Dinero Talks: Preseason NFL
August 22, 2016
By Tony Mejia
No Hall of Fame Game stung pockets
There were still a handful of quality viewing options available on Sunday night when the NFL embarrassingly had to call off its annual Hall of Fame game.
The Olympics offered up gymnastics, an exciting Colombia-Japan men’s soccer clash and that ending of Croatia’s thrilling upset of Spain where Dario Saric swatted away a Pau Gasol hook as time expired. Major league baseball offered up two of its most revered franchises, the Dodgers and Red Sox, playing a rare interleague series as its Sunday night showcase.
Still, not seeing our first NFL game was undoubtedly a buzz kill. Reaction on social media didn’t quite reach outrage levels, but there was certainly disappointment that we didn’t get to see quarterback Andrew Luck for even a snap. The Packers had already ruled out QBs Aaron Rodgers and backup Brett Hundley, so undrafted rookies Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams were going to handle the workload.
Coaching often key to preseason success
No, we didn’t really miss much. However, the first opportunity to cash an NFL ticket was wasted, especially if you got in on fading Green Bay before the line moved to Indianapolis -3 at many spots. The combination of Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris was going to offer the Colts a major edge in experience alone, and you have to take any advantage you can get when it comes to betting pro football’s preseason.
TThere’s certainly a level of tooting my own horn to the following, but it’s just to establish credibility. Over the past six NFL preseasons, the below are my ATS records at VegasInsider.com:
2010: 29-24-2 (54.7 +227)
2011: 44-35 (55.7 +550)
2012: 35-13-1 (72.9 +1992)
2013: 26-25 (51.0 -196)
2014: 27-15 (64.3 +950)
2015: 31-13-1 (70.5 +1672)
Between sides and totals, there are always going to be opportunities to take advantage of legwork that needs to be done to consistently turn a profit in the preseason.
Personnel comes first and foremost. Who is playing? How long are they going to go? Because coaches are badgered by media during these dog days of summer on a daily basis and they often have little concrete to say, most will at least be forthcoming with that information.
There are some who simply put no effort into wanting to win these games and others who seem to relish in seeing their team be successful when they’re out there between the lines and there’s someone operating a scoreboard.
Seattle’s Pete Carroll had a ridiculous nine-game winning streak that stretched from the final game of the 2011 preseason into the 2014 opener. Carroll’s Seahawks then won the next two games by a combined margin of 75-20 to make it 11-for-12. Obviously, Seattle has been one of the NFL’s best franchises throughout his tenure, but a lot of its preseason dominance can simply be tied to a desire to be their best at all times while others are content going through the motions.
Chip Kelly’s Eagles put on a show last preseason, outscoring their first three opponents by 115-53 count as they looked for a quarterback and attempted to give all the combatants, Tim Tebow included, equal opportunities to play at a faster tempo. It will be interesting to see how Kelly handles things in his first preseason with the 49ers, but there’s a QB controversy there too.
Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer won all four of his preseason contests in his first year as head coach and then went 4-0 last year before losing a fifth preseason contest the Vikings were only playing due to their appearance in the Hall of Fame game. Even though he’s downplayed the Vikes success in these exhibitions, it’s clear that how we and his staff coach them produces results.
New England's Bill Belichick has never put much emphasis on what transpires in August, but saw Deflategate interfere with his handling of Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo affect last year. This year will yield more of the same now that it’s certain that Brady will be unavailable for the regular season’s first four games, which means Belichick will have to walk the line of preparing Garoppolo to start while also making sure he keeps him upright until the lights come on.
Kansas City's Andy Reid has never been big on preseason results, but fellow QB gurus turned head coaches like Sean Payton and Gary Kubiak seem to have more success than most. It’s not a quarterback thing, either. Jason Garrett has had little success with the Cowboys this time of year, while Ken Whisenhunt, now offensive coordinator in San Diego, mostly struggled in August while with Tennessee and Arizona.
Although we’ve most talked coaches, that’s not the end-all, be-all with what you need to know to take advantage of a time where spreads aren’t bloated and uncertainly prevails due to playing time concerns involved with giving everyone a fair look.
There’s definitely a level of nuance to it, but anyone who tells you that you can’t consistently bank on the NFL preseason because it’s too difficult to predict simply doesn’t know where to look. It’s too bad that overlooking the field conditions in Canton until it was too late to prevent the Hall of Fame game’s cancellation kept us from one additional chance to capitalize.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA
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