2013 NFL Season – Betting Preview

American football fans are rejoicing because hot on the heels of last week’s college football launch is the 2013 NFL season. The futures market suggests there is little consensus on the title favourite this year, with the Broncos and 49ers the shortest selections at 7.50 odds at the time of writing.

This article outlines a few betting resources for the NFL and discusses the futures markets for the 2013 season. For those who are new to the NFL, now is a great time to get into the sport as there are so many quality quarterbacks in the league at the moment. We have the careers of veterans like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady overlapping with the budding careers of Andrew Luck, RGIII, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. There’s also Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger… so many quarterback records have been broken in recent years.

Betting Resources

In time for the new season, Australia Sport Betting now provides historical NFL head-to-head, line and over/under data with decimal odds. The data set is available as an Excel file in the Data Section. In addition to historical data, we also now provide NFL form guides for each week’s round of fixtures. Our sister site Australia Sports Tipping has launched an NFL section which provides even more detailed form guides and odds data. For NFL odds comparisons between bookmakers that support Australian dollar accounts, check out our NFL odds comparison section.

In addition to this site, another strong resource for betting on the NFL is the betting analysis tool Bet Labs. Bet Labs enables you to devise data-driven betting systems for the major American codes, including college football and basketball. It also provides research on head-to-head, line, over/under betting as well as current game match alerts. One of the strongest features of Bet Labs is its provision of data on which selections are receiving the heaviest betting activity. This enables you to implement contrarian betting strategies (see example).

For weekly betting picks, check out the NFL Picks section at CBS Sports. The site provides a panel of eight ‘experts’ who make weekly picks both in the head-to-head and at the line. There are some new faces in the panel this year, but each season there’s always a few who perform well at the line selections.

Futures Markets

The futures market is wide open with the shortest selections (Broncos and 49ers) hovering around the 7.50 mark to win the Super Bowl. Below are the latest odds at the time of writing. You can find a comparison of the latest bookmaker NFL futures odds in the Odds Comparison section. As is often the case for futures markets, Betfair offers the best value in this market.

For my own prediction, I think there are ten or so teams with genuine title chances, but if I had to pick one I would say the Denver Broncos are a rightful joint-favourite. They have a veteran quarterback in Peyton Manning who is a four-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl XLI winner. Last year – the Broncos’ first with Manning as quarterback – the team started with a 2-3 record but won the last 11 games of the regular season to finish with a commanding 13-3 record. They lost to eventual Super Bowl winners the Baltimore Ravens in the second overtime of the divisional playoffs, so things could have turned out so differently had a few more things gone their way. This year Manning has wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and former Patriot Wes Welker at his disposal, so one would expect there to be few problems on offence providing Manning gets adequate pass protection. A big question mark, however, is their defence. Elvis Dumervil has moved to the Ravens, while Von Miller is suspended for the first six games and there is an injury cloud over Champ Bailey for the start of the season. Given their softer than average schedule, if the Broncos can start the season well without Miller and Bailey they will be a tough opponent in the playoffs – especially if they can get home advantage where they play at altitude.

For division winner betting, check out the NFL.com articles containing eleven experts’ picks for each division in the AFC and NFC. The survey results are:

AFC EAST: Patriots (picked by all 11 experts)
AFC NORTH: Bengals (picked by 9 experts. The Ravens received 2 votes.)
AFC SOUTH: Texans (picked by 8 experts. The Colts received 3 votes.)
AFC WEST: Broncos (picked by all 11 experts)

NFC EAST: Cowboys (picked by 5 experts. The Eagles, Redskins and Giants received 1, 2 and 3 votes, respectively.)
NFC NORTH: Packers (picked by 7 experts. The Bears picked up 3 votes and the Lions picked up 1 vote.)
NFC SOUTH: Falcons (picked by all 11 experts)
NFC WEST: 49ers (picked by 7 experts. The Seahawks received 5 votes)

In addition to Super Bowl, AFC, NFC and Division winner markets, another popular futures market is the number of regular season wins for each team. Below are the latest odds at the time of writing. There seems to be a fair amount of disagreement between punter sentiments and the bookmaker’s initial lines as some selections have shortened as low as 1.50.

When betting on this market keep an eye out for mean reversion from last year because teams with unusually low/high win counts one year often end up closer to long-term trends the following year. One of the reasons for this is weaker teams receive higher picks in the following year’s draft. They also receive a slightly softer schedule the following season. For those who are curious, below is the full NFL scheduling formula:

Each team plays…

  • each of the other three teams in its division twice: once at home, and once on the road (six games).
  • the four teams from another division within its own conference once on a rotating three-year cycle: two at home, and two on the road (four games).
  • the four teams from a division in the other conference once on a rotating four-year cycle: two at home, and two on the road (four games).
  • Once against the other teams in its conference that finished in the same place in their own divisions as themselves in the previous season, not counting the division they were already scheduled to play: one at home, one on the road (two games).

The toughness of each team’s schedule is so important that NFL.com publishes Strength of Schedule reports prior to each season. Below are this year’s schedule strengths. The numbers denote the win ratios of each team’s opponents for the season. A higher number indicates a tougher schedule.

Team SOS Team SOS Team SOS
Carolina Panthers .543 Cincinnati Bengals .508 Tennessee Titans .488
Detroit Lions .539 Jacksonville Jaguars .508 New York Giants .480
New Orleans Saints .539 New England Patriots .508 Dallas Cowboys .480
St. Louis Rams .539 Atlanta Falcons .504 Buffalo Bills .473
Baltimore Ravens .535 Chicago Bears .502 Houston Texans .473
Green Bay Packers .533 Tampa Bay Buccaneers .500 Kansas City Chiefs .473
Arizona Cardinals .520 Washington Redskins .498 Oakland Raiders .469
Miami Dolphins .520 New York Jets .496 Indianapolis Colts .461
San Francisco 49ers .520 Philadelphia Eagles .496 San Diego Chargers .457
Minnesota Vikings .516 Cleveland Browns .492 Denver Broncos .430
Seattle Seahawks .516 Pittsburgh Steelers .496    


Betting Promotions

Usually, Australian bookmakers launch promotions to coincide with the new NFL season, but things have been pretty quiet this year. Below is a survey of what we’ve found.


Enter promo code NFLBET13 on your ‘My Account’ page under ‘Enter Promo Code’. Place a Line bet for an NFL Round 1 fixture and if it wins, Luxbet will credit you with a bonus bet up to $100. This offer is only applicable to your first line bet on the opening round of fixtures. The winning bonus bet can only be used on Line markets for Round 2 NFL fixtures.


Get a 25% bonus up to $200 on successful 4+ leg NFL multis. To be eligible for the 25% winners’ bonus, place a winning multi bet with Sportingbet using NFL games between 4 September 2013 and 3 October 2013. To qualify, the multi bet must have 4 to 12 legs with no selection below 1.20 odds and the total multi odds must be 6.00 or greater. The bonus funds must be turned over once prior to funds being withdrawn.


Place a head-to-head or line bet on any Week 1 NFL game. If your bet loses, Sportsbet will match your stake with a free bet up to $20. View terms.

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