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Football Betting Tips: Underdogs or Favorites?

Jul 21, 2008
It is common knowledge that the betting public loves playing favorites. It seems the public has a short-sighted mentality that says they are betting on the better team when they lay points with the "chalk." But is that really the right way to go? I say "no" and I will tell you why.

First, let's look at this from a strictly law-of-averages perspective. If you bet the favorite, three things can happen and two are not good. The favorite could lose the game straight up or the favorite could win the game, but not by more points than you had to give up. The only way you win is if your favorite wins the game by more points than you had to give up. So there is a two-out-of-three chance that you will lose your wager.

If you back the underdog, three things can happen and two of those things are in your favor. The underdog could win the game straight up or they could lose the game, but by fewer points than you are receiving. So there is a two-out-of-three chance that you will win your wager.

Two scenarios are common in the football betting world. First, a favorite comes out and exerts their will on their opponent, getting out to a huge lead. But in the NFL, there are no pollsters to impress, so what is the favorite's motivation to continue running up the score? The players do not care about the point spread. So many times, they "let off the gas" and coast to victory. Have you ever lost a bet by the dreaded "backdoor cover?"

The second scenario sees the favorite come out flat, with a lack of motivation against what they perceive to be an inferior opponent. Maybe the favorite is coming off a huge win against a division rival and has another rival on deck. The underdog (players are almost always motivated in the dog role) comes out firing and takes the early lead. Many times, the favorite will storm back and escape with the win, but not the cover.

By no means am I saying you should only bet underdogs, but it would seem to be a good idea to back an underdog in the right situation as opposed to betting a favorite just because they appear to be the better team. Remember, the better team does not always win and sometimes the team that appears to be the better team really is not.

Records can be deceiving. For example, Team ABC might be 3-0, but they played three teams that haven't won a game. Team XYZ might be 0-3, but they played three teams that haven't lost a game. Don't get caught up in records.

Statistics can also be deceiving. For example, Team ABC may be scoring 30 points per game, but they played against defenses that are allowing 30 points per game. Team XYZ may be scoring only 20 points per game, but they played against tougher defenses that are allowing only 20 points per game. Careful analysis is always required. Do not take statistics at face value.

Many times the stats are skewed or they are not as they would appear to be. For example, Team ABC allowed 400 passing yards last week. But what the stat sheet does not show is that half of those yards were allowed in garbage team after the team was up by 28 in the fourth quarter. Again, thorough analysis is required.

In summary, you should not bet all favorites or all underdogs. True professional bettors wager on primarily underdogs because, as I mentioned earlier, in that scenario, two out of the three scenarios work in your favor. So while betting all underdogs is not the road to betting riches, it is a good idea to first look at taking the points.
About the Author
Dwayne Bryant owns Bullseye Sports. He has been handicapping successfully for over 20 years. Dwayne provides free handicapper picks, including NCAA football expert picks . Dwayne's free NFL football picks are some of the most sought-after picks among sports bettors worldwide.
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