Football Betting Systems
A football betting system is a method or strategy used by handicappers to bet on football games. A system's mission is to find betting value and/or increase the chances of winning wagers.
Football betting systems can range from simple to very complex. Regardless of the many angles and intricacies of a system, none of them can guarantee that you will win.
How to Create Football Betting Systems
Creating a football betting system ultimately comes down to each individual. Since there's no betting system that is guaranteed to win every time, each person has two options: to create their own systems or to purchase picks from a winning pro handicapper.
Keep in mind, though, that the football handicapper is selling you his picks based on the football betting system that he created. Although there isn't a universal system for winning your bets every time, there are some key factors that can be found in just about every practical football betting system.
This should go without saying, but you would be surprised at how many people get involved with sports betting and don't even know how to bet on football. Before placing a single wager, all bettors should at least know the following basic football betting concepts:
- Totals (Over/Under)
The moneyline represents each team's odds of winning. For example, the Cowboys are -250 to win, and the Eagles are +210 to win. If you pick the Cowboys to win, then you will take the moneyline at -250 odds, which means you will have to bet $250 to win $100. If you choose the Eagles, then you will bet $100 to win $210.
The spread represents how many points a team has to win or lose by. Using the same teams above, the Cowboys are favored by 7 points. This means Dallas has to win by more than 7 points if you bet on them. The Eagles would have to lose by less than 7 points if you decide to go with Philly in the wager.
The wager on totals requires the teams to go over or under a total amount of points. For example, the Cowboys and Eagles have an O/U of 46.5 points. If you think they will score more than 46 points, then you will take the over. If you think they will score less than 46 points, then you take the under.
Parlays are single wagers that consist of multiple bets. To win a parlay wager, all the bets you picked have to win. For example, a 3-team spread parlay consists of you choosing 3 spreads for different football games. So, you would take the Cowboys at -7, the Giants at +4, and the Vikings at -2. To win your 3-team parlay, all of those teams would have to cover their spreads. Parlays are harder to hit, but they do have higher payouts.
Teasers are similar to parlays in that they also require you to bet on multiple teams, games, or straight bets. However, unlike parlays, teasers allow you to add points to a spread or over/under. For example, you take the three teams mentioned above with a 3-team, 6-point teaser. These 6 points would adjust the spreads to Cowboys -1, Giants +10, and Vikings +4. To win your teaser bet, you would need to have all 3 teams cover those spreads. Payouts for teasers are less due to getting the extra points.
To create a football betting system, you must know what the popular sports betting terms are for football, their respective odds, and payouts.
How can you create and implement a betting system if you don't even know what you are creating it for or betting on?
Just like with sports betting, creating a football betting system requires you to actually know about football. Now, this isn't just knowing things like the number of teams in the league, the names of the conferences, and who won the last Super Bowl. We're talking about knowing coaching philosophies, the type of defensive scheme a team runs, how a team approaches 3rd downs, touchdown percentages in the red zone, 2-point conversion attempts, and more.
A football betting system could include all of these factors and a great deal more. So, it's important to start learning as much as you can about the sport before wagering. The best time to learn about football and betting on the sport is during the offseason. Check out our guide on how to use the offseason more effectively and increase your football IQ.
The term "handicapping" can really intimidate new and inexperienced bettors. However, it's not as scary as one may think. To simplify it as much as possible, handicapping is basically gathering and analyzing factors, data, and other nuggets of valuable information in order to place a bet. In regards to football betting systems, handicapping is the actual work that you are doing to create the system.
For example, let's say you thoroughly study the upcoming Monday Night Football game between the Chargers at the Broncos. You look at factors like the Chargers' road record, Broncos' home record, winning streaks, momentum, next week's game, injuries, weather, offensive ranks versus defensive ranks, strengths versus weaknesses, and head coaching styles.
After all of that information gathering and analyzing, you decide that the Chargers getting 5 points in Denver has value. So, you place a wager on the Chargers +5.
All of that information that you just gathered can be considered "handicapping." To really hammer home this point, all of that handicapping can turn into your football betting system, as you can take that list of data points and apply it to any game you are interested in betting on.
Like with any activity, profession, trade, or hobby, you must be able to exercise a modicum of self-discipline. Without it, you will end up losing all of your money and go broke trying to bet on football. What separates advanced/experienced bettors from newbies/inexperienced bettors are two things: knowledge and discipline.
Experienced bettors are disciplined enough not to lose sight of their betting system. Additionally, they don't commit any of these common mistakes:
- Chasing losses
- Disproportionate wagers to bankroll
- Bankroll mismanagement
- Casual betting
- Betting while drunk
- Betting on sports they don't know
Eliminating mistakes like the ones above will help you to remain disciplined. But remember that nobody else is going to hold you accountable to your betting system. So, you have to develop a strong self-discipline to keep yourself accountable, on track, and in a position to win more of your wagers.
If you hate math, then you are in the wrong business. Sports betting requires math. From analyzing data to lines, odds, and spreads, sports betting uses mathematics all the time. Fortunately, with all of the resources on our site and the internet, you can learn the required math skills. But make no mistake about it - creating a football betting system requires a heavy dose of mathematics.
Many new bettors want to start winning right away. They also think that they can win every wager. The reality is that even professional bettors lose roughly 40% of the time. For most inexperienced bettors, losing will be a big part of the journey. This is largely due to making mistakes like the ones above and not being patient.
Patience is definitely a form of self-discipline, but it's also more than just that. Patience can become a foundational element of your football betting system. A few examples of patience when betting on football include:
- Plugging away and winning and growing your bankroll a small percentage each week, all season long
- Choosing just one game per week based on your in-depth analysis, handicapping, and football betting system
- No matter how you construct your betting system, without patience to create and execute it, your system is doomed to fail.
One aspect that's often overlooked by inexperienced bettors is having a library of football and betting resources. When creating your system, you are going to sort through dozens of sources, hundreds of websites, and years of football statistics. While doing this, the smart thing to do is bookmark all of the webpages that you have researched, especially the ones that have valuable statistical data. For example, bookmark sites like NFL.com, which has a wealth of historical and current data to pour through. Another fantastic site to analyze past data and current seasons is Pro Football Reference.
Building your own virtual library of football and sports betting resources will help you to create an effective betting system that allows you to access data when needed and to tweak things when necessary.
Examples of Football Betting Systems
Now that we have provided a foundational understanding of what a football betting system is, it's time to take a look at some examples. Keep in mind that none of these systems are guaranteed to win you money. Instead, these examples are beginner to intermediate football betting systems to use as references, tools, and possible factors to add to your own system.
Bankroll management is an important discipline when betting on football. If you don't properly manage your bankroll, then you can easily lose most, if not all of it. One common football betting system is based on wagering a certain percentage of your bankroll on each bet. There are many experienced bettors and resources that recommend betting only 2% to 5% of your bankroll on each wager.
If you have a $1,000 bankroll for the football season, then you are only betting $20 to $50 per wager.
Taking it a step further, bet $20 on the wagers that you aren't very confident in and bet $50 on the wagers that you are the most confident in.
Moving forward, if you start winning a few bets, this system requires you to keep the percentage throughout the winning streak and not to raise it because you have won.
You went on a hot streak during the first month of the season and won roughly 50% of your starting bankroll. That's an additional $500 dollars to your football betting funds. You are feeling great about your betting skills, and you decide that it would be a great idea to increase your wagers to $100 each. If that's the case, you would be making a huge mistake.
With this system, your wagers can go up some, but only at a proportional rate to your bankroll. That means the wagers would still remain within the 2% to 5% range. Now, instead of wagering $20 to $50, because you have increased your bankroll to $1,500 due to your winning streak, you can now increase your wagers to a range between $30 and $75.
This increase of wager amounts is proportional to your bankroll, whereas the $100 wagers are not. So, when the inevitable losing streak comes, with the $100 wagers, you will be losing a disproportional amount of money to your bankroll. This is often where inexperienced betters end up losing all of their money. They mismanage their bankroll.
As you can see, this system requires a basic level of math, self-discipline, and patience.
Motivation may seem like an impossible thing to quantify, but there are some cases when it can be a huge factor. Keep in mind that both teams want to win. So, you shouldn't use this strategy and think that only one of the teams is motivated, while the other team just doesn't care. With that said, the following is a list of common examples where motivation can be a system to employ:
- A team fighting for a playoff spot at the end of the season
- A team coming off an embarrassing loss the week before
- A team that just fired their coach during the season
- A team that benched their star player
All of these examples are cases where a team may "seem" more motivated or desperate to win. This isn't a guarantee that they will win, but it often will show up in their on-field effort.
The bye week not only provides NFL teams with a chance to rest and an extra week to prepare, but it also provides bettors with possible winning opportunities. The following is a breakdown of how well teams did coming off their bye week over the last 5 years. These records are from the 2013 to 2017 regular seasons only, as they don't include playoff byes:
|Team||Record following Bye Weeks over last 5 years|
|Green Bay Packers||3||2|
|Kansas City Chiefs||3||2|
|Los Angeles Chargers||2||3|
|Los Angeles Rams||3||2|
|New England Patriots||3||2|
|New Orleans Saints||3||2|
|New York Giants||2||3|
|New York Jets||1||4|
|San Francisco 49ers||0||5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1||3|
Based on the data above, the following teams are worthy of a bet following their bye week:
- Arizona Cardinals (4-1)
- Dallas Cowboys (4-1)
- Detroit Lions (4-1)
- Seattle Seahawks (4-1)
Now, if you know football (and you really should), then you know that Andy Reid has a 16-3 career record following a bye week. Although his current team, the Kansas City Chiefs, only have a 3-2 record following the bye week under his leadership, Reid is always worth a look due to his overall success. Additionally, teams like the Patriots are worthy of a look because of how good they are each year, despite an unimpressive bye week record over the last 5 seasons.
