How to Research NFL Lines at Sportsbooks and Shop for the Best Ones

NFL Logo And Researching Lines With Browns Vs Bills

There is no single tried-and-true rule that will help you become a profitable NFL bettor. That said, there are a few tricks of the trade you can try in order to better your bottom line.

One common mistake among NFL bettors is to utilize just one sportsbook for their football wagers. That may not sound like a big deal, but, in this case, loyalty can cost you in the long run.

To avoid missing out on profits and seeing your bankroll dwindle, you need to conduct weekly research in a variety of different areas every week before deciding on which games to wager your hard-earned money. Shopping for lines is a very basic skill that can help you right away. Because not all sportsbooks view every game through the same lens, there is an edge to be found at some sportsbooks you may not find at others. NFL line shopping is something that can give you a huge advantage in your football betting endeavors. Over time, it will help win you more in profits, and allow you to return initial wagers back into your bankroll.

Growing that bankroll every week gives you more and more opportunities to bet as the season progresses, as well.

The following steps will show you what kind of research you need to conduct each week if you want to maximize your NFL betting odds.

1: Find Your Edge Matchups

Fortunately, the NFL releases its full schedule months before the campaign actually begins. That gives you ample time to research which teams are playing each other.

Look for games you think will give you an edge. Highlight 3-to-5 games per week whose spreads or over/unders look like winners and dissect everything about the upcoming matchup.

There are an awful lot of NFL betting stats you can dig through in order to get a better idea as to how certain teams stack up against one another.

Please Note:

If a matchup appears lopsided, check whether the favored team likes to run up the score or relax during garbage time, for example. It may sound small, but that can have a huge impact on whether either team ultimately covers the point spread in a given game.

And finally, research what teams like to do in game situations.

When it’s 4th and goal, do teams like to go for it or take the almost-guaranteed points?
Do they take a more conservative approach where they score just enough points to beat an opponent, or do they like to air it out, regardless?

These are just a few tips that can help you as you do your NFL line shopping. If you look early enough, sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to find an edge before sportsbooks are able to update their lines accordingly.

You will know which of those lines are vulnerable and which ones you should stay away from.

How does this early research tie into NFL line shopping?

Researching in-game variables will give you further insight into whether a matchup is worth wagering. If two offensive powerhouses collide, betting the 5.5-point spread might not be the greatest idea…but they probably have a good shot at covering the 59.5-point over/under.

Make no assumptions here, either.

There are many NFL gamblers out there that have been around the game for such a long time they make the mistake of assuming that just because one team routinely blows teams out that they’re likely to cover the spread.


Such lazy thinking can be costly for bettors. The vast majority of the time, those that set the odds have a far better grasp on how likely certain outcomes are than the bettors that will be betting on said lines.

2: Check Different Sportsbooks and Compare Lines

It shouldn’t matter whether the sportsbooks are online or offline—research and get to know with whom you’re wagering your money. There are dozens of great NFL betting sites out there, which should make shopping NFL lines a fairly straightforward endeavor.

Before you sign up with any sportsbooks, be sure to do a little NFL line shopping.

You don’t have to sign up to become a member at a site in order to look at their NFL lines, in most cases. Of course, you will have to do this in order to actually place a bet at any site. You’re guaranteed to find discrepancies when shopping NFL lines from sportsbook to sportsbook.

Real-Game Example:

Here are 2 scenarios that will play out each season. The below scenarios are hypothetical and they don’t reflect the 2021 NFL season. Instead, they provide a situational approach for any given current campaign.

The teams used in each scenario are mere examples of what happens each season. Let’s say Cleveland’s playing Baltimore in an AFC North rivalry clash. You know the two teams have fantastic offensive attacks and mediocre defenses, based on the numbers from the first 5 weeks of the season.

Both teams average 29 points per game.

You also know Cleveland and Baltimore lit up the scoreboard earlier in the year against two stellar defenses, showing their offenses can score on anyone. Given that both defenses rank 16th and 17th in the league, chances are it will be a high-scoring affair.

Browns Vs Ravens

Each week, the two teams average 58 points combined. Their defenses average 21 points allowed per game, but per your research in the above section, you discover their defenses allow 31 points per game when playing top-5 offensive units. Perhaps these teams already won a couple of shootouts or narrowly lost one because of bad defensive play. Very average defenses plus high-powered offenses.

Given that you already researched their recent track record, you look at the over-under. If you don’t think the sportsbook has properly accounted for a matchup between two high-flying offenses, betting the over probably looks pretty appealing.

Obviously, the two offenses are high-powered and their defenses are middle of the road, but you want to increase your chances of winning.

Please Note:

Any rational thinker is going with one of those sportsbooks that offer the lower over-under. Therefore, it’s so important not to put your faith in just one sportsbook. Do your NFL line shopping with at least five sportsbooks in search of any differences you can find.

3: Check Out Multiple Online Sportsbooks & Compare Lines

It’s time to sign up for a few more reputable online sports betting sites with NFL betting odds.

You can sign up for as many as you want, as long as they’re in good standing.

It’s also smart to make sure the sites you sign up for, either on an annual or weekly basis (if the lines look good for one you haven’t yet signed up for), have been around for a while. The same holds true for offline bookmakers—if they have a name, make sure they do it for the right reasons.

Sadly, you may encounter some sites with sketchy reputations when shopping NFL lines. Be sure to consult our list of the best NFL sportsbooks for more information on what you should look for in a quality site.

Continue your NFL line shopping endeavors for these sportsbooks you’ve signed up for every single week. The book that gave a favorable spread last week might give an unfavorable spread for an edge matchup you found. The same goes for the book that gave you a good over-under last week.

A site having favorable lines one week may not do the same the next.

Let’s say the following week, you research the same two books but discover the roles are reversed for the two edge matchups you’re looking at.

Or, you look at a third and fourth book—one you signed up for and another you didn’t—and both show a more favorable spread and over-under.

So it’s important to sign up with more than just one or two books if you’re going to capitalize on shopping NFL lines.

Please Note:

And when you know you have multiple sportsbooks at your disposal, you know your chances of winning one of your edge matches skyrocketed. Don’t be the one who loses a wager because you jumped to a conclusion without first shopping NFL lines with only sportsbooks you signed up with.

Find others in good standing that might offer a better line and if you haven’t done so, sign up with them.


These 3 steps are crucial if you want to turn a long-term profit betting on the NFL online.

While the NFL line shopping process is time-consuming and will take a few hours of commitment per week, you’ll quickly find it’s worth it when your win-loss ratio improves.

Set 1 day per week to dedicate toward shopping NFL lines and stick with it.

Repeat these same steps in the same order each week.

Find the edge matchups, usually 3 to 5 games each week, check different sportsbooks, and sign up for the ones giving the most favorable lines if you haven’t already done so.

Then sit back in peace, knowing that you did everything in your control to maximize your chances at winning.

Winning bets is never a guarantee, but you can at least improve your odds with a few easy steps and a little bit of patience.


Author: Tamara Kim