If you were to ask a wise guy what is the best and most profitable way to bet on the National Football League (NFL), that wise guy might answer:
Indeed, betting on NFL games is tremendously challenging, which is why it is so important to learn how to bet on NFL. There is so much parity in the league at this point in time that it’s not uncommon for even the heaviest favorites to bite the dust. The weather can be a factor, game-changing injuries are common, and you just never know when a speedy cornerback will run an interception back for a touchdown, ruining the spread.
Even the supposed “experts” are lucky to pick 50 percent against the spread betting NFL games.
All that being said, sports betting on the NFL is one of the most fun things in the entire world to do, and can be profitable if you do it right. But how exactly do it right? That is the question.
Here are some things to keep in mind about betting NFL games:
Defense Wins Football Games—and Bets, Too
It is a well-known axiom, even a cliché: defense wins football games in the NFL. The sheer physicality of the players is amazing to behold as these giant men smash into each other with incredible force at ridiculously high rates of speed. (Our sportsbook blog covers the games.)
Whenever you’re betting on the NFL, then, you really have to evaluate a game at that visceral level of which team is more likely to dominate the game physically.
This “toughness factor” is often evident—and decisive—on the offensive line, but even more commonly in the case of an NFL defense that simply dominates a game. If a team cannot score, that team is obviously going to have a very difficult time covering any kind of point spread.
If you remember back to when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42, you will understand how influential a dominant NFL defense can be. The Patriots were undefeated the entire season, and favored by 12.5 points in the game.
But the Giants defensive line was terrific that day, literally running over the New England offensive line all day and causing havoc for Tom Brad and company. Savvy bettors who saw how dangerous that Giants D really was cleaned up, earning +330 on the moneyline.
So this would be a first and perhaps most important tip about betting on NFL football, is that you can’t get too caught up in flashy offensive players and statistics. Defense wins NFL bets!
A side-note on this main point would be that if you spot a great defense, it can be wise to bet the “under” in that game as opposed to actually betting on the team with a great defense, because that team might also have a horrible offense. The same is true the other way: if a team has an awful defense, you might take the “over” rather than betting on that team to lose the game.
Betting over/unders in football based on the strength or lack thereof of an NFL defense is one NFL betting technique that has stood the test of time.
Wild Cards Such as Red Hot Kickers, Feuding Teammates, and “Revenge Games”
Our second major piece of advice about how to bet on NFL games is to always watch out for “wild cards” that can change the complexion of a seemingly “obvious” pick.
One example of this kind of wild card would be a red hot NFL kicker. So many NFL games—and so many NFL spreads—are decided by 3 points or less, that having a hot kicker can be a highly underrated facet of NFL betting. If you think about it, though, and if you look at a past history of NFL spreads, you’ll see that having a great NFL kicker is very important to winning NFL bets. Great NFL kickers can easily add 9 points to their team’s score for the week.
Another of our favorite underestimated game-changers is when you have feuding teammates. Football is the ultimate team sport, so whenever you spot teammates that are not getting along, it’s likely that team is a good team to bet against. This is especially true of quarterbacks and receivers; exhibit A, B, and C for this fact would be what happened with Terrell Owens in Philadelphia with Donovan McNabb, then in Dallas with Tony Romo, then in Cincinnati with Carson Palmer.
When NFL teams aren’t playing as a team, don’t bet on them!
And then there is the so-called “revenge game,” for instance when a player who was waived by a team comes back to play his old team. These games often offer good opportunities for betting, but you must be careful, because they can go either way. The desire for revenge can be a powerful motivator, but it can also cause a player to “try too hard” and thus fail miserably.
Oh yeah, that’s another good piece of advice for betting on the NFL: don’t try to pick every game every weekend, it’s freaking impossible and will drive you nuts. Instead, most successful NFL bettors pick a few games a week, have well-developed reasons (see above) why they are picking those games, and realize that 2 out of 3 betting NFL ain’t half bad.