You want to win money betting on NFL games, that's why you're here.
The challenge that most casual bettors run into 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.
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. 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 12 lines, with the spread listed based on the home team:
CURRENT LINE (11/19)
PRESEASON LOOKAHEAD LINE (5/18)
Texans @ Lions
Washington @ Cowboys
Ravens @ Steelers
Cardinals @ Patriots
Panthers @ Vikings
Browns @ Jaguars
Raiders @ Falcons
Chargers @ Bills
Dolphins @ Jets
Giants @ Bengals
Titans @ Colts
Saints @ Broncos
49ers @ Rams
Chiefs @ Buccaneers
Bears @ Packers
Seahawks @ Eagles
There are no Week 12 byes.
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 11, I'm going to have an advantage in predicting where the line movement will come first in Week 12.
It's Thanksgiving Week! All three home teams (Detriot, Dallas, and Pittsburgh) have opened up as 1.5-point favorites.
The Cardinals (-2.5) are on the road for the second consecutive week, this time traveling to New England (+2.5). The Cardinals don't make their way to Massachusetts very often, and I can't find an instance where they've ever been favored at Foxboro. The extended rest after playing on Thursday night in Week 11 helps their cause in a back-to-back road game spot. I can't imagine this moving above -3 or below zero at any point, barring a Week 11 QB injury for either club.
The Panthers' (+8.5) quarterback situation is up in the air right now due to Teddy Bridgewater's knee injury, but should the Vikings (-8.5) be a more-than-a-touchdown favorite against anyone? I'm not so sure. With the uncertainly surrounding Carolina right now, it's difficult to act early on this one, but it's worth watching over the weekend.
The Chargers (+5) find new and creative ways to lose each and every week. In Week 12, they'll head east to face a Bills (-5) club who's fresh off of their bye. If the Bills are truly the best team in the AFC East and are going to make some noise in the playoffs this year, they should handle the currently 2-8 Chargers by at least a touchdown. This is worth an early position at -5.
The Dolphins (-7) find themselves on the road again for the second straight week, this time in the division against the hapless Jets (+7). If the Jets hang with the Chargers in Week 11, I believe this line dips into the -5.5/-6 range on Sunday night. If you like +7, take the Jets now. If you like the Dolphins, you'll likely find a better number later in the week.
With the line set at -2.5, the market is telling us that the Giants (+2.5) and Bengals (-2.5) are evenly matched, and that's probably a fair assessment. I lean Cincinnati here and will likely get in early. The Giants are on a bye in Week 11, so there's nothing that they'll do before kickoff that'll impact this line, and I think there's a chance that this line steams to -3 or higher if the Bengals win in Washington in Week 11.
This AFC South matchup between the Titans (+3.5) and the Colts (-3.5) is a rematch from Thursday night's Week 10 tilt. The Colts rolled in that one and will likely find themselves laying closer to 6 if they can win at home against Green Bay in Week 11.
The 49ers (+7) are getting some love here in Week 12. Perhaps San Francisco's success in their first matchup against the Rams (-7) is helping them in the mind of the bookmakers because this seems too low considering how these teams have played of late. Either way, the McVay-Shannahan matchups are always fun to watch and tightly contested.
Kansas City (-2.5) is on the road again this week, this time traveling to Tampa Bay (+2.5) for a potential Super Bowl preview. Sure, I could be ahead of myself as the NFC is wide open, but we'll likely hear that narrative again as the week moves on. The Chiefs at anything less than 3, regardless of where the game is being played, is certainly enticing.
If the Packers (-7) are able to go on the road and knock off the Colts in Week 11, this line against the Bears (+7) will climb. Chicago's quarterback situation is up in the air as they head into the bye, and their anemic offense isn't good enough to take advantage of Green Bay's flaws.
Both the Seahawks (-4.5) and Eagles (+4.5) have disappointed of late. It's difficult to back either club with conviction.