Typical handicapping trends the public uses in NFL and NCAA football

Football is unique in that it is virtually the only sport in which bettors have several days and sometimes weeks to analyze games and determine which picks they think are most likely to cover the point spread, money line or totals. Whether it’s the NFL or NCAA college football, most betting lines are posted either Monday or Tuesday and sometimes as early as Sunday night for the following weekend’s slate of games. That means there is a lot of time for bettors to carefully choose the picks they want to bet and try to determine which lines are soft and which ones should be avoided. And when it comes to the really big games, like the Super Bowl and the major bowl games, people will have weeks to check the lines and try to find the best bets.

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Favored Teams Draw More Action

When it comes to the general public, most people prefer to bet on the favorites instead of the underdogs. At least two-thirds and likely even more bets laid week in and week out will be on the favored teams, and that applies to virtually all sports. Professional sports bettors will take a longer look at underdogs and bet them more often than the general public will. But professional sports bettors also like to bet on the favorites more than the underdogs. Some of the reasons are the perceived weaknesses of underdogs versus the favored teams, and often times, favored teams are at home or have been winning impressively. While recent performance can suggest future outcomes, the public tends to overreact to either impressive wins or depressing losses. If a team rolls over its last opponent, bettors often times make the mistake of thinking that team is playing exceptionally good football as a whole when it simply may have enjoyed a favorable personnel matchup or just caught a team in a bad spot. And if a team gets rolled, bettors many times make the mistake of thinking it will continue. But a single instance does not make a trend, and many bettors fall into the trap of perceiving teams to be better or worse than they truly are based on the outcome of one game.

Televised Games See More Play

Bettors love to watch the games upon which they wager, and sports books that aren’t crowded generally provide a great place to track several games at once. When a game is televised on national TV, the number of bets laid on that game will be much larger as will the amount of the bets generally higher than those games that are shown only on regional television or not at all. For sports books, taking wagers on televised games can be very profitable due to the fact that television producers don’t want to air games that have obvious outcomes. They want compelling, tightly contested games that will keep viewers on their toes from opening kickoff until the clock runs out. That means bettors who wager primarily on televised games generally are taking a much greater risk than those who look for more predictable games.

Most Bets Are Laid the Day of the Game

Another advantage many sports books have over bettors is that most people wait until the day of the game to lay their bets. That can be a smart move if weather is a concern on game day or a key injury might occur during the days leading up to the game, but it can be a big mistake if the line opened soft in one team’s favor and moves in the other direction. Lines can move by one or more points from the moment they are first posted, and that means if a team has a favorable line and the professional bettors jump on it, the sports books will adjust it by increasing the vig or adjusting the spread. If a team is favored by -2.5 points, for example, and bets start coming in on that number, the sports book will bump it to -3 to -4 points by game day. For those bettors who waited until game day to lay a bet on the favorite, they could lose if the game is decided by a field goal. In fact, many professional bettors will wager on the favorite at -2.5 points, and if the line goes up to -3.5 or more, the smart bettor will lay an equal wager on the underdog. Over the long term, such bets will produce a profit due to football games so often being decided by a field goal.

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