It’s still summer-shorts season, but my favorite time of year is here — football season!
The NFL exhibition season opened last week with the annual Hall of Fame Game, but the entire league will play this week.
RELATED: Best, worst coaches’ preseason records against the spread
I’ve made picks for three games that I like, starting with a Thursday night contest.
Let’s dive into my wagers for Week 1 of this NFL preseason.
Vikings at Seahawks (10 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
In the preseason, we wager on coaches and schemes. Seattle’s Pete Carroll is one of my favorites to wager on this time of the year. Carroll is 61% against the spread (ATS) in the preseason.
He’s a defensive coach who’s highly competitive, and every single preseason play is an opportunity for his team to punch someone in the mouth.
Carroll will tend to play his starters for a bit as well. The Vikings went 0-3 against the spread in Kevin O’Connell’s first preseason in Minnesota. No surprise. He’s an offensive coach and doesn’t play many starters in the preseason. So give me the Seahawks here.
PICK: Seahawks (-3.5) to win by more than 3.5 points
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Colts at Bills (1 p.m. ET, TV TBD)
Once again, I’m just wagering on a coach in this spot. The Bills’ Sean McDermott is 12-6 against the spread in that spot, and he’s facing a Colts team with a first-time head coach in Shane Steichen.
I’d imagine the Colts feature Anthony Richardson in this game, which is why the Bills are getting 5.5 points. But it’s Richardson’s first action in the NFL, and I’m wagering on an uneven performance.
PICK: Bills (+5.5 at time of pick) to lose by fewer than 5.5 points (or win outright)
Eagles at Ravens (7 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
With John Harbaugh’s special teams background, the Ravens are more prepared to win those phases of the game in preseason games. Lastly, Harbaugh’s aggressive nature on fourth down has the Ravens always with the gas pedal down in preseason games.
All of this sounds like the Ravens are a smart wager once again this preseason, but I would give a word of caution. That offense that defenses didn’t have time to prepare for? Well, it’s gone. The Ravens have a new offensive coordinator (Todd Monken) who is changing the offense to feature more pro-style concepts, which should be easier for defenses to play in the preseason with little game planning.
As with a new offense, the preseason can be awfully uneven, and even more so when the backups are playing. I’d hate to be the one not wagering on the Ravens when they’ve been printing money for years now during the preseason, but I would caution against a large wager on them this week. Maybe a small sprinkle for old times’ sake, but I’d stay away from the Ravens against the Eagles.
PICK: Ravens moneyline (-250, bet $10 to win $14 total)
Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.
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