Making NFL picks isn't just about the point spread. If you can find the right places to play teaser bets, you can scoop up some extra cash and have fun doing it.
Yes, Virginia, they still have NFL teaser bets in Las Vegas – for now. The books got absolutely soaked during last year's Divisional playoff games, paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars to intrepid bettors who were willing to look past the point spread and play a teaser. It was bad enough that there was some talk of shutting down teaser bets altogether. Caesars even stopped taking teasers for the Championship round.
No need to worry if you're making NFL picks online; the teaser is alive and well and ready for the 2016 campaign. So what is this thing, anyway, and how can you best take advantage of this betting option? Let's use a game from the Divisional round to illustrate. Remember when the Arizona Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers 26-20 in overtime? You do if you made a teaser bet with the Cardinals and the OVER.
A teaser is a type of parlay bet that takes the NFL odds and makes them a lot easier to beat, but in exchange, you get a lower payout at the end. You can add either 6, 6.5, or 7 points to a point spread or a total, and you can put anywhere between two and 10 of these wagers in your teaser.
Here's what a regular 2-team parlay would have looked like on the aforementioned Cardinals-Packers game (with a payout of 2.645:1 at Bovada)
Now, here's what the 2-team teaser bet would have looked like, using the popular 6-point teaser (with a payout of –110):
That's a much lower payout, of course, but in this case, the lower risk was worth it: Aaron Rodgers made that ridiculous Hail Mary touchdown throw to Jeff Janis to send the game into overtime, then Carson Palmer found Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone to seal the deal. Easy money, right?
Sort of. Yes, 15 of the 16 possible 6-point teasers in the Divisional round were winners – everything but the UNDER on the Seahawks-Panthers game. This kind of carnage isn't going to happen all the time. When you're teasing point spreads, you should be picking situations where those extra six points will move you past a “magic” number, preferably 3 or 7 (or both). There are certain totals that have some magic to them, as well: 37, 41, 51, and 44 have been the best numbers to move past over the years, according to Wizard of Odds.
With that in mind, take another look at the original Cardinals-Packers spread and total, along with the other three Divisional games:
Arizona –7 (49)
New England –6 (44)
Carolina –2.5 (41.5)
Denver –7 (41)
Those were fantastic lines to play teasers on. By shifting the Cardinals from –7 to –1, you made it much easier to cash in by negating two very possible outcomes: Arizona winning by seven, and Arizona winning by three. If you had teased the Packers instead from +7 to +13, you would have taken away the push from Green Bay winning by seven, so that's good, but overall, this play wouldn't have been as valuable as teasing Arizona. Teasing Seattle from +2.5 to +8.5 would have been best, all other things being equal because you would have moved past both +3 and +7. Go figure, the Seahawks fell 31-24. Sometimes you can win for losing.