5 NFL Handicapping Tricks the Pros Use

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The truth is that there are no perfect shortcuts when it comes to learning how to become a winning NFL handicapper. Winning NFL gamblers put in a great deal of time and work every week to find games and lines that can be profitable.

But there are some tricks that professional NFL gamblers use that can help you improve your results. Here’s a list of five NFL handicapping tricks that professional gamblers use. None of these tricks alone is going to beat the sportsbooks in the long run.

However, you can use more than one of them in combination, or all of them together, to win more of your bets. You still need to develop a long term betting model and put in the work to win in the long run, but these tricks are a good place to get started.

1 – Betting Against the Short Week

One thing I look for in every week of the NFL schedule is which teams are on short weeks and which teams are playing on longer rest. Teams on long rest, either from an off week or playing on Thursday the week before, tend to perform better.

Thursday Night Football LogoOn the other hand, teams working on a short week, like when they played the previous Monday night, tend to perform worse.

One thing to remember when evaluating teams on short and extra rest is that the sportsbooks know these tendencies also, and they adjust the lines to account for this sometimes. But it doesn’t negate this trick.

More importantly, if you don’t account for the short and long weeks, it can lead to you making mistakes when you evaluate games.

I don’t bet against teams on a short week every time it happens, but I rarely bet on teams working on a short week. I always look at the teams on a short week to see if there’s any value on betting against them.

You also need to look at teams on a long week to see if there’s any value betting on them. Be careful about betting against teams coming off longer rest periods.

2 – Lack of Pass Rush Teams

The next trick is about betting on or against teams based on their pass rush ability. Teams with a good pass rush limit what opposing offenses can do against them. And teams with a weak pass rush give up more yards and points.

I tend to bet against teams with a weak pass rush and bet on teams with a good pass rush. Of course, like everything else, you can’t rely on just one thing or put too much faith on one thing if you want to win in the long run.

Aaron Donald

However, one good way to evaluate games is to use multiple tricks. If you just consider the first two tricks on this page, it can line up to make a possible value bet.

If a team coming off a short week with a weak pass rush is playing against a team coming off a longer rest that also has a good pass rush, it can be a good indication that there might be value on the game.

When you take this another step or two and combine one or more other tricks listed on this page, it can help you identify even stronger betting possibilities.

The five tricks listed on this page aren’t the only ones you can use. The more you bet on NFL games, the more trends and tricks you can see and use. When multiple tricks or trends line up, it can help you become a better handicapper and win more money.

3 – Betting Against Back to Back Road Games

Another trick that NFL handicappers use involves teams that play two road games in a row. When a team has to play back-to-back road games, they have the hassle of traveling two straight weeks, and they basically play on a short week two weeks in a row.

When a team plays at home, they have an extra day to prepare for the game. The road team loses a day because they have to travel. Even if the flight is only a couple hours, they still have the hassle of going to the airport, flying, then getting settled into the hotel.

While the road team can still get some work in on the game plan, they can’t get much done on the practice field. This is one reason why road teams don’t do as well overall in the NFL.

All of these things are magnified when a team has to travel two weeks in a row. After their first road game, they have to travel back home. This takes time and energy. Then, they have to turn around and travel again in five or six days for their next road game.

Continuing with the discussion in the last section, you need to look at the schedule every week for teams that fit two or more of these tricks. Is there a team on a short week, with a weak pass rush, playing their second game in a row on the road? If there is, you can count on this team struggling in their next game.

Sometimes, the line will offer value on the opposing team in these situations. And when it does, you should bet the game. But if the value looks like it might be on the road team, you should avoid making this bet. Too many things are working against them to offer value.

4 – Ball Security Battle

The next trick is to rank all of the teams in the NFL based on ball security. You need to rank each offense based on how well they protect the ball, or avoid turning the ball over, and rank each defense based on how well they create turnovers.

The bottom line is that teams that create a positive turnover ratio win more games. And teams that create a negative turnover ratio struggle to win many games. You have to know where each team, offensively and defensively, rank or stand in the turnover battle.


Once again, this trick alone won’t always tell you which team is going to win, but it can help you avoid making bets that are dangerous. You should avoid betting on teams that struggle with turnovers.

By now you should understand how powerful these tricks are when two or more of them are present in the same game. Combine ball security rankings with the other tricks on this list to pinpoint profitable betting opportunities.

5 – Average Field Position Both Sides of the Ball

The final trick deals with field position. The simple fact is that teams that start with better field position score more points than teams who don’t.

Many different things go into field position, and some teams are stronger in some areas than others. But the overall average starting field position takes all of these things into account.

Like most things, you need to rank each team’s starting field position for the offense and defense. When you’re handicapping an NFL game, you can see how each team performs on offense and defense to help you identify value.

I’ve shown how you can use many or all of the tricks on this page together to help you do a better job handicapping NFL games. What you’re going to find as you use these tricks is that the worst teams are the worst teams for a reason. They struggle in many different areas, and the lines usually represent this.

The real value is often when you can use these tricks to see an opportunity where few others see the same opportunity, including the sportsbooks setting the lines.

The average NFL gambler bets on favorites or their favorite team. Smart NFL handicappers use tricks like these to find value and don’t care which team is favored, and they don’t bet on their favorite teams. When you can use tricks like the ones on this page to find value on the other side of these games, you have a chance to make good long-term profits.


Winning NFL handicappers use everything available to make winning wagers. This includes every trick they find that helps them evaluate games, and every statistic that helps them find value. This is the same thing you need to do if you want to win more NFL bets.
Use the five NFL gambling strategies listed on this page to get immediate improvements. But don’t stop with these tricks. Use them as a solid foundation and keep looking for more ways to become a winning NFL handicapper!