NFL Spread Betting Pick – Expert Guide

If you’re not already familiar with NFL spread betting here’s an example to get you started. We’ll use a standard regular season week in the NFL to introduce the principles, terms and math of NFL spread betting.  Markets can be divided into two broad categories; (i) Short Term Singular Events (such ‘Total Game Points’ in a particular NFL matchup, which is The Market) or (ii) Longer Term Markets that incorporate a group of Singular Events (i.e. Total Points for the weeks Sunday Games).

For example, it is the Second Week of the 2018 NFL regular season and there are 13 regular season games in the Sunday afternoon slots (usually 1PM EST and 6PM EST). The Market is Total NFL Points for the 13 games. The Price (or Spread) is set at 590-600 points. If your prediction is that offenses will be in synch by the second week and that defenses will suffer, you would Buy at 600. if you think that offenses still need some time to fully get on the same page as the quarterback you might Sell at 590.

You decide to buy points at 600 for £5. This makes every point scored,  Touchdowns, Field Goals and Safeties worth £5. Although it’s quiet in the early going, with the help of a Kansas/Pittsburgh offensive explosion the total points scored eventually ends up at 610 for the 13 games so the final position, or Make-Up is 610 points. Therefore you win (610 – 600) x £5, so £90.

If, however, you had decided to sell total points for the evening at 590,  you would have made a small loss. As points ended up at 610 you would have lost (590 – 610) x £5, i.e. -£100. Of course the more you stake, the more you stand to win or lose – that is why staking policy is important and you need to figure out a rough idea of best and worst case before you place NFL bets. Remember, markets such as touchdown short numbers can be very volatile so be sure to understand your risks and upside before trading. Keeping stakes smaller helps mitigate those risks for volatile markets. 

The advantage of spread betting is that it is also often traded “In-running”  meaning that you can open or close positions at any time to maximize gains or reduce losses. Therefore if you had bought runs, with England going well and Root 80 not out you could have probably taken a profit at some point before Virat dropped the mic on him …..but of course timing (and hindsight!) are wonderful things.

Long Term NFL Picks

The most interesting thing about longer term markets, the play offs and the superbowl is that there is often plenty of NFL history to refer to and learn from (over 50 Superbowls’ worth in fact!) …… and it is often a great predictor of present and future events. At FBT we look for patterns in history and use that data as one of our criteria to assess the betting odds and spreads on offer for current sporting events. www.nfl.com is great for general information, and more specifically NFL.com/stats gives very thorough statistics on almost any facet of the game, offense, defense or entire team.  Using these tools, let’s take another example for a Superbowl prediction.

Spread betting companies generally break NFL Spreads into three categories:  (i) One off game markets, (ii) Group Total Markets for the weekend and (iii) Long term markets for the season. Let’s take Superbowl Betting. They might offer prices on teams to win the superbowl, with the winners receiving 100, Runner-up 75, Conference Finalists 50 and Wildcard Losers 33.  Let’s say New England (who perennially make the playoffs) are set at 47-50. If you think they will definitely make the superbowl, you would be inclined to buy at 50 – knowing that you should win a minimum of 25x your stake, even if they lose the final. However, you might think Tom and Bill are due a bad year and sell. If you did sell, let’s say for £5,  at 47 and New England went on to win the Superbowl you would lose (47-100) x £5 or £265. If you bought at 50 however, you would enjoy a profit of (100-50) x £5 or £250. 

Why we love NFL Total Points at FBT

As mentioned earlier, we love to use history at FBT, particularly when we make week to week comparisons in the NFL. As punters, we could use intuition, gut feel or guesswork to make a prediction.  That’s not how FBT works however. Take a look at the database extract below:

NFL Tips Spreadsheet

As you can see, we track points, shirts, highest scores and winning margins amongst many other markets. By doing this for every year, we’re able to look for patterns and trends throughout the NFL regular season and understand how points fluctuate as the season evolves. It might not be obvious looking at one year that, defenses tend to dominate for the first 2-3 weeks of the season until offenses get in synch, and then for the mid-part of the season offenses take over. Finally as the weather deteriorates defenses get back on top as teams tend to pound the ball with the run rather air it out as they can in the better weather months. When this pattern is observed over many years we know we are making informed decisions. Of course, the betting companies sometimes compensate for this themselves – but on occasion they don’t. Overlaying weekly weather predictions, team news and the new laws of the game all help us make better informed decisions when giving our clients NFL Picks.

Look closely at the columns headed ‘Hi’ and ‘Lo’. These figures represent the make-up of the highest and lowest scoring NFL games of the week. We have tracked these statistics for the past 5 years. At first glance it may appear that there are no patterns regarding these figures – at FBT we know different and have made significant profits in predicting those weeks where we expect there to be a high make-up (note these are only tracked for the core Sunday night games). We have the entire history showing us which weeks tend to offer crazy NFL games with high scoring.

So using our data for just one market our NFL predictions net a significant profit on a consistent basis, with what we believe is very low risk with the correct staking policy. This is  a prime example of the process we use at FBT to arrive at our free NFL tips. The typical steps involved are, record, research, analyse, assess (risk), scale (for staking and go/ no-go decision) and publish. The graphic below is a reminder of how we use this data to underpin our cricket tipping process.

Tipping Process

At FBT we have the entire history for all the NFL seasons and with the application of other useful data sources like www.nfl.com already mentioned we have a powerful mix of data to work with when making predictions. Our clients don’t need to see the entire tipping process play out every time, but just receive the fruits of the process.  With forecasts across all the major NFL games and post-season action, September to February are very exciting months.  Take a look at our NFL resources page for other useful prediction tools or go straight to our NFL Tips page for up to date tips.