While the majority of the betting public has their eyes on the spreads, moneylines, and totals for the full NFL games, there are far more options to consider when choosing how to invest your money. One of those options is first half betting on NFL games. For first half wagering, most major sportsbooks offer the same kind of bets that you see for the whole game. They offer a spread, a moneyline, and a total. Only in this case, winners or losers are decided at halftime.
First half betting offers you a variety of benefits, which we will point out in this article.
When looking at teams’ past performances, you will find that some teams are slow starters, while others shoot right out of the gates. Even football teams with bad records might play well early in games, but then fail to adjust to what is happening at the game unfolds. Great teams might start slow, but then turn the game around by the adjustments they make over the course of the game.
First half betting allows you to capitalize on those tendencies. If you know that a team is a fast starter even though it is the underdog, you might be able to find a favorable line on a first half bet. If you know a heavy favorite is a slow starter, you could pick them to fail to cover the first half spread, even though you might think they will come back and win the game.
A good recent of example of this was the 2009 New Orleans Saints football team. Starting with their week 6 victory over the Miami Dolphins, they had a stretch of games in which they started slow, but still ended up winning. They were down or tied at halftime in four consecutive games against the Dolphins, Falcons, Panthers, and Rams. A combination of bets against the Saints on first half bets and on the Saints for the full games could have won you a lot of money.
Generally speaking, the top NFL teams tend to play well in the first half of games. The betting public knows this and is apt to putting a lot of action on the favorite in first half bets. The oddsmakers know this and usually shade their bets toward the favorite a little bit. This practice allows the educated bettor to exploit lines that are shaded too much. The information we talked about earlier – slow starters vs. fast starters, and in-game adjustments – could help an astute NFL handicapper find exceptional value in underdogs for a first half bet.
First half betting also allows you to compare more lines and find value easier than if you are just sticking to full games. The lines for first halves are harder to set for oddsmakers, as many factors come into play in the shortened period of play. Bookies have a smaller betting volume to adjust their lines to, since fewer people bet on halves.
Oddsmakers can’t just go ahead and set the spread at half of what it is for the full game. Especially in the game of football, they have to take the scoring system of the sport into account. If the spread for the full game sits at three, that doesn’t mean that the first half line will be 11/2. A 11/2 line wouldn’t make much sense considering a field goal is still worth three points, and a three point difference at halftime is very common.
When betting on the first half of the game, you can also take into account the circumstances in which the contest is held. If neither team can afford to lose, you might see a more passive first half, as teams might try to avoid giving up an early score. Even in a matchup of high-scoring teams, this could lead to a lower point total in the first half.
First half betting on NFL games offers many advantages, and the simple fact that it allows you to choose from a greater number of lines is worth giving it a shot. In addition to the higher number in lines at a single sportsbook, it allows you to go into even more detail when comparing a variety of sportsbooks. As a sports handicapper, you will be able to find the absolute best value for the day and could win multiple bets on a single game.