When it comes to sports betting in the United States, everyone knows that the National Football League is king. It is the most popular league to watch and to wager on from the time it starts in early September until the Super Bowl is played in early February.
Even though it doesn't stop the public from taking part, pro football is also a notoriously difficult sport to wager on. The regular season can be volatile and hard to predict on its own but once the playoff arrives, the difficulty of figuring out your bets can be taken to a new level.
Part of the reason for this is that there are far fewer games in the playoffs than during the regular season, and that means that the line for each game is under the microscope of sportsbooks and sharp (professional) bettors. This leads to moneylines, spreads, and totals being tight, or in other words, really tough to call from a betting perspective.
If you are interested in placing wagers on the postseason, below are some NFL betting tips and strategies to keep in mind if you want to give yourself the best chance at successfully handicapping the playoffs.
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There's nothing NFL fans love more than to gamble on overs and root for points, and there are plenty of situations where this is the right call. The NFL is passing league and we see tons of points scored more often now than ever before. With that said, it can be a profitable NFL playoffs betting strategy to pick your spots with a few unders.
The NFL postseason brings an influx of recreational bettors into the market. These casual fans are most likely to bet the over because they want to root for points. This has the ability to overinflate the point toal and create value on the under.
Another prevailing (and non-statistical-based) thought is that defenses tend to show up in the playoffs and game plans are sometimes close to the vest, along with weather potentially being a factor in some cases.
Recently, profits have been found by betting the under in the Wild Card round. Over the past six football postseasons, the under has gone 17-6-1 in Wild Card games, including 10-2 in the past two seasons, and 4-0 in 2020 (the postseason for the 2019 regular season).
Since the traditional betting markets have sharp and public fingerprints all over them, maybe you don't feel comfortable with moneyline, spread or totals bet. One of the bonuses during the offseason is an increase in prop betting markets, which offers bettors a variety of additional markets to choose from. With a little bit of in-depth research, edges and beneficial lines can be found for both regular season and postseason football games.
Picking several props correctly is extremely difficult, with each added wager making it tougher to profit. Limit yourself to just one or two prop wagers, and don't be afraid to increase your investment in a well-researched market. Props aren't as closely looked at by sharps and some markets provide chances to take advantage of a line that hasn't been influenced or manipulated nearly as much as some others.
Teasers are sometimes disregarded by bettors because they don't offer the same type of payouts as parlays and underdogs do. We say find two or even three sides you like and get your tease on!
Even if the odds are modest, there's money to be made here because lines are sharp in the postseason. More times than not, the spread and total professional bettors come up with is not going to be too far off. Rather than multiple wagers on each game where a point or two could make a huge difference, play one large bet and add the six, 6.5, or seven points to multiple games.
Keep the following in mind for NFL teaser strategy: In recent years, the most common margin of victory in NFL games is three and next is seven, followed by 10, six and four (all of which make up over 40 percent of outcomes).
When wagering on a small favorite, get it to +3.5, and if playing a small underdog, push it to +7.5 and if possible, to +10.5. Larger favorites are best pulled down to -2.5.
If you don't want to be limited to the options of a teaser but still want to modify the lines, you can also buy or sell points by using alternate lines. This will allow bettors to choose any spread or total they want, with the odds adjusting accordingly.
Waiting until late in the week to make your betting picks during the postseason has some major advantages, such as being able to monitor how the odds change. This gives you a chance to look out for reverse line movement and employ other NFL betting strategies to gain an edge.
Of course, wagering early in the week has its advantages too since lines can move in an unfavorable direction, but having the necessary information at your disposal is important in the playoffs. So unless you love a favorite or an over very early in the week, it's best to wait things out.
If you subscribe to the 'fade the public' NFL betting strategy, this is the move for you in the postseason. It is more likely that you will likely find value going against the masses as close to kickoff as possible.
This rule also goes for games featuring teams with key players that might be nursing injuries. It's common late in the season and throughout the playoffs for teams to be misleading with the status of certain players to avoid giving the opponent an edge in preparation.
Injury reports are a very real concern from a handicapping standpoint, and it can be prudent to wait out the action and let the dust settle before making picks.
These two things don't necessarily go together, but they're both extra factors that can impact which direction you go with NFL handicapping during the playoffs.
Every team is decent at this stage, but the schedule and form to close out the season play a role. We wouldn't advise gambling on a team that backed into the playoffs as opposed to playing its best football at the right time.
A squad that has been forced to play in playoff-type games just to reach the postseason may already be in peak form, just as a team coming off a bye could have needed the rest to recharge. This is where your research comes into play.
As for the experience, whether it's that of an entire team or a particular coach (the New England Patriots come to mind for both), experience matters when betting during the postseason. Something about having been in those high-intensity situations previously yields results the more times you experience it.
When all other things are equal, lead toward the team and coach that has been there before.
Bankroll management is incredibly important throughout the regular season and not much changes there in the postseason. It's still vital to set limits and remember not to chase your money.
People sometimes increase their wagers to an illogical point because the games are more important, which doesn't really make much sense. A drastic increase in the amount you spend indicates players are going to use the remaining weeks of the football season making all their lost money back or cashing in big before the season ends. That's likely not going to happen.
While you always pick your spots for a chance to wager several units instead of just one, don't do it just because it's the playoffs. A bad wager has the same effect whether it comes in Week 4, in the Wild Card Round, or Super Bowl week, and gambling with the proper amount remains important in January.