Don't be a Fool...Watch Preseason Football
There are debates every year about NFL preseason games: what number of exhibition games are necessary, what purpose do they serve, should I bet on them, should I even watch them?! Our boy, @Tylerinvegas, was launching hot takes (per usual) a couple weeks ago and claimed, “I’m not even watching a single preseason game this year”! That got me thinking about all the reasons TO watch them and I’m going to outline those here for @Tylerinvegas and all of you other preseason poopoo-ers out there.
The single most important reason to watch preseason football is the ridiculous amount of personnel turnover/transition from the previous year. Not sure if you pay attention from the period starting the minute the Super Bowl ends up until the start of week 1, but a LOT OF SHIT HAPPENS. Remembering where every free agent signed, who drafted day-1 starters, what trades occurred…it’s basically impossible to keep a mental inventory without seeing guys on the field. Granted the impact players are seeing minimal time outside of the game 3 “dress rehearsal”, it’s still nice to see Latavius Murray in a Vikings jersey as a reminder of the new RBs in Oakland, Minnesota and New Orleans.
Outside of the experienced guys who have moved around, it’s also nice to get a look at guys who have moved up the depth chart or have materially changed in health or ability since the previous year. There are always year 2-4 guys who are starting to put it together and won’t be replacement level or depth guys anymore. Similarly, guys bounce back sometimes in year 2 after recovering from an injury (see: Graham, Jimmy). Putting the eye test on these type of players is useful information when week 1 of the regular season rolls around.
Lastly, there are a bunch of impact rookies in today’s game. If you had a good evaluation of Elliot and Dak in Dallas last preseason, odds are you probably stacked some pretty good cheese early in the year before the rest of the public realized they were for real. The days of ignoring rookies because they took a couple years to start is behind us…ignore them if you want, you aren’t losing our money.
New Staffs and Schemes
Vanilla, base, conservative schemes are rolled out for these exhibition games and obviously there are going to be multiple wrinkles each week during the season based on game planning. I get it. However, seeing how a team’s personnel is filled out in a 3-4 vs. 4-3 with a new D-coordinator or the role skill guys are going to be utilized in a new West-coast offense is very useful information. The results of those base schemes and play calling shouldn’t force too many firm conclusions regarding their effectiveness, but seeing a former 4-3 defensive end stand up and play in more space as a 3-4 linebacker should be taken into your evaluation of the potential for success for that side of the ball.
Staffs can change cultures overnight. Is the Rams offense going to operate with the same “ehhhh” level of enthusiasm under Sean McVay as it did under Jeff Fisher? Will Dr. Heat blitzing people’s tits off in Cleveland get them boys flying around harder? Can the Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin brain trust in Jacksonville finally get a single Jaguar to give a shit about their on-field performance? You won’t get a definitive answer…but you can see shades of the end results if you look close enough during preseason games.
The All-Important “Pre-Season Predictions”
An amazing general rule of thumb to be successful betting on sports is “be on the opposite side as the public”. We all know that 99 years out of 100 Las Vegas sportsbooks make money…follow the heard and you will undoubtedly march right into market for slaughter. If you have a basis for why people are freaking out about a team going 0-4 or 4-0 during preseason it’s helpful in understanding whether that team is being oversold or overbought. Ignore the scoreboard and records…keep it focused to personnel and scheme evaluation and you’ll be on the right track to avoid the early season overreactions of the public.
Don’t Show Up to a Date with a Loaded Gun
All you guys out there should know EXACTLY what this means. If you’re going on a date with someone relatively new, you ALWAYS unload the reservoirs before heading out. Being too “excited” is not a good look for a lot of aspects of life… NFL Week 1 falls into this category. At least 50% of gamblers I know come out week 1 firing at any line that moves. It takes a week or two of getting blown out to remember that betting 14 of 16 games probably isn’t the best strategy. We’ve all been waiting since the end of the first Sunday in February for football to get back underway. No, the preseason doesn’t provide the same stimulation and excitement that the regular season does. But in the same way having a little personal time alleviates some of the pressure before hitting a home run with some new, getting some preseason action under your belt before week 1 should clear your mind and settle your horses a little.