I don’t claim to be an expert at betting football games.
After all, gambling is, by definition, a bit of a toss-up. If you manage to come out of a season with anywhere around 55% of your bets earning a profit, you can afford to pat yourself on the back. Getting to that point is the hard part, but my aim is to help you do that across a season with some under the radar wagers.
What gambling on football does allow us to do is have a little bit of fun with games we might not normally be interested in. While wagering on the spread and total points is the norm, your best bet might be to eschew these and go with more unconventional options.
Firstly, let’s take a look at a few preseason bets that could offer excellent value when the dust settles.
Chicago Bears win total – UNDER 6.5
The Bears schedule doesn’t look too pretty if, like me, you are anticipating an implosion of this team under Jay Cutler. I’ll admit I’ve been encouraged by the defense under Vic Fangio, but only in fits and starts. No matter which way I slice it, I see the Bears finishing with no more than six wins. The rest of the NFC North has improved, while the Bears have lost their top draft pick in Kevin White and are transitioning to a 3-4 defense. Home games against Oakland, San Francisco and Washington look good, but I’m struggling to pick out the victories elsewhere.
Tennessee Titans win total – OVER 5.5
The more I examine the Titans’ schedule, the more I am convinced they will reach that six-win mark. Back-to-back road games to start the season at Tampa Bay and Cleveland – not exactly the most formidable opposition – are followed by a four-game home stretch. The Titans play in the AFC South, lest we forget, and with a re-energised offense under Marcus Mariota, don’t be surprised if Ken Whisenhunt’s men pull off a surprise here. The key game could be Week 17 at Indianapolis; if the Colts have the luxury of resting their starters, the Titans could breeze to a victory, assuming they haven’t already reached their total.
After his amazing recovery from cancer, Eric Berry has been made the strong favourite at 3/1 to take home the Comeback Player in 2015, but there is value to be had in Sam Bradford and Adrian Peterson if, like me, you don’t believe Berry will play the requisite number of snaps to warrant consideration for the award. Bradford has looked fantastic in preseason and seems locked in with this offensive scheme. The Eagles defense should keep Bradford in manageable game scripts so that he doesn’t have to win it on his own every week. Adrian Peterson hardly needs an explanation. This is the same guy who came back from a torn ACL and almost produced the greatest season we have ever seen at the position. Odds of 9/1 seem almost too generous.
WEEK 1 PUNTS
Jordan Todman to score touchdown anytime @ 4/1 – Pittsburgh @ New England
The Steelers scooped up Jordan Todman off waivers after he was released by the Panthers in final cuts. With Le’Veon Bell suspended, and a game script that could see the Patriots dominate when they have the ball against a suspect Steelers defense, Todman should see plenty of action. He has excellent burst when he gets the ball in his hands and represents terrific value on Thursday night.
Indianapolis Colts under 24 points @ Buffalo Bills
The oddsmakers might be sleeping on just how potent this Buffalo defense could prove to be. Andrew Luck raises the game of every player around him, but there is only so much he can do with the offensive line as it stands. I would expect the Colts to give plenty of respect to Rex Ryan’s team. The matchup to watch is Bills cornerback Ronald Darby – routinely torched in the preseason – against the Colts receivers. If the Bills can win that duel, the Colts could struggle to reach 21, let alone 24 points.
Carolina Panthers under 22.5 points @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The first week of the season is the big reveal for teams; let’s just say the Panthers faithful may not like what they see on offense. The preseason has seen the Carolina first team offense sputter in the red zone and fail to connect on a number of occasions with straightforward passes. Jacksonville, meanwhile, look revitalised under Gus Bradley and a more competent Blake Bortles. The forecast says there is an 80% chance of rain on Sunday. Panthers coach Ron Rivera will want to keep things close to the vest and let his defense win it, so under 22.5 points seems almost too easy.
Oakland Raiders to beat Cincinnati Bengals @ 6/4
I know it’s only the preseason, but it is hard not to get a little bit excited with the product Jack del Rio’s Raiders are putting on the field. Khalil Mack has been a nightmare to deal with, and the rest of the defense looks like it can hang. The Bengals shouldn’t overlook this team, especially with the struggles they have been having on offense. On paper, the Bengals are the better team, but playing a fired-up Oakland team in the Black Hole? You could definitely have easier games to kick off.
Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 2’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter