2021 NFL Preseason Odds, Predictions, Picks: 2 Bets For Thursday’s Preseason Games
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Mason Rudolph
It’s been a long week since the Steelers and Cowboys gifted bettors their first football action since the Super Bowl, but Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason officially kicks off Thursday with two games.
There’s a much heavier dose of uncertainty when it comes to betting on preseason games, so we would encourage you to be judicious when making any decisions — but our analysts are still here to identify the best values on the board.
NFL Preseason Odds & Picks
Washington Football Team at Patriots
While we can’t expect to see Ryan Fitzpatrick for more than a drive or two, that means this matchup really boils down to Taylor Heinicke vs. Mac Jones.
Heinicke’s talent came as a surprise as he comes off a performance against the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which he threw for 306 yards while scoring two touchdowns. He’ll be given the chance to compete for the starting job, and given his performance against a Buccaneers team that held Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to just nine points, it’s clear he has what it takes to perform in this league.
The Washington football team has a ton of depth and as whole, these are two coaches with different approaches to the post season
As my colleague Chris Raybon pointed out, fading Bill Belichick has been a profitable endeavor in the preseason:
And although this has hit at only a 53% rate — barely clearing the 52.38% rate needed to make a profit — Rivera is actually a profitable coach in the preseason.
Overall, Washington has the edge here.
This isn’t a strong play, but if you’re looking for action on Thursday, the Football Team should get the job done.
Steelers at Eagles
Editor’s note: The following pick has been edited to reflect the availability of first-half markets.
Brandon Anderson: It’s tough to bet the NFL preseason because there are so many unknowns.
We may know most of the starters, but have no idea how long they’ll play. And we have no way to know a team’s motivations or interest in winning a game. That means I usually prefer to isolate something I feel a bit more confident about and stick to what I do know.
Here’s what I know about these teams: The Steelers have already played this preseason. They put on a dominant performance in the Hall of Fame Game, beating the Cowboys 16-3, shutting them out over the final three quarters. That’s no real surprise for anyone who has watched Pittsburgh football over the past, oh, five or six decades — the Steel Curtain is real, and this defense is very good and made to chew up and spit out inexperience and unprepared offenses.
And that leads us to the Eagles. They haven’t played a game yet, so that means this is their first real game action since last season. And what a season that was…n’t?
This is a very different team than the one we last saw, which you might recall finished 2020 by playing a QB buried on the depth chart in an obvious tanking move to end the season. Carson Wentz is gone, and so is Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson. Nick Sirianni is in now, and that means an entirely new offense for Jalen Hurts, who wasn’t particularly good yet with the old one.
I’m betting on a slow learning curve out of the gate for Hurts and this Sirianni offense.
I like the Steelers to look better and readier, so I’ll play them to win the first half at -110 at BetMGM — that’s the part of the game I actually know what to expect, and it means I don’t have to worry about the Eagles’ scrubs beating up on the Steelers’ backups to get Sirianni a win late in his first live game.
If you can’t find the Pittsburgh first-half ML at even money or better, though, I would roll with the Steelers to cover the first half instead.