The NFL season is over. For many, you won’t think about the NFL again until late summer. However, before your football handicapping takes a long nap in the deep recesses of your brain. It will be worth your time to do a simple exercise that will give you a jump start on next NFL betting season. This exercise is easy and shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes. It is not just a thought exercise, you’ll want to write this down so you can refer to it later. So grab a pen and paper, or open up the Notes App on your phone. It’s time to do an NFL Betting Post Mortem Analysis.
1. Do You Have Betting Records To Check?
Record-keeping is a pillar in the foundation of being a sharp bettor. You need to keep records of what you bet, where you bet, and why you bet. The what you bet and where you bet are pretty clear cut. The why you bet can be anything from a narrative explanation to just a category of wager. For example, you can track your Closing Line Value (CLV) or Expected Value (EV) to show the reason why you bet. You could also just give it a category name like “Wong Teaser” or “Player Prop” to indicate why you bet. Even better, track all those things.
If you didn’t keep adequate records this NFL season, that’s the first thing you need to note to change for next year. Double underline this for good measure. If you’re not keeping good records, the best day to change your ways is today.
Ideally use a spreadsheet to track your bets, but even a hand-written record in a notebook is fine. Products like Betstamp make tracking your bets and analyzing the results even easier. Tracking results may seem laborious and decidedly not fun, but once you start winning it gets to be a lot more fun. Trust me. If you don’t have records to check, then you’ll need to do the rest of this article by memory. For those of you willing to go forward or you have your detailed records, let’s move along to the next question.
2. What Worked In Your NFL Betting This Year?
Looking back at the NFL season, what bets worked best for you? Don’t just look at the Win/Loss column. Consider every facet. What bets had the best CLV? Is that CLV meaningful? Remember, CLV is a much stronger indicator on markets with some level of efficiency and liquidity. Also take into consideration the money you were able to bet on these successful wagers. Did you have a hot angle that you could only get $100 down on? Write it down, but note the low limits.
Beyond bet types, try to recreate other things about your betting. For instance, betting early in the week versus betting late. If you track the date your wager was made, it might be worth it to sort your data by day of the week. The NFL is a fairly efficient market by game day. Logic dictates that you probably did better earlier in the week. However, something like teaser betting benefits from more efficient market pricing. Did you do better earlier or later in that type of betting?
The point of this post mortem is not to produce paralysis by analysis. Nor is it to read too deeply into small sample sizes. Rather it expands your understanding of your betting now that you’re able to take a step back and see the results from a different view. Some of you won’t want to keep digging deeper, some of you will. My advice is that if you made less than 200 bets this NFL season, it’s not worth your time to go much deeper than what I’ve outlined. If you did, it’s a profitable exercise.
Why Did It Work?
Where you can, make note of why you think this betting angle was so successful this year. For instance, suppose you did well on Teasers. Was it because you had a place to bet them with superior pricing? Did you stick to just Wong Teasers? Was it because you used the Unabated Alt Line Calculator to find other valuable situations for teaser bets? Did you just get lucky? This analysis is going to help future you. Be as honest and transparent as you can. Lying to yourself only hurts yourself. There are no wrong answers here. It is just your opinion.
My Personal Example
For years, I have eschewed spending time making Season Wins or other Futures bets. I’ve always considered them to be either hard to beat or having too high an opportunity cost with money tied up for 5-6 months. It wasn’t until the Unabated NFL Simulator came along that I realized what I had been missing. My first error was in thinking that the markets were hard to beat. Running the simulator in the preseason as we ironed out the wrinkles, it became obvious there was value to be found just by line shopping. Season Wins and even Divisional and Conference Futures presented value.
The bigger blind spot, however, was in how these markets held value as the season progressed. Sportsbooks adjust their season win markets as well as various other futures markets after each week’s games. It became a Tuesday ritual of mine to run new simulations as the various power ratings systems were updated. The value and results were insanely good. On season win bets I was 62.7% against an average line of +106. Getting money down on these wagers wasn’t hard either. I ran an informal poll in our Unabated Community Discord and the results overwhelmingly positive. Many of our users had found a way to identify value in these markets.
For my own process, I would manually blend the power ratings systems from our available list of systems. One of the enhancements we have planned for next NFL season is the ability to do a weighted blend on the fly. You can bet I’ll be making more use of the NFL Simulator next NFL season. Like Sy Sperling of the Hair Club For Men, I’m not only an owner, I’m also a client.
3. What Didn’t Work In Your NFL Betting?
Now that we have a list of what worked this NFL season, let’s talk about what didn’t work in your NFL betting. If you’ve been dutifully writing down these observations so far, create a new list on the next page. Identifying your shortcomings can be a little tougher to spot because it requires you to know now what you didn’t know then. We can start by being results-oriented, but we will also have to look beyond results. Again, this is why the more detailed you are in your bet tracking, the more you can learn about your betting. Much of this exercise will be just noting what was left after you identified what worked.
Secondly, just as with the previous exercise, don’t get too hung up on small sample sizes. If you had poor results on Monday Night Football games, but you only bet 15 of them all season, it’s not enough to say you should avoid MNF going forward. Look at your CLV and EV as well. If you had negative CLV on a certain bet type, it may be worth jotting it down.
