The National Football League, or NFL in short, is one of the four major sports leagues in the United States and as such, draws a huge amount of interest on behalf of spectators and punters alike. The NFL season takes place between the months of September and December and culminates in the Super Bowl at the beginning of February, an event that attracted as many as 103.4 million US viewers in 2018 alone.
The sport is obviously hugely popular in the United States but in recent years its popularity has been catching on in other countries like Canada, Mexico, and Germany, where an increasing percentage of people identify themselves as NFL fans who follow the season’s events regularly. This exciting, albeit a bit brutal team sport has much to offer to both sporting fans and bettors. There is enough action on the field to give spectators the entertainment they crave while punters would benefit from a versatile range of betting opportunities on the NFL markets.
NFL markets are available at hundreds of online sportsbooks but until recently, sports betting was allowed only in a few select states like Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. US punters have every reason to rejoice now that the US Supreme Court has overruled the federal ban on sports betting since many states are expected to pass legislation, allowing them to regulate wagering on sports on the web.
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There are numerous betting opportunities for punters during the regular season but before you jump on the bandwagon and join fellow NFL fans with a few bets, you need to do your homework and at least learn the basics of NFL gambling. This would give you a good foundation and will enable you to build up from there, gradually experimenting with more advanced bet types.
That being said, becoming a successful NFL bettor is not as easy as it may appear. Many punters would pour money into the sportsbooks only to find they have failed to turn a decent profit at the end of the season. But if you are indeed aspiring to become a profitable NFL punter, SuperBettingSites’ article on NFL betting may be of good use to you. Here you will find information concerning the basics of NFL gambling and the available markets for this sport as well as money management and strategy tips.
Basics of NFL Gambling
It of of vital importance for any NFL bettor to first get a proper grasp of how the odds and the lines work. Bookmakers would set the odds for different NFL events on the basis of the information they have gathered in regard to the teams’ form, performance, and transfers, among other factors. Bookmakers would use the American format when setting the odds for NFL events, which means you most definitely will see both positive and negative numbers on the line.
The American odds indicate what amount you need to wager to win $100 when a negative number is used. The odds expressed with positive numbers show you the amount you can win with a $100 stake. Negative numbers are used for the odds assigned to the favorite whereas the odds for the underdog are expressed with the positive numbers. Therefore, an NFL line would usually look in the following way, for example:
- New York Jets +115
- Detroit Lions -105
What this means is you need to stake $105 in order to win $100 if you decide to back the Detroit Lions. The negative sign practically shows you risk more money than the amount you can possibly win with this bet. But if you decide to lay some money on the New York Jets at positive odds of +115, your $100 wager can earn you $115 for $15 in net profit. Provided that the odds are set at 100 exactly, you will win even money with a successful bet.
Bookmaking is no picnic since the main purpose of all sportsbooks is to ensure they profit from punters bets, regardless of what the outcome of a given NFL game is. There are two steps towards this and the first one involves incorporating a margin into the odds for both teams so that the bookmaker always locks in a profit. Continuing with our example from earlier, you need to risk $105 to back the favorite Detroit Lions in order to win $100 only and the remaining $5 from your bet are the sum the bookmaker would collect in the form of commission or “vig”.
However, the odds need to be balanced enough so that there is enough interest among punters for both sides involved in the game. Naturally, if everyone bets on the sure winner, the sportsbooks will not earn as much and will profit from the vig only. Because of the this, the sportsbooks would strive to attract enough action towards the losing side to balance things out. In effect, they are using the money losing bettors have poured in to pay out the winning bets while retaining their commission percentage.
Gaining an understanding of how bookmakers balance out the betting action is important for NFL bettors because it helps them track how the line is shifting throughout the week. Thus, if bettors invest way too much money into one of the teams, the bookmaker would modify the odds of the underdog favorably in an attempt to make punters pour more money for this side.
Injuries, for instance, can be a major contributing factor when it comes to line movement. To proceed with the example from above, if one or two players from the Detroit Lions suffer injuries during practice and are sidelined for the upcoming game, this would influence punters’ opinion because it increases the Jets’ chances of winning against the Lions.
This would also be reflected in the odds to maintain the balance of the betting action. In one such instance, the bookmaker may choose to move the lines for the Jets from +115 to +110, for example. These fluctuations in the lines are extremely important and can be very profitable for punters who know how to exploit them.
