How to Find Favorable Betting Lines in NFL

NFL Course 102

Lining Yourself up with the Most Favorable Odds on NFL Games

It can be a lot of fun to put down some money on professional football games. There are various ways you can bet on NFL games, from point spreads and the moneyline, to the total points over/under. While having a bet riding on a game is exciting, it’s also nice to win some cash. Gaining an edge is a key to winning more than you lose, and to do so, you need to understand how to get the best lines. Here we discuss the benefits of betting early vs. late, why creating your own line can be helpful, and what you should know about changing odds.

Does the Early Bet Get the Best Line?

Odds on games for various sports will post at different times. The odds for professional baseball games will sometimes hold off on the price as close to a few hours before the first pitch. Tennis odds usually post a few days prior to a match and soccer odds can be visible up to a week in advance.

So, when should you jump into the fire to try to grab the best line? The answer to this question depends on a number of critical factors. If you are a skilled handicapper, you’ll know an edge in odds when you see it.

This early bet approach works well for situations where you know a particularly important player’s health is up in the air. This is primarily true with key or star players. Injuries can play an important role in public perception and in odds making. So much so, there are frequently situations where bookmakers will not post odds until a star player’s status is known.

What is important to note is that odds-compilers play a huge role in how odds are established. They set a probability number on the percentage chance of a particular outcome. If you’re attuned to odds as soon as they hit the boards, you can frequently spot prime targets to make a profit.

Another part of this equation is betting on the favorite. If you’re confident after the first posting that you want the favorite giving away the points, or at the lower end of the moneyline, be aware that heavy betting on this team by the public will usually drive the odds up.

When you get in early on these types of situations, you’ll be almost guaranteed to hand over fewer points to the underdog. So, there are both advantages and disadvantages to grabbing first set of odds. Working the next series of principles into your betting strategy can help you appreciate when to do so can be to your advantage.

When is the Best Time to Place a Bet?

In simple terms, there really isn’t always a best time to place a bet. You need to work each of these concepts into your betting strategy to create your own best time. Closing too early on a line that shifts dramatically is as bad as laying down a wager too late on odds that shifted because of public influence.

Betting early is frequently the best time to get stronger odds for the team or outcome the public thinks will happen. This is where seasoned bettors make a steady profit margin. However, the best time to take the team on the other side of the odds, the underdog, is often later.
Public sentiment for a heavy favorite can push the point spread higher for the underdog. If you have been patient, you can frequently grab a sure a loser of the game, but stack enough points to make your bet a winner.

Another aspect of bet timing in NFL football games deals with the weather forecast. While the weather in a particular part of the country may not have much impact on the moneyline, it can affect how you might time your bets on the point spread and especially the over/under.

When we speak of weather conditions and football, it isn’t always enough just to search for the chance of precipitation. Excessive wind can dramatically change game strategy as well. Both wet and windy weather can have an effect on prop bets such as fumbles and interceptions.

You cannot always predict the weather a week in advance, right after the first odds post, but you can get an idea for point totals that might be too generous considering what is forecast.

Injuries also play a key role in the timeliness of your betting strategy. These can be hunch situations, or circumstances where you’re extra digging and research could give you an edge. Occasionally, local newspapers will give more detail about a post-game injury report.

The whole idea is to have the most thorough injury reports, so you can take advantage of good odds before they are adjusted to account for inactive players. One step you can take immediately following games to help spot weather and injury related issues is to create your own line as soon as one week’s games end.

How Can You and Why Would You Create Your Own Line?

Profitable sports bettors invariably use this tool. It may the single-most viable way to avoid betting with your heart and not your head. Everyone has an idea about upcoming games almost as soon as the final horn sounds from a current one.

Looking ahead at the next week’s NFL schedule can be a super way to prepare ahead of the first series of lines. Creating your line is an outstanding way to immediately spot situations where your inclinations would be best served by an early bet.

