NFL Betting Advice from a Professional Handicapper
Knowing the NFL and winning money betting on the NFL are two completely different things. And one of the biggest mistakes that average bettors make is to think that just because they follow pro football religiously that they will be successful betting on it.
Sports betting is a unique beast. Reading and understanding the market, interpreting secondary betting factors that influence each game, and knowing how to manage a bankroll are all things that are most public bettors don’t fully grasp. But those fundamentals are the foundation of the sports betting industry and are critical to success whether you’re betting $10 per game or $1,000 per game.
Professional handicappers like myself have a thousand tips and tricks to beat the NFL betting market. But here are some pretty basic ones that all NFL bettors should understand:
1. You Need Proper Money Management
Money management is the key to successful sports betting, regardless of sport. We use a standard 1-8 Unit System at Doc’s Sports, with each “unit” representing a specific percent of your bankroll. Your average bet should be around three or four percent of your stack. There will be exceptions and plays you like more than others. But even in those games, you shouldn’t commit more than seven or eight percent on any situation throughout the season.
If you have $2,000 in your account, you should be betting around $40 per game. I know it’s not as sexy as betting $200 or $300 per game. But that type of recklessness is for amateurs and tourists. Play within your means and you’ll stay in the game a lot longer. And if you do that, then you can eventually turn that $2,000 into $4,000, $5,000 or $10,000. Then you can be the high roller you always wanted to be! By betting around 2% of your bankroll per game, then you bet more when you are winning and less when you are losing.
2. Learn To Read The Lines
The sportsbooks aren’t trying to predict outcomes. They just want to post a spread that results in equal betting on each side (known as balanced action). To be a successful bettor, you should be a good oddsmaker. And that all starts with knowing how and why spreads are posted and why they move in the manner in which they do.
A fundamental NFL betting concept is that of “key numbers”. Spreads of 3.0, 4.0 and 7.0 are considered “key” because three, four or seven points decide an inordinate amount of games. As a result, sharp bettors understand the value difference between placing a bet on an underdog at 3.5 rather than 3.0 and getting a favorite at 6.5 rather than 7.0.
It is also important to be able to read line movements. Let’s say that more than 80 percent of the bets on a game are on the favorite. But instead of climbing, the spread actually falls away from the side the public is on. That’s called a reverse line movement and is an indicator that the professional bettors are on the opposite side of the square public. Also, it is telling when the books move the spread off a key number, and that can be a sure sign of professional or “sharp” money is coming in on a team.
The oddsmakers are a lot better at this than you are. You have to respect that. If a line looks too good to be true, there is probably a very good reason for it. Try to think like an oddsmaker and bet with the books.
3. Understand The Up-Down Theory
The public overreacts to everything that happens in the sports world. Media outlets like ESPN have built their empires stirring up the frenzy surrounding these games, and everything that happened five minutes ago is The Most Important Thing in the World. Nowhere is this truer than the NFL, where teams play just once a week. That leaves a lot of time for hand wringing and carnival barking about which teams are great and terrible based solely on the most recent game.
The Up-Down Theory suggests that teams that played poorly one week should be due for a regression the next, while a team that played above itself will come back down to earth. However, the market usually corrects the other way, assuming that a team that played poorly is a “bad team” and will be equally bad or even worse the next week, while a team that won will continue to play well or improve. When a team coming off a statistically anomalous “bad” game goes up against a team that played over its head the week prior, then you have a classic Up-Down situation.
For example, in Week 1 of the 2013 regular season, Philadelphia blitzed Washington in a marquee road win. That same night San Diego played horribly in the second half while collapsing in a loss to Houston. The two teams played the following Sunday. And a spread that probably should’ve been 3.5 was inflated up to 7.5 because the assumption was that Philadelphia was trending up and San Diego was trending down. It was just the opposite. The Chargers bounced back (Up) while the Eagles slid back to reality (Down), and the result was an outright upset win for San Diego.
