content below posted 01:00SUN05AUG01 cst

If it has a Point Spread ...

We said last week that we wouldn't be making any formal recommendations until the start of the regular season but that doesn't mean that we frown upon betting preseason games. Its just that the recommendations made here are based on scientific analysis utilizing past performance factors and we need to know that the teams are trying their best. Everyone knows that this isn't the case in preseason. Still, there are some factors that can add value to a side in these games.

From a coaches point of view the main thing they want to take out of a preseason game are healthy starters. But some coaches will play their key players a little bit longer. You can check the pregame quotes and usually get an idea of how long the starters will play. Other coaches will put the game on the line just to see how their team will react under adverse circumstances. And some coaching staffs, we won't mention any names, are so incredibly disorganized at this stage of the season that they can't get a snap off between procedure penalties. Conversely, we know of one coach who will make the the team run sprints if they get a delay of exhibition game penalty. That's why you never see the Colts line up late during the season (notice we did not mention any names).

The quarterback is always the most important player on the field. The same holds true for a preseason game, but now we're talking 3rd string QB. He's the one getting the bejesus knocked out of him while the league's premier athletes play Crazy Eights on the sideline. You should at least check the lineups to see who is coming in, it might be Steve Beuerlein, Scott Mitchell or even Mark Rypien. Heck, if the game deteriorates enough in the fourth quarter you might even see Bubby Brister.

The important thing to remember is that it is preseason and nobody cares who wins. Not the coaches, not the players, not the fans. In fact, the only people who care about preseason games are the bettors. For a gambler, having some cash riding on the outcome can turn that exhibition game into a regular season game real quick.

We are going to have fun with some ultra-lite, unofficial plays on the discussion board but we don't expect to score until the regular season gets underway. Our advice: Go ahead and play some preseason games but take the cash out of your entertainment budget, hold onto your bankroll for the season.