I wrote an article before preseason began regarding a successful approach I use in handicapping the opening week of football. Basically I write down every current NFL spread and total before the first preseason game kicks off. I then compare that number to the current line before the opening week games are played. If there is a spread move of 2 points or more I fade that move. The reason is simple, the public tends to overreact to what happens in the preseason. Games in which starters play limited minutes and each coach has different goals in the game. For example Atlanta plays to evaluate players, while new coaching staffs like Cleveland's play to win, in order to instill a winning attitude. By playing starters longer than their opponents the Browns were one team that took money based on preseason play.
Overall going against these line moves proved profitable again with an 8-3 73% mark. The key game in which the line moves ended up being correct came in the Arizona/St Louis contest in which the Rams moved from -6 to -3 1/2 with the total going from 40 to 43. St Louis won that game 27-24.
But other than that contest we saw many games in which the line moves were just wrong. New England from 7 to 10, Tampa Bay from 1 1/2 to 4, Cleveland from +1 1/2 to -2, Indianapolis from -7 to -11, Houston from -3 to -5 1/2. Some games involved quarterback changes, but once again their was an overreaction as Buffalo, the NY Jets and Oakland all had questionable starters at those positions to begin with.
The key point to remember here is that what you see in the preseason should be highly discounted. The intensity of a regular season game isn't there and every squad has different priorities. Keep that in mind next season when the Hall of Fame game comes around.