Digging into data and mashing down the matchups are just a couple of ways to handicap football pointspreads. But one of the most underused and undervalued ways to figure out your NFL wagers is to start with the odds. Now, we’re not just talking about the spread itself but everything else that’s going on around it. The following article will give you a little insight into odds and don’t forget to check our sportsbook reviews before you open an account at an offshore operation.
Line movement is a great way to know where books stand on a spread, how sharp bettors are treating it, and where the spread could end up by the time the game starts. Here are some handy tips to monitoring odds movement:
Key numbers and dead numbers
Before you start combing the odds feeds for fast and furious movement, you should know which numbers are important to books and bettors. Since football has a structured scoring system – field goals are worth three points, touchdown and an extra point is worth seven – the key numbers for NFL betting are 3, 7, 10, 13, 14, and 17. And what’s even more important is when you see half points around these numbers, such as 3.5, 6.5, 7.5, 9.5, and 10.5.
Key numbers and those half-point hooks hold a lot of weight with the oddsmakers and bookmakers take their chances when moving odds off those certain spreads. In order for a 6.5-point or a 7-point spread to move, the sportsbook must take one-sided money on a team. They will adjust these spreads in order to bring money in on the other side, to balance their action and narrow their liability. In the end, bookies are trying to even the action on both sides to guarantee a profit.
Now, given the scoring system in football, you do see spreads make quick movement through a series of numbers. If a spread opened 3.5 and the favorite is drawing one-sided money, the bookmakers won’t hesitate to move to -4, -5, or -5.5 knowing that a four or five-point difference in the final score is rare. These spreads are also known as “dead numbers”.
For NFL betting, you will often see a 3.5-point spread push through dead numbers of four and five and jump right to a 6-point line or even jump directly from 3.5 to 6. The same goes for a 7.5-point spread jumping to 9.5 or 10, knowing that eight and nine are rare final score differences in pro football.
Juggling the juice
On top of the pointspread, football bettors will also want to keep an eye on the juice or vig. This is the price of making that pointspread bet. Most sportsbooks have a standard -110 juice on sides and totals – meaning that for every $1 you want to win, you must wager $1.10.
If there’s one-sided action on a 3-point favorite, the bookmaker may adjust the juice on the teams rather than move to -3.5. You could see the favorite jump to -3 (-120) and the underdog go to +3 (+110) in order to entice money on the dog. Books will often adjust the juice on key-number spreads as they don’t want to move off those important lines.
Bettors hoping to get a spread off those key numbers can predict if the current line will move by examining the juice. If you’re hoping to get +3.5 on an underdog that is currently sitting at +3, take a look at which way the juice if moving. If the underdog is +3 (+110) or +3 (+115), you know bookies are trying to attract money on the pup. They will eventually hit a breaking point if enough money comes in on the favorite, and that +3.5 should be ripe for the picking.
Reverse line movement
Reverse line movement is one of the best ways to spot sharp money. However, in order to track this particular type of line adjustment you do need to know the percentage of bets coming in on a particular game. There are a number of sports betting sites that provide this information – some free and some not.
Once you have the bet numbers, you want to look for games drawing one-sided ticket counts on a particular side, usually 60 percent of bets or more on one side. Then, look at which way the line is moving. In most cases, one-sided ticket counts should designate a line move toward that side. For example, if a team is a -6.5 favorite and is drawing 65 percent of the bets, the line should be trending upward to -7.
But when it comes to reverse line moves, that same team drawing 65 percent of the bets at -6.5 is actually seeing the line move away to -6 or -5.5 – despite the consensus numbers. What this type of adjustment tells us is that larger wagers and more respected wagers are coming in on the other side of this game. It is an easy way to gain insight into the sharp opinion every NFL Sunday.