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 13 lines, with the spread listed based on the home team:
- 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 12, I'm going to have an advantage in predicting where the line movement will come first in Week 13.
- The Cowboys/Ravens Thursday night contest is up in the air right now, and off the board in the look-ahead market.
- This Dolphins (-3.5) line feels short considering the Bengals (+3.5) are rolling out Brandon Allen at quarterback these days. This could balloon to 6 in short order.
- The Browns (+3) are on the road for the second consecutive week, this time traveling to Tennessee (-3). The status of Cleveland's Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and Sione Takitaki will make an impact in this line, and my lean for this game.
- It's hard not to be encouraged by the Texans' (+0.5) offense of late. Deshaun Watson is fourth in EPA per dropback over the past five weeks, and if the Colts (-0.5) are legitimate players in the AFC playoff race, they need to handle business in Houston as short road favorites.
- The Raiders (-8) are on the road for the second straight week but after their Week 12 game in Atlanta, they're wisely staying east to take on the Jets (+8) in Week 13.
- NFC South foes, New Orleans (-4.5) and Atlanta (+4.5) are running it back just a few days after their Week 11 matchup. The Falcons should have a better feel for Taysom Hill now, but unless both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are at full strength, the Falcons are drawing dead.
- After curb-stomping the NFC East early in the season, the Rams (-2) are now back in the middle of a more difficult stretch of opponents. A trip to Arizona (+2) will be a good test for one of the league's best defensive units, and head-to-head matchups like this really start to matter as playoff seeds get parsed out over the upcoming weeks.
- The Giants (+8) head west for the second straight week, heading to Seattle (-8) to face a Seahawks' defense that's acted as the Undertaker GIF for all opposing offenses this season. If the Giants take care of business against the Bengals in Week 12, they'll head to Seattle on a three-game winning streak.
- There's a serious coaching mismatch in the Patriots (+2.5) and Chargers (-2.5) game, but New England will need to step up defensively to slow down Justin Herbert. The Patriots are 32nd in EPA over the past five weeks, 31st in EPA per dropback, and the Chargers offense has another gear with Austin Ekeler back in the lineup. His status for Week 12 is up in the air, but he'll likely be fully unleashed here against New England's slow linebacking crew.
- If you're going to hang with the Chiefs (-13), you need an elite offense. They simply get to the high 20s-mid 30s too often, and Patrick Mahomes is being leaned on even more of late, which is bad news for opposing defenses. In a league where the Bears, Jaguars, and Jets exist, the Broncos (+13) are dead-last in offensive DVOA on the season. Over the past five weeks, they're all the way up to 28th in EPA per play, but they don't have enough firepower to keep this close.