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NFL Halftime Betting Guide

Expert Gamblers Tried and True NFL Halftime Betting Tips.

Football Pads

One of the most crucial elements of NFL coaching is the halftime adjustment. We’ve all seen Peyton Manning and Tom Brady fall behind by 2 or 3 touchdowns at halftime, only to roar back in the 2nd half and win the football game. While accurate passes and quality WRs had a lot to do with it, credit also goes to coaches like Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy for making the proper changes at half.

But chalkboard sessions aren’t the only important thing going on during an NFL halftime. Sportsbooks that offer halftime betting are busy making adjustments of their own – to the odds and lines.

Gamblers who indulge in NFL halftime betting must make rapid-fire decisions of their own. Understanding what coaches – and bookies – are up to while gridiron pros rest up in the locker room is the key to successful halftime betting on the NFL.

Like any handicapping mystery, the answers lie in careful study, experience, and knowledge of the odds and trends. Read through our guide for information and tips on getting the most out of your NFL halftime betting experience.

The Basics of NFL Halftime Betting

Feel like a mano-a-mano showdown with the house handicapper? During the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters of NFL games, online sportsbooks update their live odds using win-probability formulas and numerical data based on trends. There’s no time for the bookie to update the odds using any other method.

But halftime betting gives oddsmakers a chance to think on their feet.

For instance, an NFL betting site odds-calculator might suggest a (+300) win-or-lose moneyline for an NFL team losing by 10 points after 2 quarters. But if the franchise’s established veteran QB has had 5 passes glance off the hands of open receivers in the 1st half, a sportsbook might choose to set the NFL halftime betting moneyline at (+225) instead.

Why? Because the trailing quarterback is having an accurate passing day, and his WRs are unlikely to continue dropping balls. Therefore, the team has a better chance to come back than a win-probability computer is able to give them.

For the gambler, the advantage of halftime betting is that he too has a chance to pause and reflect. One of the worst (and most common) NFL betting mistakes is to react impetuously to a lost bet or a surprise development on the field. Halftime betting allows at least a few minutes to consider the available information and make sure you’re not throwing money away before placing a wager.

Let’s look deeper at halftime betting on the NFL in a variety of markets, including point spreads, moneylines, and Over/Under point totals.

What Is an NFL Point Spread?

For the uninitiated, NFL point spread betting involves a set number of points spotted to the underdog. If the team that is expected to lose the contest outright, or “straight up,” is listed at the sportsbook with a point spread of (+7), that means that the gambler has 7 points in-pocket when choosing that team against the spread. The bettor picking the favorite against the spread, or “ATS,” begins 7 points down.

If the underdog wins outright or loses by less than 7 points, gamblers who picked the underdog win. They only lose their bets if the team loses by 8 or more. If the favorite loses the game or fails to win by 7 points or more, those who picked the favorite ATS lose their bets. The favorite must win by 8 or more points to win on the point spread. If the favorite wins by exactly 7 points, the bet is a push.

Click the following link for more on NFL point spreads in pre-game, live, and halftime betting.

Halftime Betting Strategy for NFL Point Spreads

NFL point spreads tend to be “tighter” than point spreads in college football. The bookie must take into account that an upset could occur, or it could be a closely-contested result in which the favorites are happy to win by a field goal or a safety despite being expected to win handily going into Sunday.

Handicappers like to point out that NFL teams are much more even in talent on average when compared to college programs. That’s very true. But pro football also differs from college in that National Football League teams are rewarded for simply winning. If a top-25-ranked college is expected to win by 6 touchdowns and squeaks out a 28-27 win, the school will most likely be hurt in the rankings. That motivates college coaches to try to win by as many points as possible.

A college team might call a pass play when leading by 7 with 3 minutes to go, hoping to avoid losing its position in the College Football Playoff standings. An NFL team is more likely to hand off and play it safe.

The tightness of point spreads affects NFL halftime betting in several ways and opens up opportunities for gamblers to take advantage. If a score between evenly-matched NFL teams is 21-14 after 2 quarters, a sportsbook may keep the point spread for halftime betting at around (-7) in favor of the leading club.

But what if the gambler determines that the trailing squad is getting tired? For instance, if defensive linemen are seen “sucking wind” between plays or offensive tackles are holding pass rushers out of desperation, bets on the leading team to win ATS are more likely to pay off. Even if the head coach of the winning team doesn’t care about the margin of victory, it’s likely to be more than 7 points.

NFL Moneyline Betting

To quickly recap what NFL moneylines are, a moneyline bet is simply a wager on a team to win a contest straight-up. Moneylines are expressed in values relating to a theoretical $100 wager.

