Being able to predict big upsets in the NFL is a hugely profitable skill when it comes to sports betting. Betting on NFL upsets means you’re getting long odds and big payouts but there are lots of reasons it’s so hard to do consistently.

What is an Upset in the NFL?

An upset refers to a totally unexpected result. It occurs when the side of the bet that is heavily expected to win fails to do so. An upset is when the underdog wins against the heavily favored, more skilled team.

For example, check out the following lines:

  • New England Partiots -260
  • Miami Dolphins +230

The Patriots are the favorites and the Dolphins are the underdogs. If the Dolphins win the result will be considered an upset. As you can see from these lines, successfully choosing an upset is always more profitable than successfully backing the favorite.

Betting on upsets shares many similarities with betting on the public underdog.

By definition, betting on an upset means you’re getting longer odds than betting on the favorite. That means you always stand to win more from betting on an upset. However, also by definition, betting on an upset is also riskier as they happen less frequently.

Betting on upsets can be very profitable – but only if you are selective and can identify the right spots.

To get started betting first you’ll want to brush up on betting terminology. WSN has made a Sports Betting Slang and Terminology cheat sheet to help get you started.

How to Predict an Upset in the NFL?

In this section, we’ve put together a number of proven strategies for predicting upsets in the NFL. Remember that you should consider all of these when selecting your bets: they are designed to be used alongside each other, not in isolation.

At the end of the day, upsets are always going to occur a minority of the time. You should be prepared that you may not win with most of your bets. The good news is that since the odds are always long, you don’t have to win all your bets to make a profit.

Pay close attention to the following strategies and you will find yourself regularly picking out the roughly 35% of NFL games that end in an upset.

Use Stats to Choose Upsets

We are starting with an obvious one which is true for virtually all types of betting. As tempting as it can be to bet with your gut instinct alone, or according to what your friends are saying if you want to be a long term winner your predictions must be grounded in statistics.

The most useful information we have for predicting what will happen is what has already happened.

You don’t necessarily have to ignore hunches and emotions altogether, just make sure that you do your research to see how the stats back them up.

Chances are you’re already looking at some of these stats to make your regular bets. The recent form of each team is important – if one team has lost their previous five games and the other has won theirs, you have a pretty good idea of which way the momentum is going.

  • Busy schedules are also a factor
  • Remember to check the rosters for injuries. An injury to a key player for the favourites can make a massive difference.
  • Check out the weather forecase – bad weather tends to result in sloppy, low scoring games which favor upsets.

The more detailed your research the better. Maybe one team has lost their last few matches, but a closer look at the stats might tell a different story. Perhaps in each game they had more possession and made more yards, but lost due to bad luck or individual mistakes and the results are not representative of their ability.

Good statistical research can turn up anomalies like this, which are great for spotting upsets and staying ahead of the public.

Analyze Teams and Players

Take a look at the best NFL player props for this season.

The playing styles of the teams determine what kind of match is likely to occur, which in turn can go a long way to telling us what results to expect.

Two teams with very strong defense but lacking in real offensive quality will likely result in a low scoring game determined by only a couple of points, which makes an upset more likely. When the style of the underdog plays into the strengths of the favorite, avoid betting on an upset.

This can be especially useful for predicting upsets in prop bets, which we will cover in the next section.

It’s not just the styles of the overall teams either. The playing styles of key individual players is very relevant, but it’s also worth looking more deeply than the headline players. Maybe one team is generally stronger than the other, but with an Achilles heel like bad rush defense. The other team might be pretty average, but with a tight-end who has been making loads of rushing yards all season. This mismatch can tilt the game in favor of an upset.

The same goes for coaches – they have form just like players. Check out the coaches’ history against each other. Is the coach tactically flexible or does he onsistently stick to one style and gamepla? If you are betting on a playoof game, how is the coach’s record in the postseason?

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