There will other circumstances that dictate patience. If you have an idea of what you think about every game before the odds-compilers give you their probable outcomes, you’ll be ready to jump on early opportunities.

This process of creating your own line only takes a few minutes. It not only gives you an excellent way to spot good opportunities, but it will also help you quickly analyze bets that could turn out to be mistakes. If your line is close to the real one posted, you’ll have that information to use for that game.

When you odds are way out of line with the posted odds, those are the situations you need to take an honest look at. This is where you put your research hat on and dig into why you think the line should be so much different from what the bookmakers have deemed it to be.

What is Odds Shopping?

Shopping for good game odds is a multifaceted approach to sports betting. You not only shop various sportsbooks, but follow changes and trends in the line as well. One component of odds shopping involves keeping an eye on each sportsbooks’ possible daily odds boosts.

These will be unique to the sportsbook, so a search for these promotions can give you an advantage. Rare also are bettors who use only one sportsbook. You have to be keen to subtle differences today because odds are fairly consistent from one book to the other.

As a simple example, look at one scenario involving a five-point difference in the moneyline between sportsbooks. Look at the difference between a moneyline on one sportsbook at -110 and on another at -105. This doesn’t seem like a big amount of money in the grand scheme of things.

However, at -110, you must win 524 out of 1,000 wagers to break even. If you get a moneyline at -105, it will only take 513 games avoid an overall losing percentage. The points spread and over/under numbers are usually rock-solid across multiple sportsbooks, but that’s not always the case.

Shopping for these types of changes in the odds is a way to build a strong series of bets across multiple sportsbooks. When you shop odds across sportsbooks, you can also find situations where you can bet both sides of the game. This is the ultimate bettor’s windfall.

For instance, this happened as part of Super Bowl XIII. Dubbed as “Black Sunday” for Las Vegas bookies, the day-to-day change in game odds created a situation where gamblers were able to straddle the fence, so to speak. The game opened on most books at the as Steelers -2½ points.

By the time the actual game-time line closed, it was as high as a five-point spread for Pittsburgh. Astute football fans will remember the game ended up at a four-point margin of victory for Pittsburgh. Cowboy bettors with five-points in hand, and Steeler faithful handing over anything short of exactly four-points, were all winners.

It was a dark day for Vegas bookmakers to say the least. This is just one benefit of shopping for the best odds. To maximize your odds shopping experience, you should also study what line movement is and means, plus learn how to track line movement.

How Do You Track Line Movement and What Is It?

The above example from Super Bowl XIII is a prime example of tracking the line. Any opportunity to get on both sides of the fence is bettor’s paradise. While it is rare, it does happen.

All you have to do is look at how many times the bookmakers hit a whole-number odd dead on. Of course, this creates a push, and a push is a non-winner for your ticket. Tracking the line is the only way you can ever take advantage of a situation like that which occurred in the Pittsburgh/Dallas Super Bowl.

Getting a winner on both sides of a fluctuating line is extremely rare, but you can open up opportunities to bet the middle. If you happen to post a bet very early, and then find something happens to alter your feelings, a shift in the line can give you chance to hedge your bet with something you find more appealing.

Knowing how timeliness can help you gain an advantage in the betting world is useful. Knowing how to create your own line and then shop odds across a variety of sportsbooks is an even more useful tool.

Understanding how to track and take advantage of movement in the betting line can turn a casual sports bettor into a big-time winner. Use all the tools you have when making sports bets. Try different approaches, and blend these strategies with a good bankroll strategy. You may find you’re posting not only fun bets, but wagers that win more often.

Sam Shefrin is the founder of, Inc. Before Lineups, he started Daily Fantasy Cafe, Inc. in 2014. Armed with a passion for sports and every Atlanta team, his journey continues with the goal of making Lineups a premier sports analytics destination. He has been quoted on for industry insight and his websites featured on NBATV, Yahoo! Sports, Fantasy Pros, Bleacher Report and SB Nation.

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