nfl preseason week 1 picks best bets

For the bold of heart, the NFL Preseason offers an opportunity to dip one’s betting toes back into the most pleasurable of wagering waters. For many, the NFL is the sports betting equivalent of their favorite comfy old sweater, something that makes them feel most at home, and the preseason slate provides an opportunity to put it on for the first time.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into our NFL preseason Week 1 picks and best bets.

NFL Preseason Week 1 Picks and Best Bets

The preseason offers endless pitfalls of uncertainty surrounding personnel, playing time, and motivation, all of which combine to make wagering upon it feel like a coin flip event for many bettors. If you find yourself in such a boat, we are here with three betting angles that should offer you some semblance of an oar to help navigate NFL Preseason Week 1’s turbulent waters.

Week 1 Preseason Best Bets

Patriots Will Push Total Over Against Washington Football Team

Bill Belichick’s preseason success with the Patriots may not match his regular season prowess, but his teams have shown a tendency to play relatively high-scoring affairs right out of the gate in these games. New England has outscored its opponents 115-73 in their last four NFL Preseason Week 1 games, good for an average final score of 28.8-18.2 or 47 total points per game.

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Three of those four games went over the posted total with all four producing at least 34 total points. One of those games was against this Washington team and finished with 43 total points scored.

With just three preseason games to be played this season after none last season and with Belichick still searching for his quarterback of the present and future, we can expect to see some of both Cam Newton and Mac Jones in this one.

New England will also likely put forth a heavy dose of Brian Hoyer under center, an experienced veteran capable of moving the football against the makeshift defensive groups he is likely to encounter early in preseason.

Washington Football Team has only averaged 13.6 points per game in its last five NFL preseason Week 1 games, but has conceded 23.8 points per game during those outings. Their first preseason game has produced at least 37 points (enough to top this total) in four of those five most recent preseason openers.

Our Pick: Was/NE Over 35.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook -110)

Raiders Will Continue Preseason Against Seahawks

Anyone who has paid attention to the NFL over the years or watched HBO’s Hard Knocks in recent seasons knows that Jon Gruden is a high-energy, emotionally-driven guy. Players desperate for a roster spot know they had better demonstrate that same passion on the field if they want to survive the cuts. The best place to do so can be the early preseason games where those fringe guys will get their best (and often only) opportunity to showcase their desire and skill in a “real” game situation.

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For Gruden’s Oakland group, battling to survive has translated to immense preseason success since he took over the team ahead of the 2018-19 season. The Raiders are 6-2 straight up and 7-1 against the spread in the preseason under Gruden, including a perfect 3-0 SU & ATS at home. Saturday’s game should provide an extra jolt for the home Raiders, as it will be the club’s first preseason game at Allegiant Stadium, unveiled during the COVID-altered 2020-21 season which was played without any preseason games.

Interestingly, while covering a 2.5-point spot in the game, Gruden’s Raiders lost their last preseason game to their opponents here, Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks. Gruden will surely use this opportunity for revenge as a motivator for his young talent taking the field Saturday to open the club’s preseason accounts in this marvel of a home field.

Of final note and solidifying our belief in this head coach’s fiery approach translating to a hungry team from the preseason jump is the fact that Gruden’s teams have now won 10 straight NFL Preseason Week 1 games. In a game where you can secure the Raiders’ moneyline for around -125, this is the perfect opportunity to back Vegas to continue Gruden’s early preseason run and avenge (we use this loosely) the preseason Week 4 loss to the Seahawks in late August of 2019.

Our Pick: Las Vegas moneyline (BetMGM -125)

Back Ravens to Knock Off Tinkering Saints

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has won 17 straight preseason games. He has unabashedly stated that this success centers around his desire to win trumping a conservative instinct taken up by most of the league’s coaching staffs for what are generally considered meaningless games, at least in terms of wins and losses.

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Harbaugh clearly emphasizes the idea of winning above all else from the first days of OTAs each season, as his team has not lost its first preseason game since 2011. That’s eight straight wins to start the Ravens’ last eight preseason campaigns and the only time they failed to cover the spread in one of those games was in 2018 when they won the Hall of Fame Game by one point as two-point favorites. They went on to win and cover their actual Week 1 preseason game that year, meaning they have won and covered eight straight NFL Preseason Week 1 games with all of those victories coming by three or more points, enough to cover the spread here.

The Ravens, a team which knows what it has throughout much of its roster, catches a New Orleans group trying to find its new identity following Drew Brees’ retirement. In what is now a three-week NFL preseason, the Saints could be more focused on seeing what Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill look like in varied run and pass sets than on emptying the tank for a win, like Harbaugh has been apt to do.

Baltimore discovered the importance of having someone ready to contribute at quarterback behind Lamar Jackson during last season’s playoff loss to Buffalo. Look for Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley to both be tasked with finding a way to win this game for Baltimore with Jackson “unavailable” to help.

Our Pick: Baltimore -2.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook -115)

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Bob Wankel is a credentialed Phillies writer for Crossing Broad. He is also Vice President of Sports Betting Content at XL Media and co-hosts Crossed Up: A Phillies Podcast. A South Jersey resident and graduate of Monmouth University, his past work includes 12+ years in education and six seasons as a freelancer at NFL Films. On Twitter: @Bob_Wankel E-mail: