Football Sunday To Sunday: A Day-By-Day NFL Betting Strategy Guide
October 4, 2023
It’s five minutes until kickoff on Sunday. All your pregame action for the early slate is locked. Nothing to do but kick back and watch it all play out. For about a minute or two. Then it’s time to start planning your day-by-day NFL betting strategy.
Not all bets are created equal, and neither are all times to bet. The football week has its own rhythms and beats. You need to be familiar with them if you want to make the best bets you can make depending on where you are in the weekly cycle.
In other words, you don’t want to bet teasers on a Tuesday or bet off injury information on a Wednesday. Here’s how to break it down.
Once upon a time, the Stardust in Las Vegas was the first word in football betting. The casino would hang openers for every game on Sunday afternoon and set the tone for the betting week nationwide. It was such a big deal it got its own show on local stations.
(Incidentally, another show that aired live from the Stardust should be familiar to Casino fans. The Frank Rosenthal Show kicked off every week with an announcer hyping up “a professional gambler who Sports Illustrated has acclaimed as ‘The Best Football Handicapper in America.’” The show devoted an episode to disco. It’s on YouTube. It’s exactly as amazing as that sounds.)
But it can’t be white suits, the Bee Gees and Lido de Paris dancers forever (sadly). The Stardust’s place in the football betting firmament eventually gave way to Wynn Las Vegas, where Johnny Avello and his crew became the openers of the moment. They put out NFL lines as soon as the late afternoon slate wrapped up. (This is also when Circa opens its games.)
Now, though, openers aren’t as important as they used to be. Sportsbooks put out lookahead lines for every game of the season by July.
In the college ranks, Circa posts its lines at 2 p.m. ET on Sundays. This is widely considered the sharp open, with other books moving their numbers either in reaction to Circa, or to all the sharp money flowing in on their lines..
So if we’re not sweating openers, that must mean Monday is the start of our NFL workweek, right? Not exactly.
You should actually be starting your work on next week’s bets on Sundays.
It all starts with postgame news. Was that limping wide receiver as banged up as he looked? Was the starting quarterback’s third-quarter trip to the tent precautionary, or will it hold him out of practice?
Postgame press conferences might not give you the complete picture on injuries, but some coaches will tip their hand here.
Quarterbacks have the most impact on the line. To the point where if you were going to focus exclusively on QB injuries and ignore every other player’s impact you’d still be in the ballpark.
When injuries pile up at a position group, though, you might begin to have something actionable. If, for example, three offensive linemen are all out, that could have a meaningful impact on the true price of a game.
Mostly, though, If you’re going to use that information to inform your bets for the week, be careful not to overestimate the impact injuries will have on the next game. You won’t have a clearer sense of what personnel will be available the following Sunday until injury reports come out on Thursday.
With just the Monday night slate left you have plenty of free time during the day. Which is good, because you’re going to spend it watching coaches’ news conferences.
Coaches will start to reveal just how severe are those injuries sustained over the weekend.
Between injury updates and bettors taking first crack at early numbers, lines start to shape up on Monday.
But there’s another important part of your NFL betting strategy in front of you at the start of a fresh week: squaring up your record keeping. Having solid records is incredibly important in sports betting. It allows you to track your progress and quantify where you might have made mistakes.
Monday is a great day to review the previous weekend and see where you might have erred and what you can learn from it. Like if you were betting too late when markets were efficient, or if you loved the Dolphins-Broncos Under.
OK, now you can catch your breath. Tuesday and Wednesday are the slowest days on the football calendar, so if you need to step away and stop thinking about Cover 2 for half a minute, this would be the time.
But if you just can’t help yourself, you should use these days to decide if you’re playing the Thursday Night Football game. It’s a good time to poke around on those Thursday props. With the limited menu, it shouldn’t take too much away from your football sabbath.
At least once during the year, some portion of your Thursday football schedule will be spent forgetting what channel the game is on, flipping through ESPN, ABC, NBC and the NFL Network before you remember the game is stuck on Amazon Prime. Accept it as a tax paid to the football gods.
