On This Page

Strategy Advice for Betting Football Props

ALL football wagers have the potential to be profitable! Yes, we mean every single one. That’s why learning how to implement each wager is so important. Many bettors stick with just point spreads and totals, and that’s just too limiting in our opinion. Although it’s still possible to make money that way, it becomes a lot easier to find value in the betting markets when you’re able to apply a broad range of strategies using different types of wager.

That’s why our football betting guide features several strategy articles on specific wagers. Not only do we cover the two most popular wagers just mentioned, but we also cover all the main alternatives too. These include moneylines, parlays and teasers. Each one of these can be profitable with basic knowledge and the right strategies.

This article is dedicated to another specific wager – props. It’s not like our other strategy articles though, as props require an entirely different approach to most other football wagers. There aren’t really any precise strategies that can be applied to props in general, for the simple reason that there are many variations of them. A strategy that works well for one prop is likely to be completely useless for another.

However, we still have useful information and advice to cover, which is exactly what we do below. We’ve provided some great tips that are based on many years of our own prop betting experience. Before we get to that, though, we must first cover props and how they work. Then we look at the advantages and disadvantages of these wagers, which will help you know whether or not these wagers are right for you. Don’t take this decision lightly. Some experts argue that these wagers aren’t the best use of your time if your goal is to make money.

Prop Betting Explained

Short for proposition bet, the prop is a very popular type of wager. Especially on football. For the big games, bookmakers and betting sites regularly offer a wide variety of different props. And their customers just LOVE to bet them. Props are often considered to be fun wagers rather than serious ones, so they’re particularly popular with casual bettors. In fact, one of the main reasons why betting sites offer props is to attract and retain customers who bet recreationally.

We’ve already mentioned how props are different than the majority of other sports wagers because there are lots of variations. We’ll look at some examples shortly. Before that, though, there’s another key difference that you should be aware of.

Most sports wagers are based on the outcome of a game, event or competition. Props are not.

Football props are typically based on a very precise outcome that will be decided over the course of a game, but is not directly related to the result of that game. For example, a popular football prop is. “Which team will score first in the match?” With this, it doesn’t necessarily matter which team you think will win the game. Your main goal is to try to predict which one will score first.

You may have noticed that the example we gave above was phrased as a question. Most props are. In fact, a lot of props require you to simply answer yes or no. Here are some examples.

  • Will the team that scores first win the game?
  • Will the team that’s leading at half time win the game?
  • Will the first score of the game be a touchdown?
  • Will there be a touchdown in the first half?
  • Will {player name} score a touchdown?
  • Will there be overtime?
  • Will {team name} score three times in a row?
  • Will either team score in the first seven and a half minutes of the game?
  • Will there be a missed extra point kick?
  • Will both teams make 33 yard or longer field goals?

Props such as the ones we highlighted above show why this type of wager is so popular with the recreational bettors. They don’t really require a great deal of thought. There’s always a fair chance of getting a bet right too, even though they’re not always 50/50 propositions. Sometimes yes is significantly more likely than no, or vice versa, but there’s only ever the two possible outcomes to choose from. So there’s always the option of just taking an educated guess, even without much idea about the likely outcome.

There are plenty of other props that have two possible outcomes too, but that aren’t yes/no questions. Here are some examples of those.

  • Will the total number of points be odd or even?
  • Which team will get to 10 points first?
  • Which half will be the highest scoring?
  • Will the opening toss be heads or tails?
  • Which team will use a coaches’ challenge first?

A prop can also be an over/under on a specified total. For example, a bookmaker may set a line for the longest made field goal. You can then bet on whether the longest field goal will be over or under that line. Other common over/under props include the following.

  • The longest touchdown yardage.
  • A team’s total passing yards.
  • A specific player’s total passing yards.
  • Total interceptions in a game.
  • Total fumbles in a game.
  • Total sacks in a game.

There are also many football props that have multiple possible outcomes. These are obviously a little harder to get right, but they’re still very popular. Here are some examples.

  • What will the final margin of victory be?
  • Which quarter will be the highest scoring?
  • Which player will score the first points?
  • Which player will score the most points?
  • What will the method of scoring be for the first points scored?

