NFL Preseason Week 1 Betting Picks: Buccaneers vs. Steelers and Vikings vs. Saints

The first 11 NFL preseason Week 1 games are behind us, but there’s plenty of NFL betting left this weekend.

The Under was a popular bet at online sports betting sites Thursday night but the Over would go 6-4-1 on the night while favorites went 5-6.

Also be sure to read our NFL preseason betting strategy guide to find out why betting during the preseason differs from traditional NFL betting and how to take advantage of the house.

Let’s take a look at NFL preseason Week 1 betting picks for the two games Friday night. 

NFL Preseason Week 1 Betting Picks — Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers -2, O/U 37 

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Friday night preseason football kicks off with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is 24-26 ATS in NFL preseason games and new Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians is 10-9-2. The Under has gone 30-20 in preseason games where Tomlin is the coach.

QB Matchups — Roethlisberger to sit, Winston will ‘absolutely’ see reps

Bucs beat writers Rick Stroud and Eduardo reported that Tampa Bay starters won’t play much Friday night.

As of Wednesday morning, Ben Roethlisberger is the only starter that had been ruled out for the Pittsburgh Steelers, leaving Joshua Dobbs to start behind center. 

Jameis Winston was asked if he’d play Friday night, and his response was enthusiastic in his response. “Absolutely baby! We’re playing against another team.” Winston has thrown for nearly 100 yards in each of his four NFL preseason Week 1 games during his career.

It’s unclear how much of the field Winston will see, but his presence should give Tampa Bay an early advantage.

Beyond Roethlisberger and Winston news, both the Buccaneers and the Steelers have healthy competitions for the backup QB role. 

Dobbs gets the start for the Steelers Friday night, but Mason Rudolph is competing for the No. 2 job as well. With reports that both quarterbacks have had sub-par training camps, undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges is a dark horse candidate for the job. The Steelers picked up Hodges after finishing his college career at Samford and passing Steve McNair as the all-time leading FCS passer.

For Tampa Bay, it’s a pair of 29-year-olds — Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin — competing to be Winston’s backup. Gabbert has experience as a starter, throwing for over 9,000 yards between stints with the Jaguars, 49ers, Cardinals and Titans. Griffin, on the other hand, has never taken a snap in a regular-season game

2018 NFL preseason stats

Gabbert: 35-for-55 (63.6%), 350 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
Griffin: 51-for-75 (68%), 518 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTS
Dobbs: 29-for-43 (67.4%), 434 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs
Rudolph: 24-for-54 (54.5%), 315 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT

We know how bad Tampa Bay’s starting defense is, so can you imagine how bad their reserves are? With healthy QB competitions on both sidelines, I like Over 37 points. I also lean towards the QB experience of the Buccaneers, especially in the first half since Winston will at least take a few snaps.

My Picks: Tampa Bay 1H +.5, Tampa Bay +2, and Over 37 (use our William Hill promo code to get these odds)

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NFL Preseason Week 1 Betting Picks — Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints -2.5 O/U 37.5

When talking about NFL coaches who take the preseason more serious than others, John Harbaugh and Mike Zimmer are usually the first to be mentioned. Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens dominated the Jaguars 29-0 to cover the 4-point spread by 25 points Thursday night. Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings take the field tonight.

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Zimmer will try to add another win to his already stellar 14-7 preseason record ATS when the Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints at 8 pm ET Friday. New Orleans head coach Sean Payton is 26-23 ATS in preseason games.

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. While many will use Zimmer’s record as a reason to back the Vikings tonight, I won’t be one of them. One beat writer expects Teddy Bridgewater to play the entire first half for the New Orleans Saints followed by Taysom Hill in the second half. Both Bridgewater and Hill have reportedly had great training camps. “I’d argue these backups have been the best that I’ve watched since I started covering the team in 2006. No hyperbole,” write Larry Holder for The Athletic.

As RotoGrinders DFS analyst Allen Lem points out in today’s NFL Preseason DFS Primer: Beat writer Andrew Krammer did tweet here that Mike Zimmer said he will hold out “one” or “two” players, and then Krammer tweeted again he expects more to sit because the team has been cautious with veterans. There’s also an article here saying Cousins and the first team offense may play just one drive.

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Sean Mannion and Kyle Sloter will lead the Vikings offense for most of the game. The pair is easily inferior to Bridgewater and Hill, which is why I won’t be backing Zimmer this time around. Instead, I’ll take the Saints moneyline and the Over 10.5 first half New Orleans points. I also have no problem with cutting this game in half, betting either the first half or the second half spread on the Saints. 

My Picks: New Orleans Saints Moneyline -143 (use our BetStars promo code to get these odds); New Orleans Over 10.5 First Half Points (use our PointsBet promo code to get these odds)

Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images

About the Author

  • Matt Schmitto (schmitto)

  • Matt Schmitto is the sports betting editor for RotoGrinders. He grew up in Texas, graduating from Texas Tech University. He has played high stakes DFS since 2013, and enjoys betting on golf, basketball, football and whatever else is put in front of him. Schmitto is an advocate of The Bettor’s Oath.

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