9 Strategies for Successful NFL Betting
NFL betting strategies aren’t always quick and dirty. Try these nine thoughtful tips to maximize your success this season.
1. Leave out your heart
It may sound obvious, but it’s still a challenge for many bettors. We all have our personal biases. Whether it’s a favorite team or one we despise, putting aside personal biases isn’t easy.
Sure, you could take steps towards becoming more objective towards NFL betting. But cheering on your favorite team (at least) 16 times per year is just too much fun. To become a smarter bettor, be aware of your biases and try to avoid decisions based solely on favoritism.
2. Be aware of where the game is being played
I know what you’re thinking: “It doesn’t take a genius to know the home team.” Perhaps the subheading is a little too vague. Allow me to explain.
Certain teams in the NFL possess a very strong home-field advantage. For example, dating back to 1986, the Denver Broncos are an astonishing 200-75 at home. Even when the Broncos have a bad team, opponents still have to deal with the altitude of the Mile High City, and one of the most passionate fan bases in the league.
Another great example is the Seattle Seahawks, who are 92-31 at home since 2003. Betting on another team to win in these stadiums often results in a loss. But they’re not the only two with such an advantage. So, remember to do your research.
There are also teams who don’t travel well. Over the last two seasons, the very same Seahawks are a very mediocre 9-9-1 on the road. (They have only lost a total of 13 games in that time – playoffs included.) And in 2016, the Seahawks were just 3-6 against the spread on the road, which includes going 1-5 as a road favorite.
The Texans were another team who struggled to cover the spread on the road in 2016, posting a 2-6 record ATS.
Knowing where and when the teams played the previous week is also an important factor to consider. Some teams suffer from real disadvantages. West coast teams traveling to the Eastern Time Zone have been able to overcome the time change recently, but east coast teams often still struggle when they head west.
This is most evident when a team plays a late game and then has to travel across multiple time zones the following Sunday. NFL players have bodies that work like machines. And any disruption to the cycle has the potential to throw them off.
Lastly, certain dome (indoor) teams, don’t play up to their usual standard when forced to play outdoors. For example, Drew Brees’ passer rating drops from 102.5 in a dome to 90.3 when playing outdoors. And this is all extremely useful information for bettors.
3. Know the individual matchups
Football is often referred to as the ultimate team game, and we completely agree. However, there are specific one-on-one matchups throughout a game that can dramatically affect the outcome. For example, a weak offensive tackle having to deal with one of the premier edge-rushers in the league is a recipe for disaster.
Looking beyond the players, it is also important to know head-to-head matchups between the coaches. Some coaches’ schemes fare very well against certain others, while some coaches just know exactly how to beat some of their rivals.
A great example of this is Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick. The Patriots have been dominant since Belichick has been steering the ship, but he’s 2-5 when coaching against Coughlin. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use that example this season, but there are plenty more out there. You can find them yourself, or check back with us for our weekly NFL picks, which often contain such pearls of wisdom.
4. Know more than just the trends
When it comes to betting on NFL games, following the trends isn’t a bad idea — they can provide important and convincing information. For example, the Rams are 7-2-1 ATS when coming off their last ten bye weeks, while the Chargers, on the other hand, are just 3-8 ATS when coming off their last 11 bye weeks. There’s no doubt those trends should be valued. But it’s important to know more than stats.
Noticing that a team just scored 49 points the previous week isn’t nearly enough to assume its offense is firing on all cylinders. Go back and look at how all the points were scored. Maybe a defensive back fell down to allow a long touchdown pass. Or perhaps the
defense scored a couple of those touchdowns. Or maybe they were just playing the Browns. It’s vital to know the context behind the numbers.
5. Check the injury reports
As we mentioned, football is the ultimate team game. Offensive and defensive units take time to gel, and small changes can throw off the entire unit. Make sure you know which players have missed practice during the week, what their status is for the upcoming game, and what role they play on the team.
Team injury reports can be a little vague, so it’s always a good idea to check the Twitter accounts of beat-writers for each team. Often, they will provide a little more detail.
There’s no reason not to wait until Sunday to place a bet if a key player’s status is truly questionable.
6. Take caution in divisional matchups
When you play a team twice per season, you get to know their tendencies very well. Even bad teams tend to dig a little deeper when they are battling a division rival. Looking to 2016, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears, and San Francisco 49ers were three of the bottom-four teams in the NFL, but they all posted a 4-2 record ATS within their respective divisions.
Even though one team may appear superior on paper, divisional matchups are often much closer than anticipated.
7. Don’t fall in love with value
Betting the underdog on the moneyline can certainly pay off. But don’t let a big potential payout be the determining factor in your betting strategy. Make sure there’s reason and logic behind taking a +800 underdog on the moneyline, because you can be sure the sportsbook used reason and logic to set that moneyline in the first place.
You also need to be careful when constructing parlays and teasers: don’t load them up with too many events. Yes, adding a sixth team to your parlay may yield an enticing payout. But your chances of winning can become minuscule, even if you’re backing six big favorites. With the parity enjoyed in the NFL, it’s far too difficult to correctly predict the outcome of more than a handful of games. Unless you’re confident, try to limit parlays and teasers to 2-5 events.
8. Monitor the lines throughout the week
Monitoring the betting lines throughout the week is a big part of maximizing your chances. Some online books may provide more favorable odds, and as the week progresses, you may find the odds change.
It’s important to keep in mind the public’s perception here, too. Popular teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and New England Patriots will always have loyal supporters betting with their hearts. (That’s why they’re often referred to as public teams.)
This will result in a lot of unfavorable spreads and odds for them. If you’re planning on betting against a public team, you may be smart to wait around and let their blind backers drive the odds in your favor. Conversely, if you’re planning to bet on a public team, jumping on an early line may be the best decision.
9. Know all types of bets
There is success to be had betting on the moneyline, the spread, and game totals. But to maximize your success, it’s crucial to know all the alternative bets you can make. For example, many sportsbooks will allow you to bet on alternate spreads. Instead of settling for a -3.5 spread that makes you a little uncomfortable, you can opt for a -2.5 spread with a more modest payout.
When it comes to NFL betting strategies, the focus needs to be winning. Not how much or how little. And knowing all the types of bets available can make a huge difference when it comes to your bankroll.