Betting Money Line Favorites

NFL Betting: Be Careful With Money Line Favorites

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

When we bet against the spread in NFL football, we are usually doing it on a -110 line, meaning we have to bet $110 to win $100. We can cut that in half if able to find a -105 line. When betting like that, you can win at a percentage in the low 50’s and still break out ahead at the end. When betting favorites on the money line, the percentage of bets you need to win might be too high.

The money line jumps up there quite high sometimes. At -5, you’re already looking at a money line of -240. Now a team doesn’t have to be that great to be a -5 favorite. It all depends on the teams. But look at it like this. For a team that on average is a -5 favorite, they would have to go 12-4 to make it a worthwhile bet on the money line. Of course there are going to better and worse spots. It’s just that teams lose and you have to decide if the odds match what you think will happen.

A money line can seem like an abstract number. It’s a little hard to relate to. No one says “It’s -450 that I get the job.” At the same time, -450 means 82%. If you think the Patriots at home have a better than 82% chance of winning and they’re at -450 on the money line, maybe it’s a good bet. It works the other way. If you see an underdog that is listed at +240, that means you should bet it if you think that team has a better than 29% chance of winning.


When betting favorites on the money line, it’s important to develop a ratio you think is desirable to bet that team. If you think a team has a 70% chance of winning, you shouldn’t accept odds at anything over -230. If you think a team has a 75% chance of winning, any number over -290 is undesirable.

It’s the really big favorites that should make you worry. If a team is -400 and you lose the bet, you have to win 5 straight at -400 before you get back into the money. In other words, you are operating with almost no margin for error. It can be dangerous because when people start betting on big favorites on the money line, they will usually win. After all, big favorites are supposed to win. After a few or several wins, it can seem like easy money.

The better move is to try to mix in some underdogs on the money line, as well. No one is saying to never bet on favorites. But let’s take a +7 underdog in the NFL. A lot of them are going to lose. There are still going to be some have a better than a 28% chance to win. If you think that team is better than 28% to win, anything over +250 is a good price.

The takeaway from all this is that money line betting should be done in spots, especially when betting on favorites. When betting exclusively on money line favorites, your winning percentage has to be too high and the odds you are getting are probably not that great. The big favorites also happen to be the more marquee teams. Most teams that are in a position to be a big money line favorite probably have a more national following than their opponent.

When looking at the NFL betting board, take note of the teams that are big money line favorites. By in large, those teams receive heavy betting support. The bookie knows this and needn’t go out of his way to make the odds terribly tantalizing. That means a lot of those bets lack value. If a team like New England or Dallas is -240 or -300, that would tend to carry less weight than if a team like Seattle or Carolina were going off at that number.

Money line favorites are sometimes viable–don’t take us wrong. It’s just that in something like NFL betting, where the success level of bettors is so low, there is often no value in betting on what the rest of the world is assuming is going to happen. The real value and profit is in identifying the diamonds-in-the-rough. When we lock in on the obvious, we might win, but over the long-haul, it takes a little more than that to make this work.