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What are Football Numbers? What are Key Numbers in Sports Betting?

<p>AP Photos</p>

AP Photos

Yards, touchdowns, wins. This football-oriented group represents the numbers that count toward team success. Players driving toward the golden end zone at the end of gambling’s gridiron add key numbers to their repertoire. 

Key numbers revolve around the points allocated for common actions  This article identifies how bettors can leverage them, so professional athletes aren’t the only ones celebrating big NFL scores.

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What Are Key Numbers? 

A game’s specific scoring system heavily influences the spread to bet on. Key numbers refer to the most common margins of victory in a game. Different sports feature different scoring systems, so the numbers that are crucial to consider depend on the sport.

Football’s Profitable Pair: 3 & 7

Oddsmakers prioritize 3 and 7 when setting the odds for football scoring totals and point spread.

Those two numbers dominate football’s betting line landscape because the most common scoring events during any given game are a field goal bundled with a successful extra point (7 points) and a field goal (3 points).

A safety, 2-point conversion, defensive touchdown during a 2-point conversion (all 2 points) and a touchdown without an extra point (6 points) comprise the other means of scoring football points. 

Here is a chart from trusted sports research tool Stathead showing the results of every NFL drive last season.

End of Game21614.7%
Field Goal20113.7%
Missed FG302.0%
End of Half151.0%
Blocked Punt3.2%
Blocked FG1.1%
All Turnovers19013.0%
All Scores50234.3%
Total Drives, via Stathead

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The extra point success rate is over 92%. Extra points remain safe but haven’t been a virtual guarantee since the NFL stretched the distance of attempts to 30 yards in 2015. Meanwhile, 2-point conversions succeed roughly 48% of the time. That number implies a high risk of failure that most coaches deem is not worth the reward barring specific situations. NFL teams attempt 2-point conversions about once in every 10 touchdowns.

The previous paragraph points to the fact that 3 and 7 also dominate the NFL’s margin of victory, due to the regularity of scoring these amounts. Games resulting in a point differential of 3 or 7 account for nearly the outcome of one in every four games played during this century. The magic number is indeed 3 at 15.02% of outcomes. But 7 also brings luck to many spread bettors, ending up the second-most common margin of victory 9.3% of the time. 

Key Numbers & Spread Betting 

Say the Los Angeles Rams rematched the Cincinnati Bengals and the line looked as follows:

  • Rams -3 (-110)
  • Bengals +3 (-110)

The Rams are the favorite, always indicated by a minus (-) sign. The Bengals reprise the familiar role of underdog, always indicated by a plus (+) sign. Spectators who feel the Rams will win by more than a field goal bet on the Rams. If the Bengals win or lose by less than 3 points, Bengals bets pay off (a historically dangerous assumption). A Rams victory by 3 points forces a push. A wager of $110 earns $100 in profit if the bet prospers.

These specific numbers translate to the oddsmakers thinking this football game will be very close and be yet another game ending in the most common result of 3 points.

Most odds of theoretically close games cling to 3 points, since sportsbooks know the numbers too and assume the huge risk of paying every underdog backer if the Rams’ line moves to 3.5 and the Bengals happen to win by a field goal, making all underdog bets succeed.

Check our also touchdown prop betting.


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