Trends That You Must Keep In Mind Going Into Preseason Week 2

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, August 18, 2016 1:41 PM UTC

Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 1:41 PM UTC

Our NFL handicapper looks at the trends present over Week 1 of the preseason and doesn't find much; however, he spots a few teams that should be motivated to play well enough to pick in Week 2.

The first week of the preseason is in the books, and I went a perfect 2-0 by focusing on which team needed to show the most improvement for its fan base. The Lions broke some major historical betting trends by trouncing the shorthanded Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Titans used their deep running back corps to stomp the Chargers on the road.

There are a few trends coming out of Week 1 of the preseason, but home field advantage was not one of them. Last week home teams went a mediocre 8-8 SU and just 7-9 ATS in their matchups. The public consensus ATS was almost even as well, but the books still beat the public consensus by a 9-7 mark overall.

The O/U trends were nearly as ambiguous as the Over was favored slightly at 8-7-1 in all of the games in Week 1. This was in a week in which the highest total in all games was posted at 38.5 for the Houston Texans facing the San Francisco 49ers. In preseason Week 2 the totals have shifted up by about a field goal, as starters on offense should see more time. In Week 2, most totals are sitting in a range between 40 and 41 points.

Unlike in Week 1, Week 2 of the preseason features absolutely zero home underdogs. Lines range from the slightly favored San Diego Chargers at -1.5 against the Arizona Cardinals to the Denver Broncos being favored by 4 points at home against the rebuilding San Francisco 49ers. On only, 5 games have the line moved at all, with all of those games moving by only a half point. However, in all five of those line moves so far the line has gone against the home team, with the visitors of the Steelers, Lions, Patriots, Seahawks, and Cowboys garnering early action. Those Week 2 bettors may be fallowing the only slight trend that came out of Week 1, which was that underdogs came out ahead at an 8-5 clip and that home favorites lost ATS at a 5-7 rate.  

If you are going to bet in the preseason, there are some historical guidelines that have played out well, and most of them deal with the motivation of a team. I picked up on two teams last week with motivation on their side, one with a new coach and system in the Titans, and another with a long time coach on the hot seat needing a win. Teams in this situation will still be playing hard in Week 2. Another motivational angle is to back teams with very close 1st string versus 2nd string positional battles at the player level. You saw this last week with the Titans, as their running back competition 'stepped-up'  play a notch.

Positional battles that are especially keen to look out for is at quarterback, as the job to be won is a very valuable one and each player will be looking for outright results, instead of trusting the process like a veteran. Teams with QB battles right now include the Rams (1-0), Eagles (1-0), Browns (0-1), 49ers (0-1), Broncos (1-0), and Jets (1-0). Looks like a veteran team with a positional battle at QB and a decent defense is a good bet so far this preseason. Of these teams, I especially like the matchups for the Philadelphia Eagles +3 on the road against the Steelers, and the Denver Broncos -4 at home versus the hapless 49ers.

2016 NFL: 2-0 ATS, +2.00 Units

Free NFL Picks: Eagles +3 +100
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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Free NFL Pick: Broncos -4 -115
Best Line Offered: at Bet365

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