Betting on NFL Underdogs
It’s the weekend and you want to place a bet on the NFL to get in on the action of the game. You check out who’s playing and what is the first thing you normally do? Pick the favourite. Inexperienced punters love to bet on the favourite in football, it’s hard not to want to back the winning team! But have you ever wondered about the money to be made off betting on the underdogs?
Linemakers know you want to bet on the favourite and don’t think that they won’t take advantage of this! Often games will see an inflated line, where the bookie will sneak in an extra point onto the spread because they know that the majority of punters will lay the points with the favourite regardless if it is one or two points above what it really should be. The public has a history of pushing lines into the realm of the ridiculous!
This article will explain why betting on the underdogs in the NFL is the best way to see profitable returns from your wagers. There are two major sports betting types you can play to your advantage when betting on the underdogs, point spread and money line wagers.
Point Spread: An adjustment to the final score made by the bookmaker, where the underdogs get extra points added. The beauty of point spread betting is that you can win on the underdog, even if they lose the game. They just need to lose by fewer points than specified by the bookie as the spread; so you will win the bet if the underdog’s final score plus the spread is higher than the favourite’s final score. There is amazing potential wins with spread betting that will far exceed the original money you’ve wagered. When betting on the underdog the punter ‘takes the points’ specified by the bookmaker and bets will pay more for higher spread underdogs.
When placing a point spread bet consider the margins of victory, some are more likely than others. Check up on the statistics that relate to the point spread, how many previous games have teams won or lost by the set number of points. The statistics show that underdogs have won against the spread in about 10% more NFL games than the favourite have won against the spread. It is in the maths, historically underdogs have been the better bet for punters willing to back them and take the points. From 2001 – 2008 underdogs were victorious in 51.1% of resolved bets.
In 84% of games the team who covers the spread win the game, and so if you have underdogs that you think will cause an upset and win, it is beneficial to wager on them to win straight-up and this is where money line bets come into play.
Money Line: Money line betting on underdogs is very popular as it involves risking a little to gain a lot, and when punting that is usually a good thing! With successful money line wagers you will collect anywhere from 1.2 to 4 times your original bet amount. Money line bets are solely concerned with which team wins and which team loses and disregards the final score completely. Selecting the underdog to win straight-up means that you put down less money than you can win. This way you have to win a smaller percentage of your games to break even. Underdog teams are represented with a plus symbol and the favourites with a minus, so:
- Team A +120 (underdog), punter must risk $100 to win $120.
- Team B -130 (favourites), punter must risk $130 to win $100.
The lines offered on teams are market driven, and are not always based on historical trends. So remember that value is often created on the underdogs as the square action on the money line often favours the favourite team, bettors just can’t stop betting on the favourites even if there is better value to be found elsewhere! To give you an idea of the money to be made from straight-up bets, three-point underdogs generally pay around $140 for every $100 put down for a win, and seven-point underdogs pay around $250 for each $100 for a straight-up victory.
There are a number of factors that combine to create value on the underdog in NFL matches, detailed below.
Running up the score no more: Sportsmanship now plays a massive role in the NFL and this is an ideal coaches really drive into their players. Years back coaches would push their teams to win by as many points as they can, but today NFL fans will notice that if a team is winning by a fair margin late in the game they will more often than not sit on the ball and let the clock run, passing up opportunities to score. Running up the score is now deemed unnecessary, why risk player injuries and what is the point of embarrassing the opposing team for the sake of a few crowd cheers? Often times this will work against punters with a point spread wager on the favourites, as they need the winning team to score a couple of extra points to cover their bets. In the same situation, however, if you have taken the points for the underdog, it is definitely to your benefit for the winning favourites to sit pretty and let that clock countdown to you receiving your winning payout! More and more we are seeing underdogs covering towards the end of the game.
Parity: The day of the dynasty in NFL is long gone. These days it is all about team equality and it is being seen more and more that any team can win a match! Looking back at recent SuperBowl teams proves this point - many teams to make the SuperBowl like the New York Giants in 2007 and the Carolina Panthers in 2004 had unimpressive records the previous season and were not supposed to make it to the game of the year, but they did!
Dogs fight back: There have been more than enough upset wins throughout the NFL’s history to prove that underdogs can win matches, not just beat the spread! Often times the combination of the favourites not taking their opponent seriously enough and team motivation – if a team know they are the underdogs there is more incentive for them to play harder – make for some shocking victories. When no one expects you to win you feel more motivated to do so! Because of the influence the public have over the line, the favourites aren’t always the better team. Bookies often play to the fans and will favour the popular or home team above their opposition regardless of their potential to win.
Statistics are important, but in the end the teams are playing the game as influenced by the specifics of that match, e.g. ground location, squad, injuries, referee and penalties so it is important to keep in mind that the teams are playing the game not the stats. Of course blindly betting on the underdog is not the way to profit from your sports betting! If there is only a small advantage to win on a wager, often the bet is not worth placing.
If you take these points into consideration, do some intense statistical and situational research on the NFL teams and games, and shop around for the best lines and odds offered by the bookies, then you are sure to spot many excellent value underdogs and see a much healthier return on your NFL bets!