There is no shortage of opportunities for NFL bettors to make some cash each week. However, a sports bettor needs to not only have a system of analysis in place, but he needs to know how to use that analysis to his advantage. Just taking the basic wagers into account (Moneyline, Over/Under, and Point Spread), the bettor has up to 48 wagering choices each week in the NFL. Pair that with the dozens of other bet options and there is money to be made by the savvy bettor.
Prior to placing any wager, a bettor needs to understand basic things like in the NFL a win is a win, whether it is by 1 point or 30 points. Whereas in college football there's much more at stake for top teams (other than just winning), running up the score is sometimes necessary to solidify a high ranking in college polls.
So, a 13-1 team playing at home and giving 14 points to a 2-12 team may seem like easy money, you have to bear in mind that once an NFL team gets a lead they either put backup players in or they run the ball over and over, not even trying to score more points.
This is just the beginning of what novice football bettors need to know, so let's get into some further analysis and useful tips for the novice (and expert) football gambler.
We don't guarantee to make you a fortune, but hopefully some of these tips can give you an edge in your analysis and avoid common pitfalls before risking real dollar.
1) Situational Betting
Breaking down an NFL matchup starts with reviewing the recent performance of each team. First off, don't get caught up with wagering on a team just because they were blown out the previous week. Too many bettors do this. Momentum has its place in the NFL, but it isn't nearly as prominent as it is in college football.
With that being said, there are situational aspects you can watch for:
Let's get into some other tips you can use to your advantage:
2) Game Analysis
You came here to learn how to break down and analyze an NFL game, so do it! Any game you are considering wagering on should be thoroughly reviewed on every level. Hunches and feelings mean absolutely nothing when it comes to sports wagering.
3) Never Dismiss Underdogs
No, I'm not saying that underdogs are always the way to go. However, too many bettors dismiss a team because they don't seem to have a chance to win. So what? It isn't about who wins, it's about who covers the spread.
4) Bet Early
NFL lines move over the course of the week. The reason is that the original line was soft and everyone is betting on the same side. Check the lines as soon as they come out and find a few you can use to your advantage. It gets tougher to win with each passing day and each subsequent line change. Speaking of line changing.
5) Watch for Changing Spreads
As just mentioned, lines are adjusted during the week to even out the betting. If too many people are betting a favorite, the line will increase to get bettors on the other side. Don't fall for this swing and think that the line is increasing because the favorite is a sure thing. However, you still want to keep up on any injuries or late information that could be altering the spread.
6) Analyze Matchups
Take your analysis even further by comparing each aspect of the game and forming an overall comparison. Size up the offensive and defensive lines, quarterback, wide receivers, running backs, etc. Take injuries into account and give an advantage to one team or the other in each area. Never rely on a single source for your information. Gather enough information so that you have the entire picture of the matchup and make your picks accordingly.
7) Look for Consistent Teams
These are two consistency trends that you want to look for; teams that regularly cover the spread and those that regularly fail to cover. It doesn't matter who wins or loses and a 14-2 team could very well be 2-14 against the spread. Look for a few teams each week that fall into this category of consistency.
8) Watch for Super Teams
Look for those teams that either have a great record or are on winning streak of at least five games. These teams have to face off against an opponent every week that is just dying to be the one to knock them off. The underdog will rarely pull it off, but more often than not they can keep the game close. Teams on a winning streak that are coming off the bye week or a short week of practice are primed for a letdown.
9) Defense Wins
When analyzing an NFL matchup, always put extra emphasis on defense. Here is one thing you can literally take to the bank; defense wins! This is an even stronger angle if the team with a good defense is going up against a team with a weak offensive line. Additionally, teams with a great offense and lousy defense are prone to not covering the spread.
10) Shop for Lines
Don't just break down the game you want to wager on, break down the line you are getting as well. Shop around and get the best line possible for the team you want to wager on. The difference between giving 3.5 points and 2.5 points doesn't seem like much, but you will feel differently if your team wins by three.
11) Don't Put too Much Emphasis on Injuries
An injury to a star quarterback would be an exception, but in general, never overestimate the importance of injuries. Professional football teams have backups, and backups for the backups, and lines often move based on injuries.
12) Take Advantage of the Spread
Let's move on to an overlooked aspect of NFL wagering; the spread itself. Yes, matchups, trends and injuries are important, but it all comes down to the spread. If you know what you are looking at, you can take advantage of a spread.
What are key numbers and what can they do for me?
A "key number" represents the most common final margin in NFL games. Knowing these numbers can give you a clue to what an oddsmaker may be trying to do with an opening line, and what impact line movement will have.
13) Analyze And Come Out Ahead
So, what does this all mean? It means that you need to know how to break down NFL matchups as well as the spread if you expect to make any money as a bettor. How much can you make? Well, that depends on the size of your wager, but very few people make a living wagering on NFL games. Top handicappers hit about 60 percent of their games, which covers the juice (casino's take) and an extra 5 percent or so.
14) Those who make money usually do it early in the season. Why?
The oddsmakers are similar to the average fan at the beginning of the season, meaning that they don't yet know how good each team is. As the season progresses, opening lines become more accurate and you will see your win percentage fall.
No other sport is wagered on as much as football, and no other sport is harder to handicap. Knowing how to analyze teams and trends and avoiding common pitfalls is the only way to come out ahead by the end of the season.