Betting on NFL Games

nfl-spread-bettingThe 2013 NFL season is underway and now is as good of a time as any to give you advice for placing bets on the game. If you saw the first week of the regular season, then you will understand that it is not easy to make the right picks against the spread. Let me recap Week 1 of betting on the NFL games.

The NFL season opened with Baltimore at Denver. The majority of gamblers bet on the underdog Ravens, who were receiving 9 points even though they were the Super Bowl champions. The Broncos blew them out in the 2nd half on the strength of 7 TD passes from Peyton Manning. That chased a lot of gamblers away from betting on the dogs for the rest of the week.

Unfortunately for these gamblers that bet on the favorites, they were taken to the cleaner for the rest of the week. There are several of the bookmakers that will publish what percentage of bets are placed on a certain team. Of the games that had over 75% of the wagers on the favorites, the following teams did not cover: New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans. The only two favorites in this category that won was the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs.

Underdogs overall went 9-7 in Week 1. This lets you know the importance of placing wagers on the dogs to cover. I know a several gamblers that primarily pick favorites to cover; this is even after they know the fact that both sides are win about 50% of the time (the oddsmakers are very good at setting those lines). More often than not, these favorites bettors have a couple of terrible weeks each year that crush their bankroll.

Advice for Betting on NFL Games

If you are going to bet on NFL games, here are some of the things that you should note so you have a better chance at winning in the long run.

#1 – Bankroll Management

If you don’t have a bankroll when you are betting, you better only be placing wagers for fun. Establish a bankroll if you are going to bet week in and week out. This bankroll should be at least $1,000. Your average bet on the early Sunday games should be no more than 5% of your total bankroll. If you are planning on betting $100 per game, you better have a bankroll of $2,000.

You shouldn’t have more than 15% of your bankroll in play at any one time. Don’t bet more than 3 games at the same time. If you plan on betting on the spread and the total for a game, bet 2.5% of your bankroll on each wager. If you ever lose 15% of your bankroll in a given day, you should be done betting for the week.

Once the early games are done, you should know whether or not you can up the amounts of your wagers for the afternoon Sunday or Sunday Night games or whether you should keep the bets the same amount. If you are on a winning steak, don’t be afraid to strike while the iron is hot.

#2 – Selective Wagering

Take the first group of games on Sunday and rank them from highest to lowest in your confidence level. Only place bets on the teams that you feel you have a better than a 65% of winning. If you can’t find 3 games to bet on, only bet on 2 games.

The same thing applies to the late games. If there are only 2 or 3 games being played, you may only want to place a bet on the game you feel most confident in playing.

Should you bet on the Sunday Night or Monday Night game? If you are winning overall on the day, I would say that you should place that bet, unless you are completely unconfident about the game. The same thing applies to the Monday Night game. If your bankroll is up overall on the week, place the bet unless you don’t like the spread.

#3 – Do your own research

Don’t rely on analysts or experts to tell you who is going to win the spread. The worst people to listen to are the experts that advertise on the radio. Here’s what you can expect to hear from them:

“I’m going to give you a free pick for the Monday’s Lock of the Week between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Our system is red hot right now! We have gone 16-2 against the spread. Call now if you want this free Lock of the Year. We have inside information to guarantee you that you will win.”

Here are the things that they won’t tell you: 1) Don’t call from you phone unless you want to get spam text and unsolicited calls for years to come. 2) We don’t tell you, but we give half of the callers one pick and the other half the other pick. 50% of you will love our service. 3) We aren’t really 16-2. Nobody verifies this information. 4) Anybody that has a record of 7-1 or less than 10 games that can be verified is only being used because he is the new shill that is being advertised.

Do your own research! The biggest thing to consider are the defense vs offense matchups between the two teams. The other big thing to consider are the recent injuries and backup players being used as starters. Most good teams will exploit these backups whenever possible. If you have the #3 passing offense against the #25 passing defense, this is a good thing to know. It won’t guarantee anything, but it will help your confidence with the bet.

#4 – Bet on the Underdogs!

Don’t be afraid to bet on the Dogs! Way too many people bet on the favorites. There are several of the online sportsbooks that will state what percentage of gamblers bet on a certain team. Do not follow the crowd! Here are some examples that I see from this upcoming week:

San Diego at Philadelphia (-7.5) – over 85% of bets on the Eagles. Philly couldn’t have played a better 1st half and the Chargers couldn’t have played a worse 2nd half. I have the Chargers covering this.

Cleveland at Baltimore (-7) – almost 95% of bets on the Ravens. Baltimore’s defense is in trouble this year. The Broncos may have a great offense, but the fact that Baltimore didn’t stop them for a field goal once is a big clue. The Browns may not cover and I’m not going to bet this game.

St Louis at Atlanta (-7) – over 90% of bets on Atlanta. A lot depends on whether Roddy White is going to be healthy enough to do well in this game. The Rams aren’t a bad team and I think that this spread is too high. Atlanta’s offense can still blow teams out, however.

New Orleans (-3.5) at Tampa Bay – over 90% of bets on the Saints. This game is a huge red flag. Everyone is going to think that the Saints are going to win going away, but I don’t think so. These two teams usually play really close games in Tampa.

Detroit (-2) at Arizona – over 90% of bets on the Lions. I have the Lions losing this game. Arizona is underrated and Detroit constantly shoots themselves in the foot. If Minnesota had a decent offense, they would have lost the first game at home.

Jacksonville at Oakland (-6) – almost 90% of bets on the Raiders. Having Oakland as a 6 point favorite is troubling. Blaine Gabbert was throwing with a broken hand and Chad Henne should start. Indy didn’t play well at all against the Raiders. I have Oakland winning by a field goal.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (-7) – over 75% of bets on the Bengals. Pittsburgh is still going to have problems on offense, particularly with the running game and pass protection. This is one game where I would actually bet on the favorite. However, Pittsburgh usually plays well on Monday Night.

#5 – Line Shopping and when to Place your Bet

It isn’t surprising to see all of the favorites being bet heavily early on. The traditional wisdom is to bet the favorites early before the line is bet higher. You bet the underdogs a couple of hours before the game to get the best value on the line.

Line shopping only works if you have a player’s account at multiple sportsbooks. The idea is that different sportsbooks will have different spreads and different lines.

You can find a line at one sportsbook for this Thursday Night game where the Patriots are an 11 point favorite at home against the Jets. The line is -110 ($110 to win $100) or even money plus the juice. You can find this same game listed as a 13 point favorite with the Patriots receive +110 ($100 to win $110) on the line. If you have the Patriots winning by 2 TDs, you may want to opt for the better line. If you don’t like the higher spread, you may want to bet with -110 line.

This is all subjective to what your preference is. Nobody offers “the best odds” or “the best NFL lines” because they don’t know who you are going to bet on. You want to place your bet on the spread and line that gives you the biggest advantage.