Watching sport is an unrivalled experience from countless perspectives.
Firstly, there’s fandom. You have your teams and you possess a desire to see them succeed. Secondly, there’s casual viewing – understanding the context of the contest without being rooted in either camp.
But the evolution of sports betting means that we can view any game through a different lens: one through which our own hunches and feelings about the outcome can land us in profit.
For long enough, there was a lack of opportunity for anyone to truly cash in. Yes, you can pick a winner of a given game, but perhaps it wasn’t the actual outcome you felt strongly about. Maybe you believed a player would outperform their billing or that a certain matchup would be low-scoring.
In many sports, they’re limited by their own rules and possibilities. In the NFL, it’s quite different. Even when you consider the scope of the active rosters – 46 different players can feature for either side and that’s before we break down how they can impact proceedings.
This piece will aim to educate you on the best markets you can play in, to turn a profit based on feelings you have about different occurrences in the NFL.
Self-explanatory, really. This bet is placed on which team you feel will win a given matchup. It also includes overtime but does not produce a winning bet should a game be tied.
This is the most common market in all sport and will generally see the most action outside of North America because of it’s close ties to match winner markets in soccer.
The spread is the most popular betting heat in North America for a number of reasons. The primary reason is because it’s the standardised metric by which media and fans alike can gauge the most likely winner of a game and by what probability percentage.
For example, let’s say the moneyline for an Arizona – San Francisco game is Arizona (-3.5). What that means is Arizona are favoured to win the game by 3.5 points.
Now, of course you can’t score half points in the NFL so that’s not really a reflection of a literal margin of victory, but rather a semi-point divider to ensure there can’t be a dead heat on the spread.
In order to win in this market, the team you back with the spread must clear their handicap or fall within it. What that means, in this example, is that Arizona must win by four points for you to land your wager; and by the same token, if backing San Francisco with the spread, they have to lose by three points or fewer to turn a profit for you.
The second-most popular line in the US, the over/under as it’s known is popular for bettors who like to cheer for both teams, neither team or those who spend too much time watching the weather forecast.
In order to win a bet, you need to be on the right side of the projected total points for that given game. Let me give you an example – say New England face Detroit and the points total given is 46.5. If the final score combines for 46 points or fewer and you’ve backed the under total, you win. And the converse is true for the over.
You generally get an advantage here if you’re clued-in on time of possession and drive lengths; as some teams score a lot of points but take time driving down the field. Teams like Seattle always see big points totals because their drives are generally shorter, allowing more time for the opposition to do the same.
And of course mother nature is the biggest factor. Perhaps you know a storm is hitting Buffalo on Sunday – you bet the under because snow means it’s harder to throw the ball, meaning the clock will run quicker as incomplete passes won’t stop the countdown.
These are generally spread into three categories: first, last and anytime.
The logic behind these markets is that a bettor analyses matchups and trends and comes to the logical conclusion of where a team are most likely going to look to in the red zone.
Of course not all touchdowns are scored there, but in order for you to win in any of the three aforementioned markets, your specified player has to score the first touchdown, the last touchdown or a touchdown in general.
The easiest way to gauge these is to look at playcalling tendencies on the offense against the philosophy on the defense. For example, if you had Dallas playing Tampa Bay, because Tampa Bay are stout against the run, Zeke Elliott, who’s perennially the most likely touchdown scorer for Dallas due to volume, wouldn’t be as likely due to schematic mismatches in the trenches.
And maybe you know that Cleveland play in a lot of three tight end sets, so you look at a low-volume catch guy like Harrison Bryant to snag a score at a huge price, but knowing he’ll be on the field enough to warrant a play.
These are the most fun to bet and they come in all shapes and sizes – even the colour of Gatorade in a barrel come Super Bowl weekend.
But for now, the most common will be offensive yards totals, like passing yards, rushing yards for teams and players alike.
Say you believe that Keenan Allen has a total mismatch against a Pittsburgh scheme that likes to cover slot receivers with linebackers. You can hit the over on Allen’s receiving yards – say 76.5 – and if he hits 77, you’re in the money.
This is also true of rushing yards, interceptions, punt yardage, the longest field goal attempted, scored, missed or dreamt about.
Well, not the last one but you understand what I mean.
Betting opportunities are endless and while that might be overwhelming at first, once you find your market, you can look forward to enhancing your overall experience when it comes to sport.
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