BETTING on the NFL is proving increasingly popular in the UK so our resident grid iron expert, @TDTips gives us a few pointers on the markets, the types of bets, how to exploit bookies' discrepancies and what to look out for during the NFL season.
The most important thing is to follow a staking plan – I recommend points as a stake instead of actual £ values. This is because everyone has a different budget. There’s no point us suggesting £10 bets if you’ve only got £10 for the week; Start with 100 points, divide your bank by that (£100 would be £1 per point), then if you have a bad week you have bank remaining for the Monday Night Football (MNF), Thursday Night Football (TFL) and following weekend matches.
The key is long term profit and making sure you don’t risk more than you can afford. With that out of the way, lets look into what I usually bet on.
One of the most essential things, especially on NFL betting over this side of the pond is to shop around the bookies as the lines vary quite considerably on a lot of markets when they're released.
If you can get on early then you can do very well. It's not just the niche markets either, touchdown (TD) scorers on lesser known players can vary from 6/4 on one site up to 10/1 on others, similarly you can get massive differences in player's yardage props e.g. one from this off-season; Jimmy G passing yards are 250 yards different on different sites.)
NFL specific markets
The standard markets for NFL games are Moneyline, Point Spread and Totals.
- The Moneyline – Who is going to win the game including overtime
- Point Spread (Handicap) – Who is going to win the game with X amount of points taken away or added on. E.g. Steelers -3 means they have to win by 4 points or more for that bet to win, if it’s 3 you get a refund, anything else and you lose.
- Totals – How many points will be scored by both teams in the game, these include overtime.
A further little look into the Point Spread. The rule of thumb is that the away team will get a 3 point headstart. There are teams with a bigger homefield advantage, The Seahawks and Patriots for example will generally start with a 4 or 5 point handicap whoever they are playing. Then they add to the handicap depending on the team they’re facing.
During our write-ups you may see ATS or SU when talking about a team, these are Against The Spread and Straight Up.
ATS shows how many times a team wins on the handicap market. SU is just a plain old win regardless of handicap points.
The Patriots are pretty good and had a record of something like 14-2 ATS last year, meaning they would have won on the handicap market 14 times out of 16.
Player Propositions (Prop bets)
Generally I put up quite a few Player Props when previewing games;
- Anytime TD Scorer – The selected player has to score anytime during the match
- First TD Scorer – selected player has to score the first TD of the game
- First Team TD Scorer – selected player has to score the first TD for his team
- 2 or more TD, 3 or more TDs – selected player has to score 2, or 3 or more TDs at any point during the game (our biggest single winner was Deon Lewis 2 or more at 55/1 (3 or more would have been 125/1 but I wasn't that ambitious)
I also like the Yardage markets – These are simple over/under markets, again, usually priced at around 10/11 on either side. E.g. Tom Brady to pass for over or under 325.5 yards. These are set at half yards so that there’s a result either way. If you bet over 325.5 and he gets 326 then you win, if he gets 325 you lose.
They are categorised still. Passing Yards, Rushing Yards, Receiving Yards, sometimes Rushing and Receiving yards (combined yards)
Also on Player Props you may find Total Receptions, Longest Reception etc… again, you’ll figure them out, but just in case; Total number of catches a player makes, the longest catch a player makes etc.
These markets are worth looking around for. I generally do that for you and notice if there’s anything that stands out. E.g. On some sites you’ll find someone's yards set at 320.5, whereas other sites may have it at 280.5 – This is obviously a pretty big discrepancy which you can use to your advantage depending on which way you plan on betting.
A good way of playing these is to look to try and hit the middle for example; Bet on over 280.5 at 10/11, and under 320.5 at 10/11 –
That's a 40 yard middle where you'll win both bets and get a decent profit. However, say it lands on 270 yards you'll win the unders and lose the overs meaning a small loss on your total stake. Say you had £100 on each, if it lands the middle you'll make £182 profit, however if it's just the one that wins it will be a £9 loss.
A few little tips on the NFL specifically;
Superbowl Matchups – If you're betting on a Superbowl Matchup, don't go through the set choices from bookies, the odds stink when compared to betting on a double of the AFC/NFC winner separately. For example on Ladbrokes you can get 40/1 on The Patriots to play the Falcons, doing that as a double of AFC/NFC winner pays at 67/1 on 365. So quite considerably better odds!
Betting the Spread – If you're betting the spread be aware of the key numbers; 3 and 7. Around 16% of games last year finished with a difference of three points, keep an eye out across the bookies if one is offering +/- 3 points, see if there's a 2.5 or 3.5 around depending on the side you want to bet.
Teasers – Teasers seems to be quite popular in the states, and are gaining in popularity over here, although there's only a few sites you can do them on (365 and Red Zone). Essentially you make your selections, usually 2 or 3 teams, change it to a teaser and it changes your spread by 6 points at reduced odds.
The idea here is to pick games which go through the key numbers. For example Week 1 this year; Cardinals +2.5, 49ers +1 and Broncos +2. If you put this as a teaser you'd be getting Cards +8.5, 49ers +7 and Broncos +8 at odds of 9/5. Lesser odds, but increased chances of winnings.
Totals – Totals in games can be dependant on weather conditions so try and keep an eye on weather during the week www.nflweather.com has expected weather forecast through each quarter of games, wind over 30mph affects things, as unsurprisingly does increased precipitation. Games in Buffalo in November/December are of specific note with the weather.
A few situational notes – some things to consider that are specific to teams, locations and events during the season
- Denver playing at home early in the season are a good bet, they play at altitude (Mile high) and are used to training up there whereas the visiting teams often struggle with the altitude giving Denver a distinct advantage
- Miami playing at home early on gives them an advantage due to the humidity in Florida, they once again have a favourable home schedule to start the season this year;
- Look for teams coming off a bye-week, Andy Reid's Chiefs specifically are one of the best after a bye week.
- Buffalo playing at home in December have a slight edge due to the cold weather at that time of year, again they're more used to it than others;
- Look out for Dome games and QBs who specialise in them, Matt Ryan for the Falcons does well in domes and 13 of their 16 games this year are inside so they're probably a good bet for going over their win total
Thanks for reading, I hope that gives you a good grounding in how to bet on and enjoy the NFL season. Keep visiting the site to see my NFL Tips throughout the season and if you want to delve a bit deeper into the game and like your NFL coverage a bit more nerdy then check out my blog at TDTips.com.