Another type of prop is individual player matchups. The most common of these is on quarterback passing yards, where you have to predict which of the two starting quarterbacks will pass for the most yards. There’s a wide variety of different player matchups, based on a range of different criteria.

The final type of prop to mention here is season long props. These aren’t as popular as the others mentioned so far, but they do still attract a fair amount of attention. The following are some examples.

  • Which NFL player will pass the most yards in the coming season?
  • Who will be the NFL’s MVP award for the coming season?
  • Who will be the NFL’s “Rookie of the Year” award for the coming season?

Wagers such as this are typically available before the season starts, and throughout the season too.

We’ve given you nearly 30 examples of prop bets so far. That’s a lot, right? It might seem so, but these examples represent only a fraction of the various different football props you can place. Some betting sites offer way more than 30 props on most NFL games. And for the big one, the Super Bowl games, you’ll see over 100 at most sites. Props are widely available for college football too.

By now you should have some idea of just how different props are to most other football wagers. All point spread wagers work in essentially the same way, regardless of the spread. All totals wagers work in essentially the same way, regardless of where the line is. The same can be said of most wagers. Prop bets with in various ways. Football props can cover all kinds of outcomes, in all kinds of ways.

This is exactly why there is no single strategy you can use for prop betting. Trying to estimate what the final margin of victory will be in a game requires a completely different approach from trying to predict which quarterback will pass the most yards. Trying to work out which player will score the most points requires a completely different approach from assessing the likelihood of a touchdown being scored in the first half. And so on.

One thing that we haven’t mentioned yet is the odds for prop bets. It’s quite common for the odds for each selection to be the same, or very close. Especially when there are only two possible outcomes. Here’s an example for an upcoming game between Buffalo and Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens
First Team to Score in 2nd Half
Bills -115
Ravens -125

As you can see, there isn’t much between the two sets of odds. The Ravens are favorites to score first in the second half, but only marginally. This suggests that each possible outcome is roughly as likely as the other.

This isn’t always the case though. Here’s another prop from the same game, again with two possible outcomes.

Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens
First Team to Score Wins?
Yes -175
No +130

There’s a much bigger gap between the two sets of odds in this bet. “Yes” is the clear favorite. This is logical, as the team that scores first is obviously more likely to win. They’ve got an immediate advantage that you’d expect them to build on. Teams do come from behind to win, of course, but teams that start strong win more often than not.

The gaps can be even bigger too. This is especially likely when there are more than two possible outcomes. Here’s one more example from the same game.

Buffalo Bills vs Baltimore Ravens
First Team to Score Wins?
Under 2 +500
2-3 +135
4-5 +175
Over 5 +400

OK, that’s the basics of prop betting explained. Now let’s take a look at the main advantages and disadvantages of this type of wager.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Football Props

We started this article by stating that you should learn how to use all the different types of football wager. We believe this to be really important, as doing so can significantly improve your overall chances of making money. With more wagers to consider, there’s a better chance of picking the right one to place in any given situation.

However, it’s also important to think carefully about which types of wager you want to focus on. Some people do equally well with all types of wager, so they spread their time between them all. Some only do well with certain types though, and not with others. Naturally, it makes sense for those people to spend most of their time on the types that are the most profitable for them.

So while it’s important to learn about each type of wager, you won’t necessarily want to use them all. There’s only so much time you can dedicate to your betting, and it’s vital that you use that time effectively. When it comes to props, you should give serious consideration as to whether you should invest any time at all. These are tough wagers to beat consistently unless you really know what you are doing. And it can take a great deal of time to reach that stage, since there are so many variations. With each variation requiring a different strategic approach, you need to do a lot of experimenting before you can even begin to know whether props can be profitable for you.

Now, we’re not trying to talk you out of betting football props. We just want you to make an informed decision about whether they represent a good use of your time. The best way for us to help you do this is to tell you all about their main advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s start with the advantages. There are three in particular that we think are worth mentioning.

  • They provide a lot of wagering options.
  • Bookmakers don’t put the same effort into pricing props as they do other wagers.
  • Props are fun.

We’re perhaps being a bit contradictory with the first advantage listed here. We’ve just implied that the range of different props is actually a disadvantage, because it’s what makes learning how to beat them so time consuming. However, the fact is that having so many options is a good thing too. You don’t have to beat every single type of prop, as you can make money from beating just one. As hard as this MAY be to prove, the sheer volume of options means that there’s a good chance of finding something that’s suited to your betting skillset.

