9 NFL Teaser Betting Strategies for 2021
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- Betting NFL teasers this season? Stuckey breaks down four key things to look for, and five other strategies to consider.
- Teasers can be profitable bets when crossing certain key numbers, but price matters and will vary depending on the book.
What is an NFL teaser? For any bettors who might not be familiar, teasers are essentially parlays for which you pay to move a spread by six or more points. A two-team, six-point teaser will pay slightly more than a regular NFL point spread bet, for example.
You can learn more about the basics of teasers here, but below I’ll dig into my tips for betting NFL teasers specifically.
How To Bet NFL Teasers
1. Cross Key Numbers
I personally consider 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 14 key numbers for teasers — those are the six most common margins of victory in the NFL. However, 3 and 7 are kings since games end on those two numbers at a significantly higher clip than the rest. Those are the two you almost always want to cross.
From a purely mathematical standpoint, you can give yourself an edge without taking anything else into account by simply crossing both 3 and 7 (and in turn 4 and 6) with both parts of a teaser at up to -130 odds. You may hear some bettors refer to doing this as the good ol’ Wong teaser (in reference to Stanford Wong).
In order to break even on a 6-point teaser at -110, you need teams that have a greater than 72.4% chance of covering after being teased. If we look back in our Action Labs database, all NFL regular-season spreads since 2003 covered only 69% of the time if teased six points (6,272-2,854). That’s a nice rate, but not nice enough over that sample set of more than 8,000 teams.
The story changes if we filter for all teases that would’ve captured both the 3 and 7.
NFL regular-season underdogs between +1.5 and +2.5 covered a 6-point teaser 75.3% of the time (341-112). And favorites between -7.5 and -8.5 have historically covered at a slightly higher clip of 76% (203-64). That gives us a total of 544-176 or 75.6%, which easily clears the 72.4% hurdle rate at -110 and barely edges the breakeven rate for -130 odds.
For what it’s worth, these teaser pieces have gone a perfect 8-0 through Week 3 of the 2021 season.
Those results capture the closing lines on all teams in those specific spread ranges. If you consider a few other factors (which I’ll get to later), you can potentially improve that percentage. Again, this analysis only applies to teasing NFL sides.
2. Don’t Ever Cross Zero
I see this way too often. You’re simply giving up too much edge by crossing over an unlikely “dead range” of final margins. This is even crazier in the playoffs since games can’t end in a tie.
You’re essentially paying for points that don’t matter. Just don’t do it!
3. Don’t Tease Totals
NFL totals simply don’t fall on certain numbers or within a specific range enough to justify the math. There are key numbers to be aware of when betting over/unders, but they don’t hit frequently enough for a tease to make mathematical sense.
The one possible exception is teasing a side and total in the same game that you believe are correlated — usually an underdog paired with an under and/or a favorite paired with an over — but that’s a conversation for another day.
4. Price Matters
Make sure you shop around! Especially since prices have started to increase of late and vary widely by book. We compiled teaser prices for more than 20 United States sportsbooks.
Don’t pay -130 juice for a 6-point teaser (which would increase your long term hurdle rate) when some books out there still offer -120. DraftKings offers -120; FanDuel is at -134; the Kambi books (Barstool, BetRivers, Unibet) use dynamic pricing that changes depending on which numbers you’re crossing.
Everything I’ve said is predicated on the fact that you have access to a reasonable teaser price. The break-even point for a 6-point teaser at -130 odds suddenly jumps from 72.4% to 75.2%, which is almost equivalent to the historical cover rate (75.6%) of teasing through 3 and 7. Paying anything greater than -130 heavily tilts the edge in the book’s favor.
Price focus shouldn’t just be the case for teasers, but for all types of betting. You need to hit 52.4% just to break even at average odds of -110, but that threshold jumps to 54.6% at -120. (You can compare real-time NFL odds here.)
Make sure you familiarize yourself with your book’s teaser rules and payouts, as they can vary significantly.
Five- or 10-cent differences might not seem like much to a recreational bettor, but they add up. Every cent and half-point matters if you want to take this seriously.
More NFL Teaser Betting Strategies
Here are five other factors that I at least think about before finalizing an NFL teaser, some of which are relatively minor:
- Lower-scoring games: Naturally, teasing an underdog with a low total is inherently more valuable than doing so when the total is high over the long run. Underdogs between +1.5 and +2.5 with a total of 47 or lower have covered 77% of the time historically when teased up six points. That rate is only 70% when the total is higher than 47, which doesn’t clear any of the aforementioned hurdle rates.
- “Backdoor-ability”: How will the opposing defense play late and/or how much do you trust your quarterback to drive down the field late in the game for a “meaningless” touchdown?
- Coaching: Do you have a competent coach who will understand kicking down 10 with under two minutes to go is smarter than trying to score a touchdown in the final seconds?
- Special teams: Do you have a special teams edge overall and, more importantly, a kicker you trust? This becomes even more important with the recent extra-point rule changes.
- Parlay payout: If you’re teasing two favorites down to around a pick’em, check the payout for a moneyline parlay. It could pay out more for essentially the same bet.