But before you heave your remote into the night sky, you should check in on the props you were considering. Look at line histories and see if any prop lines have moved significantly.
Major projection services can influence prop lines. If they’re services you respect, you can choose whether or not to stay away from what might now be a more efficient number. If you think the market may have overreacted to other projections, there may be opportunities to get a price on a number that’s gone a bridge too far.
Know, too, that in the past, Thursday games have tended to be lower scoring. But that trend is more prevalent early in the season. Don’t get locked into trends that might be great at showing you what happened in the past but don’t have much predictive value.
Thursday is also when the first injury reports come out. It’s another piece of information, but don’t read too much into it. Many veterans won’t practice on Thursdays deeper into the season. When you’re in your 30s and have spent nine weeks getting pummeled by rabid linebackers, the extra rest is sacred.
Friday sees another injury report released. Injuries are critical for any NFL betting strategy. Pay the most attention to quarterbacks. In fact, exclusively focusing on QBs isn’t the worst thing you could do.
This is also when you should start to finalize your prop plans. In the NFL, lines tend to swing greatly in the final 48 hours before kickoff. In college football, you need to determine your approach.
The projections created by the Unabated College Football team do influence the market, so if you’re a Concierge or Premium member, take advantage of the information you have access to even if you’re not betting it. Just knowing what the numbers are and how the market is reacting can be important.
There’s a deluge of college football news coming out at this point. There’s no real CFB insider like Adam Schefter or Ian Rapoport. That’s why you need a source like Unabated College Football. Lines move drastically as reports come in about key personnel sitting or starting. A good news source is the difference between getting ahead of a line move or being left behind.
ESPN is on campus. Pat McAfee has no sleeves. Deion Sanders is on every channel. It’s gametime for college football.
These are huge slates, which are your friend as a bettor. Look for lines making big moves. If you can find soft books slow to react, you can catch value before they catch up.
You can sort the Odds Screen by synthetic hold, which will show you which games have the best edges on them. Or you can use Edge Rusher to have every edge sorted right onto the sidebar of the Odds Screen.
Gameday is also a great time to look into alt line markets. Tools like the Alternate Lines Calculator* can help you find plus-EV bets. Concierge Tier members also can display alt lines directly on the Odds Screen intermingled with mainline sides and totals.
The most important thing you can do on Saturday, though, is pace yourself. If you start living and dying with every quarter of every game you aren’t going to make it to the midnight kick in Hawaii. If you’ve really been grinding you’ll have so many bets to resolve it’s going to take a little time to figure out how you did on the day.
Another fun quirk of Saturday: It might be the best day of the week to bet NFL props, from an art of sports betting perspective. There’s so much college football action pouring in your prop bets won’t stick out to the account cops at the books.
It’s Sunday. A day of rest. A day of reflection. A day of 11 a.m. nachos that no one dare judge you for.
Once you get to gameday, it’s hard to still find value on NFL full sides and totals. But it’s a great day to scour the screen for alt lines, partial game lines and teasers.
Teasers are a special kind of gameday judo. The lines are at their most efficient, which makes teasing them so effective. When you’re looking to bet Wong teasers – ones that pass through the key numbers of 3, 6 and 7 – you want an efficient line that isn’t going to make big jumps in either direction.
If full game sides and totals aren’t good on Sundays, you can still find value on first half and first quarter markets. This is the time to leave no stone unturned, and no less-efficient market to go unraided.
Prop markets aren’t as good on Sundays, but you can still find some value here as well.
Make your life easier by keeping good records along the way. Monday You will thank you for Sunday You’s efforts.
And finally, when you’ve done all that, it will be about five minutes until kickoff on Sunday. All your pregame action for the early slate will be locked. You’ll have nothing to do but kick back and watch it all play out. For about a minute or two. Then it’s time to start planning your day-by-day NFL betting strategy.
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