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Common NFL Betting Mistakes

NFL Mistake

In almost any hobby or vocation, the consumer has a choice between going with the grain or going against the grain.

Though the “road less traveled” always seems more appealing, sometimes it’s a good idea to stick to the norm and do what everyone else is doing. For instance, just because everyone else is hitting a driver off the tee doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea to hit a 3-iron.

But when it comes to sports betting, different is usually better. One of the most time-honored NFL betting strategies is to “bet against the public,” taking advantage of fan misconceptions that move the lines in a favorable direction.

The trick is to understand the common NFL betting mistakes made by the public every fall weekend. To know the mistakes is to be able to avoid them.

Typical Kinds of NFL Betting Mistakes

Some NFL betting mistakes are unique to the game of American football, while others are general sports betting pitfalls that millions of bettors fall into every year. Here are just a few of the most common mishaps.

Betting on Your Favorite Franchise

Fans usually have faith in their home team to overcome all obstacles. But sometimes, supporters of an NFL franchise are so emotional (and so scarred by losing) that pessimism takes over, and the fans rant and rave about how the squad couldn’t beat anybody.

Either way, betting on your favorite team is one of the costliest NFL betting mistakes.

Passion for a team leads to bad bets. As John Madden once put it, “It’s never as bad as you think it is when you lose, and it’s never as good as you think it is when you win.”

Certain bettors like to bet against their favorite team for another reason – to lessen the psychological blow if the squad loses on Sunday. While a $50 or $100 “reward” for suffering through a loss might seem appealing, it’s just as likely that they will lose the bet and have less to spend in celebration. Either way, the bookie laughs all the way to the bank.

Betting Too Many Parlays

Another of the most common NFL betting mistakes is wagering on too many parlays, or combination bets on more than one result.

Parlay bets seem attractive because the bettor can risk a small amount of their stake for a potential big payout. But the chances of 2+ final scores working out as predicted are slimmer than most people realize. Sports bettors have a better chance to win money on straight bets.

Furthermore, the “vig” or “juice” that sportsbooks collect on parlays is steeper than on straight wagers. Las Vegas books have been known to win as much as 30% on NFL parlay bets. That means bettors are losing at least 30% of their dollars.

Flawed Bankroll Management

Successful bettors must manage their bankrolls carefully. There are many kinds of typical NFL betting mistakes, but mismanagement of a bankroll is needless and can lead to disaster more quickly than almost any pitfall.

NFL bettors can manage a bankroll by dividing a stake, or total amount of money deposited at the sportsbook, into “units.” Setting daily limits on wagered cash is another smart move.

Click on the link below for more on managing a bankroll.

Betting the Over Too Often

As with the NFL betting mistakes related to picking for or against your favorite team, the urge to bet out of pleasure can be dangerous when it comes to Over/Under lines. Sports bettors tend to select the “over” too often since cheering for both offenses to score points is fun. But O/U lines are set scientifically, and it’s usually just as likely that the “under” will prevail.

Mistakes Made in Different NFL Betting Markets

We’ve covered a few of the most common NFL betting mistakes in the text above. However, the biggest mistake that a gambler can make is not knowing what the odds mean!

Here are some of the basics of various NFL betting markets. We’ll also include an example of a common mistake made by novice bettors on each.

Moneylines and Mistakes

Moneylines are simple odds set on which team will win the game. NFL moneylines are almost always printed in fractions relating to $100. Odds of (+600) promise a payoff of $600 on a winning $100 wager, while a (-500) moneyline means the gambler must wager $500 to claim $100 on a winning bet.

One of the worst NFL betting mistakes with respect to moneylines is betting on the favorite too often, especially if the favored team is extremely popular in America (i.e., the Dallas Cowboys).

Studies show that sports bettors have a slight bell-curve tendency to wager on moneyline favorites. It’s not that they don’t understand what moneylines mean; they just prefer betting on a winner. Whichever team is more touted by the press as a favorite is (usually) also the moneyline favorite.

