When it comes to sports betting, the NFL is king.
Sure, wagering on Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League can be entertaining and all. But in what other sports do we see betting odds for individual games posted six months in advance? (In case you missed it, the Patriots are 7-point favorites over visiting Kansas City in the 2017 season opener.)
If you haven’t given NFL betting a try yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s a reason Nadasurf included the line ‘I make football bets’ in their international hit Popular.
In addition to the fact that you’ll suddenly be too cool for school, here are 5 other reasons you absolutely need to bet on the NFL in 2017.
1. It’s So Much Fun!
There’s no denying that those Sunday afternoons on the couch are even more enjoyable when you’ve got a little money riding on the action.
The NFL can pretend that they’re anti-gambling as much as they want, but it’s no coincidence that Americans alone wagered an estimated $95 billion on NFL and college football in 2015.
The Red Zone channel will become your new best friend. You’ll spend the last half-hour of the early games frantically flipping from one channel to the next. You’ll monitor scores on several different devices at the same time. Even blowouts are interesting to watch when you need one more field goal to cash the Over, or need the underdog to score a late touchdown to get you a backdoor cover.
Better yet, it’s not just Sunday afternoons that will now be more interesting. With night games now regularly played on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays (with Saturdays even sprinkled in towards the end of the season), the NFL has plenty of fingernails to scratch your gambling itch.
2. It Makes Watching Your Favorite Team Even More Intense
There aren’t many things in life that swing your emotions as much as when you’re watching your favorite NFL team.
When your team scores a touchdown, you leap from your chair, do a little dance and feel like you’re on top of the world. When your quarterback throws an interception to snuff out a promising drive, you slump back in your chair, then head directly to the fridge for some liquid comfort. When they win on a last-second field goal, you’ll be in a great mood for the upcoming week. When they lose on the final play, it’ll feel like a punch to the gut, bringing back flashbacks to your high school days when you found out the hot girl just wasn’t that into you.
Those emotions will only be multiplied when you’ve got a point spread bet on your favorite team. The wins taste even sweeter when you can cash a fat ticket along with it. Or, if you’re a bit nervous about your team’s chances in today’s game, you can always bet against them. You’ll still be thrilled with a victory, but if they lose, at least you’ll be compensated.
3. You Can Cash Some Nice Tickets on Underdogs
As the old saying goes, on any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team in the National Football League.
Whether it’s due to unbalanced scheduling (allowing weaker teams to play weaker opponents, which tightens the playoff races), the hard salary cap or the unpredictability of the all-important turnover battle, we see several upsets in the NFL each week that leave us scratching our heads.
This opens up some great opportunities to cash in by betting underdogs on the moneyline.
Traditionally, bettors have used the point spread to take underdogs, comforted by the fact their team could lose the game and still cover the spread. But as professional handicapper Christian Pina pointed out in a 2016 blog post, when underdogs cover the spread, they often win the game outright as well.
In fact, the team that covers the spread wins the game approximately 85 per cent of the time. So if you start playing underdogs on the moneyline at plus-money prices instead of taking a few points on the spread at -110 odds, you can hit some nice payouts.
4. There are More Ways to Do It Than Ever Before
Long gone are the days when you could only bet the point spread, over/under, moneyline or multi-game parlays on NFL games.
There are now so many ways to bet on the NFL, opening up more doors to find an edge as well as making the games even more exciting.
Teasers allow you to move the point spread or total in your favor without having to buy points (you’ll have to combine at least two games on your wager, but you’ll get close to even odds at most sportsbooks.) You can bet on the first half, the first quarter, the first possession… hell, even the coin toss at some books.
You can bet on how many points one of the teams will score (team total). You can bet on props such as how many passing yards Cam Newton will get today, or how many rushing yards Ezekiel Elliott will gain on the ground.
And don’t forget about NFL live betting, which may someday eclipse the traditional point spread as the most popular way to bet on football. Practically every sportsbook now offers live wagering on the NFL, and bettors are taking full advantage. In fact, some even hit a 16:1 payout for placing live bets on the Patriots during New England’s improbable comeback against Atlanta in last year’s Super Bowl.
5. The League is Wide Open
With the possible exception of the defending champion New England Patriots, who are by far the largest favorite on Bovada’s 2018 Super Bowl odds at +350, the NFL looks pretty wide open next season.
Nine teams – the Cowboys, Packers, Seahawks, Falcons, Raiders, Steelers, Texans, Broncos and Giants – pay between 12:1 and 20:1 to win Super Bowl LII. Seven of those nine teams made the playoffs last year.
But like we said earlier, there are always big surprises in the National Football League.
The Falcons reached last year’s Super Bowl one year after going 8-8, and three years removed from a 4-12 campaign. The Carolina Panthers were 7-8-1 in 2014, went 15-1 en route to winning the NFC championship the following year, and then took a big dump last year with a 6-10 record and last-place finish in the NFC South. And who can forget the 1999 St. Louis Rams, who were 4-12 the previous year, then lost their starting quarterback in the pre-season before stunning the world by riding the arm of Kurt Warner to win the Super Bowl?
2017 looks like as good a year as any to bet a few longshots on the Super Bowl odds and cross your fingers.