Sportsbetting Strategies: NFL Sharp Money Explained

Written by on November 14, 2016

NFL betting lines are usually subject to several factors, and that often leads to a lot of movement in the betting lines, especially in games involving popular teams. It is therefore imperative for bettors to keep an eye on the sportsbooks, paying attention right from the moment opening lines are released to the last minute when the closing odds are posted. The idea here is to try and get the best of the number you are looking for in the sportsbooks lines, whether you are interested in wagering on the underdog or the favorite, and that’s where knowledge on NFL sharp money comes in very handy.

Here’s A Closer Look At The Sportsbetting Strategies: NFL Sharp Money Explained


What is Sharp Money?

Generally, sharp money is a term that is often used to describe large bets placed by “sharps”, most of whom are individuals or betting syndicates with long-term success in the betting industry. We all know that nobody can be right all the time in sportsbetting, or NFL betting for that matter, and even the best of gamblers attain success in the maximum region of 55-65%, at the best. The difference that separates the sharp bettors from “square bettors” is that the sharps are more often on the right side of a bet, as opposed to the squares (also known as recreational bettor), who are mostly wrong and tend to focus more on betting on oft-winning and high-scoring teams rather than studying and finding the real value in lines.

Now, in most sportsbooks, it is considered to be sharp money when a given wager (or a group of wagers) leads to line movements in the NFL betting boards, irrespective of whether it’s a huge or small bet. Of course, bigger bets tend to lead to more movements, but that is not always the case in every sportsbook.

And just so that we are clear, not all line movements are as a result of sharp money. Sometimes, there is a lot of public action on one side of a line, forcing betting houses to “balance their books” by encouraging action on the opposite sides. In other occasions, sportsbooks capitalize on public perception (for example, the popularity and huge following of the Dallas Cowboys as a team) and shade their opening or closing lines to tap into the vast bettors that will be pounding heavy on the lines in favor of such a team. So, how then can you beat these traps and identify the real sharp money in NFL lines? Well, there is no exact science to it, but the following tips will certainly help you get started.

Tips for Identifying NFL Sharp Money

#1 Reverse Line Movement

Reverse line movement simply refers to those instances that the NFL betting line movement seems to contradicts numbers from the public betting percentages in sportsbooks. When you notice a reverse line movement, it is often a major sign that smart money could be in play in the books.

For example, if the Pittsburgh Steelers are receiving 70% of spread bets as a 10-point road favorite against the Oakland Raiders, the expectation would be for the line to move to -10.5 or 11. If the line drops in such a case, let’s say to -9.5 or -, then high chances are that smart money is on the Raiders in the ATS, so you may want to look for a book that is still offering Oakland at +10 or better and pounce on the potential NFL smart money profits in that game.

#2 Huge Line Movements

NFL lines are usually created by professional Oddsmakers who usually take a lot of time to study teams, public perception and all other related factors before putting out an opening line, be it in the offseason or even in the course of the season. As such, odds often stay stagnant or move half a point in favor or against the favorite, depending on the betting action in their books. For lines to move by a full point or more, especially soon after the Oddsmakers have released the odds, it often means that sharp money is involved.

For example, if the New England Patriots opens up as 5-point (-5) home favorite against the NY Jets, and then the line quickly moves to -6 or -7 a couple of hours or days after the opening odds; it mostly means that smarts are probably wagering heavily on the favorite, signaling the Pats as being the smart money play. If you can find a line that offers the Pats at -5 or lower, the better for you in such a case, as that’s probably where there is smart money value.

Final Remarks on NFL Smart Money Betting

When talking about NFL sharp money, a good number of arguments are often made in favor of home underdogs covering huge spreads or small road favorites often offering good value on the moneylines. However, there are contrasting NFL betting statistics regarding such trends and how they apply to NFL wagers, so more study is required before we fully recommend these as tips for smart money NFL betting. As a key note, though, you should always remember that online NFL Sportsbooks are often willing to adjust lines and create liabilities for the house as long as it all adds up to profits, so the tips analyzed above should all be taken with a pinch of salt and gelled with other proven NFL betting strategies in order to increase your chances of success.