Consistently picking winners when betting NFL games is difficult. The number of people who can claim a profit year after year is unbelievably small. Assuming someone only bets straight bets, they would have to hit 56% of their wagers to show a profit. We’re talking about 56% winners using point spreads.
The Linemaker’s Task
Before one can successfully start shopping for point spreads that offer real value, it’s necessary to understand exactly what it is the linemaker is trying to do when they make a line. Of course, they start by comparing mounds of statistical data to determine how well two teams match up. They’ll factor in betting trends, homefield advantage and even the effects of current injury issues. That’s creates a baseline point spread. However, there’s one more important aspect that warrants consideration. It’s called public opinion. If the linemaker fails to take into account public perception, they expose bookmakers to weak lines that astute handicappers will find and pound at the “betting windows.”
Professional linemakers are adept at anticipating public bias. Novice sports bettors have a habit of betting with their hearts. Remember: online bookmakers want equal action on both sides of a game. When successful, the bookmakers simply collect the “vig” and pay the winners with no financial risk. They can’t afford to have lopsided action that exposes them to a significant loss with the wrong outcome. If American bettors like betting on the Dallas Cowboys because they are “America’s team,” the linemaker is going to adjust the baseline point spread in anticipation of significant action coming in on the Cowboys. The hope is non-Cowboy fans will like the adjusted line enough to bet on the other side and offset the bookmaker’s potential exposure.
As a handicapper, it’s your responsibility to locate weak lines. You can always get handicapping information by visiting Wonder Punter. Linemakers are very good, but they are far from perfect. Every week, there’s one or two games where the line just seems out of whack. First, you can’t be successful “betting the board.” Your best chance of making a consistent profit is by focusing on 2-3 games a week. The games you want to bet on are the mistake games.
At first, you’ll struggle to find value. You won’t recognize a weak line because your starting at a disadvantage. The disadvantage is you have no idea what the line should be to start with. How do you resolve that problem? You have to get in the habit of making your own lines prior to seeing what the linemakers think. It will take time to learn how to set reasonable lines. You’ll be the one making mistakes.
Since it’s a learning process, keep your eyes open and your wagers small. As your lines get closer to reality, you suddenly find yourself able to identify the linemaker’s mistakes. That’s when you pounce and start making significant wagers. With a little luck, you start making good money.
When it comes to betting NFL games, information is king.