With the proliferation of legalized gambling and sportsbooks in more than half of the US states, a recent survey showed that some 46.6 percent of Americans planned to place at least one wager on a pro football game during the 2022 season. For recreational bettors and those making NFL expert picks, one thing is for certain: statistically speaking, the NFL is the hardest sport to turn a profit in.
Given the amount of handle (dollars bet) and sharp (professional) bettors in the market, bookmakers focus a majority of their time on NFL lines, being careful to set their numbers to attract two-way action (bets on both teams) and eliminate edges and advantages for gamblers. Although it is a rough estimate, those within the industry report that during a typical 17-game NFL season, some 100 billion dollars is wagered legally. That figure does not even take into account the hundreds of millions bet with offshore books.
In this piece, we will examine a few tips and tricks to make some money when watching and wagering on, by far, America’s most popular sport- the NFL. Television ratings don’t lie, as the league does better ratings during its preseason than Major League Baseball does during its playoffs.
Narrow Your Focus
While it can be tempting when making your NFL picks to just bet as many games as possible to keep your interest from the kick of the early games until late into the night, it’s critical to pick your spots. Winning sports bettors don’t necessarily bet on teams or sides, they bet on numbers. This means that they try to find games where they feel, in their own estimation or in the option of others who project games for a living, that the line or total is either too high or too low.
Once a bettor or someone who specializes in NFL predictions identifies those certain spots, it is then time to make a wager. There are a number of theories as to where those spots are. Some people feel betting against the public or against a line move is the way to go. For example, if Team A has moved from a 3 to 4-point favorite, meaning the public is supporting them, forcing sportsbook operators to adjust the markets, some gamblers subscribe to the premise of going against the proverbial grain and taking the underdog contrary to what the public is saying.
Don’t Believe the Hype
Inevitably every week, when listening to the litany of podcasts out there, pundits always have their Lock of the Year or Game of the Week. While they may have a solid rationale or reasoning for selecting whatever side they take, be wary of so-called experts who have Locks of the Week nearly every week. Be sure to follow their season records and ROIs to gauge how reliable they are.
The two things needed to make money with the NFL are time and money. While some gamblers have the money to invest in games, they may not have the time to do research, create their own power rankings, and follows the intricacies of the weekly injury reports. Therefore, they must rely on or listen to one of the many sources of experts in the business. Fortunately or unfortunately, success in the win-and-loss column often hinges on the quality of information from these experts.
Fantasy Versus Reality
For the past 20 seasons, fantasy football has been popular amongst many generations of fans. These fans also happen to be bettors who put their hard-earned cash into games. There is one drastic difference between fantasy football and “real” football. Fantasy football relies on individual performances and rewards them with lots of points, while NFL games are predicated on coaching decisions, all 11 players working together, and a myriad of other factors.
While some fans may feel like backing a certain team because they have a few high-scoring fantasy players, this is another form of perceptive bias and clouds judgment when it comes to making high-percentage wagers with high likelihoods of cashing. As such, while star players certainly factor into outcomes of games (not nearly as much as they do in fantasy football) be sure not to be swayed by players that have maybe had a few good weeks.