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  • Writer's pictureAvoid the Vig

NFL Key Numbers

The most common NFL bet type is the point spread. The point spread is the difference between two teams at the end of the game. Because teams typically score in some combination of 3 and 7, there are certain score disparities between two teams that occur most often. The numbered differentials that occur most often are known as key numbers.

Knowing what the key numbers are and how to manipulate them can make a bad bettor profitable. Below is a chart of all NFL margin of victory since 2003. As you look at the chart, you will notice certain numbers that spike above all the rest.

Key numbers in order of greatest frequency to the least: 3, 7, 6, 10, 4, 14

When looking to bet on a team, it is extremely important to identify if it is on or near a key number. Betting a -2.5 point favorite versus -3 point favorite, is a huge difference. Conversely, getting 6.5 points versus 7, could make the difference between a winner and loser. As the graph above illustrates, since 2003, the margin of victory has been three 15% of the time. 9% of the time, the favorite has won by 3.

Since moving the extra points back, these numbers have changed slightly. Below is a chart illustrating the differences in margin of victory since the move. The key numbers are still highlighted when analyzing the chart.

A bettor should be using this information and shopping their lines at multiple books. As we have explained frequently in our Betting 101 series, having multiple outs is a huge advantage to a bettor because the bettor is able to target these key numbers.

Although these may seem to be trivial percentages, it is important to know that the difference between picking winners at 50% clip and 55% is the difference between being profitable and losing your shirt. Identify the key numbers, shop the pick, and win away.



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