How to Bet on NFL Football Games
by Robert Ferringo - 09/05/2007
Just like with any other sport, there are several ways to approach wagering. The 2007 NFL season is just another opportunity to find value, specifically by following teams during the length of the schedule and seeing how things break down over the course of the six-month season. The following is my take on how to bet on NFL football games.
A lot of people talk about the 'power of three', the most frequent line found each Sunday with a majority of games having a team favored or dogged by the margin of a field goal. It's evident that pro football is the most popular sport in the country, and that reflects the fact the wagering on NFL and its games is larger than ever.
Giving games a line of -3 or +3 seems to dictate that linesmakers feel that this number balances out most matchups, as commonly one could assume that a value of a field goal is worth what home field advantage gives. And with the rapid growth of parity in this sport, this number seems more vital in its current state.
Personally, a line of -3 for a home favorite would seem to be a popular choice. To some, playing at home is worth a lot more than three points, so we could see heavier action in some particular cases. And further more, a road team +3 doesn't do much justice, as a backer shouldn't rely too much on a team to cover that spread. Granted, you have the luxury of finding a cover in a close game, but when you play a small dog like that, play them with the mindset of winning outright.
Each season the majority of teams have winning records at home, so that should tell you that not only are home teams favored the majority of the year, but also that it will take a lot more than a small spread to consistently make money throughout the campaign if you tend to back underdogs in the NFL season.
Another worrisome tactic that should be noted is watching how often you play road teams in divisional games. With these teams playing their division rivals twice each year, they know each other better than ever, and a light bulb should go up each time when thinking about the possibility of playing these respective games. The favorites away from home are always ripe for the picking here, despite finding what you may considered a 'favorable' line.
Statistically you can always play the numbers, as trends will suggest that playing a certain advantage or consistent approach will likely help turn a profit. The other more commonly used method is simply trusting your gut.
Play your instinct, as if you have had success in the past wagering, then you know what you're doing to some degree and by continuing that approach you can't go wrong.
As far as playing money lines are concerned, with every sport, don't back too heavy of a favorite. I myself wouldn't play a money line beyond a four-point favorite or -175. And even that can lead to some mistakes if done enough because of the parity of so many teams in the league. Playing the spread, favorite or underdog, is the best way to turn a profit over the course of the season.
Totals can be a little bit trickier, because while the NFL seems to play a little more consistently and defensively inclined then the college game, there are always some games that shoot up past the 60s or stay in the teens that you just cannot see coming. With the 'over' or 'under', the best advice to begin the season would be to sit back for a couple weeks and plot out how certain teams are playing and how their style dictates the total score. Getting to know the way teams play out games in the first month or so should definitely help with figuring out which totals are good to jump on and which should be left alone.