How to Bet on NFL Pointspreads
The primary way to bet on an NFL game is with the use of a pointspread. Very simply, a pointspread is a handicapping tool used by Oddsmakers to level the playing field in any head-to-head matchup. Contrary to popular belief, it is not used to predict an expected margin of victory by the favorite; it is designed to help balance out the money that is wagered on either side of a game.
Sportsbooks make their money on the commission they charge for taking a bet. The standard in the sports betting industry is 10 percent and it is often referred to as the “juice” or the “vigorish” on a bet. Ideally, a sportsbook would love to have an equal amount of money bet on either side, so they can claim a profit on the 10 percent vig no matter what the outcome of the game may be. That is why often times you will hear that a line is “sharp”. This is designed to eliminate any edge betting one way or the other.
The betting public as a group will always tend to lean towards a favorite and the “over” on a total line in the majority of the games they bet. This is especially true in high-profile, nationally broadcast games between two top teams in the league. This in turn can sometimes build-in a slight edge for the underdog and the “under” if the public is betting heavy the other way.
The fact that the Oddsmakers release the betting lines for NFL games close to a week before the actual kickoff, it is very important to track the movement of these lines they progress through the week. Any drastic movement one way or the other could point to some “sharp” money coming in heavy on one side. Sharps are the betting experts in the industry and these heavy hitters are trained to spot a bad line and jump all over it. In this situation, the built-in edge is with whichever way the sharps are leaning.
Certain numbers are very important when it comes to betting on NFL pointspreads. Since the common scoring units are three points for a field goal and seven points for a touchdown and an extra point, a very common spread for a NFL game is either three points or seven points. In situations such as this, a half-point move either way can mean all the difference in the world between winning and losing your bet. You may want actually lay off a game if the spread remains at three or seven points and wait to see if you can get the half point in your favor closer to the actual start of the game.
The one caveat to a seven-point spread is the new extra-point rule that the NFL has instituted for the 2015 season. The ball used to be placed at the two-yard line for an extra point and the kick was basically a gimme. It has now been moved back to the 15-yard line to make it a bit more of a challenge. The quality of place kickers in the NFL these days should keep the majority of these kicks automatic, but the rule change does make the two-point play a bit more attractive. Things really get complicated if a penalty is committed on the extra-point try or the kick is blocked. The bottom line is that this rule change has the potential to swing millions of dollars one way or the other over the course of the entire regular season.
The best course of action when it comes to betting NFL pointspreads is to do your homework. There are a number of factors that go into any predicting the outcome of any game, but the most important one is the confidence you have in your personal pick. You should only bet on the games where your confidence level is the highest, otherwise you are simply making an educated guess. Even the top professional handicappers are going to be wrong over 30 percent of the time, so you always want to gear your bankroll towards your best bets. Once you come up with those, then the next step is to shop the sportsbooks for the pointspread that best leans your way.