Before you bet the NFL, take these 10 tips to heart

Houston running back Arian Foster is the Caesars sports books favorite to lead the NFL in rushing yards this season.
Photo: Dave Einsel/AP

1. All eyes will be on the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants when they open the regular season against the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday, September 5. Gamblers will be watching to see if the Giants can extend one of the more extraordinary trends in recent years: The Super Bowl champ has won its ensuing regular-season opener for 12 consecutive years, covering the point spread in 10 of those 12 games. The exceptions were the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers, who failed to cover against the Tennessee Titans, and the 2004 New England Patriots, who ended up with a point-spread push against the Indianapolis Colts.

2. Expectations run high in nearly every NFL city before the games are played. Las Vegas numbers, however, provide an unbiased barometer of which teams really are likely to improve. Topping the list: the Philadelphia Eagles, who won eight games last season but have an over/under of 10.5 victories in Vegas books; the Minnesota Vikings (2 wins last year, over/under 6 for this season); the St. Louis Rams (2 wins, over/under 6.5); and the Indianapolis Colts (2 wins, over/under 5). The New Orleans Saints could be headed for a fall. They won 13 games last year but have an over/under of just 9.5 wins.

3. Here’s how much money Nevada sports books won on football betting in each of the past five calendar years: $44.3 million, $56.4 million, $48.7 million, $39.3 million and $73.5 million. If you think you’re a mathematical favorite to win money gambling on football, you’d better be able to come up with a pretty good explanation as to why.

4. Hint: “I know a lot about football” isn’t going to cut it.

Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson

5. There is no single answer to your out-of-town buddy’s question, “What are the Vegas odds on the (insert favorite NFL team here) to win the Super Bowl?” To take just three examples, the Saints are 20-1 to win the Super Bowl as of this week at the LVH sports book, but only 11-1 at Cantor Gaming books. The Giants are 25-1 at the LVH, but 12-1 at Cantor. And the Denver Broncos are 20-1 at the LVH, but 10-1 at Cantor. Those are enormous differences, percentage-wise. Shop around before you put your money at risk.

6. It’s odd and a bit sad that in this supposedly enlightened age of information, I’m still asked which football touts are worth following. (Picture those goofballs on TV, radio or online infomercials hawking their “expert” predictions.) Easy answer: Instead of paying a tout for football picks, roll your cash into a ball, light it on fire and throw it out the window. This accomplishes precisely the same thing, but it’s much more visually stimulating.

7. For whatever reason, many gamblers here will see fit to bet four-team football parlays this season. At some joints, including the Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International properties that dominate the Strip, this wager pays off at odds of 10-1. That equates to a staggering house edge of 31.25 percent. By comparison, roulette, which is a great way to lose your money in a rapid and efficient manner, has a house edge of “only” 5.26 percent.

8. Even worse, some of those four-teamers will be structured to include a Thursday game, a Saturday game, a Sunday game and a Monday game. Consider the alternate strategy of betting each game individually and rolling over your profits each time. For a $100 bettor, this would increase a net winning payout from $1,000 to $1,228.

9. Maybe this will change someday, but right now there is no one-stop shop in Nevada to serve all your football betting needs. A particular sports book might excel in some areas but fall short in others. For instance, the otherwise reliable LVH charges minus 130 on two-team, 6-point NFL teasers—much worse than the minus 110 available elsewhere. Cantor books have introduced some well-received innovations, but their futures need work (see No. 5) and they use 30-cent lines on football team season-win over/unders rather than the bettor-friendly 20-cent lines commonly found around town.

10. Expect big years from Tom Brady of the Patriots, Arian Foster of the Houston Texans and Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions. They’re favored to compile the most passing yards, rushing yards and receiving yards, respectively, in a betting proposition on the board at all Caesars sports books.

Connect with Jeff Haney online at sophisticatedmaniac.com.


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