Betting smart is the key to success when we talk about picking NFL games. If you are simply a recreational bettor, you will not care about the depths to which wagering on football can go. But if you are genuinely devoted to bet on the picking games, then you should definitely become familiar with everything we have to say below.
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Selecting the best line possible
You may think that this is an easy task, but you will be surprised to find out that it isn't. You will also be surprised to find out how profitable it can be if you stay up to date with line movement throughout the week. You have to let it sink in that you want to maximize your chances when betting the spread or the totals of an NFL game.
Why is that so?
Well, let us explain to you how the bookmakers operate when it comes to point spreads and totals markets. As you have perhaps already noticed, the prices that you get for these markets are not even numbers. They are typically -110 or -115. This is because of the so-called vig of the house.
Betting on a point spread has to be a 50/50 proposition, and according to the oddsmakers, it is. However, if you win, you don't get to double your money. If you bet on a -110 line, this means that if you place a $100 wager, you will receive a payback of $190 if you win. In other words, to make $100, you have to bet $110 (that's why the -110).
Because of the vig, your success rate throughout the season cannot be 51% for you to score a profit. If you pick spreads and totals, and if you bet only on prices of -110, then you need to win 53.5% of your picks to make money. You will quickly find out that this is exceptionally challenging and that you need every bit of value you can get for every bet you place.
Here’s how you can achieve that:
- Do some “line shopping.”
- Pick the right time to bet a line
- Pay close attention to the news around the league
What does line shopping mean?
This is a term that sharp bettors use all the time and for a good reason. It means that your goal as an NFL handicapper is always to try and get the best line possible. To do so, one must be aware of all the action of as many bookmakers as possible.
Selecting the right bookmaker for your bet can be just as important as any other research you do. Some operators will offer cheaper lines, but others will give you a better value depending on the team you want to pick.
For instance, you like the 49ers at -3.0 (odds of -110) at home against the Browns in Week 5. But what if you see that same line (-3.0) at a cheaper price, let's say -105, at another bookie. You will go and bet it, right? You potentially get a more significant payback while getting the same handicap number.
If you like the Browns, though, you probably want to look for a bookie that offers a line of +3.5 for the Browns. If you can get that at a -110, then you have surely scored some value here.
It is important to note one thing. Line shopping does not guarantee that you will win your picks all the time. Obviously, if the 49ers win 31-3, the fact that we got that half-point (or not) doesn't make any difference. The goal, however, is to consistently put yourself in a position where you get the most value out of a line. A few ways to do line shopping.
- Visit websites that compare NFL lines – there is a bunch of those online. They will show you a grid with many bookmakers and will display their current lines and prices for this week's game. All you have to do is pick the one that you desire and register at that bookie
- Subscribe to such services – this will require you to spend some money, and it may be a little bit pointless. The advantage here is that you will get up-to-date information and you have to react quickly and bet a particular line before it changes
- Pay attention to social media – if you follow sharp bettors on Twitter, you will likely regularly read tweets with a lot of insight. Bettors will compare NFL lines, and you can benefit from that.
Knowing when to bet – NFL betting line movement
Betting at the right time is an art form, and not everyone can do it. While there are some general “rules' regarding when to bet a specific line, it is pretty tough to hit the right number. But if you do so, you may have a significant edge over the sportsbook. After all, it is still humans that create and monitor those lines, so they make mistakes or miss things as well. Your goal is to exploit that.
Why is the money movement so important?
The goal of every sportsbook is not to come up with the most accurate line when it comes to the spread. This is a common misconception that people have. Bookmakers actually come up with a spread number that will attract even betting action on each side.
We already clarified what the vig is, right? Well, for the bookmaker to properly profit from that vig, they want to have even action on each side of the spread. Therefore, they come up with a specific number that they think will attract people to bet the same amount of money on each team.
Often, however, bookmakers offer a number that attracts massive betting action only on one side. This forces sportsbooks to adjust their numbers on the fly favoring the other side a little, thus hoping to make customers bet more money on it.
