There are really two reasons why the NFL is by far the most popular sport in America today: fantasy football and gambling.
Without it, who’d really watch the 3-10 Browns play the 4-9 Bengals outside of their loyal fanbases in December?
But gambling keeps interest levels high.
So what is the best way to pick games using the point spread?
Pro Football 101 uses four factors when deciding which game to pick: teams, a team’s record at home versus on the road, date/weather, and record against the spread.
While the last one isn’t nearly as important as the first three, there are teams who get very hot against the spread, and it’s worth noting as you can bankroll their streak.
The Teams Involved
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Some teams are just better than others, and tend to perform more consistently on a weekly basis. They should always be in the conversation when deciding teams to bet on.
Team’s Record at Home/Road
Most teams in today’s NFL cannot win on the road. For example, the .500 Texans from a year ago were just 2-6 away from home.
If you have a decent team with a horrible road record, don’t be afraid to bet against them, even if who you bet on is .500 or below overall. The odds are in your favor that the road team will continue to play poorly while your team, playing at home, will step up and cover the spread.
When and where is the game taking place? Is it early in the season, or after a team has clinched a playoff spot?
When the eventual NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals went to New England late last year, as a seven-point underdog and playing in the cold, they were pulverized 47-7. And by the third quarter, Kurt Warner was out of the game.
It didn’t matter though, because they had already wrapped up the NFC West. So keep an eye on the circumstances surrounding the games, i.e. date, weather, key injuries, etc.
Record Against the Spread
Some teams, whether they’re the favorites or underdogs, have an uncanny ability to cover the point spread…while others, who possess solid overall records, aren’t as fortunate.
In 2008, the 2-14 Chiefs were 8-8 against the spread, while the 12-4 Panthers were 8-7-1.
Although they had completely different outcomes to their respective seasons, both returned about the same amount of money to your online gaming account.
So keep an eye on these trends.
As with anything in life, luck definitely plays its part, but if you keep these four things in mind when picking your teams each week, it should greatly increase your chances for success.