Don't Do These 12 Things When Betting on Football

Betting on football is easy.

But winning is hard.

Here's a list of the top 12 things to avoid when betting on football.

1 – Don't Fixate on Quarterback Play

Quarterback play is important when considering what team to place a bet on.

But it's only one small part of the overall betting decision.

Smart football bettors don't put too much weight on any area. They do their best to consider everything available to them so they can find an edge against the sports book.

It's hard for even the best quarterback to overcome poor offensive line play. Even in the prime of their careers, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre were prone to throwing occasional interceptions.

When you're placing bets with point spreads involved, a late interception can make or break your day.

It will always be important to analyze the quarterback position.

But make sure you don't assign too much value to it.

2 – Don't Fixate on Running Back Play

Make sure you don't get fixated on the running back position, either.

The offensive line has a tremendous amount of effect on the running back position. Great backs are still better than average ones.

But when evaluating the running back position, don't forget to include the offensive line evaluations.

You also need to factor in the opponent's defensive line play.

Once you factor in the health and past performance of the running back, the offensive line, and the defensive line, you can make an educated guess about how the running game will come into play.

3 – Don't Fixate on Receiver Play

Notice a trend yet?

Receiver play is important.

But it's usually the least important of the skill positions at the pro level.

At the college level, you'll occasionally find a wide enough difference between receiver groups to make a betting difference.

But it's still just a small part of the overall equation.

Never place too much importance on any single area of your game evaluations. Try to use every bit of data and information you have access to in a somewhat equal manner. Eventually you can learn what things are more important than others, but rarely will a single item or area change a betting decision in isolation.

4 – Don't Ignore Special Teams Play

Special teams play can change the outcome of many games over the course of a season. Starting field position has a direct relationship to how many points a team scores. So a special teams unit that creates field position advantages or disadvantages must be considered when evaluating games.

Kickoff teams either makes their opponent's start in worse than average positions or allow them to start in better than average positions. The same thing goes for punt coverage teams. Kickoff and punt return teams either offer better than average or worse than average field position.

Knowing how each team's special teams units perform is important and can help you win an extra bet or two every season.

Finding 10 things that help you win a single additional wager every season quickly adds up and can be the difference between a winning and losing season.

5 – Don't Ignore Kickers

Some bettors include kickers in special teams play.

But they can be so important to point spread bets that they deserve their own section.

Teams with the best kickers have the luxury of playing close games with the goal of getting to the 35 yard line with less than a minute on the clock.

Because of this, they seem to win close games by one, two, or three points.

When you're betting the money line, it doesn't matter if they win by 1 or 20.

But if you gave two points on a spread bet it can make the difference between a winning and losing bet.


Here's an example of how having a great kicker can change what happens late in a game:

The first thing to remember is head coaches don't care about you or the point spread. All they care about is winning games. They aren't going to risk a game for the chance to score more points than they need.

If a team moves inside the 35 yard line with a great kicker late in a tie game or in a game they trail by one or two, why would they risk throwing the ball?

The odds of scoring on a run play from the 25 or 30 are much smaller than on a pass play.

But if the coach puts his back with the best hands in the game the chance of a turnover is much less on a run than a pass.

Each run brings the team a few yards closer to the end zone, making the field goal attempt easier, and it also lets time run off the clock. If possible, the team with the ball will run the clock down so time expires during the field goal attempt, making sure the opponents don't have a chance at a miracle return or comeback.

On the other hand, a team with a poor kicker needs to take more chances.

Here's why:

Even if they don't score a touchdown, they need to be closer to the goal line to give the weak kicker the best chance to make a field goal.

The team with the weak kicker has a higher chance to score a touchdown.

But they also have a higher chance to turn the ball over.

This can create wild point swings late in a game. You need to know this is possible when deciding if a game is worth betting or not.

6 – Don't Bet the Home Team (Unless You Have a Good Reason)

Historical statistics prove that home teams win more often than road teams.

But history doesn't prove you can make money blindly picking home teams when spread betting or money line betting.

Just like quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and special teams, the home field advantage is just a small part of the equation that determines the best team to bet on.

7 – Don't Forget to Factor in Travel Distances

One area separating the best football bettors and the rest of the betting population is the attention to minor details that can have major impacts on games. Teams that travel long distances tend to not do as well as teams traveling average or short distances.

Here's an example:

I would expect Sand Diego to play better after a trip to Dallas than after a trip to New England.

You also need to watch for warm weather teams traveling to cold weather games. If the Miami Dolphins have to play a game in Green Bay in December or January, expect the weather to play a factor in the game.

Another issue is when teams travel to Denver. The air is thinner in Denver than anywhere else in the NFL.

But this is so well known that the sports books already consider it and have it built into the line.

8 – Don't Forget to Factor in Days Off

In the NFL, a single extra day off can be a big deal. Most games are played on Sundays, so teams tend to play every seven days.

But almost every week, there's a couple teams playing on six days rest against teams playing on seven.

The two teams who played the previous Monday night are playing on a day less rest than their opponents.

The teams who play on Thanksgiving are all playing on short rest.

But all of them have extended rest compared to their opponents the following week. Check the historical performance of Thanksgiving teams the next week. Detroit and Dallas play every Thanksgiving, but their opponents each year on the holiday have the same advantage the following week.

9 – Don't Ignore Coaching Staffs and Their Tendencies

Every coaching staff in the NFL and NCAA has tendencies.

Understanding these tendencies can help shift the value in a game that’s difficult to handicap. Don't make the mistake of only looking at head coaches. Also consider the offensive and defensive coordinators.

10 – Don't Place Bets without Checking Competing Lines

You should always shop for the best possible line before placing your bets.

Though most lines will be the same or within a half point, sometimes you may find larger spreads. Even if you don't, a half point in your favor can make the difference between a win and a tie or a loss and a tie.

If you place bets on the Internet find at least 2 or 3 sports books that offer different lines at times that you can trust.

When you place bets in a place like Las Vegas, it can be harder to check competing lines.

But it's still worth the effort.

11 – Don't Place Bets Early in the Week

Placing bets early in the week can offer opportunities.

But you'll find more reasons to wait as long as possible to place your wagers.

Injuries, player issues, suspensions, news, and moving lines are all reasons delaying your betting decisions to as close to game time as possible should help you make more money in the long run. The sports books have more time to adjust their lines as the week progresses, so considering early week lines is not the worst thing you can do.

Want to know what the problem is with betting early in the week?

If a main player gets hurt after you place a wager, it can hurt your chances of winning a great deal.

You might be able to hedge your bets if this happens.

But it'll usually cost you at least a little.

Here's an example:

If the team you placed a bet on loses their star quarterback, you might want to consider placing a bet on the other side of the game or on the money line on the other team. Sometimes you can lock in a small loss of your vig on one side instead of losing an entire wager.

I usually take a look at early week lines to see if anything stands out as a possible value.

But I rarely place bets until later in the week.

12 – Don't Take Shortcuts

Winning as a football bettor comes down to working harder than your opponent. Your opponent is usually the sports book, but whoever it is, you won't win over the long run by taking shortcuts.

Have you ever heard the following saying?

"If it looks too good to be true it probably is."

Pick services and non-tested trends or guesswork rarely work out in the long run. Don't be tempted to take shortcuts or be lazy.


If you avoid the 12 things listed in this post, you'll be well on your way to being a winning football bettor. Most of them are fairly easy to incorporate into your current football betting analysis, so don't place another bet without considering what you've learned.