Handicapping Tips for Betting on the NFL
When it comes to betting on sports, the NFL remains at the top of the list for the sheer amount of action it pulls in for the sportsbooks. Beating the books on a consistent basis is a hard thing to do and even the top expert handicappers in the country have trouble keeping their winning return above 60 percent. However, these are a few simple things that you can do to raise your own personal winning percentage when it comes to betting on the NFL.
Tracking a Team’s Current Form
The NFL regular season is only 16 games, but even the best teams (and the worst) go through several ebbs and flows throughout the course their schedule. Understanding a team’s true current form is crucial to understanding how it may perform in its next game.
Just because a team is winning games does mean it is playing well. Sometimes the ball bounces its way and of a couple of questionable calls go in its direction to pull out a win. If a team cannot consistently run the ball and play defense, these gaps will eventually catch-up with them, especially when facing one of the better teams in the league.
Study the Right Stats
Statistics are a huge part of any sport and given all the stat junkies out there it is easy to get bogged down in some of the wrong numbers when it comes to handicapping NFL matchups. The best course of action is to stick with the basics such as yards per carry in the rushing game, time of possession, third down conversions. These are all examples of stats that show whether or not a team can sustain drives and score points.
Red Zone conversion’s is another important stat to know and understand. A team can gain all the yards in the world, but if it cannot come away with points (especially touchdowns) in scoring position, it is not going to win too many games.
One of the top stats to take into consideration when it comes to handicapping the NFL is turnover ratios. Teams that know how to take care of the ball on offense and create scoring opportunities on defense by taking the ball away, tend to win far more games than they lose.
Understand the Role Betting Trends Play
If you look at any betting report for a NFL matchup it is bound to contain a number of past and recent betting trends for each team as well as the betting trends for head-to-head play. It is true that history does tend to repeat itself, but you have to be careful about putting too much weight of many of these betting trends.
The best way to incorporate betting trends into the handicapping process is to compare the numbers with each team’s current form. The fact that Dallas beat Washington six straight times while covering against the spread in every game is good to know, especially if the Cowboys come into the next matchup playing at a very high level. It is true to a certain extent that one team may have another team’s number, but trends like that are very cyclical in nature and you never know when one cycle is about to end and another one begins.
Watch the Injury Reports
The NFL injury reports can provide just as much bad information as good. Some head coaches like to play games by listing any player that may be slightly nicked-up, while other coaches will go by the letter of the law by playing things close to the vest and only list the players that are truly hurt.
If a player is listed as “out” then they are out. When they get tagged as being doubtful, it becomes a scenario that bears watching as you get closer to kickoff, especially if it is a high-profile player at a skill position. Questionable is often used to describe a player that can play if absolutely necessary, but still not a sure thing.
These days, one of the most important factors is a player’s participation in practice since many head coaches have a strict policy that if they do not practice they do not play. The bottom line is to try and get the best information possible when it comes to assessing the true betting value in the injury reports.