All teams with losing records should be avoided. However, the following teams might make for a great opportunity to bet against them after they come out of their bye:
- Chicago Bears (1-4)
- Cleveland Browns (1-4)
- New York Jets (1-4)
- San Francisco 49ers (0-5)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)
For some betting experts and professional handicappers, they spend a lot of time paying attention to teams following a short week. A short week is typically when a team plays on a Monday night, then turns around and plays the subsequent Sunday (6 days later). The following is a breakdown of each team's record after they played on a short week from 2014 through the 2017 regular season:
|Team||Record following MNF game over last 4 years|
|Green Bay Packers||3||1|
|Kansas City Chiefs||1||3|
|Los Angeles Chargers||1||2|
|Los Angeles Rams||2||0|
|New England Patriots||3||1|
|New Orleans Saints||3||2|
|New York Giants||2||5|
|New York Jets||1||3|
|San Francisco 49ers||0||3|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0||1|
Since 2014, teams that played on Monday night and then turned around and played on the following Sunday have combined to go 57-69-1. A further breakdown of the data above shows that 15 teams have losing records and 4 more are even. That's 19 total teams without winning records. The following 6 teams don't have a win and would be candidates to bet against on a short week:
- Buffalo Bills
- Dallas Cowboys
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Miami Dolphins
- San Francisco 49ers
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In addition to the above losing teams, there are 7 teams with only 1 win. That's 13 total teams with 1 win or less, or roughly 40 percent of the league.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are a handful of teams that seem to thrive on a short week:
- Arizona Cardinals (3-0-1)
- Denver Broncos (4-1)
- Green Bay Packers (3-1)
- New England Patriots (3-1)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (4-0)
After pouring through the data, it's easy to see why this system is a popular one. The majority of teams just don't play well on short weeks.
Not only are there bye weeks for teams to rest and prepare, but there are also extended weeks. These weeks are when a team plays on a Thursday night, and then doesn't play again for at least another 10 days. The following is a breakdown of team records from 2014 through the 2017 season:
|Team||Record following MNF game over last 4 years|
|Green Bay Packers||5||1||
|Kansas City Chiefs||2||3||
|Los Angeles Chargers||3||1||
|Los Angeles Rams||1||3||
|New England Patriots||5||1|| |
|New Orleans Saints||3||1||
|New York Giants||3||1||
|New York Jets||1||3||
|San Francisco 49ers||0||4||
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1||2||
One would think that teams would have an advantage with a few extra days of rest, but that's not the case. The teams that played on Thursday nights went on to have a 67-72 record in their next game. Furthermore, the following 4 teams are winless during that span:
- Cleveland Browns
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Miami Dolphins
- San Francisco 49ers
In addition to those 4 teams, 11 more teams have losing records, and another 3 teams have even records. That's 18 total teams without winning records, or 57% of the league.
Of the teams who seem to make the most out of the extended break, the Dallas Cowboys (6-0) and Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0) are undefeated. The following teams also appeared to have mastered the extended break:
- Green Bay Packers (5-1)
- Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
- Los Angeles Chargers (3-1)
- New England Patriots (5-1)
- New Orleans Saints (3-1)
- New York Giants (3-1)
- Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)
Just like with bye weeks and short weeks, there are teams to keep an eye on and teams to bet against.
For many years now, NFL fans and pundits have belabored how west coast teams are at a disadvantage when having to travel to the Eastern Time Zone for early games. Think about it; these west coast teams have to travel a far distance, deal with jet lag, get prepared before their game, and have to play at a Sunday time that they're not accustomed too. Most west coast teams play at 4 PM ET when at home but have to play at 1 PM ET when traveling to the east coast.
For further analysis, let's take a look at the true west coast teams and how they fared traveling to the Eastern Time Zone over the last 6 years:
|Los Angeles Chargers||11||12|
|Los Angeles Rams||4||1|
|San Francisco 49ers||6||8|
Over the last 6 years, these teams have combined for a 38-37 regular season record when traveling to the Eastern Time Zone. Keep in mind that the Rams went back to Los Angeles in 2016, and these records include late games, not just the early ones. Also, you need to factor in that the Seahawks have been one of the best teams over this span and that the Rams had a great 2017 season.
To further hammer home the point of this disadvantage, the 49ers, Chargers, and Cardinals have proposed a change during the 2018 offseason to limit the number of away games played at an earlier time for west coast teams.
Where there's smoke, there's fire. And this system can really heat up if you find the right value.
