, after six months of no football to bet on, people flock to books to wager on summer games like someone walking on the desert getting their first taste of water.

Just because there are games is not a reason good enough to bet on them. Although, more wagers are made on a preseason football matchup than a Major League Baseball World Series game. Even though, many consider the games impossible to handicap with any real edge.

In fact, the preseason can be confidently wagered while utilizing proven methods to identify point spread winners. Only thing is, the criteria in identifying winners in August is completely different than winning strategies for the regular or postseason. While talent and motivation is critical from September on, the August games are much more pinned to coaching philosophy and team game plans.

One huge advantage in the preseason is that coaches tell the truth. In the regular and postseason coaches will hide their game day strategy while looking to gain a competitive edge. During the preseason, they will honestly reveal their plans for personnel used in the game and what their objective is in the contest.

The best teams in the league have little need to worry about the scoreboard in August, while focused on preparing for the battles that matter. Weaker teams, like the Cleveland Browns or Detroit Lions, put more emphasis on the August scores thinking that having their teams get a taste of winning can lead to success when it counts.

It doesn’t.

It is worth noting that only two teams in NFL history have lost all their games in a 16 week regular season, and those same two teams preceded their 0-16 campaigns with 4-0 preseason marks. In 2008, the Lions lost all their regular season games after compiling a 4-0 preseason record. Last year, the Cleveland Browns were 4-0 in the preseason and then 0-16 in the regular season.

Stats like that lead some to think the preseason is impossible to handicap with any degree of confidence. But, in fact, all that illustrates is that preseason results are pinned to something other than talent. Bettors with good information can get a double advantage from preseason point spreads that have to reflect public opinion about the teams involved.

Last year, in the first week of the preseason we began our 8-1-1 August point spread record with a play on the Cleveland Browns over the New Orleans Saints. In that game, the Browns were actually 3 point favorites and the public bit at the Saints like they were a sure thing. The books point spread clearly indicated where the real advantage was and their information was true to form as Cleveland won the game by a touchdown.

It was a perfect scenario where a Saints team preparing to make a playoff run was focussed on getting ready for the season and the Browns starved for a win worked to get one in front of their home fans.

This coming Thursday the NFL will open their first full week of preseason games and we will confidently be delivering our clients point spread selections tailored made to win in August.