NFL Preseason Betting Guide: Take Bears over Chiefs and Brian Daboll over Bill Belichick?

August 12, 2022

By Lance Pugmire Aug 10, 2022, 6:14am EST | USA TODAY


The advertisements the NFL and sports betting sites use to urge consumers to exercise caution while placing wagers should run constantly during the preseason.

“For the most part, betting on these games is pretty degenerate,” longtime sports bettor Richi Burrell said. “The whole strategy of the game is different. It’s based on players getting looks to make a team.

“It’s not based on winning.”

Tipico Sportsbook spokesman Sunny Gupta estimates that a preseason NFL game generates about one-eighth of a regular-season game’s betting action. Las Vegas SuperBook Vice President Jay Kornegay says it’s even less – about 1/15th – at his shop.

“Very light,” Kornegay said about the wagers, “educated players look for certain angles and will play lightly if they find value.” 

Before the boon of legalized online sports betting, which has spread across the U.S. this past calendar year – New York, Arizona and others reporting robust business – Kornegay said casual bettors previously remained “on the (golf) course or in the pool,” during exhibition season.

The new reality of mobile online betting has changed that.

New coaches proving points

Sharp bettor Burrell said, “there’s only one preseason system I bet, and it’s been very lucrative.”

And it starts immediately with new NFL coaches trying to prove themselves in their first exhibition games. 

There’s 10 new head coaches this season. Burrell boasted he’s “already 1-0,” after supporting new Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels in his Hall of Fame Game matchup last week against first-year Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Pederson.

“I know they’re both new, but I went with McDaniels because he had more to play with. It’s the Raiders on national TV, and they were playing Jacksonville,” Burrell explained. “Come on, I’m taking the Raiders over the Jaguars.”

Aug 4, 2022; Canton, Ohio, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson and Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels shake hands after the Raiders defeated the Jaguars in the 2022 Hall of Fame game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Burrell’s system, cultivated through the years with betting friends, is attached to the idea that the first game launches the new coach’s public relations campaign.

“While veteran coaches don’t really care about the results, the new coach is trying to establish his winning way, a winning tradition, and he wants it to start off well,” Burrell said. “So while some of the coaches are treating these outcomes as irrelevant and not even playing their starters, the new coach wants that win.”

That explains why the New York Giants and new coach Brian Daboll are -2.5-point favorites at Tipico over Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots on Thursday night in Foxborough, Mass.

The former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator takes over the Daniel Jones experiment in New York after getting credit for innovative play-calling that helped fuel the success of quarterback Josh Allen.

“Give me the Giants,” Burrell said.

Similarly contrarian, Burrell likes the Chicago Bears and new coach Matt Eberflus as -3.5-point favorites Saturday against the returning AFC West-champion Kansas City Chiefs.

If this were a regular-season game, Coach Andy Reid’s team would likely be favored by at least two touchdowns.

“But (quarterback Patrick) Mahomes likely won’t even play. They won’t use Travis Kelce. It’s not even the same team,” Burrell said. “I love the Bears.”

During the same week, Bears linebacker Roquan Smith requested a trade due to his unhappiness over slumbering contract-extension talks, Burrell doesn’t blink.

“Just go with it,” he directed.

He also likes the Minnesota Vikings and new coach Kevin O’Connell – the former offensive coordinator of the defending Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams – as +3.5 underdogs at the Raiders on Sunday.

Games to steer clear

Otherwise, Burrell advises bettors to steer clear of New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans Saturday between two first-year coaches, Dennis Allen and Lovie Smith. The Saints are -2.5-point favorites at Tipico.

And he doesn’t like the veteran Tampa Bay Buccaneers as +1.5-point underdogs versus the visiting Miami Dolphins on Saturday.

New Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles “has been in that program and has nothing to prove,” Burrell said.

Meanwhile, another veteran bettor, Las Vegas’ Bill Krackomberger, agreed and discouraged anything other than selective preseason betting.

It’s essential to scour news reports leading to kickoff to learn which teams will use their most capable players beyond only cursory appearances, Krackomberger said.

Though he did make substantial wagers on the Green Bay Packers (+2.5 underdogs at the San Francisco 49ers on Friday night) and the Atlanta Falcons (-0.5-point favorites at Detroit Lions on Friday) based on his extensive calculations.

Krackomberger relied on reports the Falcons will play their starters, and he assessed their quarterback depth will stoke sharp play from the sport’s most prominent position. Atlanta offers Marcus Mariota, rookie Desmond Ridder and second-year player Feleipe Franks under center. 

His bet on the Falcons at +3 caused the line to move. 

Aug 1, 2022; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (4) passes during training camp at IBM Performance Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Additionally, with Aaron Rodgers’ backup Jordan Love expected to play abundantly this preseason atop a roster including several compelling depth-chart battles, Krackomberger is betting on Green Bay to produce a determined effort against their NFC rival despite reports the 49ers will allow some starters to play deeper into the game.

Lastly, he jumped on the Indianapolis Colts +3.5 at Buffalo given reports the Bills “are not playing their starters.”

Of course, other theories – perhaps less sophisticated – will be in play this week, starting with the most obvious one: The NFL is back.

“I can be a degenerate (gambler), too,” Burrell confided. “So, I might have a few other plays, too, simply out of boredom.”