How to Bet on the NFL Preseason

NFL Preseason Bets, Tips, Parlays & Props Explained

Betting on the NFL is more popular than ever as millions of people worldwide enjoy wagering on the games every Sunday. Preseason NFL football also gets a lot of action at online sportsbooks, with the Hall of Fame game taking in more wagers than all other sporting events on that day combined. In addition, statistics show that there are as many bets placed on NFL preseason games in August as on most MLB games during the month. 

The NFL preseason is three weeks long, with games played in August and early September. There are also occasional matchups scheduled in neutral cities for promotional purposes. 

Because teams are preparing for the regular season, many top stars don’t see much playing time during preseason games. Although the outcomes are meaningless and win/loss records don’t count towards any NFL standings, there is still a lot of interest in making NFL preseason bets. 

Dispelling the Misconceptions and Understanding the Unique Approach

Betting on the NFL preseason takes a different approach than wagering during the regular season. One of the biggest misconceptions is that wagering on preseason games is for suckers, which is why bookmakers offer betting on these games. 

In fact, betting on preseason games is something experienced bettors and professional handicappers like to do every year. They realize that the uncertainty of the outcomes of exhibition games can sometimes have real value for bettors. 

The following NFL preseason betting tips will show bettors how to navigate the unknown elements of the preseason NFL schedule and take advantage of a more level playing field versus the bookmakers.

Research NFL Team News

The best thing about making NFL preseason bets is that the oddsmakers are just as uninformed as bettors, sometimes less when the lines are released for each game. Research is the most critical aspect of handicapping NFL games but is shifted more towards team news than numbers during the preseason.

During the regular season, NFL preseason betting tips sites suggest bettors should focus on team performance numbers before anything else. In the preseason, bettors should emphasize things like how much playing time starters will get and how many new players are on the roster. There may also be players holding out in contract disputes and others that may be injured.  

With nothing to lose in the NFL preseason, coaches are sometimes more open about game strategy and how much playing time certain starters will get. Staying ahead of everything being said in the media before each preseason game can give bettors an edge over other handicappers and often the oddsmakers. 

Team Quarterback Depth

The quarterback position is the most important on each team, just like in baseball. Starting pitchers make up almost all baseball handicapping, while the quarterback has similar value when making NFL preseason bets. Recognizing which teams have the most depth at the position can make a big difference when they go up against rookies or backup players on the opposing defense. 

Starting quarterbacks typically don’t take a lot of snaps during the preseason. There are many games they won’t play and others where they will play for a series or two before handing over the offense to the backups. 

Some NFL teams have more experience at the backup quarterback position than others, featuring many former starters and veterans that don’t feel the pressure of the big stage. NFL preseason betting tips sites know these backups often succeed against their opponent’s second and third-string defenses.

NFL Preseason Popular Bet Types

When making NFL preseason bets online, the most popular wagers will be shown for each game: 

  • Spread
  • Moneyline
  • Total. 

These three are always together when appearing on the line for every game. In addition, other betting markets, such as live betting, props, and futures, are popular choices. Here’s how to use the most common NFL wagers:

Point spreads

The point spread is the most popular way to bet on NFL preseason. Since most games aren’t ideally even NFL matchups, the point spread is used by bookmakers to level the playing field and get an equal amount of action from both sides. It gives points to the underdog, indicated by a plus (+) sign next to the odds. The favorite’s odds will be marked with a minus (-) sign next to the number. 

For example, if the Chiefs are favorites at -6 against the Cowboys, who are at +6, the Chiefs must win the game by at least seven points for a wager on them to be a winner. On the other hand, the Cowboys must either lose by seven points or less or win the game outright for a wager on them to win. Therefore, a win by the Chiefs by precisely six points is considered a push, and the wager amount is returned to the bettor. 


When making a moneyline wager, the only goal is to pick the team that will win the game. The odds reflect the potential payout and the probability of winning for each side. For example, if the Chiefs are the favorite on the moneyline at -200, bettors must wager $200 to win $100 if taking the Chiefs. Alternatively, if the Cowboys are at +300 on the moneyline, a wager of $100 will have a payout of $300 if taking the Cowboys to win the game. 

Totals (Over/Unders)

When betting on the total, or Over/Under, bettors don’t need to be concerned about who will win the game. Instead, the focus is on how many points will be scored by both teams combined at the final whistle. Using the same example, if the total set by the bookmaker is 48.5, bettors need to decide if the total points scored between the Chiefs and Cowboys will be higher or lower than that number. 

The odds will generally be the same, no matter which side is wagered. If the odds differ for each side, the total will be listed twice so bettors can see the difference between the odds on both sides. 


A parlay is a wager contingent on the results of more than one event. It can include a combination of spread, moneyline, or total bets from various games. However, most sportsbooks won’t permit a parlay including the moneyline and spread in the same game. 

The number of bets permitted in one parlay can vary among sportsbooks. Most will have a cap on the maximum number of events, while others may offer an unlimited number. The more events that are part of a parlay, the higher the payout potential. However, all events must be correct for the parlay to be a winner.  


Prop bets are most prevalent during the Super Bowl, where individual performance and other events during the game can be wagered. These props are based on the over/under format. For example, a prop may be structured to wager on whether Ezekiel Elliot will have more or less than 120 yards rushing for the game. 

Not all props are based on the game, such as betting on what color Gatorade will be dumped over the winning coach’s head at the end of the Super Bowl. Each sportsbook will have unique prop bets available, which can sometimes be combined into parlays depending on the provider.  


The day after the Super Bowl, bettors can start wagering on which team will win the next championship. These bets are available during the NFL preseason but aren’t associated with any preseason games. 

Other popular futures bets include individual season awards such as MVP and Rookie of the Year. Bettors must remember that as the season progresses, the odds on futures bets will change as it becomes clearer which teams will contend for the championship that season. 

Live Betting

This betting market allows players to bet on spreads, totals, and moneylines during the game’s progression. The odds will constantly change depending on what’s happening on the field. Live betting on NFL preseason also lets bettors predict the outcome of the next play, such as whether it will be a run or pass play. 

More specific bets such as yards gained on the next play or whether or not it will be a first down or touchdown are other ways to bet on live action. Bettors must be quick with each wager, as there isn’t much time between plays. 

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NFL Preseason Bets FAQs

When betting on the favorite, a bet on the spread will have a better payout than taking the same team on a moneyline bet. This is because the risk is higher as the team must win by a specific number of points for the bet to win.

NFL preseason betting tips sites show that betting on a team with negative odds is safer because that team is the favorite. Because it’s a safer bet, the payout will be lower than betting on a team that is the underdog with positive odds.

Yes. All legal online U.S. sportsbooks offer NFL betting on preseason games, as do all land-based sportsbooks.

The minimum and maximum wagers on NFL preseason are dependent on the sportsbook. Some sites will have very high limits and have no problem accepting bets from high rollers, while others have strict limits set. However, most sportsbooks limit the maximum wager during NFL preseason because of how unpredictable the outcomes can be.

The odds on any online betting site reflect the opinion of that bookmaker on what will happen in each event. When the oddsmakers at different sites have varying opinions, the odds and lines sometimes look very different. Odds will also move depending on betting activity, as the action can be more on one side of the betting line than the other.