NFL Odds Betting Strategies
(The Spread) - The NFL is the mother of all sports and, not surprisingly, it is the most wagered on league in the United States. Consequently, NFL games own some of the tightest lines in the business as sports books look to avoid losing their hat week in and week out.
No one wants to fall prey to puckered up spreads, but flying blind into the football betting world will result in exactly that. In order to combat the odds makers and the Sunday blues, I have pieced together a few tried and true NFL Odds Betting Strategies. So, whether you are new to football betting or just looking to add to your handicapping tool chest, feel free to take advantage of the following tips.
Never shy away from mediocre or losing teams when reviewing the NFL odds. Given the right circumstances even a loser can make you a winner. Case in point No. 1: St. Louis Rams. The Rams were neck and neck with the Colts in the race for the league’s worst record last season, and they ultimately tied with Indy as both clubs closed out the year at 2-14. As one would expect, St. Louis was a dog in almost every game and they were a dog in all eight of their road games. How did the Rams fare on the road? They were 1-7 straight up and 1-7 against the spread. That is financial gold my friend. Every season presents a team like St. Louis and if you’re on the opposite side of that 1-7 ATS mark, you’ve turned a tidy profit betting against an ugly duckling.
Case in point No. 2: Kansas City Chiefs. Yes, another Show Me State goldmine as Kansas City, a 7-9 team, was a great play for the astute handicapper. The Chiefs consistently failed to live up to expectations as a home favorite, posting a 0-4 against the spread mark when favored at Arrowhead, but they were outstanding in a home dog role. The Chiefs were 3-1 straight up and 4-0 against the spread when getting points at home, again proving that the best value is not always represented by the best teams. I successfully employed this strategy last season with the Chiefs, going 7-3 in my KC selections, which, coincidentally, leads me to my next point.
Bet what you know. In other words, find a team/division and become an expert on it. The best way to turn a profit betting the NFL comes from knowing a team’s personnel, its week-to-week tendencies, its strength and weaknesses…if you get a firm handle on a club it is far easier to spot a bad line, an appealing situation or a potential letdown spot. You’ll know when your club is a dog with fleas or a favorite with heat, and the more often you know these things, the more often you’ll win.
Get your picks in early. Another advantage of specializing on a certain team or division is this: you know almost immediately if the lines are ripe for the picking. Getting in early, with purpose, usually means you’re sitting on something good. For example, your team opens as a three point road dog, but you’ve got the game lined as a pick’em; you act fast while the opportunity is there. Chances are other sharps will know the line is off as well, which means it won’t be long before the book catches up and adjusts the number. If you failed to act at +3 in this type of scenario, you’ll probably be looking at a +2.5 or worse by kickoff, potentially ruining the early week line value.
While trends are a nice tool, they should never be the sole reason for making a wager. Fool’s gold would be too strong a term as trends can be an indicator of how certain teams perform over time against certain opponents or in certain situations; however, they should never be used as a stand alone handicapping method. Good handicappers will also use fundamental and situational handicapping in addition to their technical analysis. Trends often predate current rosters and thus provide little to no real information regarding matchups, etc. Some, however, are useful even in the event of roster turnover. For instance, the Raiders/Chiefs rivalry is an important one historically for those two franchises; consequently, it retains its significance despite regime change. This has been reflected over numerous seasons as the Chiefs are 8-2 both straight up and against the spread in their last 10 games at Oakland while the Raiders are 5-1 both straight up and against the spread in their last six games at Kansas City. My point: Don’t be afraid to use trends, just make sure you bring some friends to the handicapping party.
There is no such thing as a lock, so avoid the tendency to talk yourself into one. The sports information industry has taken its share of lumps over the years, thanks in large part to the infamous ‘lock’. Few fall prey to those who declare such things these days, but it can become easy to talk yourself into a ‘can’t miss’ play without examining all the angles. If you are not able to find value in the team you are going against, you are doing yourself a disservice. Don’t fall so in love with a pick that you become blind to the possibility that it possesses the potential to lose. The more you deal in reality in the business (or any business for that matter), the better off you’ll be.
Never chase losses. Losses happen, they are a reality of sports betting and nothing will ever change that fact. The sooner you learn to embrace this reality the better your chances of turning a profit. Newbies, in particular, will lose an early Sunday play and, rather than take their medicine, jump on a late game without having adequately researched the line, the teams, the match-ups, etc. Sometimes they’ll win but, more often than not, they’ll be saddled with two losses instead of one. Don’t make a bad day worse or turn a potential winning season into a losing one by chasing losses.
Avoid personal bias. While this may appear to contradict my earlier point about focusing on one team, it does not have to. Obviously you will be more familiar with a team you’ve rooted for or followed the majority of your life, but do not let your affinity for a certain club get in the way of its reality. You may know ‘your’ team well, but your desire for them to perform on Sundays has the potential to cloud your judgment. A few hits to the pocketbook and you may soon understand, much to your chagrin, your inability to evaluate your favorite squad in an unbiased manner. Indeed, if this is your lot or becomes it, avoid betting on the home town team and move on to another club that you can embrace for wagering purposes.