As with the last exercise, look into your process too. Did you spend a lot of time on something that in the end didn’t produce the desired results. Often new bettors get transfixed with the idea of being able to create a model that beats the NFL. They spend countless hours creating and refining a betting model that ultimately can’t overcome the efficiency of the market. Be honest, did you put in too many hours trying to beat NFL sides and totals with a model that ended up between 48-52%?
Why Didn’t It Work And What Can Be Done About That
Now that you have a list of things that didn’t work this NFL season, let’s list some qualitative reasons why they didn’t work. There are no wrong answers here either. Just like the previous exercise this is for your future edification. This might be a good time to look at some of the things you know aren’t sharp and show yourself why. For instance, do you have a propensity to make parlay bets when chasing losses? Did your parlay action do better than if you had just wagered on those games straight up?
What about Same Game Parlays? Did you try them out this year? It can often be tough to determine the EV of a correlated parlay wager like that. Some of you may have taken advantage of risk-free offers on SGP’s and done well with them. Others may now be seeing that they didn’t pan out to be profitable.
The next logical question is, should you cut these things out of your betting next year? Or should you work harder at them? If you identify something that had a negative result, a negative EV, and a negative CLV, it’s a pretty good candidate to avoid for next season. Some of the items on this list might be worth a little more time to figure out. The silver lining is that you have an entire offseason to figure that out.
4. What Did You Miss When Betting NFL This Season?
I’m fond of saying that there’s the Science of Sports Betting and the Art of Sports Betting. Here’s a tip that is squarely in the Art of Sports Betting that I hope won’t backfire on me for sharing. You are far more likely to get other bettors to open up to you after the season has ended. If you’ve got a Golden Goose it is not wise to share it while you’re still harvesting the golden eggs. However, once that angle has ended or the season has ended you tend not to be so tight-lipped.
I wrote an article and made a video earlier in the season about a great opportunity I found at FanDuel. I wasn’t anxious to share that play when I was milking it, but after it was gone, it wasn’t as valuable to me. Similarly, it is often easier to get information now, rather than next September. We already have a list of things that worked and a list of things that didn’t work. Time to make a third list: Things you want to learn more about.
Perhaps you heard of a bettor crushing NFL player props this year. You want to learn more about how they did it. When were they betting? Where were they betting? Did they have a source for player projections they were using? These are things that you’re more likely to get out of them in February/March than September/October.
Be artful in your approach here. Don’t just drill people for information. They are far more likely to share with someone they have a repour with in a private setting than out in an open forum.
Rounding Out Your List Of Missing Angles
It can be hard to come up with angles you missed when you don’t know the angles in the first place. However, round out your list with some things you want to look deeper into. In-game betting. Halftime lines. Even things like Same Game Parlays. Not all of the items on this list will produce fruit. The purpose here is to have a list to check off of possible angles for next season.
Everything we’ve done in creating these lists is in preparation for next NFL season. This leads us to our final post mortem question in our NFL betting analysis.
5. When Will You Start Preparing For Next Year?
If you’ve been following these exercises so far, you have three lists:
- Things that worked.
- Things that didn’t work.
- What you’d like to know more about.
On that first list of things that worked, there are some items that might not be easily replicated next year. Maybe marketing promos worked well for you this year, but nobody knows if they might be as prevalent next season.
With the Super Bowl fresh in your memory, I’m sure some of you will list Super Bowl Props as something that worked well this year. There may be visions of crushing those same props week to week. The good news is, some of those props are available week to week. More so player performance props. The bad news is you just don’t get the breadth of market in the regular season that you get with the Super Bowl. It’s not as easy as the Super Bowl made it seem.
Indicate in that list the items that are sustainable and likely available next season. I like to put a ‘+’ sign next to the sustainable ones. Then indicate (perhaps with a ‘-‘ sign) the items that are just spot plays made in the moment.
Similarly, let’s take a look at our list of things that didn’t work. How fixable are they? Put a ‘+’ next to anything that requires work to fix. Similarly, put a ‘-‘ next to anything you plan to eliminate from your game. These are things that just require discipline to fix.
Pulling It All Together
The items you designated with a ‘+’ in both lists can be merged with your list of things you want to know more about. This is your to-do list for the offseason. Over the next few months, you should reference this list every couple weeks and see if there is opportunity to make progress. For those sustainable angles, is there a way to make them better? Would more accounts be wise? When is the best time to open new accounts?
Sometimes the timing of working this to-do list is pressing. For instance, did you miss out on betting NFL Draft props last year and that’s now on your list? Better start working on it right away. The NFL Draft starts April 28th and there are already mock drafts out there you can reference.
Do you want to utilize tools such as the Unbated NFL Simulator this upcoming season? We’ll likely have that product up shortly after the NFL Schedule is announced and sportsbooks start posting look-ahead lines. Mid-May at the earliest.
Meanwhile, those items you gave a ‘-‘ designation becomes a list I like to call “Remember In September.” Group them together and then review those items about a week before the season starts. Consider it a letter to your future self.
Dear future me, here are the things to keep an eye out for and the mistakes to avoid. You might find you need to be reminded of this list several times next season. There’s no shame in that. Becoming sharper is a journey not a destination.
Hopefully this post-mortem NFL betting analysis has been beneficial to you. As a reminder, a good place to discuss your NFL betting, both past and future, is in the Unabated Community Discord. Join in on the conversation. You may even find someone willing to share their information if you ask nicely.