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NFL Preseason Betting Guide: A 2023 Hall of Fame Game Pick

New York Jets Kellen Mond prepares to face Browns' backup, Zach Wilson in the 2023 NFL Hall of Fame game

NFL Preseason Betting Pick: Browns +1.5

We are backing the Cleveland Browns as short home dogs in the first action of the NFL season, as unofficial as this action may be.

Admittedly, we do not purport to have insight into any advantages Cleveland's second string QB, Kellen Mond, might boast over the New York Jets' backup, Zach Wilson. We do not even have strong conviction regarding how many snaps these reserve players will see in Thursday's Hall of Fame Game action. Instead, our call for the home cover is based on a compelling historical precedent.

In preseason Thursday Night Football action, taking points with pooches has delivered a 14% return on investment since 2004-05 versus teams that missed the prior postseason (the profitability of this rule proved statistically significant at the 95% confidence level).

A betting angle for NFL Thursday Night Football preseason action featuring favorites that missed the prior postseason

This angle has delivered cover rates below 50% in only three seasons over the lookback period.

We suspect this system's consistent profitability is attributable to the betting public's penchant for overestimating favorites' ability to beat the number. In our writeup for week 1 NFL Sunday and Monday Night Football action, we detailed academic research that documents the propensity for bettors to side with favorites against the spread—see Golec & Tamarkin (1991) or Humphreys, Paul & Weinback (2013) for examples of documentation of this tendency. The results of this betting angle suggest this predisposition is especially misguided for low-quality chalk layers (i.e. favorites that missed the prior postseason).

On the basis of this criteria, our betting pick is the Cleveland Browns versus the number, as hosts to the New York Jets, in preliminary NFL action this Thursday.

Happy betting!!

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