NFL Wagers: First Half Betting

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Sometimes when watching NFL football, you will see teams that typically get better or worse in the games they play. Naturally, not all teams play all 4 quarters exactly the same and you can start to pick up on patterns. Some teams come flying out of the gate, while other squads need some time to get rolling. First-half betting allows you to capitalize off those observations.

In first-half betting, you are naturally making a wager that concerns only the first half of play. Anything that happens in the second half is of no consequence. The halftime score is what is used to decide if you won or lost the bet. There are going to be good spots for you to make some deft first-half wagers so keep your eyes peeled. Here is an example.

First Half Betting
San Diego Chargers -1
Kansas City Chiefs +1

If you were to bet on the Chargers in the first half, they would only need to lead by more than a point after 2 quarters for you to cash in. It’s actually pretty simple to understand. Not so easy, however, is being able to win these bets consistently. Here are some tips.

Let’s not forget that the bookies and oddsmakers are really crafty. In other words, it’s all good-and-well that you were able to identify which teams are either slow or fast starters, but you have to figure the bookie knows about it, as well. And so does the betting public. A lot of times, good teams are simply better in the first half. They establish a comfortable lead and their second-half performance is usually not quite as crisp. That isn’t terribly exclusive insight.

So if the oddsmakers and betting public are giving a lot of credit to the better team in the 1st half, you will find that some of those teams wind up with an inflated line–odds that are of poor value. When we see the majority of the planet leaning one way, we go the other way. That’s where the value is. So when we see lines that are out-of-whack in favor of the much better team, it’s sometimes a good move to take the lesser-regarded team with a high-value first half pick.


Key numbers have an enhanced sense of importance in the first half, where there is going to be less scoring. Key numbers are common margins of victory in NFL games, like 3 and 7. After only one half of play, there won’t be as much scoring, making it really easy for scores to end up in the area of 14-7 or 10-7. Try to be on the right side of these numbers. In other words, an underdog on a first half wager would be far more attractive at +4 than +2. You’d much rather have -6.5 than -7. Don’t find yourself constantly on the wrong side of those key numbers.

You can also bet on totals in the first half. There might be games where you suspect a “tale of two halves,” where one half will either have far less or more combined scoring than the other half. Sometimes, in big games, the first-half is a stalemate–mere window dressing preempting a second half free-for-all where the real play begins. Then you would go “under.” Other times, there are two fast-starting teams and you suspect the first half will be a scoring bonanza, so you take the “over.”

We need to remember that the bookies are really sharp, so we can’t rely on obvious information all the time. Try to find more obscure ammo to power your first half wagers. Maybe you see that the first half is going to catch the brunt of an incoming storm, which could make it soggy enough to affect two powerful passing offenses, so you take the “under.” You should have at several pieces of different information to fuel any first-half wager. then maybe you’ll have a real edge.

There could be some pain associated with first-half wagers, especially if the team you picked has a lousy first half and comes back and covers the spread in the second half. This might seem like a foreign bet for some and it’s understandable. We have been groomed our entire lives to look at football games as a whole. Looking at the game in terms of halves is not for everybody. But in this topsy-turvy world of NFL betting, we need to take every edge we can find. In first half betting, there will be some good spots for you to exploit from time to time.