How and Why You Should be Betting the NFL Second Half

Aug 10, 2022

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If you are not betting the second half of NFL games, you should be. Sportsbooks are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to second half markets. Smart bettors can exploit these inefficiencies and find some great value.

The key to winning NFL second half bets is understanding how it all works. With some knowledge of what to look for, bettors can prosper from betting the second half.

Second Half Odds

When the first half of an NFL game is complete, sportsbooks immediately get to work on establishing second-half lines and odds. The problem that sportsbooks have is that they don’t have much time to work with.

By rule, halftime of an NFL game is 13 minutes long. At the most, sportsbooks might have 15 minutes total to post all their lines and odds for each game’s second half. With that limited amount of time, sportsbooks are more likely to make a mistake. That’s why NFL bettors should be betting this market.

There are a few different strategies second half bettors can use to succeed.

Look for Big 2nd Half Underdogs

When betting the second half, only the results of the second half matter. What happened in the first half does not, though the play in the first half may influence the outcome of the second half. One of the first things a second-half bettor can look for is a big second-half underdog. Big, in this case, will be seven or more points.

In examining NFL games since 2003, second half underdogs win about 50 percent of the time against the spread (1631-1628-115). Now, breaking that down and looking for big – aka +7 or greater – underdogs produces some valuable results.

Since 2005, second-half underdogs of +7 or greater are 147-98-25. That’s a winning percentage of 60 percent. Think about it. Covering a touchdown is hard in a whole NFL game. Covering a touchdown in a half is even harder.

Teams with Big Halftime Leads

Big, in this case, will refer to halftime leads of 14 points or more. In situations like this, the thought is this. The first half team takes its foot off the gas and regresses some in the second half. The losing team makes some halftime adjustments and gets back in the game, right?

If you are going to bet second half markets, you will need to understand that in big halftime lead situations this is not the case. Teams with big first half leads usually keep pouring it on in the second half.

Since the 2003 season, teams with a 14-point halftime lead are 425-354-17 against the spread in the second half. That’s a winning percentage of 55 percent. History suggests that NFL teams with at least a 14-point lead at the half will be undervalued in the second half.

Favorites Losing at the Half

Another thing to look for when betting the NFL second half is the big pregame favorite that is losing at halftime. Once again, big is defined here as a pregame favorite of at least 10 points. Since 2005, teams in this situation have been strong against the spread. Pregame favorites of 10 points or more that are tied or are losing at the half are 59-48-3 (55.1%) against the spread in the second half.

This should make sense. Good teams are pregame favorites of 10 or more for a reason. They are usually better at making halftime adjustments. In the postseason, this is an even stronger bet. Since 2005, teams in this category are 38-25-3 giving them a winning percentage over 60 percent.

If you are thinking of betting the second half of NFL games, you have good reason to do so. The market is less efficient and knowing what to look for can help you take advantage of favorable second half odds.

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