Football Spread Bet Strategies
Point spread bets are one of the most popular football sports bets and offer a great way for you to profit not only on the teams that you think will win, but also on the teams you expect to lose the game. A point spread effectively levels the football playing field and only rewards the team that outperforms their expectation. As long as a team outperforms the sportsbook’s expectations, you’ll win your bet on them. They’re not required to win the game, only to outperform.
The flexibility that point spread bets give us in football creates a lot of new and unique opportunities to make money. But as is the case with any type of sports bet, you’re only going to see a profit if you know what you’re doing and put in the necessary work. In this guide, we can give you half of that equation.
Our team of experts will give you the knowledge that you need to start crushing football spread bets. We’ve collected a list of the top tips our experts use every football season to beat the spread and turn a consistent and healthy profit. With this information, it will be up to you to put in the research and work needed to turn it into winning picks. The good news is that is the easy part. The tough part is getting the secrets and knowledge the experts use, but we’re handling that for you today.
Take Home Underdogs
One of the worst things you can do in sports betting is make all-inclusive, blanket statements like they are some heavenly rule from the almighty himself. That being said, we are about to do just that. Before we do, though, we want to add a disclaimer. This should not be taken as a hard and fast rule. You should not go out and start blindly betting this “rule.” The way you should use it is as a guideline to couple with your other research and predictions to help prove or disprove a position you are looking at taking.
We’re talking about taking home underdogs against the spread. If you were to blindly bet home underdogs in every game, you would still lose. But statistics have shown that compared to blindly betting home favorites, road underdogs, or road favorites in the NFL, this has the best correlation. In fact, you’d be very close to breakeven.
The best way to use this is to take some time each week analyzing home underdogs. See if there is value there, as even if you’re wrong and there is no value on all the bets you make, statistics show you will still end up very close to even. So, missing terribly here would not be that bad at all.
Why are home underdogs a good bet? Well, there are a lot of different schools of thought, but we think it comes down to team comfort and ego. When you’re supposed to lose at home as a player or a team, that upsets you. It motivates you. It drives you. We’re not big on emotional reasons for betting, but this is one area where it seems to be backed by the stats.
Home underdogs in football seem to fight harder, most likely to avoid embarrassment or looking bad in front of home fans and their friends and families. No one like to get beat in their house. Now, keep in mind that this doesn’t suddenly make them a better team. We’re not talking about going and hammering the moneyline expecting them to turn into powerhouses and win every game.
We’re talking about them covering the spread. We’re talking about a peak in their performance over what is projected. The good news, though, is that that is all it takes to win a spread bet. As long as they outperform their expectations by one or more points, you win.
Choose Wisely When to Bet If You See -2.5 at Even Money
Getting 3 points in a football game is huge. As games are often decided by touchdowns (7 points) and field goals (3 points), you can see why there is a big difference between 2.5 points and 3. For this reason, sportsbooks do not like to move off a +-2.5 line. If they move to +-3, the action will usually pour in, and they’ll have problems getting the balanced action they desire.
What does this mean for us? Well, obviously, if you’re looking to bet a football underdog at +2.5, you’d like to know if you have a chance of getting them at +3. Sometimes, the sportsbooks will allude to when they may be getting close to having to shift the line to +3. Let’s take a look at a situation to show you what this looks like. Here’s the line on a game between the Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers.
- Packers -2.5 -110
- Broncos +2.5 -110
As you can see, nothing special here. The Packers are 2.5-point favorites, and the Broncos are the underdogs, both getting paid out at (-110). But what happens if the action starts to pour in on the Packers? Normally, the sportsbook would adjust the line by a half point to -3 and adjust the Broncos to +3 and call it a day. But this is not something they want to do.
So, instead, you will often see them adjust the payouts for each bet. As you know with football spread bets, you almost always are going to get paid out the same on either side of the bet, but that is not always the case. If the sportsbook needed to shift action off of the Packers and onto the Broncos without moving the line, they might try doing this.
- Packers -2.5 -120
- Broncos +2.5 Ev
Now, if you bet on the Packers, you’ll be getting paid out at a worse rate of -120. If you bet on the Broncos, you’ll be getting even money on your bet.
At this point, you’ll have a choice to make if you’re looking to bet the Broncos. If you think the betting public is still going to keep hammering on the Packers, keep holding out. If the sportsbook is forced to, they will shift the line right before game time to +3 at (-110), and you’ll be able to scoop up that valuable half point. If you think the public is going to slow down on the Packers, and the line isn’t going to move, take advantage of that even money bet. It will be up to you on a case-by-case basis to figure out what is the best play.
Personally, if we like it at +2.5, we like to gamble a little and wait to see if we can get +3. If it stays exactly where it is, we can still pick it up at +2.5 even money. If it shifts back to +2.5 (-110), we liked it there anyway and can still make our original bet.
While this is a situation you probably won’t run into often, it’s one where you can stand to pick up an extra half point or even money over the usual (-110). Keep this tip in your back pocket, and if the situation presents itself, you’ll be prepared to know how to proceed accordingly.
Plan on the Public Betting Favorites Late
Our favorite group of sports bettors, “the public,” are back again and following their usual patterns and trends. The betting public loves to bet favorites against the spread, and they love to bet them late in the week. Specifically, on game day, you can almost plan on the public hammering the favorite late. Recreational bettors love to win, and they don’t really care too much about value. All they care about is getting a check mark in the win column, which means they’re going to be heavily inclined to hammer favorites.
