If you didn’t check out our part one piece on NFL betting, you can do that here. This piece will focus on some stats or ideas behind spread betting. If you are unsure of what a spread is, it is the favorite or underdog betting and distance between them. For example, Home Team is -3.5 on the spread. If you think they will win by four or more points, bet on the Home Team. If you think they will win by no more than three points, then bet on the Away Team.
Home Field Advantage
One item to consider is home-field advantage. Some teams enjoy this a bit more than others, but consider this as a general rule of thumb. Many people consider the basic advantage as three points. This means that if you see a line as, say, Titans vs. Colts, and the Colts are -3, the general idea is that on a neutral field these two teams would be a pick’em game. There are some teams that have fanbases that travel really well, though. So this is a good time to incorporate that into your handicapping. Will there be away team support that gives them a little extra push and helps them cover a spread? Quite possibly.
Yards-per-play is one stat I really like for spread betting. Compare this to defenses yards allowed per play and you can start to examine which team will have a bit more success in the game. It isn’t this simple, but you can start by looking at how many yards a team gets and then how many a team gives up and average if the offense is likely to be better than the defense. Once you have that information, you can also start examining how many snaps a team gets off in a game and see how many yards the team should expect. While field position will come into this significantly, this does allow you to start thinking about how likely a team will be to score.
Time of Possession
Time of possession can be very misleading in some instances. There are times when there is a turnover and a team scores a touchdown in a minute or two. There are other times when big chunk plays give one team a ton of points in a short amount of time. Consider the non-Super Bowl game against the Chiefs vs. Buccaneers. In the first quarter, the Chiefs scored 17 points in about 10 minutes of having the ball. In the other 26 minutes, they had the ball, they scored 10 points. Overall, though, it is a decent indication of if they make drives last. This can help you determine if they control the scoreboard too – which is key for spread betting.
Field Goal Stats
I love checking the field goal statistics – how far can a kicker kick on average, what their percentages are from different distances, and how what their success rate is overall. Kickers aren’t all created the same. Some don’t even get a chance at a 50-yard field goal. If they don’t, that’s three points off the board. It also means that around the 40-yard line, the team is more likely to punt, causing the other team to have a worse field position, and thus making the game potentially lower-scoring. The percentages from different distances go in line with the yards-per-play stat from earlier, if you can get a general idea of where the ball will end up, you can start seeing how likely a team is to get into the endzone and also if they will have field goal chances or not. The overall success rate is a great place to start as this shows just how successful, or unsuccessful the kicking game is. Don’t think for a second a coach doesn’t know that and have it in his mind while he decides whether or not to go for it on fourth down, punt, or kick a field goal.
One final note, spread betting is very hard. Most stats are intertwined and this was designed to give you an idea of some to look at, but no one stat individually will give you enough to get the full picture of which side to take.