Home NFL Picks & Betting Articles Why You Shouldn't Buy Points When Betting on the NFL

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Points When Betting on the NFL

Have you ever looked at a game and thought “That line isn’t too bad but let me buy a half point to make it just a little bit better…it’s just a little extra for it.?”

Well, you aren’t alone. I admit I’ve bought a half-point and even a full point on some occasions. Looking back, I regret every time I have them all and that is why one of my goals for the 2018 football season is to avoid buying points completely and I would encourage you to do the same (so far so good after the completion of NFL week 1 games).

So why do people buy points? Maybe they bought picks and want to buy points to get an exact match for play(s) they purchased. Maybe they are buying points to get on or past a key number. Regardless of the reason, buying points gives you a false sense of security and a temporary peace of mind.

Peace of mind….that is the true reason why people buy points. Who doesn’t love having that warm fuzzy feeling of holding a ticket which you think has great value….even if you had to pay extra for that value. It’s time to stop paying for those warm fuzzy feelings and start trusting your handicapping process instead.

According to a study conducted by the Action Network that looked at the difference between NFL margins of victory compared with the closing line for all NFL games since 2003 (a sample of over 4,000 games), only 2.9% of all games fell right on the closing number. Furthermore, only 6% of games were off by a half point and only 9.7% of all games finished 1 point off of the closing line.

Let’s say that again…over 90% of all NFL games finished more than 1 point off of the closing line, regardless of what the spread was. Want to take it another step further, 50.1% of games finished 8 points or more off of the closing line. In other words, half of all NFL games since 2003, a total of over 2,000 games, were more than 1 possession off of the closing line.

Now, these numbers represent all games and all spreads. Let’s take a closer look at some NFL games around a specific spread. The two most prominent key numbers in football are 3 and 7 and for good reason. Using the database at killersports.com and looking at all NFL games since the start of the 2000 season, a 4795 game sample size, 15.2% of NFL games had a margin of victory of 3 points and 9.3% of all NFL games had a margin of victory of 7 points.

I’ll dive into games around the key number of 3. Below are the total number of games and ATS/SU records for the favored team with the spreads of 2.5, 3 and 3.5.

Spread Total
% of all Games
since 2000
SU %
-2.5 296 6.17% 136-160 45.95% 151-145 51.01%
-3 727 15.16% 322-341-64 48.57% 421-305-1 57.99%
-3.5 413 8.61% 205-208 49.64% 271-142 65.62%

These three spreads have been the closing number for nearly 30% of all NFL games since 2000 and while favorites are winning SU, they aren’t always covering. Now time to see how often the games with these spreads finish within half a point or a point of the closing number.

Spread Margin of
Victory for
Favored team
Games % of Games
w/ same spread
since 2000
% of all Games
since 2000
-2.5 2 9 3.04% 0.19% Loss
-2.5 3 27 9.12% 0.56% Win
-3 2 16 2.20% 0.33% Loss
-3 3 64 8.80% 1.33% Push
-3 4 23 3.16% 0.48% Win
-3.5 3 45 10.90% 0.94% Loss
-3.5 4 14 3.39% 0.29% Win

So what does this mean? Far more often than not (approximately 85% of the time or more) for the spreads of 2.5, 3 and 3.5, the final score will not fall within a half point or 1.0 points of the closing line. If you are on the correct side for a game, then the closing number is unlikely to be a factor in your potential winning ticket.

Now I’m not saying there won’t be a time where you lose by the hook or by a point, those losses are rough and stay with you for a while (still thinking of you 2016 Panthers and that -3.5 ticket over the Saints on Thursday Night Football in Charlotte….just had to let the Saints score 14 in the 4th quarter and win 23-20….not bitter or anything). What I am saying is that it is not worth paying an extra 10 cents, 15 cents or more worth of juice to get a better number. In the long run, it will do more harm than good to your bankroll.

So stop buying points and stop paying for peace of mind and trust your handicapping process. Picking the right side is already hard enough; don’t make it even harder on yourself by paying more for a ticket when that extra half point is unlikely to matter anyway.

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