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All you need to know about NFL Props (Part I of II)


While many players have found Props easy to beat, this market has traditionally been the domain of smaller players. This year NFL Props have increased immensely in popularity at Pinnacle Sports, creating two new advantages. First, there is a lot more two-way action causing line moves. Second, other sportsbooks are trying to offer many NFL Props as well and some are even copying the Pinnacle Sports betting lines.

These two factors combined mean that (1). Larger players can bet more on a single Prop; and (2). Smaller players can get a better price by shopping and watching the lines move. With Pinnacle Sports -108 style pricing on NFL Props and up to $1,000 game day limits, you will find consistent value and more often than not, the best price at Pinnacle Sports.

The popularity of Super Bowl Props, which have been available for a long time now, has led to a gradual increase in the number of regular season games that proposition betting is available on. Most sports books like Pinnacle Sports regularly offer them on the Sunday/Monday night games for example. With so many chances to bet on these props, and with so many players betting on the wrong side through poor handicapping, sharp players can capitalize now more than ever on NFL props.

One of the most common props you will see is 'Which team will score first?' Many recreational players like betting on the favorite, regardless of the price. Frequently there are not enough professional prop players to keep the lines in shape, so the price on the dog will gradually creep up. I am not advocating that you blindly bet on the underdog on this prop - I just want you to understand why the opportunity is there.

The best way to price any prop is to find thousands of occurrences of similar situations. If you found enough similar games, you could simply count how many times a similar favorite scored first. There are however, two problems with this approach. First, many props do not have enough similar situations to give a meaningful comparison. Second, even if there are enough games to evaluate, it is too time consuming to collect and analyze all the data you want.

So what is a more practical way to price the 'Which team will score first?' prop? Whenever you are trying to price props, ask yourself: is there a logical way I can analyze this problem without looking at lots of games? With the right approach, most proposition bets can be priced just by using team and/or player statistics from NFL.com.

'Which team will score first?' actually has a straightforward solution. Look at the line for the first half of the game, and use it to figure out how many average points a team will score in the first half. For example, if the first-half line is 'Dallas -3/Atlanta +3' with a first half total of 23, the market price would 'suggest' that the first-half score would be Dallas 13, Atlanta 10. You got that score by subtracting the spread (3) from the total (23), getting 20 total points. You then split the total points (20) between the two teams, and then add the spread (3) to the favorite.

Once you have your predicted score for the first half, the moneyline for the favorite to score first is -100 * (Favorite Score / Underdog Score). In this example, it would be -100 * (13/10), or -130 for Dallas to score first. The underdog is the opposite: +130 for Atlanta. While pricing Props is not an exact science, this approach will provide you with a very good estimate.

Why did I use the first half, instead of the game line? The first half-lines almost always favor the favorite by more than half the game-spread. For example, a 7-point favorite for the game might be a 4-point favorite for the first half. Better teams play to score on every possession in the first half, but may sacrifice scoring to eat-up time when winning in the second half. The first half line is a better reflection than the game line of what will happen early in the game.

One way you can improve this method slightly is to look at the moneyline price on the spread and total. For example, if the first half total were 'Under 23 -110 / Over 23 +100)', you might treat that as a total of '22.75'. Similarly, a first-half spread of -3 -110 / +3 +100 might be treated as -3.25.

Next week, we will take a look at some other popular NFL Props, including 'Will the first score of the game be a TD? (Yes/No)'.
 

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