NFL Betting System: Find Value in NFL Preseason Week 3 Over/Unders

NFL Betting System: Find Value in NFL Preseason Week 3 Over/Unders article feature image

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

  • Week 3 of the NFL preaseason is considered a "dress rehearsal" for the regular season.
  • With starters expected to play meaningful snaps, we explain how bettors can find over/under value in these matchups.

Most NFL fans ignore the preseason until Week 3. In the third exhibition game many starters will play the entire first half and even into the third quarter. This will be the closest we get to meaningful football until the regular season kicks off.

This makes for great viewing but is bad for bettors. The strategies that we’ve used to profit off these preseason matchups, such as betting underdogs, following reverse line movement and wagering on overs in low-total games, don’t work in Week 3.

This is likely a product of increased snaps for starters as many of these systems are based on contrarian philosophies. However, with players and coaches expected to treat Week 3 more like a real game, there is one trend that works better late in the preseason.

Historically, it has been profitable to bet the under in high-total games. The more points expected to be scored, the easier it is for teams to go under the total.

In the preseason, 40 or more points is considered a high total. Since 2004, only 274 of 1,005 (27.3%) preseason games have had a total of 40 or more points according to Bet Labs.

Whenever there has been a high total, it has been profitable to blindly bet the under.

The under in high-total games has gone 151-119-4 (55.9%) since 2004. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $2,262 betting the under.

This strategy becomes more profitable in the second half of the preseason.

  • Weeks 1-2: 52-54-1 (49.1%)
  • Weeks 3-4: 91-62-3 (59.5%)

There are many possible explanations for why this system works better in Weeks 3-4, but the simplest reason is public perception. With starters expected to play more, casual bettors anticipate more scoring, which leads to increased action on the over.

Oddsmakers understand this thought process and will inflate the line for the over. Thus, creating value on the under.

In Week 3, 11 of 14 games with posted lines have totals of 40 or more points. A majority of tickets will be on the over, but smart money will bet the under.

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