How to Bet on the NFL (Profitably!)
The National Football League (NFL) is the most highly bet league in North American sports.
With many factors coming into play, it may seem a bit overwhelming for the beginner bettor or a bettor new to American football.
It is one of the most unpredictable leagues in world sports, every season is rife with unexpected twists and turns; free agent signings don’t always go as planned, injuries spring forth when least expected, and unanticipated talents emerge into superstars.
However, there is hope:
With a little bit of dedication, time, effort, and these NFL betting tips, you could soon see an uptick in your winning percentage.
Determine the best type of bet for you, gather crucial information, watch the games, enjoy yourself, but most importantly – try to make extra cash.
Choosing the Right Types of Bet
The great thing about sports betting, and NFL betting in particular, is that you are offered an array of betting options.
You can bet on the final outcome of games, bet the spread for a matchup, bet the over/under of total points scored in a game, combine multiple bets into an accumulator (also known as a parlay), or even bet on future events.
Here are the main types of NFL bet that you can choose from:
When betting the moneyline, you simply need to pick the outright winner for the matchup.
A spread bet gives a range value for the final outcome of the game.
For example, if the home team is a -3.5 point favourite and you were to bet on them, a final score of the home team winning by more than 3.5 points is required for you to win that bet.
Over/under bets involve trying to determine the total amount of points scored in a game.
These types of bets are beneficial when betting according to the weather, division games, or betting inline with strengths/weaknesses of the teams in question (explained further on in this post in more detail).
Maybe combining multiple bets to try to win huge is up your alley.
You will be required to win all bets in a parlay, however, the overall payoff will be much greater than if it were multiple single bets.
Do you have a hunch as to who will be the next MVP?
Could you predict the Super Bowl winner months in advance?
If the above sounds like something relevant to you, then futures betting is what you’re after; where you have the option of betting on probable outcomes weeks, months, or even years (if you’re that patient!) in advance.
When thinking in terms of profitability, spread betting and over/under can be the best options for maximising profit and limiting risk.
Spread betting is a 50-50 affair, once given the range and taking into account the appropriate factors, we merely have to determine if the spread will be met or not. Similarly, injuries, team match-ups, and weather conditions will easily allow us to predict the over/under on a given game.
It is recommended that you look to these markets as they often offer value – but it’s on you to find whether they’re +EV (Expected Value) or -EV selections.
First and foremost, be sure to watch as many games as possible, box scores don’t always tell the story:
Tale of the tape is the key to success.
Garbage time stats (stats accumulated when games are out of reach) often inflate box score stats, and we seldom get the true scope of the game simply by looking at numbers.
The numbers alone can completely throw people both new and experienced in learning how to bet.
It’s also worth remembering that all of the tips you find below must be combined with the number one tip: find the right bet at the right price.
When doing research for a potential bet, one of the most important things to look at is the injury report.
An injury to a key player will have a great impact on the final outcome of the game.
As an example, an injury to an offensive lineman in a rush-oriented offence will force the team to take a pass-favoured approach.
As a result, the team could be out of its element and will likely see a worse performance as a result.
Writers and blogs dedicated to NFL teams are good sources for firsthand information pertaining to teams.
These sources will provide us with inside information on tidbits and nuggets such as the atmosphere in the clubhouse and the mental state of players, allowing you to better gauge future team performance.
The weather plays a crucial role when placing spread and over/under bets.
A strong wind would play havoc with a pass-oriented offence and interfere when kicking field goals, therefore a low-scoring game would be expected and it would be wise to bet on the ‘under’ as long as the prices offer value. Similarly, cold weather may put a dampener on the scoring.
During the 2015 NFL season, Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings squared off and battled through the third coldest game in NFL history.
Historically, sub-zero temperatures have yielded low scoring games.
Team Stats – Offence vs. Defence
A key factor to examine is whether a team’s offence is pass-oriented, rush-oriented, or a balanced mix.
Compare an opposing team’s defence and determine if it has strong cornerbacks to stop the pass, good pass rushers to limit passing, or if it has solid defensive linemen to put a stop to the rush:
This will determine the scoring outcome of the game and better enable you to try to find a value bet on the over/under.
Once the fundamental concepts are mastered, the next step is to determine the betting strategies to be employed.
Betting on underdogs, well-rested teams, and low-scoring division games are crucial in accruing long-term profit.
It is important to remember that you are not required to bet on every game. Only place bets when the odds are in your favour…
But how do you determine that?
The key to betting is to always look for undervalued teams.
When an extremely good team squares off against a weak team, the general perception is that the weaker team will get crushed. However, the parity in NFL rarely leads to such outcomes, and this also contributes to the unpredictability of the league.
There is a betting theory that states that one should always bet on the home team if the road team is favoured by 7 or more points in the spread:
Since 1997, the underdog has covered the spread in over 62% of such scenarios.
Furthermore, home-road splits should be examined prior to placing these bets. There are still teams that play as well on the road as in home games and should seldom be bet against, even when on the road, so ensure your team knowledge is as good as it can be.
Due to injuries being prevalent in the NFL, teams that are rested and coming off a bye week tend to perform well in comparison to games played with less rest.
Since 1997, teams coming off a bye have covered the spread 55.7% of the time and it’s wise to factor this into your thinking.
Each team plays two games a season versus division rivals.
This leads to a familiarity among players and makes such games extremely hard to call.
However, the games tend to be low-scoring affairs. Remember this when looking for value.
As we can see, there are a multitude of factors that play a role in determining the outcome of every NFL game played.
Reading the injury and weather reports give us a solid foundation upon which we could analyse more advanced aspects of the game. Harsh weather, rush-oriented offences, and division games tend to be low-scoring games and it’s worth factoring this into your thinking.
Teams coming off bye weeks and huge underdogs at home are also suggested as potentially safe bets against the spread. Remember though, this will be factored into the size of the spread so you must look hard for value.
As with all bets, you will lose some and you will win some – the key is to win more profit than you lose in stakes. It’s not about picking winners, but about finding the right price for each bet and taking odds that are higher than that price.
Bet while keeping these key factors and scenarios in mind and you will should see a quick increase in your overall NFL betting profits.