How to bet on the NFL and win, with the help of our in-depth NFL betting strategy guide and top tips for profitable NFL betting.
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It’s the busiest time of year in the sports wagering industry, as millions of American bettors turn their attention to the 12-16 games that the NFL plays weekly. At the same time, the NFL is notoriously one of the more difficult sports to beat consistently for sports bettors.
NFL Betting Strategy: How to Bet on the NFL and WIN!
So, how can you turn a profit? Which NFL betting strategy will make you a winner during the 2022 NFL season? Let’s get stuck in.
Finding the Winners – Looking at the Stats
The first tip is not to fall in love with a particular team or a side (favorites vs. underdogs).
During the 2021-2022 season, the best team record against the spread belonged to the Dallas Cowboys, who went 13-4 against the line. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers tied for the worst record against the spread at 5-12.
However, over a 17-game season, 22 of the league’s 32 teams finished with anywhere from six to nine wins against the spread. Totals weren’t much easier, as only the Minnesota Vikings saw more than a three-game discrepancy between ‘overs’ and ‘unders’ (the Vikings had 11 games go over the total, every other team was between 7-10 games over the total).
Maybe home vs. road splits are your thing? Again, the numbers show just how difficult it is to win consistently following such a strategy.
For example, many people swear by this NFL betting strategy: Underdogs playing at home are the best bet in the NFL.
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Should You Bet on Underdogs at Home?
But over the past 16 years, favored teams playing on the road have covered the spread in 51.38% of games. That’s higher than the overall percentage of favorites who cover (48%) but STILL not enough to turn a profit. Remember, when playing traditional -110 odds, a bettor must win 52.38% of his wagers to break even.
The point? In the NFL, everything comes back to the average. The league prides itself on parity – an idea that on ‘any given Sunday’ one team can beat another team, no matter what their records might be at the time. And quite honestly, they’re awfully good at making it happen.
How Can Bettors Benefit?
So we’d argue the best NFL betting strategy is “everything averages out over time”. Remember, the numbers move from week to week according to teams’ performances.
Let’s say the Green Bay Packers start out the season with two consecutive games in which they and their opponents combine for over 60 points.
The Lines Will Change…
Bettors will rush to bet the ‘over’ in game three, but the line will reflect that. A game that once would have seen a total in the range of 47-48 points is suddenly in the low-mid 50s. Meanwhile, the Packers’ opponents know of their high-scoring tendencies, and adopt a ball-control, clock-killing strategy throughout the first half. Suddenly, you look up in the 4th quarter and the score is tied at 10.
Similarly, follow teams’ results from week to week. Right now, the Philadelphia Eagles are four-point favorites on the road against the Detroit Lions in week one this season. Say the Eagles – a preseason darling of many sports bettors – were to go into Detroit and win by three touchdowns. The ‘experts’ will see this as confirmation that Philadelphia is a team on a mission in 2022, and you can bet that will be reflected when they come home to play the Minnesota Vikings in week two. Especially if Minnesota loses their opener (at home against the Green Bay Packers).
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But remember – everything comes back to the average. With everyone high on Philadelphia in their home opener, and skeptical of the Vikings, the line may inflate by a few points – making it a perfect time to take the other side (Minnesota) at a favorable number.
On the other hand, it would be a mistake to ignore game-specific circumstances.
More Tips for Profitable NFL Betting
While following any single NFL betting strategy seems like a recipe for failure, at the same time there are some tips you should always follow. These tips will undoubtedly get you ever-closer to the solution of how to bet on NFL Football and win. A few examples:
Follow Injury Reports
You don’t need to spend the entire week obsessing over these, as some coaches (looking at you, New England) notoriously list half their roster as ‘questionable’ some weeks.
But by Thursday and Friday, teams are starting to declare some players out for Sunday’s game, and each of these injuries has meaning. If a player is a ‘game-time decision’ that determination usually occurs about 90 minutes before kickoff on Sunday.
These reports are available on NFL.com and elsewhere after 4 p.m. on each of the three days leading up to the contest. So if the game is on Sunday, you’ll see Thursday, Friday, and Saturday updates. If you’re at the game, the league states these reports must be posted on stadium video board leading up to the contest.
Don’t just follow the quarterbacks and running backs either. Is the left tackle able to play, or will the team have to start a rookie against the opponent’s All-Pro defensive end? Is that second-string cornerback sitting? If so, the opponent may test the secondary’s depth by throwing deep more often, leading to a higher-scoring contest.
Did you know around 15% of all NFL games since the 2006 season have been decided by exactly three points?
If you’re a totals bettor, did you know about 8% of games end with exactly 40 or 41 points?
It’s certainly no guarantee, but tips like this can be helpful if you want to take a favorite at -2.5, or an underdog at +3.5, knowing the increased likelihood that the game will be decided by exactly three points. Other historically ‘key’ numbers, such as 7 and 10, don’t enjoy the same status they did due to the increased popularity of two-point conversion attempts. But the late-game field goal remains a staple of the NFL, and that key number of 3 remains critical.
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Pay Attention to Bonuses!
Sometimes they make it easy. You’ll see the occasional promotion where a sportsbook increases the spread by one point for every 500 wagers, which leads to one team getting a ridiculous number like +50 on the spread.
But other advantages are more subtle.
If the NFL plays 272 regular season games in 2022, we can expect a fairly even split between favorites and underdogs covering the spread.
That would be 136 each. Some games will ‘push’, meaning they land exactly on the spread. So let’s say 130 underdogs will cover the spread in 2022.
Last season, 105 NFL underdogs won their games outright – an average of about six per week. Even if that number decreases by 10%, leaving us with 95 underdog victories this coming year – that would mean a little over 70 percent of underdogs who cover the spread win the game outright.
So if you have a $100 free play, what’s the better wager? Take the Cleveland Browns at +4, with -110 odds, to cover? Or bet a +180 money line for them to win the game outright? Over time, the money line figures to be the more profitable NFL betting strategy.
It’s Not Easy to Bet on the NFL and Win Every Week…
There’s a reason why it’s so difficult to win consistently when betting the NFL. Millions of bettors, billions of dollars – and only a few hundred games each year. Winning 60 percent of your wagers would be a phenomenal record, while winning 40 percent of your wagers will empty your account in no time.
If you bet 100 games a season, the difference between 40 percent and 60 percent is one win (or loss) each week. Don’t fall in love with a particular team, side, or ‘theory’ – follow each game, study the injury reports, and use the edges the sportsbooks give you in crafting an effective NFL betting strategy.