Most people do not understand the value behind the National Football League preseason. The games take place just before the league’s regular season. However, these games do not count in the NFL league rankings. Preseason matchups (exhibition games or test matches) have constituted four exhibition games since the late 70s.
After the cancellation of the NFL due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a few rules changed. These included abolishing overtime in the preseason matches and expanding the regular season to 17 games. Likewise, it reduced the preseason games to three, except for the Hall of Fame Game participants.
The preseason bears significant weight for players, coaches, and teams up and down the roster. The exhibition games allow coaches to evaluate talent and prep for the regular season. The NFL preseason is more like a movie trailer or a tune-up for teams to perform a SWOT analysis before the regular season.
NFL Preseason Schedule
After completing the three games, the NFL preseason is a wrap. Despite this, there’s still much to be done regarding the cut-down and the preps heading into the regular season. During this bittersweet moment, some players end up ecstatic, while others are disappointed. Some are cut after the third game (mini dress rehearsal), while others get to fill their roster spots.
How do the NFL preseason teams select their opponents?
The preseason schedule steers the way for the 53-player roster. Some cuts may come as a surprise, while others as expected. A player is either on a waiver or a release at the end of the preseason matchups. Contrary to the regular season, the exhibition matchups have no rotating or set formula.
The preseason schedule allows individual teams to negotiate on playing each other. Consequently, it has become a tradition. Since 2002, the teams have been negotiating deals on who to play who, but the NFL has been scheduling the games. Despite the leeway for negotiating who to play, the NFL sets all matchup dates and times. Games not individually negotiated are set up by the football league.
Most people have realized that during the NFL preseason games, similar teams play each other annually as a tradition. In most instances, these teams are close and do not often play one another during the regular season. A good example is the New York Jets against the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants. Other frequent matchups include the Baltimore Ravens against the Washington Commanders (formerly Redskins), the San Francisco 49ers against the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
When does NFL preseason start?
The NFL releases the preseason schedule in spring, just before the announcement of the regular season. Ordinarily, the NFL preseason games start at the first weekend of August. By tradition, the first match is the Hall of Fame Game.
Just like any other game, the weather plays an integral role in whether an NFL game will take place or not. As such, that does not mean other factors beyond control cannot affect the preseason schedule. Several instances of severe weather have interfered with NFL games. It has resulted in the postponement or cancellation of such games. Since preseason games don’t count for anything, they are not replayed.
NFL Preseason Games
The NFL exhibition season has come a long way regarding its games. The famous American Bowl was an extra preseason game played the same weekend as the Hall of Fame Game from 1986 until 2005. It was played outside the US, either in Japan or Mexico.
The famous Super Bowl attracts celebrities of different kinds. The National Football League is a no-brainer among the most-watched games in the US and globally. Regarding preseason matchups, selected games are televised nationally, with the leading broadcast partners of the NFL doing the coverage. The big question is whether there’s any relevance to the preseason matches.
Relevance of Preseason Matches
The exhibition games go beyond tradition. There are justifiable reasons why the NFL continues with the preseason matches. Definitely, the NFL preseason games are relevant to coaches, players, and fans.
Managers and coaches are always fishing and scouting for top talent and skill. The preseason matches allow them to gauge players who ended the previous season on a low note or the physically unable to perform list, better known as PUP. As always, the coaches will assess whether the player can bring value to their team.
With preseason games, you see players in an NFL environment, which helps the coach in decision-making. The coach gets a better view of the free agents and the college players yearning for a spot on any of the NFL team roster. They get grounds to decide whether the college player will be able to adjust and whether the free agent is a perfect fit for the team.
With several instances of unknown players making the roster and becoming valued starters, preseason matchups are significantly relevant to players. The young players usually find the preseason matchups as an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents. They understand that it is a chance to compete against the veterans and to prove they can be starters in the regular league. The new players also get to familiarize themselves with the other team members.
NFL fans have varied views regarding the relevance of the preseason games. Most fans love to watch a battle between losers and winners. The exhibition games can be stop-start affairs as the coaches change their lineups and plays. As a result, some fans may find the games dull and only attend the games if they get cheap tickets. Other die-hard fans who care about the roster from top to bottom are usually keen on every detail of the preseason matchups.
NFL Preseason Standings
One sure way to recognize how each team performed ahead of the regular season is through the NFL preseason standings. How did each of the 32 teams rank in the preseason standings? Was there any team that won all of its preseason matchups? It may not be a replica of the coming regular games, but it gives a preview of how players and teams are likely to perform. Despite the giant caveat that the exhibition games don’t count, the preseason NFL standings help coaches to know who’s gained or lost a step.
Sports betting has picked up steam over time, with people enjoying various sports to wager on. The American betting industry took in an estimated $8 billion in wagers in the Super Bowl in 2022, demonstrating how immense the market is. NFL is gaining in popularity, with more bettors seeking ways to make successful wagers. Keep in mind that responsible betting is essential whenever one is placing a wager. Here are some of the most popular types of betting available to NFL fans and bettors.
