Using Feel

NFL Betting: Using Feel

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

When we bet on the NFL, we pour over tons of hard data. We look at stats, recent performances, the lines, the injury reports, etc. Sometimes, we tend to allow our betting to become too steeped in these elements. When that happens, we run the risk of drowning out one of our best weapons against the bookie–our sense of feel.

It comes down to different forms of expression. In NFL betting, there are things you can easily explain. We can cite numbers and a variety of other facts to actually spell out the reasoning of our decisions. But as we all know, there are other feelings in life, things that can’t always be explained in words.

There will be times where all the hard information is telling you to pick a certain team. As you go to make the bet, you get a certain inkling. A tingle. There are no words or inner-discourse available to describe it. It’s more of an animalistic and primal sort of feeling. It’s like if you’re walking down the street and sense trouble. For some reason, you just don’t feel like turning down a street. There’s no real signs of trouble–it’s just a feeling. It’s instinct.

When betting on football, we want to depend on our gifts as people. We want to use the things that separate human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom. That doesn’t mean we want to relinquish some of the things that allow animals to survive and thrive. For us, that means sometimes using our feel when betting on pro football.

As you develop as a bettor, there will be a lot of games where you just feel the point-spread. You look at the spread and something within your mental wiring fires off a little jolt. You can’t really explain it, but the spread just seemed off to you on an almost-instinctive level. Are you likely to outsmart the bookies consistently? No, but if there is just one time every 2 weeks where you can sense a spread is off-base on an instinctive level, that can pay big dividends.

As we get more into the season, each team will have a story that is developing. Early in the NFL season, it could be more difficult to get a bead on. But as we get to the midway point of a season, we can start sensing when a team is due to either win or lose, or just do something contrary to what the spread is forecasting. There will be something about a game that just stands out above all the data and is trying to tell you something.

Don’t force it. Let these feelings come to you, rather than going to look for them. Once we tap into this element of feel, it might take over in a negative way. You won’t be able to turn it off because if you force yourself to have a feeling, you will have one. It just won’t be as good as when you let it happen organically. Normally, the element of feel won’t rear its head in every game. When it does, that’s how you know that part of you has been kicked into overdrive–and not in a good way.

Not everything can be summed up with words and analysis. You never hear a talking heads on TV say something is going to happen because they have a feeling. We live in a world where it seems like everything that counts needs to be expressed in a tidy sound bite. A lot of things in NFL football are beyond that. Focusing on those things can really pay off in the longterm.


Haven’t you bet on games where everything pointed you toward making a bet, but you felt this weird sense of impending doom and the bet lost? That may have been an example of you ignoring your feel. Or did you ever make a bet that had tremendous value on paper, even though that other voice inside you was trying to say that it’s too good to be true? Don’t tune out those feelings.

We don’t want to put ourselves in the role of a computer–almost mindlessly weighing information and seeing which side tips the scale. As people, we are blessed with certain abilities. The human brain is capable of unbelievable feats. It’s important to not tune-out that part of your brain, but rather incorporate it into your handicapping.