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How to Handicap NFL Football Games


Handicapping in essence applies to methods pertaining to how we calculate advantage. It is a sequence of processes that will help bettors make better choices when wagering on sports. A smart handicapper will take every factor into consideration, as well as how they will affect the outcome of a given game.


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Many bettors believe that doing their own handicapping is too complicated, and will ďgo with their gutĒ when deciding where to put their money. Both of these are wrong. Although handicapping correctly is time consuming, it is not complicated. There is no exact science to it, you need to find information that will directly affect the game, and use those systems across the entire schedule. Here are four things to get you started on the right track of knowing how to handicap NFL games.


Monday Homework


One key is to get started early. After a day of football, and perhaps a few beverages, itís tough to get started on Sunday night, but if you can, itís the perfect time. If not, first thing Monday morning you want to start working on your own point spreads before even looking at sportsbook spreads.


Donít let those lines affect how you see the game. Once you develop your method for handicapping games, start digging into the numbers. You will come up with a process that works for you, but I like to generate my own power rankings.


I will divide every team into six categories, offense, defense, special teams, offensive line, defensive line and human factor. Offense, defense and special teams are where points come from, games are won and lost on the line and the human factor will include many things.


An example of human factor could be a team getting blown out the previous week. These guys are professionals, and most have only ever known winning, having dominated in youth football, high school and a lesser extent college. I love siding with a team that just got blown out, primarily because the public will overcompensate. Getting soft lines early before they move is often times where you will find the most value in betting on the NFL.


Be Selective


When I am starting to handicap the upcoming weekís games, Iíll always start by doing a quick assessment of each game. Itís tougher to do in the first few weeks, but inconsistencies and overall questions surrounding teams will often time cause me to take them off my board all together.


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As my work through the remainder of my systems it will become apparent that some games are not worth wagering on. It will make your entire process easier after eliminating these games, giving you better direction on which games you should focus on. It makes no sense to handicap every game, so do yourself a favor and take games off the board in a couple different stages of your handicapping process.


Any Given Week


I talked a little about this earlier, but these guys are professionals, both the players and coaches. They will make necessary adjustments from week to week, so do not get too wrapped up if a team got blown out the week before or had their quarterback sacked 10 times.


Sure, if it becomes a trend and a team is regularly getting 40+ points scored on them, they most likely have a major weakness in their defense. Sometimes it only takes one missing link, and when that weakness is spotted, team will exploit it over and over again. The NFL is all about matchups, and the good QBs will always find that weakness and go after that matchup until the proper corrections are made.


It is important to remember that one way or another, teams find a way to correct their weaknesses. If a coaching staff canít, upper management is sure to find someone that can. Remember that the majority of the public doesnít look at it like that. They see this weakness and they believe this weakness will continue to be an issue, causing the line to move in your favor.


Finding these lines that are being over compensated by the public is where the real money is made. You will see a lot of times the line will move in a direction that will benefit you. Donít get caught up in the carryover from week to week.


Learning to Follow the Sharp Money


This could be an article on it own, because there is a lot to know here, but letís touch on some of the basics. A lot of times sportsbooks will release a line knowing which side the public will side with. Itís no secret the public loves to bet the favorite and the OVER, and books will exploit this by inflating the line depending on the teams popularity and/or how much they are dominating at that time.


A key to following the sharp money is to follow line movements, and more importantly, the percentages of bets on either side. By doing this, you will come to identify reverse line movements, which often times means that the sharp money is betting against the public.


Reverse line movement is a good sign that there is big money on one side, although a large percentage of the tickets on that game are on the other. For example, letís say a game has a 70% bet percentage at -3. In this case, you would expect the line to be adjusted to -3.5. Instead of going in the direction you feel it should, it moves to -2.5. This is an indication that more money is coming in on the underdog, perhaps from sharp betting syndicates.


This isnít failsafe either, because like anything else in the betting world, nothing is ever black and white. Be aware of other factors that might be causing a reverse affect to the line, and separate facts from assumptions.


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Also remember that sharps like to bet early and late, so be aware of early and late line movements, again, trying to separate from other reasons why these are happening. Injuries, weather and other factors will always have some affect as well.


The main thing to consider when you start your handicapping process is to have fun with it. There is no exact science, and remember that the work you are doing is more than what 80% of recreational bettors are doing. Do you own handicapping, creating your own spreads for the games you want to bet, then have a look at where your sportsbook has their lines set, and see how close you are.


If there are some that are very different from yours, figure out why. See why your numbers are so different. If there is no clear cut reason why, maybe thatís the your 5-Star game for that week. Uncovering soft lines are your key to sports betting success, and knowing how to handicap NFL games is your key to cashing more winning tickets.

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