Available Markets for NFL Bettors
The NFL offers punters incredibly diverse betting opportunities where markets are concerned. Some bets like the moneyline, the point spread, and the totals are commonly placed because of their straightforwardness. Others like the parlays, teasers, outrights, and propositions are more complex, which improves the entertainment factor for some punters. Below, we present you with a more detailed look at some of the most popular NFL betting markets.
The moneyline is commonly preferred by novice NFL bettors because it is easily the most straightforward type of wager they can make on this sport. With the moneyline, you are practically making a 1×2 type of wager on who you think will win the game. The moneyline uses bigger numbers like New Orleans Saints -320 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers +245 which means for every $320 you bet on the Saints, you can earn $100 because they are the favorites. The Buccaneers would be the underdog in this example and respectively can earn you $245 for every $100 you back them with.
A balanced market is created by assigning moneyline odds to both sides involved in the game. Many rookie bettors would choose to back the favorites because of the higher likelihood of winning with such bets. However, the odds assigned to sure winners are such that they would typically offer a very small payout.
The general rule of sports betting odds is the bigger the favorite, the poorer the odds a bookmaker would offer. The opposite rings true for the underdogs’ odds which is the main reason why some punters would prefer to back them instead of the favorites. If the seemingly weaker team succeeds to pull through, they can earn you a rather tasty payout.
Betting the point spread in easily the most entertaining and popular type of wager you can make on NFL games. Simply put, the point spread is a form of handicapping. Its purpose is to balance out the playing field between underdogs and favorites. In order for one such wager to be successful, the favorite must win the game by defeating the underdog with more points than those assigned to the spread. Punters backing the favorites on a point spread are said to “take the points”.
Of course, you can choose to back the underdog or “give the points”, in which case the bet wins if the losing team gets defeated by fewer points than the set spread. The interesting thing with the point spread is that it may fluctuate. Bookmakers would usually adjust the spread as a means to counterbalance various factors that may influence the outcome of a game, such as poor weather conditions or injuries. With point spreads, the bookmakers would also often resort to using half-point formats for the odds (-3.5 for example) as a means to eliminate the likelihood of ties and refunding the punters’ bets. This is how a point spread looks in practice:
- New York Giants +3.5
- Jacksonville Jaguars -3.5
In this example, the negative symbol shows us that the Jaguars are favorites over the Giants, and as such, will have four points subtracted from their actual result. In other words, if you bet on the Jaguars, they need to beat the Giants with at least 4 points in order for you to profit. Respectively, the positive symbol in the spread for the Giants clearly indicates they are the underdog and as such, must either crush the Jaguars altogether or lose by less than 3 points in order for the wager to win.
Totals are also hugely popular among astute NFL bettors. This type of wager is often called “over/under” which pretty much shows you what it is all about. With over/under wagers, you are practically betting that the total score of a game would either be over or under a specific number. An example would be a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons with an assigned odds total of 46.5.
You win if both teams collectively score at least 47 points or 46 points if you have placed an under bet. When the teams score the combined number of points needed for over wagers to win, they are said to have “covered the bet”.
Parlays, Teasers and Pleasers
Parlays and teasers give punters a fantastic opportunity to amass profits for the simple reason they offer enhanced odds but winning with such wagers is not as easy. Also known as accumulators, parlays pose as a combination of two or more bets and all of these must win in order for the punter to turn a profit. With NFL betting, it is possible to combine up to twelve bets in a single parlay. If only one of them loses, the entire parlay would be unsuccessful. The profits the punter can potentially generate with a parlay grow proportionately to the number of selections it consists of. The odds for these bets are enhanced because there is a reduction in the probability of winning with a parlay. Naturally it would be far more difficult for a punter to predict with certainty the outcomes of several events and this results in a greater payout for those who manage it.
Teasers are similar to parlays in that they, too, combine several wagers on a single ticket and the punter is awarded a payout only when all bets in the teaser win. The difference is that here the odds can be shifted in punters’ favor. With teasers, it is possible to adjust the point spread or the moneyline in such a way so as to reduce the risks for yourself. The punter himself chooses how many points they shift the point spread or line with, but the most common formats used by bookmakers involve shifts with 6, 6.5 or 7 points.
An example would be taking the Indianapolis Colts at -8 where a 7-point teaser would lead to a reduction of the odds to -1. Your chances of winning grow in exchange for a poorer payout. Pleasers are practically the opposite of teasers, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “reversed teasers”. If you accept a 6-point pleaser for the Colts at -8, you will have odds of -14 but the likelihood of winning will be smaller. Because of this, pleasers are considered a good option for bettors who are not afraid of taking higher risks.
