Why Are 3 & 7 the Key Numbers for NFL Handicaps?
From data collected since the start of the NFL* (in 1920), a massive 11.8% of games have finished with a winning margin of 3 points. The second most common was 7 points (7.4%), while the third-most frequent was 10 points (5.7%) – the two most frequent margins added together.
By adding the two most common winning margins together it works out that 3 and 7 point victories account for a massive 19.2% of all NFL games, and when added to the third most common, they account to 24.9% – a quarter of all results.
The reason these key numbers arise more than any other is due to NFL scoring. For instance, three points are awarded for a field goal, while 7 points is the amount awarded for a touchdown and a successful conversion.
By adding the two most common winning margins together it works out that 3 and 7 point victories account for a massive 19.2% of all NFL games
How Key Numbers Affect Betting
Now that you’re familiar with the key numbers, you can use them as a barometer for what side of a handicap provides the best value. Understanding line movement is key here.
This also affects alternate markets, where bettors should be careful when buying or selling points across the key numbers. (Read about NFL alternate markets).
Bookmakers will often charge a lot to buy a point in your favour across a key number. If they are pricing 4, 5 or 6 as equally expensive, however, they’re simply trying to take advantage of uninformed bettors.
* Data collected up to 2012 NFL season