Since 2007, the NFL has been holding annual regular-season games in London, UK. Until 2016, teams would be required to take their bye week following the London game. However, in 2016, the Colts requested to play the following week so that they could have their bye week later in the season. Now, teams have the option of a bye week after London or at a different point in the season.
Of the notable information coming out of crunching the London NFL data, teams that won in London have gone on to post a record of 111-75-1 for the remainder of the season. Teams that lost in London would go on to post a record of 77-111-1 throughout the remainder of the season. These wins and losses are based on 2007 through 2017 regular season.
Further analysis shows that in 2017, the winning London teams would go 30-11 for the rest of the year, while the losing London teams would go 17-26. This is a system that's definitely worth keeping your eye on heading into the 2018 season, especially since the NFL is hoping to one day put a team in London.
Perhaps the most popular betting system for casual to intermediate bettors is wagering on the home team. Despite its popularity, this system does have some merit. For the most part, teams protect their turf and win at home. The one thing you have to keep in mind is that the spread and moneylines help to level the betting action on home teams. With that said, check out the following breakdown of each team's home record over the last 3 seasons:
|Team||Home Team Records for last 3 years|
|Green Bay Packers||15||9|
|Kansas City Chiefs||18||6|
|Los Angeles Chargers||11||13|
|Los Angeles Rams||9||15|
|New England Patriots||19||5|
|New Orleans Saints||15||9|
|New York Giants||12||12|
|New York Jets||12||12|
|San Francisco 49ers||8||16|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11||13|
Only 8 teams have losing records at home over the last 3 years. That means 75% of the league is .500 or better at home. If you subtract the teams that are even, you still have 20 teams with winning records. Of those 20, there are a handful of teams that are virtually a lock to win at home:
- Carolina Panthers (18-6)
- Kansas City Chiefs (18-6)
- Minnesota Vikings (18-6)
- New England Patriots (19-5)
- Philadelphia Eagles (16-8)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (18-6)
- Seattle Seahawks (16-8)
If you notice, these 7 teams are annual contenders for the playoffs. In fact, three of these teams have been to the Super Bowl during this span: Carolina, New England, and Philadelphia. Both the Patriots and the Eagles have won the Super Bowl over the last 2 years. Not only is winning at home important for the regular season, but it also provides a huge advantage during the playoffs.
Live betting and half-time betting are popular types of football wagers. Without going into great detail about these popular wagers, live betting is when you bet on a game during the action. For example, after every snap, sports betting sites that offer live betting will update a plethora of betting wagers like spread, total points, moneyline, first downs, run or pass, and more.
Half-time betting is when you bet on the second half of a football game. The wager is offered during the specific game's half-time, and you are betting on what happens during the second half only. For example, you bet the Steelers at -3 for the second half. That means they have to score at least 3 more second-half points than their opponent.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to a popular betting system that incorporates home teams and live or half-time betting. The strategy is to identify a home team that's losing at half time or the beginning of the second half and find value in betting on them.
If the Panthers are at home and losing at half time or during the second half, then jump on a spread or moneyline that provides value because Carolina typically wins at home. They're 18-6 over the last 3 years.
Keep in mind that this system isn't designed to bet on any and every home team. It has to be a team that has a strong winning record at home. For example, you can't apply this system to the Cleveland Browns when they're losing at home in the second half. Cleveland has only won 3 home games over the last 3 years and are unlikely to win the game you want to bet on.
If the home team is a favorite heading into the game, and they go down, then it's even more favorable to pick them to win the second half or to choose a live bet that offers value.
For example, Kansas City is often favored at home, and they're usually the favorite over the visiting Raiders. But let's say the Raiders are leading in the third quarter. With an 18-6 home record over the last 3 years, I would definitely look for value with the spread or moneyline in favor of the Chiefs.
On the flipside, if the underdog is losing at home going into the second half, then look for the value in the spread or moneyline, as the payout might be juicy. Just make sure it's a team that has a good home record. A couple good examples are the Bills and Texans, who all have 15 wins at home over the last 3 years. More times than not, they're an underdog even at home.
A good example of this was the Buffalo Bills in 2017, who went 6-2 at home in the season. They were underdogs in most of their home games, but still were able to post an impressive home record. Almost as impressive was their 5-2-1 ATS record at New Era Field.
Betting on home favorites and underdogs who are losing at half time or in the second half can provide great value. You just have to be disciplined in knowing what to look for and be patient enough to find it.
Wrapping It Up
As you can see, football betting systems require a foundation of football and sports betting knowledge. From there, they also require self-discipline and patience to effectively implement your system. Take the time to really study the sport and develop a library of resources so that you can keep adding to or tweaking your system. Remember, no football betting system is perfect. And when it comes to betting on football, you will most likely lose more bets than you win. The key is finding the best value with your system to improve your chances of winning.