NFL Betting Strategy

NFL Betting Strategy: Why You Need to Watch as Many Games as Possible

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

This is a seemingly obvious part of NFL handicapping, but one that is overlooked more often than not. There are simply things we need to know when betting on a team that don’t show up in the box scores. And when sifting through team stats, we might get pointed in the wrong direction if we didn’t put the time in and watch the games.

It can be hard. Games are taking place at the same time. Our girlfriends and wives are already irritated at how much time we spend watching football games and now you’re supposed to watch more? Well, yes and no. But maybe instead of watching your favorite team play every week, watch some other teams. Just manage the time you spend watching NFL better. Try to see as many teams as possible.

Seeing things for yourself is important. Statistics can be misleading. Sometimes, they are a fair indication of a player or team’s prowess. Other times, the stats are purely circumstantial–a byproduct of another set of conditions. You might see that a team that likes to pass has a running back that is putting together nice stats. Is it a matter of him being a great running back or that the team’s offense is diverse? Or is it a result of that team usually being way ahead in the second half, causing them to run a lot in the second half in a game that has already been decided?


In the above example, you would need to watch the game in order to determine what is going on. The first instinct is to accept the stats at face value. And if you see a pass-happy team with a running back with nice stats–you would usually conclude that this team’s offense has nice variety. Again, that might be the case. But it’s also very possible that the back’s stats are misleading–compiled mostly when the game was out of hand. You need to watch the game.

Conversely, you might see, for example, that a team that is a bit in the dumps is ranked high in pass-defense. Now they’re playing a pass-happy team and you figure that high-ranked pass “D” will help you cover the spread. But again, this is a potentially misleading stat. They may very well be a bit stronger against the pass, but maybe it’s misleading. That high ranking could actually be a result of failure, not excellence. The team with the high-ranked pass “D” got lit up in the first half a lot, causing the opponent to stop gunning in the second half. The opponent became more conservative in light of a big lead and ran the ball a lot to eat up clock. And that’s how you can end up with misleading stats.

If you’re around this sport long enough, you will begin to look at stats with a more discerning eye and reject what you see “on paper.” The game is not played on paper. It’s played on a field, where a million different sets of circumstances can affect situations, and therefore stats. We want to move away from the “what” part of the equation and focus more on the “how.”

And when watching the games, you pick up a lot of information of a team’s spiritual level, which allows you to better gauge future bets. Here’s one that happens all the time. You see a team wholeheartedly devote themselves to winning a big game against a rival. They’re flying all over the field. They’re feverishly celebrating after every good play. They are just ultra-pumped up and they win a close one. The following week, they’re laying a bunch of points to a bad team.

In those spots, you will often see a team let down a little bit. They might win, but when being forced to cover a big number on the heels of a game where they left everything on the field, it can put the favored team in a really bad position. Or maybe you see a team lost the first game to their conference rival and now it’s time for the second game. You never saw the first game, but you feel that the 27-10 score tell you what you need to know. Maybe the losing team had some excruciatingly bad breaks–tipped interceptions in the red zone and a few flukey special teams plays. Again, in order to now for sure–you need to watch.