Understanding Football Handicapping

To set the totals, line-makers take the points-against (PA) and the points-for (PF) concerning each team into account. You can use the PF and PA, as well, to determine whether to wager over or under a total.

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Following is an example of how the statistics may look for a Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay game at Pittsburgh:


This helps you work out the average PF and PA for Pittsburgh by dividing those numbers by the number of games the team played. Totaling the resulting products together for Pittsburgh gives you the average total number of points by Pittsburgh each game. You can get the average for Green Bay the same way.


According to the outcomes, Pittsburgh and Green Bay are rather well matched. An actual line for this game was written as GB -3 ½ 42, meaning that Green Bay was favored by 3 ½ points, with 42 points. With a sum of 42, and both teams averaging 44 points each game, wagering the over looks enticing. And the linemaker’s prediction was close, since at the end of the game Green Bay won 24 to 19, with a total of 43 points collectively.

It requires much more information than we have gone over to win consistently more than 52.4% of your bets. This is just the start. Linemakers take every piece of information available into account, so you should too. Research may be half the fun!

Linemakers often gives the team with the home-field advantage and extra 2 to 3 points. It is not always obvious, though. In the example we have been using, Pittsburgh against Green Bay at Pittsburgh, Green Bay would have been favored by 6 if the linemakers had not included points for Pittsburgh’s home-team advantage. Check the injury lists, as well, when you are making your own analysis because linemakers and handicappers contain that information in their calculation. The Sports sections in USA Today and local newspapers list the status of injured players by teams. One thing to remember about local newspapers, nevertheless : They print more information on the home team than on the out-of-town teams. Because information is essential when it comes to betting, try to find extra sources for information on teams, include sports websites.

Point spreads can swing by 1 to 5, depend on the injury of a key player, if they are important to the team’s performance. Occasionally, teams have many replacements for some positions, but rely on a specific quarterback. Be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the teams you would like to bet on can help you calculate your final bets.

Betting on Football Totals

Using the next line example, we will talk about total bets. These kinds of bets do not depend on which team wins the game. Rather than, they depend on the total number of points scored by both teams.


Column C displays the total bet number, in this case 43. If you think the total points scored by both teams is over 43, you can wager on the over (OV). If you think the total scored is under 43, bet on the under (UN). Both of these wagers, based on the line, offer 11 to 10 payouts, so you need to bet $110 to get $100.

Just because two powerhouse teams play does not mean you should wager the over. Linemakers know that offensively powerful teams can score many points, so they make the total intentionally high. To win betting on the over, both teams have to collectively score more than 43 points. Wagering on the under, the teams have to score below 43 together. Linemakers also know if both teams have a powerful defense, and reduce the total number accordingly.

It needs just as much handicapping to bet the total successfully as it does for betting on the spread or line. The payoff basis on an over or under bet is 11 to 10, just like the payoff on a point-spread bet.


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