When wagering on a NFL game the
movement of the point spread or the line can be a useful tool if you
understand the importance of the movement. In preseason NFL games the
line will cross key numbers. In week 1 in the American Bowl the 49ers
opened at – 2˝ points and close as a 2 ˝ point underdog. They were
actually + 3 points at some books. A line movement of 5 points in the
preseason is significant; but the money to move the line in the preseason
would pale in comparison to the regular season. If a NFL regular
season line moved by 5 points, two things would have to occur.
Firstly, Warner and Faulk would have to be scratched from the starting
line-up, and in that hypothetical scenario, the game would be “off the
board.” Secondly, the odds maker posted a very bad number if the line
moved by 5 points (without a key injury). If the latter were the case,
he would be looking for a new profession.
When a team is favored by 8
points and the number moves to 9˝ points, it really hasn’t crossed a key
area when one reviews the final scores. Yes there are games that
result in 8, and 9 point wins, but they don’t occur as often as the key
numbers do. A line move from 5 to 5˝ points could only hurt you if
the favorite that you wagered on at – 5˝ won by 5 points. Again not
that many games conclude with one team winning by a score of 25 – 20 or 19
– 14 and so forth. A score of 14 – 9 would land on exactly 5
points but that is insignificant when you look at all the final scores from
the past 42 years that ended at 14 - 9.
Scoring in the NFL.
A safety, resulting in 2 points
doesn’t occur too often in the NFL; but when the league adopted the 2
point conversion rule, that did change the final scoring results when
reviewing how many games ended with one team winning by exactly 2
points. If a team was behind by 15 points and scored a touchdown, they
would be trailing by 9 points and would kick the extra point in this
situation. If they were to go for 2 points and not convert, they would
still be down by 9 points and need an additional 2 scores. By kicking
the extra point they would then be trailing by 8 points. If they were
to score another touchdown they would now be trailing by 2 points and go for
the 2 point conversion and attempt to tie the game. If they missed and
their opponent were to run out the clock the final score would land on 2
points such as 28 – 26, like the Titans and Rams game last weekend in
preseason. The 1 point victory or final score is also
significant. Let’s say a team was leading by 12 and tried a 2 point
conversion, and didn’t convert. Their opponent then marched down the
field and scored 6 and kicked the extra point and was trailing by exactly 5
points. If the team that was behind by 5 points managed to score an
additional 6 points they would now be ahead by exactly 1 point. Do you
think they would kick the extra point again? Absolutely not, they
would go for the 2 point conversion; if they were successful they would be
ahead by 3 points. If they failed they were still leading by 1 point.
Lines and number moves of
When a team is favored by 2˝
points and then moves up to 3 points the book usually takes a stand.
If you have money down on the favorite at – 2˝ and they are now - 3 you
would stand pat. If a large or disproportionate amount of money was
still backing the 3 point favorite, the sports book would in most cases
stand at – 3 and increase the “juice.” They might have a – 3
at – 1.30. If they were to move the number to – 3˝ points they
could get “middled.” They in essence would be gambling that the
final score didn’t land on exactly 3 points. Of all the games played
in the NFL since 1960 more games have with a 3 point win than any other
number including 7. The movement from 2˝ to 3 and then 3˝ points is
not a position a sports book wants to be in. Line moves in this area
are the most important.
One of the off shore books
allows clients a free ˝ point from midnight Thursday until early Saturday
morning. They will reward you with a free half-point on any NFL total
or side except the key number of 3 points. They won’t give you the
free half-point from 2˝ up to 3 or allow you to move from laying 3˝ down
to - 3 points. You have to pay additional “juice” to move up or
down on this key number. They do allow you to move from + 6˝ up to 7
or from a – 7˝ down to 7. Last year the Chicago Bears were a firm
– 7 across the board. The free half-point allowed me to take the
Bears at – 6˝ at home against Arizona. The Bears won by 7. It
never hurts to shop around. This past weekend I was backing the
Cleveland Browns. Most books where I wager had the Browns at + 3, I
shopped around and found + 3˝ points. It didn’t matter in that
particular game but a dog of 3˝ is much stronger than + 3. You should
always shop for the best number when playing totals. The numbers of
40, 41 and 44 are very important. I won two wagers last year by
getting a free half-point. I had the Bills/Colts over 43˝ moving off
another key number of 44. The final score landed on 44 and that was a
winner rather than a push. The first Cardinals/Eagles game had a total
of 41 posted. The free half-point had me playing that game over 40˝
points. The final was 21 – 20 or it landed on 41 points another winner
rather than a push.
Final Scores - and what numbers
are or aren’t important.
Here are some observations of
the past decade when tabulating the final margin of victory.
1. 399 games
produced a final score that landed on exactly 3 points.
2. 202 games resulted in a 7 point victory.
3. 155 games resulted in a 10 point victory
4. 130 games resulted in a 4 point victory.
5. 129 games resulted in a 6 point victory.
6. 121 games landed on exactly 14 points.
7. 104 games ended with a 1 point victory.
8. 104 games ended with a 17 point win.
9 88 games ended with a 2 point margin of victory.
10. 86 games ended with a 5 point win.
The number 3 had more
occurrences than the second and third most common results. Exactly 16%
of all final scores landed on 3 points. When tallying the top 10
margins of victory the following results was noted; 60.86% of all games
played landed on the above 10 scores. The number 13 was the 11th
most common final and the final score of a 12 point victory had fewer
occurrences than the numbers 8, 9, and 11 did. The final margin of
victory saw 56.65% of all games land on the numbers 1 though 10 inclusive.
The number or final score of
exactly 8 points had 29 occurrences from 1992 until 1996. From 1997
until 2001 there were 43 games that ended with an 8 point victory. A
final score of exactly 1 point had 40 occurrences between 1992 and 1996, and
increased to 64 occurrences from 1997 until 2001, an increase of 24
games. A 4 point win decreased from 78 to 52 in the same period while
the number of 5 increased from 34 up to 52 occurrences. A 7 point win
moved from 88 up to 114, an increase of 26 games.
Remember, we not talking about
the point spread, but key numbers when pertaining to the final scores in NFL
In conclusion I would definitely
consider buying a half-point if your line is - 3˝ and lay 3 points
instead. By shopping around you can sometimes find a + 3 rather than a
+ 2˝ point spread if you wish to back the underdog.
Three-peat after me, 3 is the
key number in the NFL.