This should play a big role in when you plan on making your bets. If you’re planning on betting the favorite, you should lean towards betting them earlier in the week. All of the growing bets on the favorite by the public will frequently drive the spread in the wrong direction for you. But if you’re looking at betting the underdog, you might want to lean towards waiting until later in the betting week to get your bet in. As the bets come in on the favorite, the sportsbook will most likely shift the line to make things more enticing on the underdog. This could mean a half or even a full point extra for you (if not more sometimes).
This is not 100% of the time but is definitely a trend that has been confirmed by sportsbook executives on multiple occasions. The public likes to win more than they care about profit. They also are usually too busy during the week to get their bets in early and will wait until closer to game time to place their wagers.
Look for (-105) Bet Promotions
One of the most popular promotions in football sports betting is the (-105) bet. A lot of online sportsbooks will offer a reduced juice bet on select games throughout the season. Typically, you’ll see one or two NFL games and sometimes a few college games as well. When you see these bets, it would be in your best interest to make a bet as long as you’re able to make an educated prediction.
Even if it’s a game you normally wouldn’t bet on, you can be right less often because of the reduced juice and still see a profit. Don’t go betting the game just to gamble, though. Only make a bet if you are capable of making an educated prediction on the game. Yes, we repeated that last statement twice because it is important.
If you find a few online sportsbooks that offer these promotions, don’t be scared to take advantage of all of them. Just as you shop for lines, you can shop for deals and promotions as well.
Shop for the Best Spreads
Speaking of shopping online, we want to make sure that we hammer home our most commonly referenced tip. All of our sports betting guides have this tip on there because it’s that important. When you’re looking to bet the spread, you need to make sure you are getting the most points on your side of the bet as you possibly can. If one sportsbook is offering a bet for the Ravens -6 and another is offering the Ravens -5, you’d be nuts to bet the Ravens at the first sportsbook. If they were to win the game by 6, your bet at sportsbook one would be a push (no profit), and your bet at sportsbook two would be a win.
Take the time to look around for the most points possible on every spread you bet. If you’re like a lot of football bettors, you’re most likely going to be placing several different spread bets throughout any given week. Keep in mind that you do not need to shop these bets as a combined unit. You should be shopping them individually. It is completely acceptable and even encouraged to have bets at multiple sportsbooks. Find the best line for each spread bet and place your bets.
It can be argued that shopping for lines is much more important with a football spread bet than it is with a moneyline bet. Why? Well, let’s say you’re shopping for lines on a moneyline, and you end up getting +140 instead of +130. You will make a few extra bucks if you win (which is awesome), but not line shopping will have no effect on whether you win or lose your bet. If you don’t look around and stick with +130, you are still going to get paid if you picked correctly.
With football spread bets, though, not line shopping could be the difference between a win, push, or a loss. If you have a team at -4½, but you could have gotten them at -3½ by line shopping, that’s a big deal. If they win by 4 points, you’d lose your bet at the first book and win your bet at the second. Even if that line were only a half-point different at the second sportsbook (-4), you’d still turn your bet from a loss into a push. We’d much rather break even than lose money on a bet any day.
Hopefully, this helps to demonstrate the importance of shopping for the best spreads available. With online sportsbooks, it should only take you a few seconds to a few minutes to shop all of your lines for the day or week. Don’t be lazy. Put in the necessary work to increase your chances of winning and turning a bigger profit.
Don’t Bet Every Single Spread
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen this. Sports bettors will list out every single game for the week with the spread and start making their picks. They’ll make a pick for every single game and then head to the book to make their wagers.
Here’s the problem with this. You should only be betting spread bets that have value. If the sportsbook is paying out exactly as they should (they have the spread number correct), you’ll slowly lose money over time. Here’s a quick example to show what we mean.
Let’s say that these are four spread bets that you choose to take.
- Ravens -5½ (-110)
- Jets +6½ (-110)
- Redskins -4½ (-110)
- Dolphins -4½ (-110)
Let’s say that you think that the sportsbook is right, and the Ravens should win by 5 or 6 points, the Jets should lose by 6 or 7 points, and the Redskins and Dolphins should win by 4 or 5 points. You decide to bet $20 on each of these games.
Let’s say that you and the sportsbook were spot on! For the sake of this demonstration, we will say that you won half of these bets.
Your total profit on these four bets is -$3.64. You lost money on these bets even though you were right. Because you bet wagers that had no value, you ended up winning the number of bets you expected, but the sportsbook juice started to eat into your money.
If you continually bet spread bets with no value, this is what is going to happen. You are going to slowly bleed your money away. You should never be betting every single game going on because not every game is going to have value. Do not try and force more action when it’s not there. If you really have the need to get more money in play, wager more on the bets that you do think have value.
While you may feel overloaded with information right now, that’s okay. Take some time, reread through anything that confused you, and make sure you fully understand all of the points our experts were looking to make. With this information, you’re ready to get started betting NFL and college football point spreads. Remember, knowing the recipe doesn’t instantly make you a great chef. Take the information we’ve given you, mix it with some good research, and you’ll be on your way to being an expert football point spread bettor.