Critics of betting NFL exhibition games point to the 2011 St. Louis Rams as proof you can’t read anything into the preseason.
The Rams were 4-0 last August and ended up 2-14 after the regular season started.
The 49ers meanwhile were a middling 2-2 before ripping off a 13-3 SU regular campaign.
All true, but that doesn’t mean that teams – and coaches -- don’t exhibit certain trends and tendencies in the preseason that bettors can profit from. Why bet on NFL preseason games?
"Those Rams were 5-0 ATS on the road heading into last preseason and they won twice more in August for a 7-0 ATS run," recalls Mike Pickett of OddsShark.com.
They open on the road at Indianapolis this year. And despite their regular-season struggles, the Rams are 11-2 ATS in their past 13 preseason games.
With new personnel and a new head coach in Jeff Fisher, they shape up as one of the teams that will push to win games this August and enter September with momentum.
"In the preseason, you are looking for teams with new head coaches and teams with tons of personnel changes – they are usually the teams where the preseason matters more because they have more work to do to get ready," said Pickett.
"The Rams fall into that category for sure. The Eagles, I would put in the other category – a veteran team, a longtime coaching staff, patience to absorb some exhibition losses while they prepare for September."
And how can you ignore one of the most one-sided trends in recent NFL betting history? The Kansas City Chiefs are 4-25-1 ATS in their past 30 preseason games. Said another way, if you bet against the Chiefs in every game since 2004, you would have won 25 bets and lost only four.
At least they get a break, thanks to the Hall of Fame Game. They play Arizona just four days after the Cards play the Saints, surely giving the Chiefs an edge.
There are teams that have been reliable UNDER bets (Baltimore is 10-1 past 11 preseason road games; the Bears have played four straight preseason UNDERs at Cleveland) and teams that have been consistent OVER bets (Green Bay is 15-2 past 17 games; Cleveland is 8-2 past 10).
There are teams that have dominated against the spread (Detroit is on a 7-0 ATS run; Miami is 11-3-1 ATS in 15 preseason games; Seattle is 13-4-1 ATS past 18 preseason games) and teams that have been dominated ATS (Oakland 0-6 ATS past two seasons; Carolina is 2-10 ATS past 12; Cleveland is 1-7 ATS past eight preseason road games).
There are also teams that face each other every preseason and there are trends there as well. The Eagles are 2-7-1 ATS in the past 10 preseasons vs the New York Jets and Carolina is 1-6 ATS past seven preseason games against the Steelers.
And the Buffalo Bills are 0-4 ATS in their past four preseason battles with the Lions.