For example, the Tennessee Titans are favored by 1.5 points to win against the Denver Broncos at home. If too much money is bet on the Titans, the sportsbook will aim at evening things up. Therefore, they have 2 options:
- Increase the vig on the Titans -1.5 line. They can adjust the price from -110 to -115, -120, or even -125.
- Move the line as a whole. This is the more radical approach, and it is taken when too much money comes in on one side. In our case, the line will likely go to the Titans at -2.0 or -2.5 points.
Who bets that money?
There are two types of bettors:
- Sharps/wise guys/pros
- Recreational bettors/Joes
In general, professional bettors place few bets, but they are substantial bets. This is how sportsbooks know them. Such people don’t bet many games but they “lay down the wood” heavily. If a sportsbook takes a few big bets on one side, this may force them to move the line. Generally speaking, sharp money is what moves the lines because it scares the bookies.
Joes, as the slang for recreational bettors goes, may place many bets, parlays, teasers, etc. but for a small amount. Public money, however, may also move the lines because even though each separate bet is small, there may be thousands of them.
Here's an essential angle to all this. The public will mainly bet on popular teams and heavy favorites hoping to get some easy winnings. Organizations such as the Cowboys, the Patriots, the Giants are often bet heavily by the Joes, and bookies may be forced to move the lines a little bit.
This is when the sharps jump in and go against public perception. By doing so, they get a better line by the bookies because public money has led to this adjustment.
When is the money bet?
For the pros, opening lines are often the ones that they jump. Early Monday after the Sunday games, Vegas will typically start taking bets for next week's games. This is when sharps pay close attention and compare their power ratings with the opening lines. If they see a discrepancy, they will bet that line heavily. It may be on the same day that the sportsbook starts adjusting their spreads accordingly.
Public money usually comes in during the weekend. Recreational bettors do not devote much time thinking about the games and following the news. They even forget about the NFL during the week. Their betting action during the weekend, though, may lead to some late line movements, and this is when the sharps are ready to pounce once more.
What do we think?
So here’s our piece of advice on when to bet your games. If you like public favorites, bet them early. The Joes will likely bet those teams later in the week, making the line steeper. If you like the underdogs against public favorites, wait till the weekend and bet the closing line.
Super Bowl 2020 betting odds
The Super Bowl is on another level altogether. It attracts the most betting action, but you will be surprised to find out that most of the money is not bet on the actual outcome of the game. Bookies in the US will offer two main types of bets for the Super Bowl.
- Main markets
- Prop bets
The main markets are the ones related to the actual game – spread, totals, money line, etc. Interestingly enough, mainly public money is bet on these. Since this is only one game, professional bettors may decide to stay away from it from a football standpoint.
If the line does not present any value to the pros, they will pass the game altogether. Getting value is an essential component of every **NFL basic betting strategy**. So don’t be surprised if a sharp tells you that they won’t be betting the Super Bowl. After all, it is not obligatory. Pros see it as just another game.
Fans, on the other hand, will bet if their team is in the game. If not, they are likely to pass as well. So what do folks bet on then? They bet on proposition bets a.k.a prop bets.
These bets are made about whether something will happen or not happen during the game. But here’s the kicker: it doesn’t have to be something that affects the game whatsoever. If you are still wondering what exactly we mean by that, then see a few examples:
- How long will the national anthem last?
- Which team will win the coin toss?
- What color will the Gatorade shower be on the winning coach?
- What will be the color of the shoes of the performer during the Halftime show?
- How long will the Halftime show be?
- What will be the first/last song of the halftime show?
- What will be the first Super Bowl commercial to air during halftime
These are only a few of the prop bets that will surely be available this year as well. In fact, some sportsbooks take it to the extremes offering a triple-digit number of prop bets for the Super Bowl.
And yes, there's value in these bets too. The thing with such markets is that the bookmakers also make mistakes when pricing them or when defining the line.
We recommend you give these prop bets a look because profiting from them isn't as hard as it seems. Furthermore, sportsbooks are very careful with the spread of the Super Bowl. They avoid favoring one of the teams by more than 3.0 or 3.5.
It is thought that these teams are somewhat even, and favoring one side too much will expose the operators to heavy underdog betting action. As always, you can still attempt to get the best value by checking out what other bookmakers have to offer.