How to wager the NFL’s preseason dress rehearsal

Places, people!

Dress rehearsals are about to begin in Week 3 of the NFL preseason. That means starters will see their most extensive playing time of the exhibition slate … and many gamblers will be making their biggest bets.

Are you ready for the spotlight? If you’re a Giants fan (Thursday at Cincinnati) or a Jets fan (Saturday vs. New Orleans), VSiN will preview those games more in-depth later this week. If you’re planning to handicap and bet the full slate, here are some general tips:

  • Don’t assume “starters vs. starters” is going to mean equal stage time for both teams. This is HUGE because “dress rehearsal” for many veteran sides might mean just a quarter or a few series. For others, it might mean the whole first half with front-line players. With lesser teams trying to learn new systems, first-teamers may play deep into the second half.

What seems like a smart bet will flop if the superior team’s starters aren’t actually going to play very long. You want your money on talent edges that will be reflected on stage for the longest amount of time.

Try to get a clear read from advance coaching comments regarding how long the starters are going to play. For veteran coach-quarterback combos, look back at dress-rehearsal games the past few seasons to see how long stars will likely be on the field.

  • Review stats of backup quarterbacks the past few weeks to see which teams might be most likely to win the second half or fourth quarter. Many straight-up and point-spread results will still be determined by late-game performance.

Maybe the starters play a 14-14 tie before everyone sits … then the backups determine who cashes tickets. Or, a fired-up backup leads his team from behind to victory because he wants to prove he deserves to be a starter in this league. Be sure you’re aware of which backup quarterbacks are fighting to make, or save, a career.

  • Study straight-up and ATS results, specifically in past dress-rehearsal games for head coaches. You’ll likely find that many veterans don’t care about getting a result. If the first-teamers are sharp early on, that’s enough to call it a week and protect everyone from injury. The smartest bets you’ll make this week may be “fades” of teams in poor cover scenarios.
  • Finally, if you have time, go to last year’s scoreboard page at covers.com to review how the full week played out. What were typical market prices? Did games fly Over or skew Under? Did scoring start fast then die off? How often was there a flurry of fourth-quarter points?

Too many bettors assume dress-rehearsal games are just like the regular season. That was never completely the case, and it’s become less and less true in recent seasons as coaches placed more emphasis on avoiding major injuries. Review last year’s reality before trying to predict these next few days.

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