You want to win money betting on NFL games, that's why you're here.
The challenge that most casual bettors run into though is their late call to action, i.e., betting moments before a game kicks off. Sure, we want to bet the game that we're watching, but at the end of the day, we want to win! Unfortunately, beating closing lines in the NFL is a long-term -EV proposition.
Each week of the season, I'll be providing a first glance at the upcoming NFL slate through the lens of look-ahead lines, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook. (I was using DraftKings for the first few weeks, but they stopped posting look-ahead lines, and suddenly no one posts totals).
Look-ahead lines are typically released on Thursdays and are often taken down shortly after the current week's Thursday night game kicks off, though FanDuel seems to be leaving them up through Saturday if you have access to that sportsbook. This short look-ahead window provides a peek at how teams are valued prior to the start of the week, and it's also an opportunity to act before the games are posted and sharpened on Sunday evening after the previous week's games are complete.
These lines are a true indicator of how bookmakers value each team, without the influence of recency bias after watching eight hours of football earlier in the day. Depending on the bookmaker, and bettor for that matter, you may or may not be able to get the type of action down that you'd like. The key is understanding where the value is on the board in any given week, and that is easier to do once you know what the opening number was.
Here's a look at the Week 7 lines, with the spread listed based on the home team:
The Ravens, Colts, Dolphins, and Vikings have a Week 7 bye.
When I'm firing at these spots early, it's because I strongly believe that this number is going to beat the closing line, and perhaps, it ends up being the best of the number. Basically, if I'm right in Week 6, I'm going to have an advantage in predicting where the line movement will come first in Week 7.
The Chiefs (-9.5) are on the second leg of back-to-back road games, this time on a short week after playing in Buffalo on Monday night. I expect Kansas City to play well against the Bills, and this matchup against Denver (+9.5) should get to double-digits if the Broncos struggle to move the ball against New England in Week 6.
The Browns (-4.5) stay on the road in the division for the second week in a row. I think this is a good number currently, but it could dip towards 3 if Cleveland struggles in Pittsburgh this week, and the Bengals (+4.5) put up a fight against the Colts.
The Packers (-3.5) are on the road again in Week 7, but if you think they take care of business against Tampa Bay, you should probably jump on this line against the Texans (+3.5). The 'Battle of the Bays' is essentially an island game in Week 6, and a national audience massively impacts the public opinion from one week to the next. If Green Bay wins in Tampa, I expect this line to move closer to 6.
The Falcons (-2) are short home favorites against a Lions (+2) team playing their second consecutive game on the road. Should the Falcons be favored against anyone? If this moves, are the Lions good enough to be road favorites against anyone? Week 6 is the first week of a transitional era for the Falcons, and I'd like to first see how they respond before acting on this spot.
I want to short all things Chicago Bears (+6.5) moving forward. I like the Rams (-6.5) a lot in this spot on Monday night, but I think Week 6 will go a long way in dictating this number. I want to back the Rams here, but I'm not convinced that 6.5 is the best of the number.