Football returns Thursday with the start of the 2017 preseason. The Dallas Cowboys (pick’em) will take on the Arizona Cardinals in the Hall of Fame game. If you are going to place a wager, here are betting strategies for the NFL preseason.

Take Big Underdogs

Underdogs are historically profitable in the preseason: 418-394 ATS, 51.5% since 2004. Teams getting 6 or more points have covered against the spread 58.2% of the time. Take big underdogs but understand few games will qualify, less than 10% of the games in our database had a preseason spread of 6 or more points.

1st Half Favorites

A team’s best players will start a game and rarely play in the second half. If you want to bet a favorite the 1st half is the best time. Since 2011, 1st half favorites of 3 or more points have gone 73-47 (60.8%) ATS.

Reverse Line Movement

One of the best ways to profit on exhibition games in the NFL is to follow reverse line movement. Teams getting less than 50 percent of spread bets that saw line movement in their favor have gone 91-67 (57.6%) ATS, +20.0 units.

Bet the OVER in low scoring games

This is a contrarian strategy for preseason games. When the public thinks the game will be low scoring bet the other side. The OVER is 119-96 (55.3%) when a game has a total of 35 or fewer points.

The inverse holds for games with high totals. The UNDER is 114-93 (55.1%) in games with totals of 40 or more points.

Hopefully these strategies will give you an edge when handicapping preseason contests. Casual fans might ignore these games but NFL bettors can profit from the preseason.

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