The general public has a tendency to oversimplify the meaning of an NFL pointspread. The conventional wisdom is that it is simply a prediction of which team will win and by how much. There is a component of that in the NFL bookmaking equation, but there’s a lot more to it. A sportsbooks primary goal is to equally divide the action they take on an individual game. If they do their job right, the outcome of the game is irrelevant to the bookmaker.
Since a bookmakers primary goal in setting NFL betting lines is to equally divide action, they have to make each side of a wagering proposition attractive to a prospective player. For that reason, its more accurate to say that NFL lines are more of a reflection of the betting publics perception of which team will win a game and by how much than anything else. Some NFL teams are considered public teams due to their popularity and/or perceived qualitative skill. So if the numbers in a hypothetical game between Dallas and Cincinnati indicate that the Cowboys should be a -6 favorite a book may open the game at -7 or -7.
In early season wagering there are a few additional factors at play. A bookmaker may consider a teams NFL preseason record for the simple reason that the NFL betting public gives it undue attention. Sharp players know that there is little correlation between a teams preseason success (or lack thereof) and their regular season performance.
Furthermore, its important to understand why NFL lines are moved after the opening numbers are posted. While it may occasionally be due to external factors such as injury or weather, more often than not its a direct result of the money a book is drawing on one side of the proposition or another. The idea is that by moving the line it makes wagers on the side a book wishes to attract money on more attractive.
NFL football betting is a very complex discipline, and many neophytes make the mistake of focusing exclusively on the nuances of the game itself. To successfully bet on NFL football, however, it is important to spend as much time understanding the intricacies of the sports gambling marketplace”and in this regard nothing is more fundamentally important than understanding how NFL pointspreads are made and why they are moved.