No US sporting league has been able to gain the attention of sports bettors, both hardcore and casual, like the NFL. Whether you place bets through an NFL betting site, amongst your friends, or in a way you’d rather not disclose, millions of fans place a wager on football games each Sunday during the seasons.
With such a high volume of bets pouring in ahead of kickoff, sportsbooks know that the NFL is an area where they need to make some serious profit.
This can make for a tricky betting environment for gamblers.
Over the years, some false beliefs have become passed around that have undoubtedly cost bettors tons of money.
I’ll lay out the top five NFL betting myths and what you should be doing instead.
1 – Bet Only on a Couple Games
It seems like a prudent move to hold back on betting on all (or most) of the games in a given NFL weekend. That’s because you probably feel like you’re risking too much money if you bet on a dozen games. The reality is that it’s hard to build any type of with a limited sample size.
Most professional gamblers stick to the strategy of betting all games they think they can win and betting the same amount on each.
This allows you to see your results more clearly. It also doesn’t place a higher value on any one bet over another.
Let go of the strategy of betting significantly more on your “favorite” game of the week while you’re at it. That places unneeded emotion on one bet over another. Treat each game that you’re betting on with the same amount of research, deliberation, and risk.
2 – “Trap Games” Exist and Books Profit from Them
Before the days of the internet, sportsbooks may have had access to some sensitive information that could help them put together a spread that just didn’t seem right. Nowadays, when you see a spread that seems like a bet that’s too easy to be real, trust your intuition.
Throughout the season, you’ll notice a few games where a spread isn’t what you’d expect it to be, and so you’ll feel like you’re betting on an easy win.
The truth is that there is no such thing as an easy win when it comes to sports gambling.
In fact, any time you a spread that seems to obviously lean one way, it might be best to put your money on the side that seems more unlikely to win. When in doubt, there is plenty of research at your fingertips that can, at the very least, help you understand why a spread is what it is. Then you can make your own decision with all the information considered.
3 – Prop Bets Are for Amateurs
Any time you have a strong feeling based on evidence about an aspect of a game, and you can wager on it, go for it! Even professional bettors believe that there is great value to be found in certain prop bets such as total yards a quarterback will throw for or who will score first in the game.
It’s probably not a great idea for you to make your entire NFL weekend about prop bets.
However, the money win on these plays is worth the same as the money you win betting on the game in its entirety. Sometimes it can be easier to break down the game into more easily analyzed chunks to help you get a slight advantage over other bettors.
This theory also applies to in-game bets, known as “live bets .” As scores change, books will adjust lines quarter-by-quarter, allowing you to bet on the upcoming 15 minutes of action.
By learning the nuances of each team’s strengths and weaknesses, you can use your knowledge to win the quarter. With that said, don’t chase a losing quarter by trying to recoup your bet the next quarter.
One prop bet so common that it’s rarely considered a prop bet is the over/under.
Not only is there plenty of information available to help you make an educated decision, there are also some trends that have proven true over time. Most notably, the public’s affinity towards betting the over.
Because the public enjoys high-scoring games, books take advantage of their bias. If you’re looking for a theory to try out, bet the under on a handful of games. See if you can turn a profit without spending a great deal of time researching the game.
4 – Teasers Are for Losers
If you’re unfamiliar with teaser bets, they work like this: You take the spreads on two or more games. You can add or subtract points to the spread…but for a less handsome payout. In addition, you must get every game on your bet slip right to win. This might sound like an unprofitable way to gamble. However, if you do it right, it can yield tremendous results.
The key to utilizing teasers to their fullest capability is to make sure you’re moving lines significant to the nature of scoring in football.
If you’re taking a teaser that moves the line from +4 to +6, you’re not gaining as much of an advantage as you would if you moved it from +6 to +8.
Unsurprisingly, the numbers “3” and “7” are important to consider when looking at spreads on football games. The data supports that pushing a line over the field goal or touchdown threshold has a major impact on whether you win or lose. If you’re able to change your +6.5 bet to +7.5 or -3.5 to -2.5, you majorly increase your odds of winning.
5 – Winning by Betting on Moneylines Is Too Hard
In the NFL, we like to believe that underdogs can win on “any given Sunday.” The reality is that favorites do have a significantly higher chance of winning a game even compared to other sports.
However, a well-chosen underdog moneyline bet is, in my opinion, the best value bet out there.
Bettors stay away from moneylines for several reasons: The first being that a bet on a favorite means risking way more than you’d win. It’s low value. The second is that betting on a high-value underdog gives you too low of odds to win. For the most part, it’s safe to stick to betting on the spread.
Nevertheless, you can still make good money if you choose the right moneyline bets based on trends and data.
Rivalry games within the division have a much higher likelihood of seeing an underdog win outright.
Other situations where the moneyline might be the best play are when a similarly skilled team is an underdog.
Once or twice per week, you might find a game with a close point spread (three points or less) and feel like the risk is worth the reward if you bet the moneyline on the under.
As a rule of thumb, I think a moneyline of +150 to +175 gives you the best value.
Lines that are +200 or more generally mean the talent disparity is too significant to overcome. At anything less than +150, you might as well play the spread and give yourself a near 50% chance to win.
As much as I wish it weren’t the case, betting on the NFL is a tough business. Throughout my time betting, I’ve always considered the NFL to be the most fun sport to wager on. But it’s also the most difficult to make money.
Because there is so much money bet on the NFL, you can count on a high percentage of the money being “dumb money,” or money wagered without much thought, or due to emotional ties.
The key to profitability is to do your research, have a reason for each bet you make, and by managing your money in a way that will allow you to bet on games all season long.