Although the popularity of teasers, pleasers and prop bets have been on the rise, most NFL bets are still placed on the point spread. The spread attempts to level the playing field and make favorites and underdogs equally enticing for bettors, but it's just one of many options for placing a wager.
A recent blog post on Sports Insights posed the following questions: What's the most profitable course of action when betting a 2.5-point underdog? Do you take the spread as is? Buy the extra half-point to hit the key number of 3? Or simply bet the money line?
Research indicates betting the money line is the most beneficial option for both 2.5- and 3-point underdogs. That meant our next logical step was to determine whether this was isolated to 2.5- and 3-point 'dogs or whether there was legitimate value in betting the money line on all small underdogs (less than 7).
Betting against the public is one of our cornerstone betting strategies, so we decided to take this historically profitable strategy and combine it with two other undervalued trends -- road teams and underdogs.
With plus-7 marking one of the most significant key numbers for football bettors, we used our Bet Labs software to focus on road 'dogs of 6.5 or less that receive no more than 40 percent of spread bets. By layering the "home/visitor," "spread range" and "spread percentage" filters, we discovered this basic system has produced a record of 214-195 ATS with plus-10.69 units earned and a 2.6 percent return on investment (ROI) since 2003.
Additional research revealed that visiting underdogs of 6.5 or less points have covered and won straight-up 74.9 percent of the time, covered and lost 18.8 percent of the time and pushed 6.3 percent of the time. This begs the question: "Is it more profitable to bet small road 'dogs on the money line?"