NFL Betting Odds
Sports betting has become more attractive, with several options to choose from. It goes beyond the ordinary over/under or point spread. Today, bettors enjoy the luxury of NFL futures, first and second-half betting lines, moneylines, and football spreads, to name a few. NFL betting offers straight-up bets, fantasy-style betting, and live bets. The latter makes betting more exciting and enables a bettor to wager with a rough idea of how the game is playing out.
It is easy to place a bet with the moneyline option. Moneyline entails betting on the winning team. In moneyline betting, the negative value indicates the favorites, while the positive value indicates the underdog. For example, let’s take a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans. Kansas City has odds of (-140), and Houston has (+120) odds. If a bettor opts to bet on the favorites, Kansas City, they will have to place a wager of $140 to win $100. On the other hand, if they opt to go for the underdog, Houston, a bet of $100 will return a profit of $120.
A favorite of NFL bettors but more complicated than other betting types is the point spread. The sportsbook evens other odds between the two teams by adding and deducting points from their score. The teams with the negative value are predicted to win and are considered the favorites. On the other hand, those with the positive sign are tipped to lose and are known as the underdogs.
Let’s go back and use the Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs in the previous example. If the favorites Kansas City had a point spread of -4.5 and the underdog Houston +4.5, it means that if a bettor wagers on Kansas City, they must win by over 4.5 points. On the other hand, if they bet on Houston, for the bet to be successful, they can either win the game or lose by up to 4 points. The odds for these bets are typically (-110), with the sportsbook taking a 10% commission for offering it.
This bet is popularly known as the NFL over/under betting. It involves the total set by the sportsbooks that should be scored by the two teams combined. Therefore, a bettor must predict whether the combined score will be more or less the NFL total by the sportsbooks. For example, if the mark set is 44.5 points, betting over means it has to hit 45 or more points, and for under, it has to be 44 or less. When a bettor places a successful over or under bet at (-110), a bet of $110 will win a payout of $100.
Placing player prop odds is another way for NFL fans to get involved in the action. NFL prop bets entail betting for a specific event within the NFL. The bet does not have to be related to the results. It may include how many yards a quarterback will pass for or who will score the initial touchdown. A bettor can place prop bets on any occurrence during the game or broadcast. An example is which coach will be shown first on-screen or who throws the next touchdown pass?
Any team-based bet on an upcoming action or outcome is referred to as a futures wager. NFL futures involve betting in advance on NFL events throughout the schedule. A most significant advantage of the future bets is that they run from the offseason, preseason, regular league, AFC or NFC Champion, and Super Bowl. An example of a futures bet is for the Dallas Cowboys to win the Super Bowl (+900). Timing is a critical factor when placing wagers on NFL futures.
Should a bettor place multiple bets and combine them into one wager, it is known as a parlay. NFL parlays involve betting on multiple game lines simultaneously for higher payouts. For a bettor to win a parlay bet, they can combine two or more bets on the same ticket. However, should one of the bets in the parlay fail, the wager will not be successful.
An example of a parlay bet would be New York Jets (+120), and Dallas Cowboys (-130). If a bettor placed $100 on the Jets to win, the total return would be $220. This amount is then placed on the Cowboys, and if they win, the bettor will return a total of $398.23.
Undoubtedly, live betting is becoming popular in online sportsbooks because it allows bettors to watch the game live and place a wager while the match is ongoing. In live betting, a bettor does not have to worry about betting before the game starts. They are allowed to get a feel for the game before placing a wager. Live betting helps in making calculated betting risks. It also allows you to adjust with fresher bets, depending on how the previous wager has been placed. Live betting has become increasingly popular with bettors who take advantage of the fact that they can analyze the game while it is being played and place bets in real-time.
Preseason NFL Betting Tips
Having specific pointers in mind when it comes to betting in the NFL preseason is essential. The preseason has more players and takes a shorter time than the regular season. Therefore, paying attention to the roster’s depth and coaching tendencies is critical. The strategies applied to the exhibition games may differ when placing a wager on NFL regular season matches.
Research is inevitable when it comes to betting. For many people, betting is a combination of knowledge and luck. Make sure to do in-depth research on the teams, coaches, and games you would like to place a wager on. It helps you make informed betting decisions that can be converted into wins. Most bettors are sports fans. Therefore, they must set aside their personal feelings for a coach or team and place a wager based on the information gathered instead.
Many people hold the conventional wisdom that the preseason means nothing and should be removed from the schedule. The exhibition matches have proven essential for teams, players, coaches, and, most importantly, to the fans. Furthermore, bettors have a wide selection of betting options in the NFL. They should always bet responsibly and realize it is not a do-or-die situation.