The NFL preseason annually kicks off with “The Hall of Fame Game,” and this season starts with the Bills vs. Giants. In this handicapping article, Ross Benjamin highlights the important betting trends present since 1983 to apply to your preseason picks.
Quick History Lesson
The Hall of Fame Game has traditionally kicked off the preseason schedule since the NFL and AFL merger in 1971. Prior to the merger the game was played in September during the final week of the preseason slate, beginning in 1962 when the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals played to a 21-21 tie. There were some asterisks to be noted since the event’s inception. The game wasn’t held in 1966 but resumed immediately after in 1967. It also wasn’t played in 2011 due to the NFL lockout resulting from a labor dispute between the players union and management. On 2 separate occasions (1980 & 2003) the game was halted in the 4th quarter and subsequently discontinued because of severe weather conditions.
Take Me from the Hall of Fame
I have taken the time to track how teams have done against the spread in their next contest following the Hall of Fame Game. The general rule of thumb is that participants in the Hall of Fame Game face opponents in the following week which are playing their preseason opener. Once again I’m relying on my trusted 4D football handicapping software to provide me with those results. Please keep in mind that my software only has preseason data that dates back to the beginning of the 1983 campaign. However, it’s a proven fact that teams that have played in this annual game in Canton, Ohio, have been a extremely profitable wager in their following game.
A Different Agenda after Playing in Canton
One of the most simple, yet profitable NFL preseason betting systems, involves teams that have played in the Hall of Fame Game. Any team that played in the Hall of Fame Game in their previous contest, versus an opponent playing their first preseason game of the year has gone 54-27-5 ATS (66.7%), and 56-30 straight up (65.1%) since 1983. The situation becomes even more profitable when adding a couple more variables. If those teams are coming off a SU&ATS loss they improve to 29-11 ATS (72.5%), and 28-12 straight up (70%) since 1983. If those teams failed to cover in the Hall of Fame contest by 15.5 points or less, they improve to 24-5 SU&ATS (82.8%) since 1987. Last season saw this exact situation occur, and it produced an easy winner. The Miami Dolphins lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24-20 as a 3.0-point favorite in Canton. The following week Miami was a 1.5 point favorite at Jacksonville, and went on to hammer the Jaguars 27-3 while easily covering the number.
Keeping a Close Eye on this Year
This season’s Hall of Fame Game takes place on Sunday August 3rd between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants. Buffalo will travel to Carolina the following Friday to take on the Panthers, while the Giants will host the Pittsburgh Steelers the following night. Just in case you were wondering, the Giants have gone 6-3 SU&ATS over their last 9-years under head coach Tom Coughlin in their 2nd preseason game. The Bills won and covered last season over the Minnesota Viking in their 2nd preseason game for first year head coach Doug Marrone. It’s never too early to make money in the NFL, but despite any highly profitable preseason situations that I share, I would suggest to always stay on the conservative side at this time of the year. There are just way too many miscellaneous intangibles and variables that take place in these games to justify any type of significant NFL wager.