Bet Smart: Navigating the NFL Betting Landscape

The NFL season is in full swing. For many fans, that means plenty of excitement around betting on games. With legal sports betting expanding rapidly across the US, more people have access to wager on pro football. 

However, between complex betting lines, confusing terminology, and the sheer volume of games each week, NFL betting can be daunting for beginners. For example, examining the NFL week 10 odds and trying to determine the best bets can be overwhelming to a new bettor. 

By understanding the basics around betting lines, leveraging stats and matchups, and avoiding common mistakes, you can make smarter bets and have more success over the long run.

Reading and Reacting to Betting Lines

One of the keys to betting smart on the NFL is understanding how to read lines and spot opportunities. Lines will be presented with the favorite and underdog team, a spread, and an over/under total. Spreads represent the estimated margin of victory for the favored team. If the spread is New England -7 over Buffalo, the Patriots must win by more than 7 to “cover the spread.” The over/under total is the estimated combined points scored by both teams.

When lines are released during the week, it’s useful to compare them against your own estimations. If you feel a line is inflated in one direction, you may have an opportunity to gain value by betting the other way. For example, if you think Buffalo can keep it close with New England, +7 may be a worthwhile bet. Lines will also move during the week as betting action comes in, so monitoring line movements can also help find advantageous spots.

Leveraging Stats and Matchups

While betting lines provide a baseline, you’ll make smarter bets by digging into team and player stats, injuries, and individual matchups. Some key factors to research:

  • Strength of offense/defense – Overall yardage, scoring, and efficiency stats indicate which teams have advantages on each side of the ball.
  • Injuries – Losing a starting QB, lineman, or cornerback can shift the outlook for a team. Monitor injury reports throughout the week.
  • Coaching impacts – New coaches or coordinators, roster changes, and trends over recent games can impact upcoming matchups.
  • Individual matchups – How a team’s pass rush matches up against the opponent’s offensive line, or how a star receiver may perform against a shutdown corner.

Taking the time to research these dynamics beyond the lines themselves will make you a sharper handicapper over the long run.

Avoid Chasing Losses and Betting Big Favorites

Two common mistakes to avoid are chasing losses and betting big favorites. Chasing losses occurs when a bettor starts increasing wager size after losses to try to break even quicker. This reckless approach usually just accelerates losing.

Betting big NFL favorites seems safe, but the big spreads also make it easier to lose even when the favorite wins. Unless you are very confident in a blowout, the big spreads make it tempting to take the points with the underdog.

Maintaining discipline around bankroll management and wager sizing is instrumental in NFL betting. Don’t let emotions cloud judgments.

Shop for the Best Odds and Lines

One easy way to increase your betting value is to have accounts at multiple sportsbooks. This allows you to shop for the best odds and lines across different sites. While the differences may seem small, gaining an extra half-point or more on a spread can make a big difference over the long run.

For example, if you like the Bills +7.5 points against the Patriots, but can get Buffalo +8 at another sportsbook, the extra half-point is valuable. Shopping lines and odds is simple with mobile apps and takes just a few minutes.

Know When to Pass on Games

Finally, remember that you don’t have to bet every single game. NFL teams are difficult to predict week-to-week, and no handicapper wins every bet. If you don’t see an obvious opportunity or edge, there’s nothing wrong with watching a game just for entertainment.

Passing on betting is actually the more +EV (expected value) move when the lines and odds are efficient. Being selective and patient will serve you better than trying to force action on every matchup.


While betting on the NFL certainly carries risks, you can make the experience more profitable and enjoyable by educating yourself and employing smart betting habits. Taking time to analyze matchups, line shop, bet selectively, and utilize proper bankroll management will help you navigate the peaks and valleys. Don’t let setbacks discourage you, and be ready to put in the work to grow your football betting expertise over time.

With the right approach, football wagers can be a fun part of the overall NFL experience rather than a drain on your wallet. Bet smart and enjoy the games!