The second advantage is a big one. This is the main reason why some bettors are able to make regular and consistent profits from props. It’s simply not practical for the bookmakers and betting sites to spend much time on pricing props. There are so many of them, and the volume of money going on each prop is nowhere near the volume of money that goes on points spreads and totals. So the odds and lines for props are a lot looser as a result. This is what creates the opportunities for finding value. With just a little bit of handicapping knowledge, it’s possible to identify really good spots to get some money down.

The final advantage on our list should not be ignored even if football betting is something you take very seriously. There’s always room for some fun when betting, and props can definitely offer that. They can provide some welcome relief from the serious side of things, and give you something different to cheer for in a game. So there’s absolutely no harm in throwing down some small stakes on props purely for the entertainment. It’s something we regularly do ourselves. It probably ends up costing us a little money, but it also helps to keep our betting enjoyable. And we wouldn’t want to change that for anything.

Now let’s move on to the disadvantages of betting props. We haven’t listed the fact that they’re hard to beat here, as ALL football wagers are hard to beat. No-one makes easy money out of betting on football. The only route to success is through hard work and commitment. So if the challenging nature of props is enough to put you off, you probably shouldn’t be betting on football at all. The following, however, are genuine reasons not to spend time on props.

  • Many props are impossible to handicap effectively.
  • You’re usually restricted to small stakes on props.
  • You’re likely to be limited if you win consistently.

Take a look back through all the prop examples we listed earlier. How many of those do you think you could handicap effectively and make a genuinely informed prediction? If you’re being honest, the answer should be not many. This is exactly why the bookmakers don’t waste much time on setting the odds and lines for props. Many of them simply cannot be predicted with any degree of accuracy. You basically have to rely on little more than guesswork. You can make educated guesses for sure, but they’re guesses all the same. And guessing is not going to lead to long-term profits.

Some props CAN be properly handicapped of course. These are the ones that the smart bettors focus on, and it’s why they can and do make money. That’s where the other two disadvantages on our list come in. Bookmakers don’t like their customers making money, and they especially don’t like their customers making money on props. As we mentioned earlier, they offer these wagers for their recreational customers. They know that those customers will win often enough to maintain an interest and keep betting, but will still lose money overall.

That’s the bookmakers’ perfect scenario, and it’s the main reason why they all offer so many props.

They have to do something to stop the smart bettors from taking advantage of their loose odds and lines though. So the maximum stake for props is usually a lot lower for props than it is for other wagers. And if anyone dares to win with any consistency, they’ll probably find themselves limited to even smaller stakes. In extreme circumstances, they may even find their accounts getting closed.

We’re not going to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t invest your time and money into betting football props. This is a decision you must make for yourself. We’ve explained how they work, and tried to provide a balanced view by exploring the pros and cons. That’s all we CAN do really.

If you decide that prop betting isn’t really for you, that’s understandable. It takes a lot of effort to make money from these wagers, and even if you’re successful the bookmakers and betting sites may try to shut you down. Try to remember that props can be fun though, and at least consider placing some occasionally just for the entertainment value.

If you decide that you would like to try prop betting on a more serious level, make sure you’re prepared to put in the necessary hard work. There’s definitely the potential for profit, but it won’t be easy. The final section of this article will help though, so please continue reading.

Strategy Tips for Betting Props

Most of our strategy articles feature at least one or two clearly defined strategies that we recommend implementing. We never tell you exactly what to do, but we give you the information and advice that you need to implement them effectively. In our opinion, that’s the best way to help you develop as a bettor and ultimately find success.

As we’ve already explained though, we can’t give you any clearly defined strategies for prop betting in general. It’s simply not possible, as each different type of prop requires its own individual approach. We’re planning to add some articles in the future where we recommend some strategies for specific types of prop, but for now we just have some useful tips for you follow. Although these are all relatively straightforward, they can still significantly improve your chances of making money from football props.

