Stuckey’s Week 6 NFL Teaser Guide: The Bucs, Bears and Cowboys Fit the Bill
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Rob Gronkowski
Week 6 looks like it will leave a lot to be desired from a betting perspective, but there are a bunch of excellent teaser options on the slate.
Before we get to those games, let’s revisit my basic teaser rules for those unfamiliar or for those that just need a quick refresher.
Rule 1: Cross At Least Two Key Numbers
I personally consider 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 14 key teaser numbers. 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 if teased six points. Nice, but not nice enough over that sample set of over 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 75.2% of the time (318-105). And favorites between -7.5 and -8.5 also covered at a slightly better rate of 75.3% (186-61). That gives us a total of 504-166 or 75.2%, which easily clears the 72.4% hurdle rate. For what it’s worth, these teaser pieces have gone 16-2 this season.
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 only applies to teasing NFL sides.
Rule 2: Don’t Ever Cross Zero
Don’t even consider teasing teams like the Cowboys and Lions from -3 to +3 in Week 1.
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!
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 for a tease to make any mathematical sense.
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, especially in the legal markets.) DraftKings and bet365 are two legal U.S. books that offer -120.
Everything I’ve said is predicated on the fact that you have access to a reasonable teaser price (-120 or lower). The break-even point for a 6-point teaser at -130 odds suddenly jumps from 72.4% to 75.2%. Anything over -130 tilts the edge heavily 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.
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.
Check out our new NFL PRO Report, where we highlight key factors that provide betting edges — like large wagers, historically profitable betting systems, model projections and expert picks — that when combined with sharp money can powerfully detail the smartest bets on a given slate.
My Week 6 Top Teaser Options
- Buccaneers +8.5 (from +2.5) vs. Packers
- Cowboys +8.5 (from +2.5) vs. Cardinals
- Bears +8.5 (from +2.5) vs. Panthers
- Colts -2 (from -8) vs. Bengals
- Ravens -2 (from -8) vs. Eagles
- Football Team +8.5 (from +2.5) vs. Giants
So far, I’ve played three teasers:
- Bucs +8.5 with Cowboys +8.5
- Bears +8.5 with Colts -2
- Washington +8.5 with Ravens -2
What I really like about this week’s teaser card (besides the fact that we have six sides that can be teased across three and seven) is we currently have four underdogs sitting at +2.5.
Why do I like that so much? Well, it appears that NFL teams are finally going for the 2-point conversion at the right times. Most notably, teams are going for two when they are down 14 points late in the game.
In the past, those teams kick the extra point and you cash your +7.5 teaser piece. Now, it’s not that straightforward. Over the long run, this new trend may swing the distribution of final scoring margins and make getting over the 8 relatively more important than the 7 compared to what we’ve seen in the past. Plus, extra points are just not automatic as they once were prior to the rule change.
I just feel so much more comfortable clearing that 8 with underdog teaser pieces these days — and can do so this week with the Bucs, Cowboys, Bears and Washington. I also see slight spread value on those teams, so I’ll happily tease them over the key numbers of 3, 4, 6 and 7 — with that extra cushion above 8. Plus, with Chicago and Washington, those teams play in games with projected totals on the lower end, which makes those extra six points even more valuable.
Lastly, in regards to Baltimore and Indianapolis, I’m confident each can win by at least a field goal on Sunday in two games I project a spread of greater than a touchdown.