If you’re 40 or older, you may remember when QB1 was first introduced to sports bars and all the extra excitement it brought to watching football on TV.
QB1, in case you’re young, forgetful or simply uninformed, allowed you to predict whether the next play would be a pass or run, which portion of the field the play would go to (left, right or middle), and how many yards would be gained. You got points for being right, you could compete against anyone else playing the game in the bar, and the top players would earn prizes. Anyone who understood football in-game strategy and was paying close attention to the game had a pretty big advantage in the game.
The outdated QB1 game may have gone the way of the dinosaur (or should I say pinball machines, since nobody seems to play those anymore either), but there is another way for football enthusiasts to max out on their knowledge of the game: NFL live betting. Wagering on games while they are in progress is expected to soon become the most popular way to bet on the NFL (if it isn’t already), thanks largely to the great excitement level and constant interaction it adds to the games.
Like QB1, NFL live betting favors those who have a strategy and know what they’re doing. Here are 5 key tips to help you dominate in NFL live betting and take advantage of some favorable odds after the games have kicked off.
1. Always Be Aware of Key Numbers
Approximately 15% of NFL games are decided by either 3 points or 7 points, which makes total sense. 3 is how many points a team gets for a field goal and 7 is how many points a team gets for a converted touchdown, assuming they kick the extra point instead of going for 2.
Most football bettors are aware of these “key numbers” when placing their bets before a game. After all, it’s much better to lay 2.5 points with a favorite instead of 3, and it’s much better to get +7.5 points with an underdog instead of just +7.
But it can be easy not to pay as much attention to key numbers when you’re doing NFL live betting and the odds are constantly fluctuating. When you have to make split-second decisions to pounce on NFL live lines before they move again, it can be easy to forget the importance of the key numbers of 3 and 7 (or 10, 4, 6 and 14, the other 4 most common margins of victory in NFL history).
Don’t forget about the key numbers. If the live betting lines have the favorite at -3.5 points, try to wait a couple of plays to see if the line drops to -2.5, then pounce on it. If the underdog is +6.5 or +9.5, betting those lines doesn’t have nearly as much value as if you can wait out for +7.5 or +10.5.
At some point in the game, you’ll probably get a chance to be on the right side of those key numbers. Wait patiently for that to happen, then take advantage.
2. Don’t Just Look at the Score
Although NFL live betting lines also factor in how much time is left in the game, which team has the ball and where they are on the field, they are primarily based on the score of the game.
If a team is a 6-point favorite before the game and then takes a 10-point lead early, they might suddenly be favored by double digits on the live odds. If a 10-point underdog jumps out to a 14-3 advantage, they’ll probably be close to even money.
An advantage that you have as a live bettor is that scores often don’t indicate which team is playing the better football.
Look for games in which that’s the case and grab the value.
For example, the Patriots may be racking up tons of yards and moving the ball with ease, but find themselves trailing the Bills in the second quarter due to a fumble return or kickoff return for a touchdown, a fluke interception in the red zone or a couple of dropped passes. Yards per play is one of the top things that football handicappers look at when breaking down a game, so as long as New England continues to enjoy a significant edge in that department, it’s probably a matter of time before the Pats pull back in front. You can catch some great point spread value on the live odds before that happens.
3. Know Your Live Betting Strategy Before the Game Begins
Though the common perception is that most NFL games end up within a point or two of the point spread, the reality is that a lot of them aren’t. If you’ve ever played teasers, you know it’s actually fairly common for teams not to cover the spread even if you spot them an extra touchdown or even 10 points.
That’s why it’s important to know which teams (or what side of the total, if you’re betting Over/Under) you want to support in live betting before the games kick off. Once the games are underway and teams get off to fast or slow starts, the live odds will often look pretty appealing. Same goes with Over/Under, if there’s a couple of early touchdowns or if the first quarter goes scoreless.
Let’s say the Buccaneers are 14-point underdogs to the Falcons, and Atlanta starts the game with 2 touchdown drives to take a 14-0 lead. Now, you may be tempted to take all that extra point spread value on the Bucs when you see them catching +21 or +24 points, even if you didn’t like Tampa’s chances of covering the spread before the game began.
A favorite strategy of mine is to look at the pre-game odds and determine teams and totals I’d like to bet on, then try to get a slightly better number in NFL live betting (maybe get on the right side of a key number, for example). That way, I won’t end up betting on a team in live betting that I actually didn’t like before the game began.
4. Keep a Close Eye on Injuries
Keeping on top of all the action on a busy NFL Sunday is a tough job for oddsmakers in charge of the live betting lines. There can be up to 10 early games all being played at the same time, which makes it virtually impossible to stay on top of everything.
When there’s a significant injury to a key player, the oddsmakers will change the live odds accordingly. But it might take them a few minutes to do so, leaving us some opportunity to strike before the betting lines change.
Watching the games is the best way to do this in my opinion. Once Aaron Rodgers is officially ruled out for the game on Twitter or on the ticker rolling along the bottom of your screen, oddsmakers are fully aware of the injury and have already made their adjustments.
However, if you see the injury take place in real time and believe that star will be coming out of the game, you should be able to beat the books to the punch.
Speaking of Rodgers, I was able to cash in on his broken collarbone injury suffered midway through the 2017 season against the Vikings. Green Bay was a 3-point road favorite in that game and the game was 0-0 early in the first quarter when Rodgers was driven down into the turf by Minnesota’s Anthony Barr. Watching the game live, I could tell that Rodgers was seriously hurt and locked in the Vikings at +115 on the moneyline. A few minutes later, once Rodgers was officially ruled out, the betting line had changed to Minnesota to -4.5. (The Vikings went on to win comfortably, 23-10.)
There’s a bit of risk in placing bets under the assumption that a player is injured before you know for sure that he is, but the upside is tremendous live betting value that won’t be there once everyone else knows about the injury.
5. Know Each Team’s Strengths and Weaknesses
One thing that I love about football is that the game appeals to so many different skill sets and types of athletes. There’s a place for the big guys on the offensive and defensive lines, the speedy jackrabbits can thrive at wide receiver and running back, and immobile but intelligent guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady can pick defenses apart from the quarterback position.
With so many different ways of winning games, teams often have distinctive strengths and weaknesses that almost seem to be based on the philosophy of the organization. The Baltimore Ravens, for example, will always be associated with playing tough defense and running the ball. The New Orleans Saints, meanwhile, have been known for years for throwing the ball around the field and hoping their offense puts up enough points to make up for their leaky defense.
Make sure you’re keeping each team’s tendencies in mind when you’re placing NFL live bets.
There will be situations where a certain NFL team isn’t a great live bet while other teams might be and vice versa.
For example, if a team’s greatest strength on offense is running the ball and it struggles to move the ball through the air, you don’t want to be live betting them when they’re down a couple of touchdowns. In that situation, they’re going to have to resort to throwing the ball more often in order to preserve time on the clock and try to hit more big plays, and that’s simply not their forte.
But if a team has a tremendous aerial attack, being down double digits probably doesn’t faze them that much. Confidence in the passing game and an ability to hit big plays will always make a team feel like they’re still in the game regardless of the score, and a couple of quick strikes is all they need to flip the script.
I also look to back teams with strong running games when they hold a lead in the second half. Being able to control the clock by consistently moving the chains on the ground is the best way to protect a lead, and there’s much less chance of that team turning the ball over when it’s handed off to its running backs play after play.
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