Stuckey’s NFL Teaser Tips and Best Week 1 Teaser Betting Options
Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott
The NFL is back, which means bettors will inevitably place their fair share of teasers this weekend. And contrary to popular opinion, teasers can be a very valuable tool to bettors — but really only in the NFL if you follow a few basic rules of thumb.
There are five in particular that I highlighted last year for the novice bettor that I wanted to resurface ahead of the first Sunday slate of the 2019 regular season before getting into my favorite NFL teaser options for Week 1.
Rule 1: Cross At Least Two Key Numbers
I personally consider 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 14 key teaser numbers, as those are the five most common margins of victory in the NFL. However, 3 and 7 are Kings, as games end on those two numbers at a significantly higher clip than the rest.
From a purely mathematical standpoint, you can give yourself an edge without taking anything else into account by simply crossing 3 and 7 with both parts of a teaser at -110. You may hear some bettors refer to doing this as the good ol’ Wong teaser (in reference to gambling author 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 Bet Labs database, all NFL regular season spreads since 2003 covered only 69% of the time (5504-2522) if teased six points. Nice, but not nice enough.
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 74% of the time (292-100). And favorites between -7.5 and -8.5 covered at a 76% clip (170-54). That gives us a total of 462-154 or exactly 75%, which clears the 72.4% hurdle rate.
Those results are for 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 is only intended for teasing NFL sides.
Rule 2: Don’t Ever Cross Zero
I see this way too often. You’re simply giving up too much edge by crossing over a dead range that will only include a maximum of one key number.
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!
Don’t even consider teasing teams like the Jets and Chiefs in Week 1.
Rule 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 (example: 43 after the extra point rule change), but they don’t hit frequently enough to justify a tease.
The one possible exception: teasing a side and total in the same game that you believe are correlated (usually underdog/under and/or favorite/over). But that’s a conversation for another day.
Rule 4: Price Matters
Make sure you shop around!
Don’t pay -120 for a 6-point teaser (which would significantly increase your long term hurdle rate) when there are still books out there that offer -110. (Although, they’re becoming tougher to find over time.)
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 suddenly jumps from 72.4% to 75.2%.
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.
Rule 5: Know Your Book
Make sure you familiarize yourself with your book’s teaser rules and payouts, as they can vary significantly.
I recommend only using 6-point teasers, as each additional half-point teased away from the original spread becomes marginally less valuable to the bettor. I’d only ever consider a 7-point teaser if you’re teasing a 9.5-point favorite down to 2.5 in order to cross the almighty 3 and 7. The same logic applies for 6.5-point teasers for 9-point favorites.
Also, some books have a “ties win” option, which means you can pay a little extra to win if one part of your teaser pushes. So, why tease a team 6.5 points from +1 to +7.5 for -120 when you can tease that same team 6 points to +7 and paying -115 (instead of -110) for ties win? Make sure you know which options your book has and bet accordingly.
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.
Here are five other factors (some minor) that I at least think about before finalizing an NFL teaser:
- 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.
- “Backdoorability”: 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 PK, check the payout for a moneyline parlay. It could pay out more for essentially the same bet.
My Week One Top Teaser Options
There are four potential sides this week that you can tease six points and cross both the three and seven. Here are my rankings for those four:
- Panthers +7.5
- Cowboys -1.5
- Bills +8.5
- Cardinals +8.5
I’m looking to sell the Rams early in the year after a season where everything went their way. Head coach Sean McVay sat everyone in the preseason again, which I think is smart, but I also think they start slow out of the gates as they did in last year’s season-opener against the Raiders.
Los Angeles does now have a healthy Cooper Kupp, who could have a big game in this particular matchup. However, LA is now weaker at linebacker and in the interior of its offensive line. Carolina is poised to take advantage with improvements in the trenches on both sides of the ball. With a now healthy Cam Newton, the Panthers should keep this within one touchdown.
Elsewhere, New York could hang with Dallas but I just don’t see the Cowboys dropping their home-opener with such an enormous advantage in the trenches.
In a battle of two elite running backs, the Cowboys should win this game with their offensive line and linebackers. I wouldn’t lay 7.5 but feel comfortable with Dallas -1.5 after crossing four key numbers (3, 4, 6 and 7).
The Bills are a very intriguing option for a number of reasons, especially since this is a game with a low total where point should come at a premium. If I didn’t get the Bills at +3 earlier in the week, I would’ve likely used them in a teaser.
In regards to the Cardinals, yes, you do cross the two most critical numbers by teasing them up. So, mathematically, I wouldn’t blame you for using them in a teaser. But I just have no idea what to expect from them, so I’m avoiding that game like the plague.