An underdog’s moneyline will have a plus sign in front of it, as in +200, meaning that a $100 bet comes with a potential payoff of $200. The favorite’s moneyline is expressed with a minus marker, as in -300, meaning that $300 must be gambled to win $100.

Favorites take a slightly higher percent of moneyline bets over time, due to the natural inclination of gamblers to bet on the probable winner. That gives underdogs value on the moneyline in many circumstances. But does that trend remain the same in halftime betting?

Moneylines: Common Sense in NFL Halftime Betting

All things equal, the principle of “value in underdogs” stays largely the same in NFL halftime betting. If there are 1000 moneyline wagers placed at a sportsbook during halftime of the NFC Championship Game, at least 510 or perhaps 550 of those bets will trend toward the favorite. That means that the halftime betting value (just as the pre-game or live betting value) will trend toward the underdog.

But there also comes a time for common sense. Bookmakers don’t have long to reset the odds for halftime betting action, and if they make a mistake, it is often to err on the side of giving the leading team shorter odds than they deserve. As John Madden once observed about human nature and football, “It’s never as good as you think it is when you’re winning, and never as bad as you think it is when you’re losing.” That psychology affects odds-managers, too.

Great passers playing for great teams are always a threat to come back from any deficit in the 2nd half. Peyton Manning often fell behind 28-0 during his career, only to find a way to win in the 4th quarter. Needless to say, those who were halftime betting and picked Peyton on the moneyline were handsomely rewarded.

For more on NFL moneyline betting strategy in general, click the button below.

NFL Halftime Betting Strategy: O/U Total Points Bets

Over/Under bets are one of the simplest wagers available on the NFL. If the total points scored in the game are above the O/U line, “over” bets prevail. If the amount of points scored are less than the line, “under” bets prevail.

Yet O/U strategy can be subtle and hard to figure out, especially when it comes to NFL halftime betting. As an example, it is generally easier to run the ball successfully in the 3rd or 4th quarter than in the 1st and 2nd quarters. On one hand, that means more points should be scored in a typical 2nd half, because each team’s offense has a better chance of clicking.

But suppose a halftime betting line on the O/U goes up to 60+ points due to the QBs combining for 5 touchdown passes in the 1st half. Passes are typically either complete for average gains of as many as 10 or 15 yards a pop, or incomplete, which stops the clock.

Successful running plays tend to keep the clock running. So even if both teams find it easier to run (and therefore easier to remain efficient) on offense in the 2nd half, increased clock time used by each possession could lead to fewer points scored overall.

Experienced handicappers recommend betting the under at halftime more often that you bet the over. Remember that a certain small percentage of gamblers will be betting the over just for the thrill of cheering for both offenses. That tends to subtly drive the payoff odds on “under” bets to be richer than they would be otherwise.

Click below for more on Over/Under gridiron betting.

Know the Coaches

To bet successfully at halftime, it’s absolutely necessary to know the players well. But it might be even more advantageous to know the coaches.

For instance, when Marty Schottenheimer coached the Kansas City Chiefs, he was so stubborn about playing conservative, running football that all the Chiefs would adjust at halftime was the blocking scheme. O/U oddsmakers were fooled often into thinking that a trailing-by-10 Kansas City would open up and cause an explosion of points for one or both teams. Instead, Schottenheimer would order handoff after handoff hoping to get into the 4th quarter with a chance. Bettors who know Marty well sat with the “under” pick in halftime betting and won bets whenever the oddsmakers just couldn’t fathom how conservative the coaches were in KC.

For a current example of how the over can, in fact, sometimes be a good pick in NFL halftime betting, take the Seattle Seahawks. QB Russell Wilson does not pile up the gaudy passing statistics of Tom Brady or Drew Brees. But under Pete Carroll, the ‘Hawks have been tremendous at running sneaky deep post and corner routes. Wilson usually manages to scramble free from the pocket and hit 3 or 4 30-to-40 yard gains to blow the contest wide open in the 2nd half.

When Wilson has a cold 1st half, sportsbook computers and analyzers will be telling the bookie to expect a low-scoring 2nd half. But Wilson has a unique ability to shake off mishaps and make plays in the clutch. You can bet (excuse the pun) that they’ll find a way to open up that deep corner route at some point in the game, and Wilson will gobble up his yardage.

The Seahawks are not always a high-scoring team, but they are always an explosive one, meaning over-total points and the Seahawks’ moneyline halftime betting markets are both worth keeping a close eye on.

Use your Own Noggin in NFL Halftime Betting

Our coaching and player-psychology pointers only scratch the surface of the strategy that goes into successful halftime betting on the NFL.

But they’ve all got one thing in common – common sense. Common sense is the best weapon in any betting scenario. Feel free to apply your own and find halftime betting tactics that work for you.

For more on NFL betting and NFL betting strategy, check out the links below.