Football point spread betting is the most common form of placing a wager on a NFL game for most people. It is the easiest way for bookies and bettors to agree on a level playing field between two teams when it comes to online football betting. The point spread is no doubt as old as time itself. I can just imagine two old Greek guys saying, “Sure Hector is a great warrior, but you have to give me points if he is taking on Achilles.” Don’t look at me funny- we all saw Brad Pit kick Eric Bana’s butt in Troy.
As a refresher, a point spread bet is one in which the sports handicapper compensates for any talent disparities between two teams by making one team a favorite and one team an underdog. The bookie then assigns a number of extra points that the favorite must win the game by for them to be declared the winner for the purposes of that wager. The underdog conversely can lose the game, but can still technically win the point spread wager if the number of points they lose by is less than the point spread set by the handicapper.
The RealBet Help section on pointspreads has it covered in a little more detail so please take a look if you need further information. Let’s use a real world example from NFL Week 11 to go over how to win wagers using football point spread betting.
Football Point Spread Betting – New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers
I took the game in NFL Week 11 with the biggest numbers so we could break it down for the purposes of looking at football point spread betting. The New England Patriots are travelling across the country to play the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The Pats are heavy -12 favorites over the Niners which really isn’t a surprise. The Patriots have looked like a Super Bowl bound team once again, while the most interesting thing about the 49ers this year is everything Colin Kaepernick.
So how determine whether a pointspread is a winning football bet just by looking at it? Well that is really the million dollar question. When is a spread on a NFL game too big or too small, or in the words of Goldilocks, just right? Let’s look at some key factors when analyzing football point spread betting for your online sportsbook NFL wagers.
Betting Football Online – Its All About Money
Sounds obvious but vague right? So to clarify. Sometimes football betting point spreads are not an accurate reflection of the strengths of the two teams. Note- this is also true of NBA point spread betting, NHL point spread betting, and MLB pointspread betting. The important thing to understand here is that bookmakers need to balance the risk that they have from bets they have already taken. The goal of the bookmaker is to not be “offside” on either team as they are not looking to win or lose on a game. In a perfect world for the bookmaker, they would have exactly the same amount of bets (risk) on each team so that their total risk on the game is $0. Then they happily take their cut, or Vigorish, from the winning bets and everyone goes home happy.
Online Football Betting – New England Patriots Win
However, when the 7-2 Patriots face off against the 1-8 Niners it is going to be next to impossible for the bookies to be able to naturally balance their risk as everyone is going to bet on the Patriots. You could be the biggest 49ers fan on the planet, but their is no way you are going to back them without some serious points in your favor. So not only do they have to give San Francisco points to make up for the difference in talent between the two teams, but they will also most likely have to give a couple of extra ones because the money won’t stop coming in on New England.
Smart Football Bets – Point Spreads
And this is where it get’s interesting for smart football betting- when betting on the public favorite is so big that the point spread becomes divorced from the reality of the game as the bookmakers struggle to balance their action. That’s how it is now about the money and not about the game. So, shopping for value on point spreads is looking for when the point spread is no longer correlated to the strengths of the teams. This is where you can swoop in and bet underdogs almost blindly, because you are going to automatically turn a profit over the long run as the true odds favor you against the bookie who is now focused on balancing his or her risk.
Betting On Football – Undervalued Favorites
And on occasion it will go the other way as well e.g. when a favorite is actually undervalued because of the popularity of the team they are facing. For the past few years it was always worthwhile to check in on any Dallas Cowboys’ game to see if the pointspread was off. This would happen on occasion as the Cowboys are always huge fan favorites, and that could skew the money management making them stronger underdogs on price then they actually were. It is a nice situation to not only be betting the favorite in the game, but to also be doing so at a discount! Given how the Cowboys are doing this year it won’t work with them, but take a look at other big market teams like the New York Giants and usually the San Francisco 49ers.
Wrath of Belichick – Tom Brady Trumps Niners
However, when the Niners are facing the might of Emperor Palantine, err Belichick, then the line is probably pretty close to true odds. So let’s take a look at Sunday’s game. The Pats are -12 favorites and I think they are going to cover. Tight End Rob Gronkowski will be sitting out injured but Tom Brady still has a ton of weapons. The 49ers are just awful and the Kraft machine keeps rolling. Take the Pats on the point spread and count your winnings.
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