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  • Created On:
    09/07/2011 9:56 PM
  • Last Update:
    01/17/2019 7:25 AM

NFL Betting Tips

Football season is upon us, and with all the variables needed to handicap (coaches, players, rules, etc.) always changing, there are numerous betting tips that have stood the test of time. Below you will find some of my personal handicapping concepts I always look at when breaking down the NFL card.

Key Numbers: 3 and 7 are without question the most important numbers in the NFL. The secondary ones (in terms of frequency) to remember are 1, 4, 6, 10, 13, 14, with the distant “key number” relatives being 11 and 17. These are the numbers that have the highest probability of being the margin of victory. About 14 percent (or 1 in 7) of NFL games land on 3 points. It is also important to avoid some traps that people fall into, such as taking a +7.5 -110 underdog on an alternate line at +9 1/2 points but being forced to lay big juice. Games rarely end in an 8- or 9-point victory, so there really isn’t much difference in the two points from 7 1/2 to 9 1/2 points, so be careful not to let the juicier numbers with the high premium tempt you.

Anti-Public: Blanket-fading the public will do nothing but make you broke unless you are the one booking the action. Here is why: -110=4.5%. Vegas hopes to hold 4.5 percent of every dollar wagered by their players based on the -110 they charge on losers. Let me paint the picture another way: Bears -7 (75% public)/Lions +7. Lions lose by 3, and the public loses, but (and a big but) the book collects at +110 profit while you are only getting +100. By taking the side of the book, you do so by giving up the almighty -110 that in the end allows them to have an edge over the player. Say the opposite happens, and the Bears destroy the Lions. The book pays out at even money while you are paying your loss with an extra 10 percent tacked on. It may not seem like much, but over the course of a full season of you paying at -110 on losing bets and not -100, the money will start to add up.

Underdogs on Monday Night Football: At one time in sports betting, this was the “golden goose” public betting trend. The trend slowly went south, and in 2007, close to 70 percent of the road favorites beat the number. If there is an edge or flaw in the lines, due to the money involved, the gambling gods will eventually even out their universe. From the 1970s to around 2000, following the dog on Monday, you would have hit close to 60 percent. Over the past 10 years or so, it is a coin flip at best. Especially with the advent of the internet, the exchange of information can have an amazing trend network between 1000's of people in one click.

Money Line Versus Pointspread: Using close to 20 years of NFL pointspread data, we find that when a team covers the spread, they also win outright close to 85 percent of the time. For example, in 2009, the Chicago Bears in every game but one (9-point favorite over the Rams and winning by 8), the spread result matched the straight up result, including an outright win over the Vikings as 8-point underdogs. Using this data, you will find that handicapping five out of six games correctly on who will win outright, you also most likley hit five out of six when factoring in the spread.

Betting Teasers: Based of a -110 vig, a sports bettor will need to hit around 52.4 percent of their wagers to break even. Using the standard 6-point teaser as our example, each individual teaser side would now need to cover 72.5 percent to break even. Essentially, those extra six points need to boost your win percent an additional 20 percent to make a teaser worth playing. The first thing is toss out using a total. Even though some may disagree, there is no total worth moving six points that will boost your win percentage 20 percent. Sure, a dog to the under or favorite to the over has some correlation concepts, but we are trying to keep it simple in this example. Some basic tips to follow when betting six-point teasers in the NFL: favorites of 7.5-8.5 down to 1.5 – 2.5, thus crossing both 3 and 7. Also, move the underdogs of 1.5-2.5 up to 7.5-8.5, thus moving cross 3 and 7.

Parlay Cards: On average, the house edge in Baccarat is 1.06 percent. Blackjack when playing perfect strategy is around 0.50 percent. The average street books pays 9-1 on a 4-team parlay card, which results in about a 46 percent house edge. Even with the best odds offshore at 12-1, the house edge is still 29 percent, which equals the odds paid out on Keno. The actual odds on a 4-team parlay are 15-1, which leaves the house with only an 11 percent edge or around the house edge for prop bets at the craps table. The more teams the player picks, the higher the payouts are, which entices the junkie in all of us. The house edge actually goes higher and higher with each team you add on, but we tend to be blinded with the increasing payout odds. Hit a nice 8-teamer and get back 100-1, but even at 100-1, the house is still keeping a 65 percent edge on the player. One Vegas book pays out 200,000-1 on a 20-teamer. House edge? 80.93 percent.

The majority of people who plan to bet the NFL this season are doing it to have a little fun while watching the games. So despite all the information I have shared above, my best advice is to put aside a bankroll for football season and stick within your means. Never think you are due to win or “chase” your way into getting into money trouble. Unless you plan to become a professional sports handicapper, if you can get 16+ weeks of enjoyment for little or no cost, I would call that a great bet!


Johnny Detroit, Co-Founder and Vice-President
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Johnny Detroit has built an impressive winning record: He has been booted or had limits lowered at 9 offshore sports books, has numerous documented Top 5 finishes in both NFL and College Football and his... Read more

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