If you’re new to sports betting and will be betting on the NFL, you’re going to come across a type of betting known as “betting against the point spread”. The point spread, if you’re not familiar with it, is a bet on the margin of victory in a game and is a popular bet in football and basketball. Below is a look in more depth at point spread betting and how you can use it when it comes to the NFL point spread.
NFL point spread betting
As mentioned, when betting against the spread, you’re betting on the margin of victory in a game. The team that the sportsbooks perceive as the stronger team, the favorite in other words, must win by a larger number of points than the team perceived as the weaker one. This underdog may lose by a smaller number of points, or the same amount, or win the game. The minus sign indicates a team is the favorite, whereas the plus one informs the bettor that the team is the underdog.
Here’s an example:
The Broncos -4.5 (the Broncos must win by 5+)
The Cowboys +4.5 (the Cowboys can win or lose by 1 to 4 points)
If the Broncos were to win by 27-24, the Cowboys spread bettors would see a return on their money, whereas if the Broncos win 30-20, it would be the Broncos bettors who win the bet.
Note that you’ll even see decimal points in the spread. This rules out the possibility of a tie and the sportsbooks having to return your bet. Be aware that if there is a tie, some sportsbooks will actually count this as a loss, so it’s important to check the terms and conditions before making a point spread bet.
Using the spread to your benefit
The point spread is one of the great equalizers in NFL betting and helps the sportsbooks to keep the bets from being one-sided. The spread offers near-even betting. You’re betting on a team either winning a game by a certain number of points or more, or on a team losing a game by a certain number of points. A team can win the game but lose on the spread.
Betting on the spread can net you more than betting on a Moneyline, in which you choose an outright winner and hope the bet pays off. Better still, since the point spread evens out the betting, betting on an underdog has more chances of being a winning bet.
How to increase your chances of a successful point spread bet
Of course, no bet is a dead cert, but there are certain strategies and tactics you can employ to give yourself a better chance of betting successfully against the spread. Here are some tips for making a decent point spread bet:
1- Know where the game is being played
Playing at home is a real advantage. It’s something the sportsbooks will consider when setting the spread. If a team is playing at home, this will increase the spread. Be aware, too, that some home teams don’t have a favorable home crowd or atmosphere. This can also influence the spread.
2- Note whether the matchup is divisional
A lot of teams play better when they’re playing within their own division, and the games may be closer in terms of the score. Observe that some teams might not be very good at covering the spread. Perhaps they have a good record and have won lots of close games, which means they might not serve you well when betting against the spread.
3- Check when the team last played and where
Even the best teams can look sluggish if they’ve been playing in a different time zone earlier in the week. The time spent travelling across time zones means they’re not getting as much time to rest or practice.
4- Follow the injury reports
A quarterback may be the star player, but football is a team sport. You shouldn’t just be aware of when the quarterback is injured, but any player on the team.
5- Learn all about the teams
It goes without saying that you should learn all about the teams’ strengths and weaknesses. Not only that, though, but you should also take some time to understand their following. Teams that have large fan bases are likely to receive lots of bets from those fan bases, which could push up the spread.
6- Play parlays and teasers with caution
Parlays and teasers are exciting bets, and it can be tempting to string together lots of games into one bet. The chances of something going against you are high, though. Play cautiously when making parlay bets.
The point spread is a popular type of bet and offers different advantages to the Moneyline bet. If you decide that betting on the spread is the right bet for you, following the tips can help you make the most of your bet.