American football has become an increasingly popular sport in European countries in recent decades – every year fewer and fewer people confuse it with rugby, while European football fans take less offense at the American word ‘soccer’ used to name European football.
Thanks to Internet technologies, everyone can not only enjoy the American football, contact and tactics-oriented sports, but also make bets on sportsbook websites. However, first of all, you need to figure out how American football betting work and how to predict the outcomes of matches – we are here to help you with that.
Bloody Past & Current Success
November 6, 1869 is officially the day American Football was born. On that day, the teams of two universities (Rutgers and Princeton) – without having agreed in advance on what kind of sport they would compete in – played a significant match with unusual rules that combined European soccer and rugby.
Being overly violent in its early stages, American football was a highly traumatic and even deadly sport – so, the new about the death of 18 players and the injury of 159 was not considered something out of the ordinary. However, dissatisfied with the senseless bloodshed in the stadiums, the public put forward demands to change the rules of the matches to make them more safety. As the underwear protection of football players increased, the dynamics of the game became less forceful, changing the emphasis on the skills and speed of the players.
Formed in the 1920s, the National Football League (NFL), which is the most influential organization in the world of American football, did not develop rapidly until the second half of the 20th century. It now has 32 teams playing 16 matches each in the regular season from September to January and with the Super Bowl (NFL final) being America’s premier sporting event.
Although the peak in popularity of American football in the 2000s has already passed, it is still the favorite sport of US residents. With the NBA basketball league trailing 3 times in popularity, the NFL is the top sport for over 30% of the citizens of the United States.
While NFL clubs regularly rank in the top 10 most famous and valuable sports brands in the world, successfully competing with the giants of European football, the NFL’s annual revenue is over $ 10 billion from.
The NCAA Student Tournament, which outnumbered the professional league in popularity until the 1960s, and the Canadian Football League (CFL) are the largest competitions in the world of American football.
Since the NFL is the most attractive place for American football bettors, we will provide detailed information about this league.
NFL: Most Common Types of Wagers
This is the most obvious and one of the most popular betting markets for American football with two different quotes – for the first or second team to be a winner of the match. The NFL is still the only American league in which draw is highly unlikely due to the specific rules. From 1974 to 2017, there are only 22 drawn matches.
Point Spreads (Handicap Bets)
Together with outcome one, this type of bet is in great demand among bettors. At the end of the season, when the leaders are involved into tough fight for the playoffs, their matches against outsiders are not interesting for analysis in terms of wins/losses, while point spreads seem more attractive.
For example, is it possible the Patriots will beat the Dolphins by 17 points? In this case, bookmakers can offer a handicap index of 16.5 with certain chances that the favorite will be able to defeat the opponent by 17 points or more.
Keep in mind that the value of handicap betting does not change linearly – as it does in other sports – due to the nature of American football. Most NFL matches end with a late three-point field goal while an extra point touchdown leading to a 7-point handicap is much less likely.
Since according to statistics, about 30% of NFL matches end with a margin of victory of 3 and 7 points, -2.5 and +3.5, -6.5 and +7.5 are the most popular handicap indices offered by bookmakers. Unlike basketball, in which the probability of winning a bet on a handicap with indices of +7.5 and +6.5 is approximately the same, in American football there is a huge gap between the two events.
By choosing this option, you need to predict the total number of points that the teams will gain during the match, including overtime. On average, teams score 43 points in NFL matches – however, due to specific rules, 43 points is an extremely rare result. 41 and 44 points with a 4% probability are the most popular outcomes of the NFL matches.
You can also place “over/unders” wagers or bets on individual teams, which is a good option if you study one team’s attack and its opponent’s defense, however the rest of the lines look unconvincing.
Quotes for the leading team over the quarter, as well as bets on who will get to a certain number of points first, are adjacent and interdependent markets in relation to totals.
Quarter & Halftime Bets
The bets listed above can be placed not only on the entire match including overtime, but also on certain periods. In this case, the game result is calculated within the specified period of the game time, and therefore the element of unpredictability is enhanced. It is not uncommon for the underdog to win a quarter, while the favorite scores more points in total.
From statistics of individual performers to stats of teams, betting offers vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. For example, you can predict if a quarterback will hit a certain number of yards in a match, or if he will be a loser due to multiple interceptions.
You can try to guess the number of touchdowns and field goals in a match, or whether there will be at least one safety (when the defense brings two points to their team by stopping an opponent in their scoring zone) – there are dozens of wager options, however the bookmakers do not offer high betting limits.
During the NFL season, which lasts from September to January, you can choose between the following long-term betting options – on the winner of the season following the results of the playoffs (winner of the Super Bowl); on the winners of individual conferences following the results of the playoffs; on the winning teams of their divisions based on the results of the regular season (8 divisions in total with 4 in each conference).
