9 NFL Betting Facts You Need to Know to Win

NFL Player Jerick McKinnon With Sportsbook Background

Most sports bettors I know started their gambling career betting on the NFL. To be honest, the NFL is the toughest sport to make money on, but that doesn’t stop most gamblers from trying their luck.

If you want to make money betting on the NFL you need to know why it’s the toughest sport to bet on, and how to overcome this and find good value every week.

The nine facts about the National Football League on this page are going to help you learn why it’s tough, but also how you can make a profit anyway.

1 – Quarterback Play Evaluations

Most NFL bettors know the quarterbacks are important, but they still struggle to evaluate them correctly. They look at yards passing and touchdowns, but they rarely look at how efficient each quarterback is, and how they play within the offensive system.

Look at how effective each quarterback is on each down, and in the red zone. Look at completion percentage in different situations, particularly on third down.

Also track how many interceptions each quarterback throws per attempt. This is a better way to judge efficiency than just looking at overall interceptions. This is a good tactic when you’re looking at any statistic in the NFL to look at them on an even playing field.

2 – NFL Lines Are Tight

The lines on NFL games offered by the sportsbooks are tighter than any other sport. This is because the books know they get most of their action on NFL games, and there are a limited number of games every week.

The sportsbooks spend more time on setting lines per game in the NFL than any other sport. When the sportsbooks set tight lines, they make more money.

They also do a better job balancing their handle on both sides of the games.

Does this mean that you can’t make a profit betting on the NFL?

You can make money betting on the NFL, because some sharp gamblers do. But you need to make sure that you get your ducks in a row. You can’t take any shortcuts, and you have to learn how to evaluate games at a very deep level.

The facts listed on this page are going to help you, but don’t stop here. You have to dig deeper and work harder than the sportsbooks to find value. Being a winning NFL gambler isn’t compatible with being lazy.

3 – Special Teams Are Important in Close Games

Special teams, including kickers, punters, coverage, and return teams, are far more important than most NFL gamblers think. In fact, most gamblers simply ignore them.

It’s difficult to put an exact percentage on the importance of special teams, but I use roughly a 20% rating for special teams, and 40% on each the defense and offense.

Field position plays an important role in the NFL, and the special teams have a lot to do with field position. The offense and defense also influence field position, but if you ignore special teams you’re making a mistake. And mistakes cost you money.

4 – Don’t Underestimate Turnovers

Turnovers are the most important plays in every football game. A turnover denies the offense a chance to score, and provides an additional opportunity for the other team to score.

NFL Player Running the Ball

You have to know how likely each team is to turn the ball over, and how likely each team is to force a turnover. You start with looking at the turnover differential for each team, but you need to dig deeper.

Look at the situation that resulted in each turnover. Not every turnover is equal. An interception in garbage time is different than one in the first quarter. Teams have to take chances when they’re far behind, so they turn the ball over more.

5 – Offensive Efficiency

I mentioned efficiency in the section about quarterbacks. Efficiency is a way to compare different offenses.

The important thing to do is compare every team on the same thing in the same way. Instead of looking at total yards, look at yards per attempt. Do this for passing yards and rushing yards. How many yards per play does each offense average?

Look at the completion percentage on passing plays. And look at all of these things by quarter, at home, and on the road. And you also need to take a close look at how each offense performs in the red zone.

6 – Defensive Efficiency

You just learned about offensive efficiency. You need to track all of the same things for the defense. In addition, how often does the defense pressure the quarterback, and how often do they get a sack.

Remember to compute these numbers based on a level playing field. Divide the total numbers by the plays they’re on the field.

Once you determine a ranking for each offense and defense based on efficiency, the question is how do you compare an offense and defense that rank close to each other.

For example, how will the top ranked offense perform against the top tanked defense?

The issue is there’s not an easy answer to this question, and it’s something you have to figure this out if you want to win consistently. Two teams that are truly evenly matched usually mean the offense has a small edge. The defense has to react, which gives the offense a small edge. But you have to be careful, because rarely are two teams truly equally matched.

7 – Time of Possession

One quick way to judge the efficiency of each offense and defense in the NFL is to look at the time of possession. This isn’t the be all end all stat, but it does give you a rough idea.

Most winning teams win the time of possession battle. Using time of possession with average starting field position gives you a good place to start every game evaluation. You have to use other factors, like the ones listed on this page, but these two things go a long way towards effective handicapping.

8 – Lines Can’t Be Ignored

I mentioned in an earlier section that most sports bettor ignore special teams in the NFL. Most of them also ignore the offensive and defensive lines. But these two areas are just as important as any other area on the field.

You need to form somewhat of a ranking of each offensive and defensive line in the league. The best offensive lines help their team gain more yards on the ground, and protect the quarterback so they have time to find open receivers.

NFL Players Running Onto Field

On the other side, the best defensive lines limit the running game and sack the opposing quarterback more. They also force the opposing quarterback to work faster, which leads to more mistakes.

As you build your list from bets to worst, take a close look at how each line performs against other lines that are similarly ranked. This is especially helpful when you’re looking at playoff games and have an entire season of data to work with.

9 – NFL Head Coaches Don’t Care

NFL head coaches will cost you money if you bet on the NFL. This is because the coaches have a different goal than you do as a sports bettor.

The coach stays employed and keeps getting paid by winning games. It doesn’t matter if the coach wins by an average of two or 12, as long s he wins he stays employed.

On the other hand, your goal is to find lines that offer value, and place bets that end up paying out at the end of the game. You can see where this is a problem for you.

If you’re betting on the underdog, this isn’t usually an issue. The underdog is trying to win just as much as the favorite. But when you bet on the favorite, you need to win by a certain number of points if you’re giving points.

The best way to avoid this problem is to bet on underdogs using the point spread, and bet on favorites using the moneyline.

Just never make the mistake of thinking that your goals and the head coach’s goals are the same, because they simply don’t care about your goals.


Betting on the NFL is tough, but you can still make money if you know the right things. Now that you know why the lines are tight in the NFL, and how you can overcome this and evaluate games for value and profits, you just need to start using your new knowledge.

Start every NFL game by evaluating the quarterbacks, and don’t forget about things that most gamblers ignore like special teams and the defensive and offensive lines. Keep learning more by adjusting your evaluation system and you’re going to quickly learn how to find value and profits.