In this guide we will cover:
- How to find advantages betting on Favorites and Underdogs
- The most important tricks of the trade for betting Over/Under
- Betting the lines: our 7-step formula to profit
Football Guide: Getting the Lay of the Land
As we have discussed previously in our “sports betting basics” guide, the number one thing you have to know when entering a sports bet is your intention. Are you placing a wager for the fun of the gamble and to add some extra excitement to watching the game, or are you joining to make a profit? There is not necessarily a wrong answer to this question but it will give you a solid starting point and some guidance in placing your bets. Football is one of the biggest betting markets, with a relatively short season and dramatic story lines.
- Decide to play for fun or profits and stick to your decision!
Now that you have decided which betting approach you will take as your main one, we can get started. If you have chosen to bet for fun then our tip is really simple. You know what type of plays you like best, so enjoy betting from New Jersey and maybe even going to a few games! When playing for fun you can enter any bet or prop that you like, you make sure you don’t play more than you can afford to lose. For the ones reading this to make some extra side change, strategy is key in your approach.
- Pick a main strategy and stick to it and refine for the season! Reassess your main approach only after the season ends!
If you are trying to make some profit it is probably best to stick to the main lines. The NFL season is the shortest of all the four major leagues in the U.S., especially compared to the MLB. Because of the fewer games and betting opportunities that are available each season, accuracy and return on your investment is extra important! One football Sunday the large majority of the matches that week take place within 10 hours of each other. With team rankings being important at the end of the season this leaves little time to place your bets. The best approach is to do your homework and get all your bets placed before the first game starts.
Favorites & Underdogs
What makes a good favorite or a good underdog? This is a difficult question to answer and your own homework will come in handy here. Nowadays most lines can be lacking value and just like the over/under bets you can find an advantage in early lines when the bookmakers have not made any adjustments to their first estimations. In the end, markers for a good bet vary from team to team. Some teams are very strong at home, others have a good track record of playing strong games on the road. In general you do want to stay away from the biggest differences in the line, unless of course your own analysis shows a clear advantage. These are some good rules to use when looking for underdogs and favorites:
- Look for one-score underdogs with lines around +3
- In general, avoid big favorites (-14 or more)
- Consider taking moneyline on small favorites
- Always take the points on underdogs
The Over-Under Lines
The Over-Under market is a lot smaller than spread bets are and totals are usually a bit more difficult to get a hold of. Most lines are between 42 and 52 points for both teams, which is also the range for the average game during the regular season. If you want to be profitable making these bets you will have to find a clear edge. If you don’t, you are basically flipping a coin and if you read our guide about lines and odds you will know that bookmakers are not a good place to be profitable in coin-flips.
If you decide to go for an O/U bet be on the lookout for any discrepancies not shown in the line, like short term injuries or major offset in the expected total. Especially with injuries or changes in the starting line-up there is an adjustment period for bookies and this is one of the edges where you can profit. Besides those changes the following tips can help you find a line that might be set incorrectly:
- Look at the most points allowed for both teams in the past three games
- Look at the minimum points scored for both teams in the past three games
- Find totals with 5 points difference between the expected total
Spread betting is still the most popular in sports betting in the NFL and with good reason. When trying to find an advantage the bookmakers try to make the matchup equal by handicapping the teams in their score. You and the bookmaker are trying to predict the difference in the score between the teams and here you can find good opportunities to make money. Moneyline bets can be useful when the spread difference is small or when you expect a close game. Still, especially with underdogs you want to take the points, this way you always have less risk on your money. To find consistent value in the betting lines we use the following approach:
- Research – Throughout the week take note of injuries, trades, special events and unexpected news to be up-to-date on the league.
- Generate Lines – Make your own lines for favorite and underdog including the spread before looking at what the bookmakers offer.
- Compare – Compare your own lines for the games to what the bookmakers offer. Select the lines where is more than a one score difference (3 points spread difference at least).
- Look for value – Pay special attention to games where bookmakers have selected a different favorite/underdog.
- Selection – Select four games that you like the most, if there are less that is fine too. It is better to be selective in your bets and avoid unnecessary risk.
- Devil’s advocate – As a last check, try to find arguments against your own lines to see if there is any important information you missed.
- Size and placement – Set your betting size and place your bets at the start of the day so you can drop bets with last-minute news if needed.
Of course you can always have a look at what other bettors have as their picks and see if you missed any value. In the end it is most profitable to learn and make your own bets, we want to teach you how to fish so you can eat for a lifetime! Also remember, even if going for profits keep it fun. You are living in New Jersey so enjoying a Jets or Giants game is a great experience, especially if you can buy the tickets with your sports betting profits.
Football Betting FAQ
Are prime-time games more profitable to bet on?The Thursday, Sunday-night and Monday Prime-Time games definitely stand out among the other regular season games but does this mean that there is more value to be found in these games? In short: no, but there are some advantages that the prime-time games can offer because of the extra attention. Most games are scheduled in such a way that the NFL expects interesting games. Now of course the season can always take some crazy turns but these spots offer a good opportunity for underdogs to shine or favorites to blow their opponents out. Be very careful of the spreads during these games and the extra pressure that teams can perceive with all eyes on them.
Should I bet who will win the super bowl?This question usually comes up close to the end of the Nation Football League. The end of regular season automatically brings up the questions about the Super Bowl and who will take home those championship rings. When you bet on the winner of the Super Bowl we would usually recommend to do this early in the season. When you make your analysis of the new line-ups you can select a few of your favorites to win the Super Bowl and the odds that you are getting will give you a solid return on your money. Close to postseason you can still make these bets but keep your sizes small since there is less value in the lines. The unpredictability that the pressure of the one-and-done games bring, are not the best investment of your money.
Are big favorites a good bet?Betting on the big favorites for their Moneyline is a big no-no, since you will risk a lot of money if you want to receive at least a decent return. The risk of the favorite losing is simply not worth the bet. In the end this is still sports betting we are talking about and crazy plays and games do happen! If you want to incorporate moneyline bets into your betting slip maybe combine two or three favorites into a parlay but don’t make this your main bet type. Spread betting is not a good idea either if you are getting lines of -15 or larger. On average favorites just do not win by such big numbers consistently, maybe except for the Patriots… Even then, there are more profitable bets to be placed usually.