There’s a reason why 200+ legal Nevada sports books have never had a losing season booking football and winning between $75 million-$125 million annually on football wagers alone. The same winning pattern exists for the legal sports books now in 35 U.S. states. Note: California is not one of those states, and the Courier is in no way encouraging gaming. This piece is intended to inform and entertain those who may be traveling to nearby jurisdictions in which sports books are allowed.
At least 85% of NFL bettors bet favorites, and only one of 1,000 bettors win money betting on the NFL, which tells me that oddsmakers (who know this) inflate the line to attract equal betting on both teams. The two best teams in the NFL last year were Kansas City and Philadelphia (28-6 SU combined), but both combined for a 15-19 regular season spread record.
If you bet a favorite, you’re laying more points than you should, especially on the popular public teams. I expect NFL dogs to bark loud again all season long as players are not adjusting to the 18-week grind, which takes a toll on them. Last year all regular-season underdogs were 54% vs. the spread (To break even, a bettor needs to average 52.4% ATS.)
Here are some additional tips:
*Go against the Super Bowl winner the first four games of the season. They’ll be overhyped, have an inflated line and the public can’t wait to bet on them. Last year the Los Angeles Rams were 1-3 ATS and in 2021, Tom Brady’s Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs was also 1-3 ATS out of the gate, combining for a two-year money-burning 2-6 spread record!
*Bet against the Super Bowl winner in its first home game, a marquis Thursday night festive occasion (for the home team) that kicks off the new season. The Commissioner is there, along with the fans and national media to acknowledge the defending Super Bowl champs. Their media-ignored opponent will play hard to avoid being embarrassed like a sacrificial lamb. The LVI Super Bowl champion LA Rams as a two-point home underdog got creamed by the Buffalo Bills 31-6. In 2021, TOMpa Bay as a nine-point favorite, barely survived Dallas 21-19 and was lucky to win the game.
*In Division regular-season rematches, bet against the team that beats the spread the first time they meet. Double your bet if they’re a road division underdog. Philadelphia as a seven-point road favorite routed the NY Giants 48-22. In the rematch, even though the Giants rested all their starters for the following week’s playoffs, and though Philadelphia needed the win to capture the No. 1 playoff seed, it struggled as a 17-point home favorite to win 22-16! All that glitters is not gold.
*Last year Division road underdogs and Division dogs were both 59% ATS. Both trends figure to continue in 2023. Don’t buck them even if you make half as much as Roger Goodell.
*In 2021, six-point-or-less road underdogs were a huge money maker, averaging 64.5% ATS. In 2022, NFL dogs of 3.5 points or more were 60% ATS. Averaging 55% ATS is considered a very profitable year.
*Teasers: Don’t bet them, as there’s a good reason they’re called “teasers.” They might look good, but your chances of beating them and making money aren’t. I will slightly contradict myself by pointing out that six-point two-team teasers do win if one teases a +1.5, +2 or +2.5 underdog up to +7.5, +8 or 8.5 or a 7.5, 8 or an 8.5 favorite down to 1.5, 2 or 2.5, as you capture key numbers.
*Parlays: Also, don’t bet them, as more than one-third of a bookmaker’s profits come from them. Two-team parlays pay 2.6:1 (true odds are 3:1); three-team parlays pay 6:1 (true odds are 7:1) and four-team parlays pay 10:1 (true odds are 15:1). You have as much chance of beating parlays as Gisele announcing on her Instagram page that she and Kim Jong Un have fallen in love.
*Halftime wagering; The bookies post a new point spread for the second half. Always bet the team at halftime that you think will beat the original game’s opening line. For example, if a 6–7-point underdog is winning at halftime, take them again, as the odds are if they cover the original spread, they’ll also beat the halftime spread. Note many times it’s very hard at halftime to predict who will cover the original line, in which case, pass on the halftime line.
*Go against successful point spread teams from last season, as oddsmakers who underestimated them last year will adjust this year. The best teams in 2022 ATS were the New York Giants at 13-4 and the Detroit Lions at 12-4-1.
*Lastly, do NOT bet on double-digit Favorites, as they were 27-3 SU, but a miserable money-losing 11-19 ATS last year (36.6%). Houston, one of the NFL’s worst teams was a double-digit underdog 5 times last year and covered 4 of the 5 (80% ATS), with two of those covers being against the Super Bowl teams, Philadelphia and Kansas City! Houston’s only ATS double-digit loss last year was +14.5 at Miami where they lost by 15.
Danny Sheridan is one of the country’s most eminent sports analysts. He provides football odds for USA Today’s Sports Weekly and served as USA Today’s Sports Analyst for three decades. He makes frequent TV and radio appearances and is in demand as a speaker for his expertise in sports analysis. Sheridan’s preseason College & Pro Football, NBA, Baseball, March Madness and Previews are featured in national publications yearly. He is the author of several books, publishes one of the country’s most popular sports newsletters and is a private advisor to an elite roster of high-net-worth individuals. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Sheridan was inducted into the Mobile, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.