Props (short for propositions) is an entire subcategory of exciting bets that have nothing to do with the final outcome of a given NFL game. These bets offer a good entertainment value and are fun to make but if you know what you are doing they can be very profitable too.
The possibilities are numerous when it comes to props. For example, you can bet on which team would register a touchdown first, on the number of field goals you believe will be kicked, on the yards players rush, or even on the coin toss at the start of the game.
Also known as futures, outrights are a type of wager that can remain active for long periods of time. In the context of the NFL, outrights typically would involve betting on the team you think would win the entire Super Bowl but betting on division or conference winners is also an option. Sometimes it is possible for punters to make outright bets on the performance of individual players throughout the entire regular season or on who will go home with the Most Valuable Player award.
Since outrights take months to settle, the sportsbooks would post the odds at the start of the season. This gives punters good prices on the participating teams, even if they are favorites, but it should also be mentioned that the odds would fluctuate a lot after the season’s start.
Money Management in NFL Betting
Good money management is the secret ingredient in the recipe for success for all sports bettors, no matter whether they are wagering on the NFL or another sport. Those who wish to turn sports betting into a source of income should start by building a bankroll and choosing a bet unit. If your career as sports bettor is just starting, you are recommended to adopt a more conservative approach in the beginning.
The bet unit an NFL bettor uses is directly correlated to the size of their bankroll for the season. Using betting units makes it easier for you to keep track of your money and enables you to easily see how many bets you have left to wager with. If you start the season with a total bankroll of $1,000 and intend to wager conservatively, your bet unit should correspond to around 1% of this amount, or $11 for NFL bets. When it comes to gambling, one should always stretch their arm no further than their sleeve would reach, which is to say you should never risk incurring greater losses than your bankroll can sustain.
Some NFL punters would choose to increase their basic bet unit size once they register a huge win but novices are generally advised to stick to flat betting, at least in the beginning until they learn to properly quantify their advantage over the bookmakers.
The number of games you choose to bet on per week also requires consideration. NFL bettors, especially when lacking experience, should try their best to abstain from betting on every game during the season. Bet only on the games that give you good value and offer you good odds.
The overall bankroll size is, of course, subjective but as a rule of thumb, it should be big enough to be able to sustain a bad run. A bankroll of $200 or $300, for example, does not leave enough leeway for incurring losses, but a bankroll of $500 to $1,000 does. Manage your money wisely, avoid making more than five bets during the first weeks of the season and make sure you keep it at the minimum. Above all, remember you should never risk more than 5% of your overall bankroll or three base bet units per game.
A Strategic Approach to NFL Betting
Like most other forms of gambling, betting on the outcomes of NFL games is not an exact science. However, it is possible to increase your chances of being successful if you adopt a strategic approach with your betting. The first step is, of course, to be smart about money management and to protect your bankroll. We already provided a few tips on that in the previous section but forgot to mention you should keep a record on all bets you make throughout the season, both winning and losing ones.
Avoid making way too many bets per week and only wager on the games that give you a good edge. One week you may end up making five bets but this number may be reduced to three or even two bets on the following week if you feel like the games do not allow you to capitalize on your wagers.
The successful punter would always join several online sportsbooks in order to “shop the lines”. This basically means they would check and compare the odds several different bookmakers offer and would place their bets with the one that offers them the best odds. For instance, you may initially intend to bet that the Giants will cover the point spread with 4 points but if you come across a sportsbook which offers you a 3.5 spread for this team, it would be best to place your bet there instead of accepting the 4-point spread of the first bookie.
It is simply not possible to be a successful NFL bettor if you are unwilling to invest some of your time into researching different teams. The NFL is one of the sports where you cannot complain of lack of coverage. Watch as many games as time permits and if possible, keep a record of how the teams involved have performed. Reading reports on NFL events can also prove to be very helpful. However, you should remember to take some of the experts’ opinions and interpretations with a grain of salt. Do not believe wholeheartedly everything you read online or hear on TV or on the radio.
And finally, one of the most important rules all punters should abide by is to keep their emotions under control. Every once in a while, you may end up experiencing a bad beat that causes you to incur some losses but you should not allow this to affect your state of mind and respectively, the decisions you are making with your bets.
Under no circumstances should you attempt to offset your losses by increasing the number of bet units you wager on the next game. Stay on course and stick to the bankroll management plan you have devised for yourself at the start of the season. Remember that even the best handicappers out there are not immune to experiencing losing streaks – it is all about how they handle those losses at the end of the day.