NFL Betting Guide: Preseason Week 1 (Friday)

Where can we find betting value across the five preseason games scheduled for Friday night?

Betting on preseason games requires a bit more nuance than regular season NFL matchups. Historical preseason betting trends can help get our bearing, but from there, we'll need to track news about playing time.

What do the trends and news point to? Where is there value on the NFL betting lines at FanDuel Sportsbook?

Falcons at Lions

Quick Game Notes
The Detroit Lions will be playing their starters for around a quarter, though it's unclear if that includes quarterback Jared Goff.

The Atlanta Falcons will feature both Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder; however, head coach Arthur Smith said the split would not be 50-50, which would mean roughly a quarter at most for Mariota.

Falcons +2.5 (-110)
With starters in play for both sides for a bit, we can see some points in this game, but the 2.5-point spread for a road team is usually a good range for them. Home-field advantage doesn't mean much in the preseason. Road teams have a 58.6% cover rate in the preseason since 2019, and when the spread is between 2.0 and 3.0, the number stays at 58.3%.

Browns at Jaguars

Quick Game Notes
We already saw the Jacksonville Jaguars in action this season when they lost in the Hall of Fame game. Tonight, though, we won't see the preseason debut of Trevor Lawrence for very long. Head coach Doug Pederson has said the starters will play "a couple series."

The Cleveland Browns will play their starters for a few series as well and are sticking with their decision to start quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Cleveland -1.0 (-115)
Over 36.5 (-110)
Since 2019, the Jaguars are 1-6 outright in the preseason and 2-5 against the spread while allowing a league-high 24.3 points per game for an average point differential of -10.7, a league-worst. Yes, they have a new coaching staff, but the depth chart is far from stellar.

Cleveland was 3-0 last year under Kevin Stefanski, including a 23-13 win over the Jaguars in Week 1. The edge in depth and starters points to Cleveland, and the Jaguars' tendency to give up points is leading to value on the over.

Cardinals at Bengals

Quick Game Notes
We should see plenty of Trace McSorley under center for the Arizona Cardinals, as Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy will not play.

For the Cincinnati Bengals, most starters will not play either. McSorely, then, will go up against Brandon Allen and Jake Browning, who went undrafted in 2019.

Under 31.5 (-110)
The expected quarterback play points to an under even on a low total of 31.5.

McSorely, via NextGenStats, has accrued -3.7 EPA on 110 drop backs in the preseason in his career (-0.03 per drop back). Allen is at a -51.9 (for -0.19 per drop back), and Browning is at a -17.4 (-0.36 per drop back).

It could be an ugly one.