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2023 NFL Preseason Handicap Betting Guide

By Hank Blaine

The NFL Hall of Fame Game happened last Thursday. This Thursday, August 10, the NFL Preseason officially kicks off. Betting on preseason games can lead to profit or disaster. We want to prevent a disaster, a bankroll depletion. Doing so requires an understanding of how to safely navigate the NFL Preseason. Check out five things to consider when making NFL Preseason plays.

Best Ways to Safely Handicap the 2023 NFL Preseason

Consider the preseason lasts just 3 weeks

The preseason used to last 4 weeks, which meant coaches could keep their star players out of preseason games longer. But with a 3 week preseason, the window to ready for the NFL Regular Season is much shorter.

What does that mean? It means coaches and players have to get up to speed quicker, which means teams will play starters more than they normally would in a 4-game preseason. It’s an important distinction that we must be aware of when handicapping preseason NFL games.

Think of new head coaches or new offensive coordinators and their window to ready their teams or units

New head coaches or new offensive coordinators have more pressure on them during the preseason than new defensive coordinators. NFL offensive strategies can be difficult to implement.

So offensive coordinators, and head coaches with new strategies, must play starters much sooner than veteran coaches and O-coordinators. Eric Bienemy, who took the offensive coordinator position for the Washington Commanders, has to get second-year pro Sam Howell and his starting unit on the field as soon as possible.

Bienemy runs an intricate system. So if Washington wants success, Eric will play the first unit more in the preseason than he might if he had stayed in Kansas City.

Rookie quarterbacks, if they’re going to start during the season, must get preseason playing time

Bryce Young, Carolina’s rookie quarterback, and C.J. Stroud, the Houston Texans rookie QB, will see more run than veteran quarterbacks during the preseason.

Both Young and Stroud make the leap from starting college signal-caller to NFL starter. It’s not an easy leap. Also, no matter the amount of work on practice days, nothing will compare Young or Stroud, or any rookie quarterback, for what they will face during the regular season as much as preseason games.

Keep that in mind when handicapping NFL Preseason contests.

Some teams excel in the NFL Preseason and others don’t

The Baltimore Ravens are NFL Preseason darlings. The reason is because John Harbaugh uses the preseason to get his team to become a cohesive unit.

Other coaches, like San Francisco HC Kyle Shanahan, will use the preseason to assess talent. Make sure you understand the goal of the coaches in the preseason game you’re betting.

Assessing talent coaches don’t always lose their preseason game. But covering spreads could be an issue. So make sure you know each head coach’s goal.

Star players who switched teams may get more preseason run than they did in the past

Aaron Rodgers is no longer a Green Bay Packer. So unlike in the past, where Rodgers wouldn’t play a single preseason down, Aaron might play a few series in every New York Jets preseason game.

The same could be true for Russell Wilson in Denver. Russ didn’t switch teams in the offseason. But he must learn a new system, Sean Payton’s, which could require more preseason playing time.

Derek Carr in New Orleans could see more preseason drives. Sam Howell, like we’ve noted, will for sure see more series. Keep in mind that star players who switched teams or must learn new systems will require more NFL Preseason playing time to get up to speed.

Other Things to Keep in Mind During the NFL Preseason

  1. Don’t bet more than half your NFL Regular Season unit: NFL Preseason games are notoriously difficult to handicap. So don’t over bet any game.
  2. Don’t emphasize preseason results when handicapping NFL Futures: Using preseason results to determine NFL Future plays, like which team wins the Super Bowl, can lead to disaster.
  3. Don’t forget that like NFL teams, you’re preseason goal is to ready for the regular season: Your goal, like the NFL teams you’re backing, is to ready for the NFL Regular Season. Never forget it.

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READ MORE: 2023 NFL Preseason Predictions for Every Team