When perusing the Sunday menu of NFL games to wager, dozens of legitimate factors can go into our decision making upon making a selection to bet. But ultimately three key handicapping categories and past trends often weigh heavily upon our decisions. Proof of their individual popularity and importance are highlighted in two of the best sources of handicapping information and wagering updates available, StatFox and VegasInsider.
First, who performs best as the home or away team. Also, which team has a better past record as a favorite or underdog. Or if you're a Totals player, which indicators point toward a game going Under or Over the number. Of course these are all customary decisions for any Monday or Thursday Night NFL Football game as well. But given the many game choices we have on a Sunday, it should be noted how often bettors make bad judgements, which more reflect not lack of good football knowledge, but more often simple behavior flaws.
The Overrated Home Team
If you picked up any book about handicapping sports within the ten commandments would always be one very important lesson. Besides rules on money management would include basic rules about NOT always emotionally involving yourself with the home crowd. That is "root, root, root for the home team" but do not always bet with them when there is no reason or value.
Yes, the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are tough at home. Their fanatical fans travel nationwide and try to intimidate all visiting teams. But boy, do bettors pay dearly for it. The top online sportsbooks have caught on to the demand of traditional bettor knowledge and have added a "surcharge" if you will in the point spread per home game. Kind of like expecting a sale on Mercedes or Tiffany diamonds. Forget about it. The oldest rule of economics applies here in The Law of Supply and Demand. Deals on the Seahawks at home are not going to happen.
More overrated is the old, outdated adage of "three points for being at home". That is simply not true anymore as visiting NFL teams are better performing against the spread (ATS) overall than home teams. AND last Sunday's action was a prime example.
The Seahawks were a solid -7 favorite at home over the hot Atlanta Falcons at premier offshore sportsbooks BetOnline, Heritage and Diamond Sports. They narrowly escaped with a penalty enabled 26-24 win but failed to cover. The Packers outright lost to the surprising Dallas Cowboys 30-16 as an overconfident -4.5 favorite at Lambeau Field at most preferred sportsbooks. More home intimidation reputation than current reality earned the Seahawks and Packers those extra spread points.
Why Dogs are a Favorite
Another bad habit to watch for is maintaining a diet of playing too many NFL favorites, especially HOME FAVORITES. Similar to marketing research experts, Nevada and offshore sportsbooks are well aware of the general public's huge desire to play NFL favorite teams. Like eating red meat, this isn't to say you shouldn't cut favorites entirely out of your wagering diet. But playing too many will destroy you as FACTUALLY more underdogs cover overall ATS. Roughly 58% vs. 42% depending on the week, year, etc.
Now here's where you can pro-actively do something to help yourself.
Many offshore sportsbooks, including popular Bovada, make a habit themselves to often pad an extra half point to full point by kickoff on several NFL lines when to their advantage. This custom itself is a no-brainer reason to join at least two sportsbooks to get a "comparison-shop" look for buying the best advantage wager possible. Imagine say, getting the Dolphins at +3.5 or +4 instead of +3 vs. the Giants this upcoming Sunday. That's a huge advantage and would cause you sleep loss should the G-Men win by three. Add on the thousands of loyal New York Giants fans and you get the picture.
It's Not Over till It's Under
Another hugely overlooked handicapped aspect is the general public's fear and distaste to bet "Under" in wagering the game Total. Simply explained, no bettor likes to be out or disqualified from potentially winning while the game is still going on. In essence, no chance to collect.
The bad news is the bookmakers know this and utilize every opportunity to capitalize upon it. No doubt the majority of action on most games is on the "Over" side no matter what the sport. With glee, many must have been overjoyed this week as all five games in the Cleveland Indians-Toronto Blue Jays series went UNDER the total.
The key might be studying the Over/Under number itself, regardless of who's playing. Bringing this up for the millionth time please examine "what the number tells you". In the NFL, when the total falls below 40 points it's dangerous to seriously wager Over except in mandated situations. It would be better to pass on the game or consider Under if all indications pointed toward a solid investment. That would be especially true when the number falls to 37 or below. The results back this theory up. And for the more squeamish, teaser bets from 6 to 7 points available at all preferred sportsbooks are especially effective.
Overall, this is NOT a mandate to avoid home teams, favorites nor betting the Over on NFL games. But like eating all-cholesterol foods, way too much of them will surely end your wagering life way too soon.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.