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How to Bet the NFL Playoffs


Now is the time to start getting ready for your NFL Playoff bets. Sure, you can wait until the last minute, but what if you looked at who is likely to make the playoffs right now, weeks before they begin, and started really keying your interest on those teams only? Want another clue? Of course you do! Watch how the teams that are likely to play each other in the playoffs fare against each other in their last match-up of the regular season.

If that seems like a simple plan, so what? It’s the best plan there is for predicting playoff wins. Although some games get spun-out in a way nobody can expect, the NFL playoffs have a tendency to be both exciting, and predictable, because for the most part the best teams win. Sure, you can look back at the Cardinals a few years back and say “Gee, they weren’t that good but they kept winning playoff games on the road,” but you would be wrong. They got stronger as the season went on, they had tremendous momentum, and they had great heart. And, their stats were good, but before you head into the playoffs yourself, keep in mind it's going to be different than choosing your regular parlay cards each week!

Reading the Stats

You’ll want to start looking at straight-up records as well as points scored and given up and also rushing and passing totals. Then, you’ll want to look at the slightly less tangible stats like time of possession, sacks, punting yards, and field goals. Field goals? Yup. If you’ve got an offense that scores more than three touchdowns a game and has more than 1.5 field-goals per game, that’s a plus. Basically, they’re scoring, in many ways. A team that has too many field goals to touchdowns (less than two TD’s a game, is having some trouble). That’s a minus.

The simple truth is that by the time the playoffs roll around, the bookies will be able to put very good lines on the board. You’ll be left trying to catch a few crumbs, usually characterized by the home team being given too much credit and the favorite team getting too much action, which means a national favorite will be a couple points higher than they should be because there are simply more people betting on them. No matter. Set your own starting line for the last couple regular season games and get ready for the playoffs.

Basic Point Spreads

Early season point spreads are different than those at the end of the year just before the playoffs and in the playoffs. Here is a simplified point spread calculator to use right now in December and in the playoffs:

  • Which team scores the most points per game? Add half the difference to their spread
  • Which team allows the most points per game? Add ¼ the difference to the spread
  • Which team is at home? Add 2.5 points to the spread
  • Which team has the most wins? Add 1 point to the spread
  • Which team has the momentum (winning streak)? Add 1 point to the spread
  • Which team has the best overall offensive stats (rushing, passing yards)? Add 1 point to the spread
  • If one team’s punter stands out, add 1 point to the spread

That’s a very simplified version of setting a line without using power ratings.Usually, if you are using this type of system you do one thing: bet your spread favorite if the bookies line has it as a dog.

Suppose you find that Team “A” got 8 points and Team “B” got 4 points, which leaves Team “A” as a 4-point favorite. Look at the listed point spread. If your Team “A” is the listed dog in the game, you take the points. You’ve got a good bet.

If you just can’t help betting on your Team “A” when you have them as a favorite and so do the bookies, you should only take the wager if the line is less than half what you got. Suppose you had Team “A” as a 4-point favorite, only bet them if they are .5, 1, or 1.5 favorites. Another example would be your Team “A” as the favorite at 10 points and the bookies have the line at 5 or lower, you take make the bet. If the line is over 5, you pass.

The Trick to Get Wins

The home team traditionally covers the point spread more than 60% of the time in the playoffs. Now there’s a reason for that – the team with the best record (often the best team) gets to play at home. Hmmm, could be a leading indicator of who to bet on!

Most any home dog is worth betting – on the money line! Take the nice odds and just bet your underdog team to win.

No Let Up in the Playoffs

In the playoffs, a team that is leading is less likely to send in the second team because there is so much to lose (win or go home) in the post season. The team with momentum and overall strength can cover a higher spread because they won’t let up. In the lead-up to the playoffs, a team may do just the opposite. Be careful betting on a team that's already going to the playoffs with home-field advantage. They are just going to be keeping tuned-up!

Keep in mind that casino odds come into play, even at sports betting. When you place a point-spread bet, you lay 11 to win 10. If the money-line is a negative number, you lay that number to win 100. If the number is positive, you bet 100 to win that number.

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