9 Expert NFL Betting Strategies For Success
Follow these nine tips in your NFL betting endeavours to ensure maximum success this season.
1) Leave your heart out of it
It may sound simple and obvious, but it’s something so many bettors struggle with. We all have our personal biases, whether it be our favorite team or one we despise, and putting these biases aside isn’t as easy as it should be.
Sure, you could take the appropriate steps towards becoming completely objective on the NFL, but cheering on your favorite team (at least) 16 times per year is too much fun. In order to become a smart bettor, you just need to be aware of your biases (and potentially avoid betting if your favoritism is too strong).
2) Be aware of where the game is being played
I know what you’re thinking: “It doesn’t take a genius to know who the home team is.” Perhaps the subheading is a little too vague. Allow me to explain.
Certain teams in the NFL possess very strong homefield advantages. 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 fanbases 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. Do your research.
There are also teams who don’t travel well. Over the last two seasons, those 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, and some teams suffer from real circadian disadvantages certain weeks. West coast teams travelling to the Eastern Time Zone have been able to overcome the time change recently, but east coast teams have still struggled when they head west. It has been most evident when a team plays a late game the week before, and then has to travel across multiple time zones the following Sunday.
NFL players have their bodies working like machines; any disruption to their cycle has the potential to throw them off.
Lastly, certain “dome teams,” and more specifically dome offenses, 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. This is all extremely valuable information to have.
3) Know the individual matchups
Football is often referred to as the ultimate team game, which we completely agree with. However, there are specific one-on-one matchups throughout the course of a game that can dramatically affect the final 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 go 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
We’re not suggesting that following the trends is 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 just the numbers.
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 those points were scored. Maybe a defensive back fell down to allow a long touchdown pass. Or perhaps the defense actually 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 coalesce and switching out even a single piece can throw off the coordination of 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 you with 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, and 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 be far superior to the other 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 miniscule, 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 extremely confident, try to keep parlays and teasers to 2-5 events.
8) Monitor the lines throughout the week
A big part of maximizing your winnings is to monitor the betting lines throughout the week. Some online books may provide you with more favorable odds than another, and as the week progresses, you may find the odds change in your favor.
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 in order to maximize your betting success, it’s crucial to know all the alternative bets you can make on the NFL. 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 slightly less favorable payout.
The focus needs to be on winning, period, not how much you’re winning. And knowing all the types of bets available can make a huge difference in your bankroll.