Week 1 of the NFL preseason starts tomorrow. The Carolina Panthers will host the Houston Texans. We’ve covered betting strategies for exhibition games and looked at the most profitable coaches in the preseason but there is one more approach to take. Bet playoff underdogs in NFL preseason games.

This is a simply betting system. Did a team make the playoffs the previous season?

The previous year’s postseason participants have historically been profitable in the preseason.

Did the opponent make the playoffs last year?


Playoff teams against non-playoff teams have covered against-the-spread 53.5% of the time since 2004.

If the playoff team from the previous season is an underdog the win rate jumps to 57.8% ATS.

Why does this system work? One theory is that preseason games are an extension of practice. Every coach in every sport has said, “practice like you play.” In other words, if you expect to win games you need to practice hard all the time. Teams that have reached the postseason know what it takes to win, therefore they have an advantage over non-playoff teams.

Another possibility is that playoff teams are likely to be more talented and have depth at multiple positions. In preseason games, the starters rarely play and a team will have to depend on second and third string players. Teams with more overall talent have an edge.

Regardless of why this system works, the fact remains that it has been a consistent winner over the years. The Texans are 3-point underdogs to the Panthers on Wednesday. Houston made the playoffs last year while Carolina did not. If you are looking for a betting angle, take the Texans plus the points.

NFL Preseason: Playoff Underdogs

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