Football Is Back For Iowa Bets: Time for Preseason Games

Written By Russ Mitchell on August 5, 2021 - Last Updated on July 22, 2022
nfl preseason hall of fame odds

The Olympic flame is about to go out, but stadium lights are about to go on for the first preseason football game of the season.

The NFL preseason opens with the customary Hall of Fame game. This year, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys have the NFL’s soft open. Fox has the 7 p.m. broadcast from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, OH.

The Steelers are picked to finish third in the AFC North, behind the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. With Dak Prescott back under center, Dallas is favored to win the NFC East at the major sportsbooks in Iowa, including DraftKings Sportsbook.

As of Wednesday, Pittsburgh was favored by less than a field goal at many Iowa sportsbooks.

Preseason odds: Hall of Fame game

Johnny Avello, the director of sports and racing at DraftKings, said the process for setting preseason vs. regular-season NFL lines is similar. But, he said, “the reasoning is different.”

“Some teams may have a higher preseason rating because they have higher-quality backup quarterbacks who will see more action.”
Star players — especially starting quarterbacks — may only see a series or two in the first preseason games. Coaching philosophies also play a role when Avello’s team sets odds in August.
“A few coaches care about the wins and some could care less — a consistent pattern has developed through the years. Nevertheless, the limits are lower and we move the numbers a lot quicker. It not unusual to see a game go from -3 on one side to -3 on the other.”

Upcoming season marks a major change

The NFL begins its preseason in earnest a week from now with:
  • Two games on Thursday, Aug. 12
  • Three games on Friday, Aug. 13
  • Ten games on Saturday, Aug. 14
  • Carolina at Indianapolis on Sunday, Aug. 15

Week 2 of the preseason is Aug. 19-23. Preseason Week 3 is Aug. 27-29.

Finally, preseason’s Week 4 is … not around anymore.

The four-preseason, 16 regular-season game format that dates back to 1978 is gone. The NFL reached an agreement with the NFL Player’s Association in March to add a 17th regular-season game. The league ditched the fourth preseason game as part of the trade-off.

A look at NFL odds at Iowa sportsbooks

Here’s a look at how the sportsbooks think Midwest teams will navigate the NFL season. Many sportsbooks have set game-by-game NFL odds as well. PlayIA will have lots of betting previews during the season too:





Up north, ‘real’ games start Thursday

Oh, Canada, we have some bets from thee …

Enough of this exhibition nonsense, the chase for the Grey Cup begins Thursday night as well. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are favored by about a field goal in its regular-season opener at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Four of the nine CFL franchises list players with Iowa college ties on their active rosters. Altogether, five Iowa college players made active rosters and two are on CFL practice squads:

  • BC Lions — RB James Butler (Iowa).  DL Niklas Gustav (Morningside College) is on the practice squad.
  • Edmonton Elks — WR Tevaun Smith (Iowa)
  • Calgary Stampeders — OL Julian Good-Jones (Iowa State)
  • Ottawa Redblacks — DL Clayon Laing (Iowa State) and OL Nolan MacMillan (Iowa). LB Tony Anderson (Grand View) is on the practice squad.

The Tiger-Cats are favored to be your 2021 Grey Cup champions:

Grey Cup Champion OddsDraftKings SportsbookCaesars SportsbookFanDuel SportsbookBetMGM SportsbookBetRivers SportsbookPointsBet Sportsbook
Hamilton Tiger-Cats+350+300+450+300+300+450
Saskatchewan Roughriders+500+400+700+600+450+500
Calgary Stampeders

Winnipeg Blue Bombers+550+500+700+400+500+650
Toronto Argonauts

Montreal Alouettes+900+1000+800+1000+900+900
B.C. Lions+1000+1000+1000+1100+1100+1000
Edmonton Elks
Ottawa Redblacks+1400+1200+1000+1800+1600+1000
Photo by Michael Ainsworth / AP
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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