Now that the NBA and NHL seasons are over, the sports world turns its attention to the NFL. Week 1 NFL lines have been posted in Vegas. Additionally, marquee matchups in the NCAA season have also been put on the board. Here are five tips to consider when betting on football.
Tip #1 – Historical trends do not skew significantly over or under in the NFL
In the last 10 years there have been 2670 games played in the NFL and the over is 1320-1312-38 during that time frame. (You can find historical trends/stats here.) Each season will have trends and on some weeks one side will do better than another, but over the course of the long run, there is not a magic side to blindly pick.
Tip #2 – Small NFL road favorites cover, big favorites do not
Over the same time span, NFL road teams who are -1 to -4 have a combined record of 412-365-22 against the spread. Conversely, road favorites who are -6 to -10 are 150-167-6. When teams go on the road they can cover small numbers, but tend to be unable to beat home teams by more than a touchdown. In fact, double digit favorites do not cover all that well at home either, but the sample sizes for specific numbers are small.
Tip #3 – Historical trends do not skew over or under in the NCAA
Just like in the NFL, you can find the historical results for NCAA games here and there have been 7998 college football games since the 2008 season. The split between the over and the under is 49/51 in favor of the under.
Even though scoring trends have changed over time, the bookmakers have adjusted with the style of play. The result is that blindly betting the over or under will not work in the long run.
Tip #4 – Become an expert on a smaller NCAA conference
No matter where you live in America, you can find a smaller football conference to follow closely. Become knowledgeable about the teams’ strengths, weaknesses, and follow key beat writers to know about injuries. Because the NCAA does not have mandatory injury reporting rules, knowing who is playing or not can create a significant edge for a sophisticated gambler.
It is impossible for oddsmakers to know the ins and outs of Conference USA or the Sun Belt, for example. By becoming an expert in one niche area, you can give yourself an edge against the book. It is harder to do this in the NFL because every team receives a gigantic national following.
Tip #5 – Do not bet a game just because it is on TV
Imagine that it is Thursday night and on one channel Virginia Tech is playing Boston College and on another the Buccaneers are facing off against the Panthers. You have barely seen any of the four teams play and no little about them relative to other teams. Do not bet the game! Let it pass.
Similarly, it is late at night and you see that Hawaii is about to kick off against Fresno State. Let it go! Do not bet on a game just to have action. Bookmakers love it when people make uneducated bets just for the sake of betting. Be sharper than that and pass in negative expected value spots.
We are finally less than three months away from the start of football season. By that point more states will have legalized gambling making it even easier to get a bet on your favorite plays. Stay disciplined and try to focus your attention in a few key areas for betting. Good luck!