Sports betting today is a serious business. Sportbooks don’t just take NFL bets, they are analysts, statisticians, data compilers, running complex programs in house to ensure they keep their advantage. If they don’t have the relevant expertise in-house, then there are third party providers queuing up to provide the services they need. It seems the odds are well and truly stacked against the lone bettor.
Although there is a lot of information available online for the bettor and there is nothing to stop you creating your own computer programs to try to beat the odds, most people don’t get past banging down a bet on game day on their favourite team.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach for a bit of entertainment. Bet, watch the game, enjoy. But there is no harm in holding as many advantages as you can. Even if you take a casual approach to your NFL bets, with a little extra planning and effort you can improve your success rate and profit.
Timing Your NFL Bets
NFL betting is as much to do with timing as anything else.
Note the following:
- Check out the opening odds as soon as you can – a week or 10 days before the game.
- NFL lines will be ‘off the boards’ during the current weeks games but will reopen Sunday afternoon after games are done.
- Dramatic movement can follow on Sunday night.
- Steady volume of NFL bets are taken from Monday to Saturday prior to the games.
- High volume of betting on game day leading up to kick off.
It is a simple fact that most casual bettors place their bets in the week leading up to kick off. Most profitable and professional bettors place their bets between the opening day of the line – to the Sunday afternoon (after games) of the preceding week.
If you are a casual bettor, you should note that NFL markets are available much earlier on than you think. Sportsbooks and odds compilers continually offer prices weeks in advance of a game. Some even offer their point spreads months in advance on all games.
Last season, point spreads moved an average of 1.5 points per game between the opening of the advanced price, and the ‘reopening’ of the market right after Sunday afternoon games. Close to 20% of games moved a whopping 2.5 points.
Anticipating Market Movement
Before you go throwing your money at the sportsbook, understand the most critical aspect of judging NFL line movements;
The result of a game will affect the line!
It’s fair enough to get an early bet down on a favourite, beleiving that later market reaction will help your position by driving the price / handicap in your favour. Just know that the upside might not be as big as you imagine, because the sportsbook / market will often have anticipated such a move is likely and it will already be ‘in the price’.
If you can target teams – where you anticipate a strong performance from one and a poor performance (often default) from the other – you can gain a significant price / pointspread swing in your favour for the next week.
Week THREE: Team A are 2.5 point favorites against Team B on the early lines.
At the time of the Week Three line release, the market is focussed on Week TWO games.
The pro’s, however, take Team A at -2.5 on the spread – thinking that they will give a good account of themselves.
The Week TWO games draw to a close on Sunday afternoon – Team A have won well and Team B are well beaten.
The Week THREE lines re-open and Team A are now -5.5 favourites due to their convincing performance in the game just passed.
The pro’s now have a 3 point advantage and have, crucially, also held on to the -2.5, while the line has moved above -3. The number 3 is the most important number on the pointspread.
The price continues to move favourably during the week as casual bettors get on the favourite. The pro’s now have the option of arbitraging or ‘middling‘ their position for excellent potential profit.
It really is a case of the early bird catching the worm!
- Look for an angle on the following weeks games
- Take a price that looks competitive
- Take note of the current weeks matchups and if the team you have picked for the following week is likely to give a good showing
For a small shift in mindset and planning, even the casual bettor can improve their win rate and profit.