Best Ways to Profit With Your NFL Picks Next Season

Swinging Johnson

Friday, July 10, 2015 8:20 PM GMT

Every bettor has opinions, especially during football season, but how do we decide which side or total gives us the best chance to cash in our NFL picks? Here we map out a blueprint for next season.

Are you a Sharp or a Square?
If you are new to the game then let me explain. A square is someone who tends to bet the favorites blindly while a sharp is always looking for value. While that does not fully illustrate the differences it is the key factor regarding the disparate opinions we often see floating around the week prior to week whatever in the NFL season. Of course part of being sharp means shopping for the best NFL odds available and having several offshore accounts at your disposal while the square will essentially settle with laying bad numbers due to the fact they have only one bookmaker in which to turn.

Below we will try to sharpen up the squarest of the square so that he or she will have a better chance of actually making money instead of chalking up the deficit at the end of the season to having fun. What fun is there in losing money? As any mathematician will tell you when you are laying a 10% vig on every wager (assuming we are betting point spreads and not money lines) you need to win 52.38% of your wagers to break even as long as the units are all identical. You will find that most NFL handicapping contests are won with anywhere from a 58-62% winning percentage. Therefore, if you hear of a “professional” handicapper touting his picks and declaring he averages a 70% or better historical win rate on his NFL picks then I suggest you run, not walk, away from this pretentious prevaricator of pernicious propaganda. Enough alliteration, it’s time for education.

 

Money Management
There are differing opinions on how much of your total bankroll one should wager on an individual game. The conventional wisdom is five-percent which means if you allocate $1000 for the season (just add zeroes for all you high rollers and do the math) then each bet should be in $50 units. While betting $50 may not give you the rush that a nickel wager will provide this is not about satisfying your need for speed as it were but actually making money. How much fun will you be having come Week 4 when you’ve blown through your entire bankroll? You will be relegated to one dollar entries at Draft Kings to get a taste of what you’re missing. Don’t be that guy.

 

You’re Just too Good to be True…
Remember that girl you saw across the room, your eyes met, she crinkled her nose and then looked away with a dimpled grin that flat out melted you where you stood? Your heart races, your palms sweat and you swear she’s out of your league but you take a shot and buy her a drink. Fast forward six months into dating her and that little crinkle she does with her nose is not so cute anymore. And that raspy laugh that had you beggin’ for mercy now sounds like a witch’s cackle that makes fingernails on a chalkboard sound like a symphony. We’ve all been there and when it comes to making your NFL picks we’ve all fallen in love with what we are sure is a bad line that is just waiting to be exploited by sharps like us.

Oftentimes what the novice bettor believes to be a gift is actually pretty poison ready to ruin his day and perhaps his week if he’s not careful. Oftentimes this is what the veterans call a trap game. There are various scenarios but one of them occurs when a good team, after coming off a win with a critical matchup the following week, is facing a bad team.

In one such instance in Week 6 of last season the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the road in Cleveland after not only defeating the Jaguars in Jacksonville but covering the spread the week before. The schedule had them then hosting the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and archrival Baltimore Ravens in Weeks 7, 8 and 9. The casual bettor who fancies himself a researcher would look back at the season before and find that the last time the Steelers played in Cleveland they not only covered the spread as 2 ½ point underdogs but won easily by the score of 27-11.

Here it was again. The NFL odds makers were doomed to make the same mistake by hanging the identical number and giving Pittsburgh a 2 ½ point head start. Looked like takin’ candy from a baby. Well, even if you don’t remember the game or the score I’m sure you know where I’m headed. Cleveland rolled to a 31-10 victory and all that Pittsburgh money went right into the hands of the bookmakers. Be careful because divisional games are a different breed of cat and upcoming games can cause teams to look ahead.