Since the NFL is a highly competitive league, even an outright underdog – at the end of last season – gets odds to win in the new season that rarely exceed 10. Keeping the balance of power through financial instruments and a draft system, the NFL often witnesses unexpected breakthroughs.
Since American football is one of the most popular sports in the world in terms of the amount of money raised for betting, it is not surprising that the betting market offers some unusual and even exotic wagers. Here are some of the odd bets that bookmakers offer before the season starts – which coach gets fired first, if at least one field goal is scored from a distant 60 yards throughout the season, and so on.
The odds for the perfect season are also in demand. The league remembers four times when teams were marked with winning streaks. While this is a very likely scenario, the bookmakers offer the opportunity to place this bet even on mid-strength teams with odds over 500.
Live (In-Play) Bets
Real-time betting is disadvantageous in the NFL as the bookmaker’s margin is quite high. However, with a detailed study of the market and game statistics, you can find offers with high odds.
Immediately after a change in the game situation – for example, after a touchdown – the line becomes inert and somewhat unstable. Some pros manage to quickly assess the situation and make a profitable live bet.
Often, the live betting market is oversaturated with bets placed on favorite, even if the leading team is inferior in the score after the first half – this is a situation where the bet on the underdog can play.
How to Bet on American Football – Basics of Analysis and How to Predict Results
Before you start betting on American football, you need to take all the precautions and consider some important things. We are here to give you some tips on how to be successful in betting on NFL. While these tips shouldn’t be considered a one-size-fits-all guide to betting success, they will help you avoid silly cases that lead to losing.
Place Bets with Mind. Do not rely on the information in the line in your analysis and try to independently assess the chances of winning a particular team before you familiarize yourself with the offered odds.
Try to take into account as many factors as possible – weather conditions, the presence of injured performers, the advantage of the home stadium, the physical condition of the teams, and so on. Having formed your own opinion, you can assess the prospects of the odds offered by bookmakers.
Avoid Betting on Every Match. Since the NFL does not have an overly dense calendar of games, in theory you can bet on every match – however, it is unlikely that you will be able to win big this way.
It is better to pick a few teams – which seem to be your favorites – to analyze them weekly and focus on their matches. This approach allows you to track the dynamics of the game, notice errors and contributes to the development of your betting strategy in general.
Find the Best Odds Deals on the Market. At the very start, you can find the most profitable odds for the bets you want to place – especially if you decide to bet on the favorite of the match.
As fans of strong teams overwhelm the line with bets on Dallas, New England or Green Bay, the odds change from an initial -4 to -7 a few hours before the start of the match. Don’t be fooled by the hype and be on the lookout – predict wisely and look for the best moment to bet without losing sight of the earliest stages of the market.
Consider the Home Stadium Factor. Football teams play matches in different stadiums with their own characteristics. The game result can be influenced by such factors as the playing surface (artificial or natural turf), the behavior of the fans (keeping silence due to failures in previous seasons or violently pushing the team forward).
By visiting the NFL websites, you can familiarize yourself with the home factor. As for the bookmakers, on average they give the home team a 3-point advantage over their away matches.
To simplify the analysis, we recommend that you review the statistics of yards and quarterbacks. In American football, this confrontation between the attacking and defensive lines is at the center of attention. Tracking how many offensive yards a team gains and calculating defensive yards allowed per game episode, you can assess the strength of a team. Most often, the winners are those teams that – on average – cover a greater distance than others.
The form and skill of the quarterback, the main creator on the field, determines the success of the entire team. We recommend betting on the favorite if the attacking players are not injured and the quarterback is in the top five in the league.
To be the best, the quarterback must be able to shoot strong and accurate, and make the right decisions under pressure. Even a good defense will not be able to withstand such a quarterback as he can find holes in it. For example, New England, led by Tom Brady, won 13 out of 16 matches in 2017, and even with an average odd of 1.30, the Patriots’ victories brought good profits to those who bet on this team.
Also look for physically strong and quick – though not top-tier – quarterbacks with quick release throws who making just few mistakes in the game. By surrounding such a quarterback with top host players, a team can achieve outstanding results. With their agility and ability to take tricky balls, the receiving players will cover the playmaker’s shortcomings.
On the other hand, don’t bet on even top teams whose quarterbacks are having trouble making decisions and stealing. Because the NFL is highly competitive, even once-capable quarterbacks can make some pretty blunders under pressure. Wait out a bad streak and pay attention to the team again when their quarterback regains confidence.
American football is an exciting and popular game – try betting on NFL, the strongest football league in the world, for the spirit of the sport. Since the NFL season is relatively short, serious bettors are involved in several tournaments at once, so they always have something to do even after the February Super Bowl.
Summing up, we want to remind you that the win-win strategy for betting on American football is a myth. Striving to find the perfect betting system will waste your money and valuable time. So, you should develop your betting skills step by step and see sports betting as a way to have fun with possible winnings as nice bonuses.