NFL Handicapping Tips – Key Factors to Consider When Handicapping the NFL

Key Factors to Consider When Handicapping the NFL
by Jeff Hochman of

The main thing to remember is that the NFL is played by human beings and no one game can be called a sure thing or a “Lock”. It’s a good idea to limit your selections in this sport because Murphy’s law applies big time. If something can go wrong it will go wrong. How many times how you been burned by a call the referee made or didn’t make late in the game?? Even with instant replay the officials don’t get the calls right all the time. Just ask Ed Hochuli who by the way is a very good referee. Be smart, don’t get greedy, and limit your NFL selections every week.

Watch the Games

You must put the best effort forward to research the games inside and out. The best way to learn how certain teams will match-up against each other is to watch every single team play at least three times including a division match-up. You will also develop a “sixth sense” for each team. It works! The Direct TV Sunday Football Package makes it easy to do just that.

Check Those Box Scores

With all of the sports sites out there in Cyberspace these box scores are easy to access. You would be surprised what you will learn about each NFL team just by reading the box score after each game. There’s a lot of good stuff that you probably never knew existed. Read the box scores even if you watched the entire game in your living room. Make sure you never miss a week. By week four I am sure you will have learned something new that will help in your handicapping process. Hint: Pay VERY close attention to turnovers!

Schedules Count

A team could put up awesome numbers for weeks in a row, but against inferior competition. Once they meet up with a better opponent, the line will become inflated due to public appeal based on that team’s prior results. Pay attention to whom they played and how they played. This is were viewing all the box scores comes into play. (See our strength of schedule page)

Don’t Eat Chalk

Laying more than a touchdown (plus the extra point) in the NFL is generally not a good idea. That doesn’t mean never, but you have to be judicious and pick your spots. I am mostly an Underdog player in the NFL and have been fortunate on my documented success. Keep this mind—-If you bet an NFL Underdog, three things can happen and two of them will have you cashing tickets.

Public Perception

Most casual players can’t wait to jump on the winner and/or against the loser of blowout results from the following week. These are professional men that will play hard no matter what happened last week. In most cases ignore what happens last week in the NFL except when inquiring about injuries. If you look directly to the right on this page, you’ll see a link labeled “NFL Consensus Picks”. On this page we divlulge who the public is betting and then pick those games apart to produce good fades that have historically produced good profits for our readers!

“Emotion Has Taken Me Over”

I would avoid betting on your favorite team as you have enough stress just rooting for your team to win that tough game this weekend. There is probably no way you would ever consider betting against your die-hard favorite team no matter what the line is, and that’s where most bettors make the mistake. For me, I am a big Dallas Cowboys’ fan, but I have made a ton of cash going against the ‘Boys in certain spots. It’s business!

No Parlays

Sure, every once in awhile you might get lucky and hit that five-team parlay, but you won’t hit that every week and your return on investment will go down in the long run. Be realistic and selective. Most important, never go chasing your losses. Wait until next week when you have a clear mind and are able to break down the match-ups. It works!

You Gotta Shop Around

There are plenty of reliable books out there so make sure you have at least three lined up. Some think that a point or half-point in the NFL doesn’t matter, but getting an extra point here and there can make all the difference between a winning or losing season. Be aware of all the key NFL numbers like 2.5, 3, 3.5, 6, 6.5, 7, and 7.5. Since 1998, roughly thirty percent of all games land on the number three! Be sure to check out Predictem’s list of the best football sportsbooks on the net.

Quarterbacks Rule

The NFL is more of a passing league than ever before. When I was growing up it was the exact opposite. Over half the NFL teams had more pass attempts than rush attempts last season. Try to focus on quarterbacks that have had success or that are capable of managing an offense down the field. Has this happened to you?? Your team is down ten points with four minutes to go and all you need is a late touchdown to cover your 5.5-point spread. But, the team has an unproven quarterback and he eventually gets picked-off after completing a few long passes. Buzz Kill…. Game Over! On the flip side how many times have you seen Peyton Manning score a late touchdown to cover the spread?? I can say with a lot of confidence it has been at least ten times.

Offensive Line Rankings

Here’s a secret of mine that applies to the NFL only. Teams with great or even good offensive lines will cover the spread more often than not. It all starts up front and even the worst defenses can cause fits for teams with shaky O’line play. The Carolina Panthers are perceived to be a bad team this year but they are number 2 on my list of NFL team Offensive line rankings for the 2010-11 season. Expect the Panthers to have a winning record against the spread if they stay relatively healthy.

Don’t Overreact To Injuries

You want to bet on team A or fade team B but their best wide receiver is out with a high ankle sprain. In most cases the back-up will have extra motivation and quite often out-play the starter’s stats. Keep in mind that injuries are line adjusted (already factored into the spread that you’re beitting) so don’t think you’re getting extra value.

Don’t get Too High or Too Low

The odds-makers are really good at what they do so if you go 3-0 don’t talk about it like you will never lose another selection ever again. On the flip side, if you go 0-3 don’t say negative things, and rather focus on next week’s card. More often than not you will bounce back with a winning week. Even the best go through slumps.

Be sure to check the center content area of our main NFL section as I’ll be previewing games for Predictem this season offering free NFL picks with analysis!

Good Luck this Football season!