Most of the major NFL betting markets are available for betting up to a week prior to the game, so should you jump in early or wait until just before game time? There are pros and cons on both sides and different NFL betting situations can warrant different approaches. When the football lines are released the sportsbooks limit the maximum bet size so as not to have a weak line pounded to severely. Many sharp bettors will bet the early lines that they see value in, this helps the sportsbooks to sharpen their lines and adjust accordingly. While the opening lines may have lower limits the amounts that can be wagered are generally more than enough for the majority of players.
Betting the opening or early lines can also leave you vulnerable to late player injuries or withdrawal news leaving you holding a bet on a team that you would otherwise not have made if a key player was ruled out or was going in with injury concerns. If the weather plays any part of your NFL betting decisions then the earlier you place your bet the less reliable any weather news will be, which may also affect how and if you would normally make that play. There is a train of thought that the more successful the bettor the more often they beat the closing line. This means that the bet they locked in is at a better price or better line than the closing line and the earlier you bet the more likely you are to beat the closing number.
Some advantages of betting into the closing football line include large limits and the fact that closer to game time you can be better informed about player injuries, weather conditions and any other news that may have an influence on a games outcome. When it comes to betting NFL moneylines, spreads or totals there is no right or wrong time to place your bet. Looking at our NFL odds week 17 page you can see how each team has performed against the opening and closing if you were to risk $100 on them each week. Perusing the data for the last four seasons you will see varying results, for example in the 2010 season of the 15 teams to show a profit on the opening and closing odds 11 showed a higher profit on the opening than the close whereas in 2008 it went 8-7 to the closing odds.
Another theory regarding moneyline odds which is not exclusive to pro football is that it is best to bet big favorites early and big underdogs late, the thinking being that more often than not the favorites come down in price while the underdogs go out. A case in point would be the 2009 NFL season which saw the Oakland Raiders win only 5 games and lose 11 but were easily the most profitable team to have backed each week showing a $1640 profit on the closing odds (for $100 bets) while the opening was less profitable but still a healthy $1482. The same season the New Orleans Saints had a 13-3 win loss record and showed a profit on the opening of $651 and some $489 less on the close. Certainly timing can make an impact on your profits when betting NFL odds as our results pages show however there is one thing for certain, if your constantly picking losers then the odds don't matter too much.
NFL point spread and over under betting on the other hand are different in that an opening spread line might be a winner and the close could be only a push or even a loss. How many times have you liked a play, checked the spread lines and your team is maybe +3.5 but it's early in the week and you decide to put the bet on closer to game day only to find by game day that they are now +2.5, which you take and your team goes down 3, ouch! It happens regularly with point spreads and over under bets particularly when key numbers are involved and subsequently it can make quite a difference to your bankroll. Take a look through our NFL point spreads by week which date back to the 2007 NFL season and you can take note of the amount of times that the result from opening line to closing differs. The winning spread for the open and close are highlighted green while a push is indicated by orange.