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Sports Betting: When Should You Place Your NFL Bets?

by February 14, 2020

It’s Sunday morning in the middle of football season and you are face to face with a casino sportsbook – numbers are changing, stone-faced bettors are waiting behind you, and you have absolutely no idea how to spend your last $200 after a long night of unforgiving roulette on the casino floor. The very fact that you are at the sportsbook indicates you might have a gut feeling, an angle you’ve been working on, or your brother-in-law just wouldn’t shut up about those New York Jets having a killer showing this weekend. Whatever your motives are to place a bet, one thing must always be clear before you do… who do you think will win the game?

Knowing when to place your bet starts with knowing who to bet on, this is how you optimize and control your profit.

Let’s break that down here and now…

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Trimming the Hedges

Since I brought up the topic of football already, let’s run with it. There is a great deal of professional bettors out there that hedge their bets, or bet in an opposite fashion in order to re-coop their original investment. An example of that would be if you take the Chicago Bears to win a game outright, but then you realize they might lose, so you quickly put the rest of your money on a bet that favors their opponent. This is similar to placing a don’t bet on craps when you are already invested on the pass line, or like taking a “crap check” on the come-out roll – both scenarios are geared toward bettors that are more worried about having loses than they are about maximizing their profit. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But, it is in fact a truth of that betting style. For the purposes of this article, forget that style.

Let Your Profits Soar

Let’s talk about maximization, much like doubling down in blackjack or taking odds for your pass line bet in craps tries to accomplish. Both of these bets require unwavering confidence behind your original bet and only become available after the game has started. This is where time and a little patience begin to work in your favor, just like in sports betting when you take advantage of half or quarter bets. I’m going to share with you three or four football bets that give you this same type of leverage as seen in those other games, but with much more control and upside against the house.

In order to make the most of these bets, I suggest taking your total funds and dividing it by the number of bets you are going to place (3/4). As I mentioned, $200 at the start of the article, let’s stick with that.

Moneyline (For > -200 Teams)

$50 bet placed right before kick-off
You can’t win unless you pick the correct team, so before the game starts, take this bet on the team you think will achieve victory with an emphasis on teams roughly -200 or higher (more positive). The caveat here is that if you are betting on a big favorite your odds are probably going to be terrible, in that scenario I suggest you shift to a more realistic spread bet as the odds will be far better.

Spread (For < -200 Teams)

$50 bet placed before the start of the 2nd half
The -550 moneyline Patriots don’t sound as appeal as the -7 (-110) spread, especially if you can catch them at any point dropping to -3 or less during the game. Perhaps their opponent, the Buffalo Bills, come out slinging in the 1st half with a lead of 13. The Patriots 2nd half spread is now -3. Time to strike! Sure, a -1 or -2 point spread would be better, but -3 is good enough especially for a team you already think is going to win.

2nd Half Over/Unders

$50 bet placed before the start of the 2nd half
As far as I am concerned taking the over/under at the start of any game is more of a true gamble, but taking it at the half, once you’ve seen a preview of the game, could yield you fantastic returns. If your moneyline or spread pick is behind at the half, and what points are needed for them to win is greater than the 2nd half over/under – take the bet! A perfect example of this is when the Vikings were down 20-0 at the half versus the Broncos in Week 11. The 2nd half over/under was 20, and if you picked the Vikings to win as most experts did, they would require 21 points to win. This 21 points is greater than the 2nd half over/under, so it would only make sense to take the over or else you are betting against yourself.

4th Quarter MoneyLine

$100 bet placed before the start of the 4th quarter
This bet is best made when your team is behind going into the 4th Quarter, the more they are behind, the better. This could easily shift a -550 team down to something manageable like -220, a much better payout for you on a team you already believed was going to win. This really gives you a chance to double down with better odds when your team is just working out the kinks before their comeback. How they accomplish such a comeback isn’t your job, but you do get to enjoy all the glory of such a feat when it is achieved.

Full Betting Example

Denver @ Minnesota 11/17/2019
I think the Vikings are going to win, but their moneyline is -419 before kick-off, so I decide to wait until the 2nd half to catch better odds on the spread (currently -10). The Vikings get destroyed in the 1st half, finishing 20 points behind the Broncos. This is what I want to see happen, and it’s time to place my wagers. I place a $50 bet on the Vikings to cover the new spread of -3. I place another $50 bet on the over 20 for the 2nd half. Now I wait until the 4th quarter to see if my Vikings are still behind. Great news! They are still behind 23-7, which means before the 4th quarter starts I place a $100 moneyline bet on the Vikings. The Vikings win the game 23-27.

Cashing Out
I collect on all 3 tickets – The 2H -3 spread paid -110, the 2H over paid -110, and the 4th quarter moneyline paid -220. All three of the bets paid me $46 in profit, totaling $138 on top of my $200 wager. Now, this may seem like low profit as it is less than 100% of what I wagered, but in this instance, the team was as highly favored as -520 on the moneyline and -10.5 on the spread earlier in the week. This was a fantastic slice to take home, given how much less I should have made had I not waited.

Why These Bets Over Other Bets?

There are a lot of other bets that can be made at different times during a season, such as futures or getting weekly bets in early, but these either require a substantial amount of patience or don’t provide as big of an odds swing as you would hope for. When you lock your bet in early, you lose opportunities to access the trends or changes of a live game, that is why I find the bets above to be more rewarding when you commit to your team you really think has the edge to win. Let’s face it, if you’re going to win why not really win? Take home the pie, not just a slice – forget the hedging, forget nickel-n-diming the weekly line movements, and be a sports “day trader” by watching for live indicators to act on.

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Spencer Weston is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Spencer, check out his archive and follow him @westonpicks.

Bet Types, Betting Tips, NFL, Strategy