I’ll start by stating this – this is not a spot where you will find picks. I’m not going to tell you who to bet over/under on or MVP predictions or anything. No, instead, this will be a brief overview of what you might want to consider when betting on an NFL game. Let’s get right into it.
There’s a lot that goes into NFL lines. Most of them are beaten into place immediately upon posting so you’re likely not getting the best number unless you bet it immediately when it is posted. There are a lot of different strategies, and I’ll cover a few below. But understand, the lines you’re playing have home-field advantage accounted for, have injury news accounted for, and have just about anything else you can think of included that builds the line. Today, we will focus on strategies. In future articles, we will talk about specifics for spread betting, over/under betting, and other options.
Many people suggest using Power Rankings as a strategy for how to align two teams. This is something people will put together at the beginning of the season and then continue to edit as the season carries on. Then when two teams play, this allows you to get a perspective of how much better or worse the teams are against their upcoming opponents. Say, for example, the Chiefs are playing the Jets. These are two teams on likely opposite ends of the spectrum. You know that Chiefs will be favorites in the game, but then you start to consider where they play and you start to adjust your number and you consider other relevant factors, and that gives you a line for the game. This is a good strategy for teams that are ranked closer together because you can see if you like your number better than what your book is offering pretty easily.
I mentioned that you’ll likely not get the best line when you bet it. Sometimes you will, but understand that typically, NFL games are more bet on than any other sport available. As money comes in, lines do move, they also move based on information that comes out during the week. If you think the game is going to be an over, for example, and you pounce on a number, great. Just know if a quarterback gets hurt in practice, that number is extremely likely to change on you. You can follow the movements and see what the line opened at and monitor how it is changing before you act. Not every line movement is because of “sharps” and it won’t win just because you followed the line move.
Playing a theory
I can’t take credit for this, but a friend once did the research on favorites of between -300 and -400. He wanted to see if you did flat betting (bet $50 or whatever amount on each game that falls in that criteria) if you’d become profitable. This was just a random theory he came up with. He researched the previous 10 years’ worth of games that fell into that category (to be honest, it wasn’t a statistically relevant number). He then evaluated the profitability in hopes of applying it to the 2020 season. This is something anyone can do if you’re inclined to invest your time and effort.
Playing a trend
One last strategy I’ll mention is finding trends. This usually will require you not to bet until about a quarter or halfway into the season, so you get some data from the current year. An example from last year is Davante Adams. The guy caught a ton of touchdowns last year, and many of them were the first touchdown of Packers games. If you caught onto that trend and bet it all 16 games, you were making a good amount of money. Each year you’ll also find a team that is bad against tight ends or is consistently giving up opening drive field goals. This changes year-to-year, but if you can analyze data and find these, they can be quite profitable.