Does your significant other spend every Sunday during football season (and Thursday and Monday nights and some late-season Saturdays) occupied with his betting? Then what better way to stay close to him by learning how to wager on the NFL? While it’s not exactly easy to win at NFL betting, it is pretty simple to follow. Here are some key numbers to know for your upcoming NFL betting picks.
How to Recognize and Handicap Key NFL Betting Numbers
What is the Most Common of Scoring in NFL?
By far the most common way of scoring in the NFL is a 3-pointer, known as a field goal. Kickers these days are incredibly accurate past 50 yards. Frankly, some around the NFL want to shorten the width of the goalposts so kickers aren’t so vital.
Last year, 25 kickers with at least nine attempts made a minimum of 80 percent of their kicks. Minnesota’s Kai Forbath was 15-for-15 and the Giants’ Robbie Gould was 10-for- 10. But the best kicker was Baltimore’s Justin Tucker, who won several games by himself and finished 38-for-39.
Tucker isn’t a kicker who just excels in one aspect of his job; he’s money from anywhere on the field — he’s never missed an extra point or a kick from inside 30 yards and he’s made 91 percent of his attempts from 40-49 yards. The average field goal percentage in the in the NFL 2016 season was 83.73.
What is the Most Common Margin of Victory?
Since 2002, the most common margin of victory in the NFL betting has been 3 points. That comes out to an average of about 16 percent of the games. No other margin of victory is at 10 percent. Thus you are likely to see a majority of lines either 2.5 points, 3 points or 3.5 points.
Sportsbooks don’t like ties or a push any more than bettors do. So they often won’t close a line at 3 points if possible. Instead, it will be 2.5 points, where those backing the favorite would win if the game ends with a 3-point margin for the favorite, or at 3.5 points, which benefits those backing the underdog if it ends up losing by 3.
Only seven teams had a point per game differential higher than field goal last year: New England (+12), Atlanta (+8.4), Dallas (+7.2), Kansas City (+4.9), Pittsburgh (+4.5), Seattle (+3.8) and Arizona (+3.5). All but Arizona made the playoffs. 19 teams had point differential under +3.0 and above -3.1.
What Other Key Numbers Should You Take Into Consideration?
When teams don’t score a field goal, they mostly relegate to a touchdown and extra points, which is seven combined points – although more extra points are missed now that the NFL has moved that from a 19-yard kick to about a 35-yard one.
The first year of the extra distance was 2015 and kickers made 1,146 extra points on 1,217 attempts, a 94.2 percent success rate. That’s far worse than 2014, when when kickers went 1,222-for- 1,230, or 99.3 percent. The league was hoping more teams would go for 2 points, but it hasn’t happened.
So if you take a touchdown and field goal into effect most games end by a disparity of 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 & 14- point margins. Roughly 42 percent of all NFL games will end up with a final score reflecting one of those five margins (not counting 14).
How Do We Get to 4?
Something like 21-17, with one team scoring three touchdowns and one two TDs and a field goal. A seven-point difference is the second-most common with 10 coming in third. You will rarely see point spread in double-digits, however. It happens occasionally, but even the best NFL teams aren’t usually THAT much better than its worst. In college, meanwhile, you can see a 40-point line.
Final NFL Betting Recommendations
I tend to always take home underdogs that are getting a key number of 3, 7 or 10 but with a half-point as well. Yes, it’s very rare for a home team to be a double-digit underdog, but they cover more often than not. Home field is generally considered to be worth 2.5-3 points.
Sportsbooks are hesitant to move away from key numbers, none more than the 3-point spread. But you can also buy a half-point to get it to a more desirable number. That will shorten your return a bit, but it’s also often worth it.
Remember that sportsbooks aren’t speculating how much better points-wise one team is over another, simply what number will bring the most action on both the favorite and the underdog. Ideally, a sportsbook takes 50 percent action on both and simply wins on the vig (the cost to make a bet).