NFL Preseason Week 1 best bets: Thursday and Friday night
It's preseason for everyone. The idea is to get some early reps, not extend yourself, learn the playbook, and definitely don't get hurt. That doesn't just apply to the players on the field - it also applies to those in the sportsbook. With three weeks of tune-ups on the schedule to get fully stretched out, we'll proceed with extreme caution since the games don't count right now - but the bets definitely do.
We'll start with a slate of seven games on Thursday and Friday evening, with an eye on using point spreads, underdog moneylines, totals, and six-point teasers.
Best spread bet
49ers (-2.5) over Packers
The word is already out that Aaron Rodgers won't see the field in this one, but I don't think the oddsmakers have made enough of an adjustment here. Sure, Jordan Love will see a ton of action, but will he be out there longer than Trey Lance? If not, we can rely on the 49ers' avalanche of running backs and quality tight ends to make life easier on Nate Sudfeld and Brock Purdy in the second half.
There's enough depth on defense for San Francisco to gain a lead, keep it, and win by more than a field goal. And the Niners will be at home, which gives a team slightly more motivation to make hundreds of fans happy.
Underdog moneyline bet
Titans (+165) over Ravens
If neither veteran starting quarterback sees a snap - and they shouldn't - this game should come down to a second half entirely made up of snaps from players down the roster. For the Ravens, that means Brett Hundley and Oregon rookie Anthony Brown - who had little answer for the Utah Utes' defense the last time he was in an NFL stadium.
You'll quickly note that Baltimore has a 20-game preseason win streak. I would kindly respond that, while impressive, it means absolutely nothing on Thursday night. In fact, that streak only boosts the value of anyone playing Baltimore. Given the Ravens' incredulous injury history last year, John Harbaugh has to err on the side of caution.
As for the Titans, they've got Logan Woodside, who's been in the organization for three years and should have a handle on the offense, and third-round project Malik Willis, who should get special attention to the very end of the game. With every minute more valuable to Tennessee than to Baltimore, a moneyline bet at much better than even-money is the play.
Best total bet
Jets/Eagles over 35.5 points
With such low scoring totals, it's not going to take much for a contest to go over, and we'll continue to look at the quarterback depth chart to guide us. Second-year Jets signal-caller Zach Wilson should see more time than the average QB, and when he comes out, it's Mike White's time to shine!
Jalen Hurts should see a few series as part of his development, and he's got Gardner Minshew ready to get the home crowd riled up when he's done. Look for Carson Strong to put together a drive late that hopefully won't go over the total.
Best teaser legs
Patriots +8 / Cardinals +8.5 (-120)
It's the preseason, and the first game at that, so we'll never get the market certainty we hope for when betting teasers. But we do have games with low totals - an assumption that points will be hard to come by and are, therefore, more valuable. We also have a couple of games that enable a teaser leg to cross key numbers.
The Patriots and Giants have a total lined at 33.5, and that's somehow higher than Cardinals-Bengals (31.5). Oddsmakers clearly aren't worried the favorite will score a ton of points, so why wouldn't we take a stab at two coin-flip games getting over a touchdown for -120?
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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