 

Think of a Team and Give Me Your First Impression
On the surface we all have opinions on where we rank teams. Sometimes historically lousy teams that have suddenly gotten better continue to stick in our craw as the cellar dwellers they have historically been. If the Jacksonville Jaguars suddenly get good this season then watch out above when you walk under tall buildings because there will be plenty of ledge jumpers losing their collective shirts on all those favorites that flamed against the rapidly improving Jags. As the season progresses the NFL odds makers will certainly adjust but will we buy what the Jags are selling? Or will we continue to fade them just hoping for the due factor? Eventually every team fails to cover but by the time this mythical edition of the Jags do we could be out of business.

 

2014 ATS Results

Team

ATS Record

Cover %

MOV

ATS +/-

Indianapolis Colts

12-6-1

66.7%

4.1

+1.5

Arizona Cardinals

11-6-0

64.7%

0.0

+1.8

Cleveland Browns

9-5-2

64.3%

-2.4

-1.2

Kansas City Chiefs  

10-6-0

62.5%

4.5

+3.8

Minnesota Vikings

10-6-0

62.5%

-1.1

+1.8

Dallas Cowboys

11-7-0

61.1%

6.3

+4.8

Houston Texans

9-6-1

60.0%

4.1

+3.7

Green Bay Packers

10-7-1

58.8%

7.6

+3.4

New England Patriots

11-8-0

57.9%

10.6

+6.5

Buffalo Bills

9-7-0

56.2%

3.4

+4.1

Philadelphia Eagles

9-7-0

56.2%

4.6

+2.5

Seattle Seahawks

10-8-1

55.6%

8.2

+1.6

Baltimore Ravens

9-8-1

52.9%

6.4

+3.5

Pittsburgh Steelers

9-8-0

52.9%

3.2

+1.2

Carolina Panthers

9-9-0

50.0%

-2.1

+0.5

Cincinnati Bengals

8-8-1

50.0%

0.3

-0.7

Oakland Raiders

8-8-0

50.0%

-12.4

-3.8

Denver Broncos

8-9-0

47.1%

6.9

-0.3

Detroit Lions

8-9-0

47.1%

2.1

+0.2

Atlanta Falcons

7-9-0

43.8%

-2.2

-0.9

Chicago Bears

7-9-0

43.8%

-7.7

-4.9

Miami Dolphins

7-9-0

43.8%

0.9

-0.1

New York Giants

7-9-0

43.8%

-1.2

+0.2

San Diego Chargers

7-9-0

43.8%

0.0

-0.2

St Louis Rams

7-9-0

43.8%

-1.9

+0.8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7-9-0

43.8%

-8.3

-3.5

Jacksonville Jaguars

6-9-1

40.0%

-10.2

-3.1

New York Jets

6-9-1

40.0%

-7.4

-3.5

San Francisco 49ers

6-9-1

40.0%

-2.1

-4.8

New Orleans Saints

6-10-0

37.5%

-1.4

-5.9

Washington Redskins

5-11-0

31.2%

-8.6

-5.7

Tennessee Titans

3-12-1

20.0%

-11.5

-6.9

         

 

The table above illustrates the ATS record of each NFL team, the cover percentage, the average margin of victory and the average amount of points that the team covers the spread. As you can see the lowly Cleveland Browns weren’t so lowly last season as they reflect the mythical Jacksonville Jaguars I referred to earlier. The Brownies ended the season with a 7-9 record which is far better than their four win averages over the previous five seasons. They went on to have the third best ATS cover percentage in 2014 behind only Indianapolis and Arizona.

In short, look for value on the weak sisters. The NFL odds makers understand that the public loves lining up behind the power teams like New England, Denver, Seattle, Green Bay and Indianapolis to name a few. Also, don’t underestimate the impact of divisional games. Bad teams rise up when they play their divisional rivals no matter how much better they are perceived to be. The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots were a dismal 2-4 ATS against AFC East opponents. However, Indianapolis ended the season as not only the team with the highest ATS winning percentage but went 5-0-1 in their division.