Only bet props that can be properly analyzed

We’ve talked about how most props cannot be handicapped effectively. You should ignore these, unless you’re just betting for fun, and focus on the ones that can be properly analyzed. You’re not going to make money in the long run by betting props where you essentially have to guess. You can, however, make money by betting when you can genuinely identify some value in the market.

For example, it’s fine to bet on the first team to score if you know the relevant team has recently been starting games fast. It’s also fine to bet on a quarterback to pass for more yards than his opposing quarterback if you know that he’s in good form and his team’s style is conducive to posting high passing figures.

These are just a couple of examples. There are plenty of others we could list too, but remember that we’re not trying to tell you exactly what to do here. Just make sure that you think carefully about whether you can make a truly informed judgement before putting any money down on a prop. As with any type of wager, only bet when there’s a solid reason to do so.

Always check the exact terms

This is a vital piece of advice. Some props are a little vague, and these can be dangerous. You shouldn’t be betting on anything that’s open to interpretation. So please be sure to always check the exact terms of a prop before risking any money. If you don’t fully understand them, just avoid the bet. It might prove to be a missed opportunity, but it’s better to miss an opportunity than to lose money unnecessarily.

Don’t rely exclusively on statistics

A lot of bettors try to handicap props solely by looking at the relevant starts. When betting on which quarterback will pass the most yards in game, for example, they’ll simply compare the recent averages of the two players and make a decision based on that. This is FAR too simplistic an approach. Although the bookmakers generally use simple formulas themselves when pricing props, you need to be smarter than that if you’re going to beat them.

Stats can be useful when betting props for sure. Very useful, in fact. But they shouldn’t be the only consideration. You need to think about context too, and any relevant situational factors. So let’s say you were comparing recent averages of two quarterbacks when betting on which one will pass the most yards. Imagine one of them has a high recent average, but his team has had a few easy games on the schedule. His opponent has a lower recent average, but has been playing in much tougher games. His team has been missing three key players through injury, including their best receiver, who are about to come back into the side.

How much do you think the averages alone tell you here? The answer is, “not a lot.” By considering context and situational factors, things aren’t as clear cut as they might have originally appeared.

Find the best odds and lines

We repeat this particular tip a lot. It’s something you should do before placing any wager, as it doesn’t take much time and can be very effective in the long run. Even when the differences are small, better odds and lines will always lead to noticeably better results over time.

When prop betting on football, the differences are often not small at all. It’s not at all uncommon to see betting sites offer very different lines for the same prop. So if you’re not shopping around for the best deal, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.

Look for arbitrage opportunities

This tip is closely linked to the point we just made. When the differences between the lines at two or more betting sites are significant enough, it’s possible that there’ll be an arbitrage opportunity. This means you can make a guaranteed profit by betting on all the possible outcomes at different prices.

Here’s a very simple example. One betting site is offering the following prop for an upcoming game.

Carolina Panthers vs Tennessee Titans
Total Number of Sacks
Over 4.5 +115
Under 4.5 -120

Another betting site has also set the line at 4.5 for the same prop. BUT they’re offering -105 on the under. So you could bet the over at +115 AND the under at -105, because with the right stakes you could guarantee a profit. By betting around 10% more on the under than on the over, you’d make a profit regardless of how many sacks there ended up being. It wouldn’t be a very big profit, but spot these opportunities often and all the profits would soon add up.

Keep good strategies to yourself

For the second time in this article we’re being a little contradictory. This website features many articles where we’re happily sharing strategies with anyone who cares to read them. But then we’re a team consisting of individuals who have made a lot of money from our betting activities over the years. We don’t mind sharing some of our tips and tricks with a broader audience.

If you manage to develop a good strategy for betting props, we don’t recommend following our lead. Sharing your strategy on a betting forum, or even just with friends, could potentially cost you money. There’s a limited amount of value to be found in the prop betting markets, and if you share the benefits of your hard work then you’re just going to reduce that value even further. This is one spot where it’s OK to be a little bit selfish. Help others develop their own strategies by all means, but don’t make it easy for them at your expense.

On that note, it’s time to bring this article to a close. We’ve covered football props as extensively as we can without getting into the finer detail of specific strategies for specific props. So now you need to take all this information and advice and put it to good use. Don’t expect instant results, as you’re unlikely to get them. But with a little patience, and plenty of hard work, the results should come in

time.