4. Situational and Motivational Factors Can’t Be Ignored.
The difference between the fifth-best team and the 20th-best team in the NFL is razor thin. So motivational and situational factors can play a huge factor in how games will develop. If Team A is on the road after a physical, emotionally draining rivalry win at home, then they are in a prime letdown spot. If another squad is a West Coast team flying across country for the second straight week for a 1 p.m. EST start, then you have to figure they will be at a severe situational disadvantage against their opponent. Things like that have to be considered when making any wager in the NFL.
Betting on a team coming off a bye week because they had “extra time to prepare” is actually one of the most overrated factors in NFL betting. But betting against a team that might be looking ahead to a more important game the following week – a Look Ahead Situation – is often underappreciated by the general betting public.
Also, momentum is a crucial aspect to any NFL season. Teams can get hot or go cold at any point. And, especially late in the season, these streaks can lead to teams playing above themselves on the field and at the window. Never bet against a streak. You are better off either jumping on the gravy train or staying off the tracks.
5. Pay More Attention To The Trenches
I will admit that the first thing bettors need to consider when putting money down on a team is the coach and quarterback matchups. But I also feel like too much focus is put on skill position players in NFL betting. At its core, pro football is a physical, violent game. And the team that can physically impose its will and dominate its opponent at the point of attack has a huge advantage.
You have to pay attention to how teams are set along the offensive and defensive lines. So many other aspects of the game are a direct result of how teams fare in the trenches.
Teams with poor offensive lines are more prone to sacks, turnovers and penalties, three things that can kill a good bet. Teams will strong offensive lines are better at running the ball and protecting leads. And how offensive lines match up with their defensive counterparts goes a long way to determining how a game will be played.
Fundamental handicapping is the approach that looks at basic matchup aspects of teams. If one team has a great passing game and they are facing a terrible secondary, then that is a fundamental advantage. In my opinion, the fundamental offensive/defensive line matchup is one of most important and undervalued aspects of NFL handicapping. Pay attention to it. And when you find an underdog with major advantages in the trenches, that is a bet you want to make.
6. Beware The Shaky Road Favorite
Road favorites are rarely a strong play for NFL bettors. But there are some teams that simply should never be favored when they play away from home. You never want to lay points on the road with teams that have a track record of wild inconsistency – turnovers, penalties, late-game meltdown, poor special teams, etc. These teams are usually enticing because of perceived “talent” advantages. But if they aren’t consistent and fundamentally sound, you don’t even want to think about betting on them away from home.
The Detroit Lions, a perpetually overhyped team with a history of maddeningly inconsistent play, are a perfect example. They are a lower-tier NFL team. But they can be posted as favorites when they play other lower-tier teams like the Raiders, Browns or Cardinals. Stay away. Bad teams are usually never good bets when laying points. That is doubly true when those shaky teams play on the road.
7. Know Which Numbers Really Matter
Points-per-game average is not as strong of an indicator of team performance as yards per point. Third-down conversion rate is a more consistent indicator of a team’s offensive performance than yards per rush. Understanding which statistics are loaded with meaning (turnovers) and which ones are overvalued (total yards) is a key to becoming a sharp NFL bettor.
The average yards per point for the median NFL team is right around 15.5. So if a team plays a game in which they had a YPP of 24.0, then you can deduce that your team scored a lot less than they should have, and this could lead to a higher-scoring game the following week. And vice versa.
Further, statistics like total yardage differential (yards gained minus yards allowed), strength of schedule, and point differential are actually better indicators of team strength than win-loss record. Paying attention to those numbers can help you find overrated and underrated teams throughout the season.
Robert Ferringo has been the top football handicapper in the country the past nine years, earning nearly $40,000 in total football profit (average profit: +$4,400). He has also posted 8 of 10 winning seasons (including four straight winning years) and produced an amazing 53 of 82 winning football months over the past 13 years. Robert is looking for a fifth straight winning football year and wants more profit this fall. SIGN UP HERE TODAY AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR 3-FOR-1 FOOTBALL SPECIALS!
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