But that just leaves them at the mercy of the sportsbook’s percentage-game. Their stake will be whittled away until they can’t afford to bet on favorites at disadvantageous odds anymore.

Remember, successful betting isn’t about predicting a winner! It’s about comparing the chances of an event occurring (Raiders win, high-scoring game, etc.) with the odds presented by the casino. If the chances are less than the odds indicate, don’t pull that trigger!

Point Spread Blunders

It’s very possible that point spreads have taken the most betting action of any NFL market since wagers were first taken on The Shield. Betting against the spread (or “ATS”) involves choosing a team to prevail with the condition of points spotted to an underdog.

The favorited team in a point spread must win by more than the number in the spread for bettors picking the favorite to win their bets. Wagers on the underdog prevail if the underdog wins outright or loses by less than the point spread. NFL point spreads tend to be a little bit “tighter” or smaller than college spreads, due to the parity and competitiveness of the league.

A common NFL betting mistake is to wager ATS on the biggest games exclusively. Sportsbooks dedicate more employee hours to Cowboys versus Packers in the late afternoon than to Buffalo hosting Indianapolis at 10 AM Las Vegas time. In a big national game, the house is unlikely to overlook factors such as injuries to key backups, long-term weather forecasts, or individual slumps. But by betting the NFL’s “B” games, a savvy bettor can gain a knowledge advantage on the house by focusing on that one pick.

Point Total Pitfalls

A point total betting market asks bettors to pick whether a 2-team point total after 4 quarters will be over or under the number predicted by the oddsmaker. If the final score of a contest adds up to a combined sum equal to the point total, the wager is a push, and money is returned. Point totals are often referred to as Over/Under or “O/U” bets.

NFL betting mistakes come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the most prevalent gaffes involves players picking the “over” simply for the fun of cheering for both offenses. Defenses can play too, and there’s no such thing as having fun while losing money foolishly.

Choosing the Wrong Proposition

Proposition wagers on the NFL are based on certain statistical outcomes or events that occur or do not occur during a game.

For instance, a prop betting market might ask if Drew Brees will throw for less or more than 300 yards or 3 touchdowns on a given Sunday.

Thousands of prop bets are offered on the Super Bowl by hundreds of sportsbooks based in America and abroad. Super Bowl prop bets are often wacky, such as a wager on whether the announcers will mention a controversial news story in the 1st or 2nd quarter.

The worst “NFL” betting mistake of all is wagering on the silliest February prop bets, such as whether a rock star will use a white or a black microphone, headset, etc. It’s a bet that involves no skill, and therefore is subject to lose out to the house.

We would suggest taking a look at our Super Bowl betting page for further reading.

NFL Parlays

A parlay is a single bet that combines two or more betting markets. Parlays promise a much higher payoff than a regular point spread, moneyline, or point total wager, but every bet made in a parlay must have a winning result for the gamble to pay off. If any picks included in the parlay lose, the sports bettor loses the entire wager.

Betting on too many parlays is one of the most frequent NFL betting mistakes. Veteran gamblers say that if the bookie appears to have mispriced two or more individual contests, placing bets on each individual game is smarter than including them all in a parlay.

NFL Futures

NFL futures ask for long-term predictions on who will win the NFC Championship, the AFC title, a division title, or the Super Bowl. Payoffs are often high, as all 32 teams will receive at least a small amount of betting action. But it is hard to consistently win futures bets due to the dozens of hurdles – or tough opponents – that your pick could meet on the path to a potential championship.

Again, one of the biggest NFL betting mistakes in futures markets is picking the favorite (or a favorite team). Fans see the Patriots on top of the board and figure they’re the likeliest to win. Maybe they are, but if their odds to win the Super Bowl are +400 and accurately handicapped, there is still a 3 out of 4 chance that the futures bet will lose in the end.

Click on the links below to find out more about NFL betting markets and the strategy involved in each. Everyone makes betting mistakes, but let us help minimize yours, starting today.