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Submitted by Richie B. Oddsmakers Consensus on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Even though the 2017 NFL Preseason begins Thursday night, I can’t say that sharps are exactly coming out of the woodwork to bet the Hall of Fame game matching the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals. Nevada sportsbooks have relatively low limits for the game anyway. And, it’s pretty clear that neither team is prioritizing getting a result. If they were, one of them would be favored by at least three!

*Arizona has already made public that they won’t play any of their starters.

*Dallas is often no-shows exhibition games under this coaching regime

A team that was focused on getting a result or playing its starters at least a quarter would be -2.5 or more over an Arizona team that was resting everybody, or over a Dallas team with an inconsistent August history.

Now…NEXT WEEK…we’ll have some sharp moves to discuss.

In the meantime, let’s talk generally about how sharps bet the exhibition slate. First, here’s what they DON’T do:

*Sharps don’t use “Power Ratings” in August because the teams are so close to even when backups get so many minutes. They will use regular season Power Ratings for the dress rehearsal games in a few weeks (tweaking them to account for starters playing a half or three quarters). But, otherwise, they’re focused on motivation rather than raw numbers.

*Sharps don’t worry so much about the key number of three. There are more missed extra points, two-point conversion tries, and so-on in August. Plus, coaches DON’T want overtime because they don’t want to risk injuries. That means we won’t have those “tug-of-war” spots I often talk about where some sharps are on the favorite at -2.5, while others are on the underdog at plus 3. The line value doesn’t exist to just pound -2.5 on principal. What about the key number of seven? Doesn’t come up much because lines are so short in August. Maybe during dress rehearsal week…sharps will be taking a “TV underdog” at plus 7 if the public is backing somebody like New England or Seattle as a favorite.

What DO sharps look at?

*The quality of quarterback play…and how long each backup quarterback is likely to be on the field. This is the single most important element to sink your teeth into if you’re serious about finding value in the Preseason. You want to know which backups can lead touchdown drives in the second, third, and fourth quarters.

*Head coaches who prioritize getting results at HOME. Some coaches could care less about all four games. Some only care about what the starters are doing during the dress rehearsal. But, over the years, a handful try to get wins in front of the home crowd to generate excitement for the season. This will show up in both offensive yardage and defensive sack counts because of increased blitzing. I know sharps who have, in the past, really stepped in on this kind of spot and had the win pocketed by halftime because it was already a blowout. Study game-by-game Preseason coaching histories to see if you can get a read on this.

*Opportunities to fade the public for value in TV games. Generally speaking, most TV games are pure toss-ups because the talent levels of backups are so even. Anything can happen. If the public pushes a line one or two points to back a high-profile team…sharps will step in late to take the free points on the dog. They don’t bet these big…just for value because they’re plus-EV and will grind out a profit over the long haul.

*Great situations for Under bets if both head coaches have shown in the past a tendency to get out of dodge as quickly as possible. There are usually a few games each week with a total around 34-35 that’s probably at least a field goal too high based on coaching priorities.

*Great situations for Over bets if both head coaches like to pass, and they have experienced (or motivated) backup quarterbacks who can move the ball. Shootouts aren’t as common as they used to be because more and more coaches prefer to run out the clock and stay healthy. But, you can still find games where both teams are likely to get into the 20’s to lead scoring way Over the total.

We’ll talk more about this through the month as real-world examples come into play. Today’s article should set the tone for what we’re about to see once everyone is in action.

Will I be playing the HOF game for my clients? Check in on game-day to see if I’ve posted an official selection. I’ll definitely have something for you in baseball nightly through the week, and through this busy summer of exciting pennant race action. You can purchase my BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card.  If you have any questions about monthly packages, or early bird football, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155.

You regulars know I don’t emphasize “Game of the Month” or “Game of the Year’ type selections. We bet the way sharps do, grabbing value when it’s offered with a smart money management approach.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with you again next week about this time to see how sharps have been betting the first full weekend of exhibition action. See you then.  

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