The first bet I ever made was on an NFL game. I didn’t really know what a point spread was at the time, but the guy I made a bet with gave me points.
Of course, I was a kid, and it was a friendly wager with someone my dad worked with.I remember the bet fondly, even though I lost. I paid the bet, and then I got busy learning how to do better the next time I made a bet.
It’s been over four decades since I made that bet, and I’ve learned a lot. Here are seven things I’ve learned about making NFL point spread wagers.
1. Home Favorite Spreads
Every NFL game has three possible combinations on the point spread line. The home team is a favorite, the home team is an underdog, or the home team is even with the visiting team.
Of course, if it were as simple as picking when the home team was going to win, everyone would make a profit betting on NFL games. Therefore, the amount of the spread is the most important thing to consider when evaluating home NFL favorites.
If the home team is favored by four, I won’t bet on them and give the points unless my handicapping show they should win by at least six. I rarely bet on home favorites on the spread in the NFL, but a few games show value in this situation.
2. Home Underdog Spreads
Home underdogs are where I make roughly half my bets on NFL point spreads. Of course, less than half of the games where the home team is an underdog show value, so I don’t make a large volume of bets. You should only make NFL point spread bets when you find value.
The reason why half of my NFL spread bets are on home teams that aren’t favored is simple. Home teams win more often than road teams, home teams perform better than when they’re on the road, and by getting points, they don’t have to win for a bet to be profitable.
For example, a home team getting six points isn’t a value unless you can see why the team is going to cover the six points more often than not.
3. Road Favorite Spreads
I don’t like betting on road teams, and I almost never bet on a road team that’s giving points in the NFL. It’s not that you can’t occasionally find value on a road favorite, but I struggle to make a profit on these teams.
Not only does a road favorite team have to win the game on the road, but they also have to cover the point spread. Both of these things combined make it hard to find value in the NFL. Like every other thing, you have to evaluate on NFL point spreads, the only time you should bet on a road favorite is when you find value.
But, of course, you’re not going to handicap games the same way I evaluate NFL games, so your system might do a better job finding value in these games than my models.
4. Road Underdog Spreads
I make some wagers on NFL road underdogs, but not as many as on home underdogs.
I’m looking for teams that should win the game if it was played on a neutral site but are getting points because they’re playing on the road.
Road underdogs are tricky to make a profit on because it’s challenging to evaluate exactly how much of a boost the home team is going to get from playing at home and exactly how much it’s going to hurt the team on the road.
But a road underdog also has two ways to win the bet because they win the bet if the team wins or if the team covers the spread but still loses.
5. Even Point Spreads
I love NFL games with even point spreads. These games are often listed at – 110 on each side, but sometimes you can get a side at – 105.
The problem is that these games have an even point spread because the teams are usually fairly evenly matched. Most of the time, my evaluations show that each team has close to a 50% chance to win.
In these games, the road team would usually be favored to win the game if it was played on a neutral field, but the home team gets a small bump.
6. Less Vig Can Be More Important Than Almost Anything Else
When looking for point spreads, the actual spreads aren’t the only thing you have to consider. The vig attached to the point spread is also important.
If you can bet the same line at – 105 instead of – 110, it changes your long-term math. Of course, you still have to win more than 50% of the time to make a profit, but it basically saves you $2.50 on every $100 you bet over time.
When you’re done evaluating each game on the NFL schedule, you have to shop for the line that gives you the best chance to win based on your evaluations and for the line that has the lowest vig. Of course, you won’t always be able to find the best line with the lowest vig together, but it improves you profits when you can.
And the less vig you pay over time, the more profit you keep.
7. Forget Everything Else and Find Value
I love the challenge of figuring out how to make money on point spread wagers in the NFL. It’s not easy, and some weeks things just don’t go my way. But I’ve learned enough about finding value over the years that I’m able to make a profit.
And making a profit is the only thing that really matters when you’re evaluating NFL point spreads. So forget about anything that anyone tells you and focus on finding bets that offer value. And never forget that a big part of finding value is finding the right line and paying low vig.
You can find value on either side of a line and on either a home or road team. The value is only determined by the available line and your ability to evaluate a game better than the sportsbooks set the line for the game. So your main goal is to learn how to evaluate NFL games better than anyone else in the world.
NFL point spreads are always tight because the online sportsbooks can’t afford to make too many mistakes.
But you can still find value on at least a few point spreads every week of the NFL season. You just need to learn how to find value consistently.
A single point can be the difference between winning and losing, so never make an NFLL point spread bet without looking for a better line.