When betting on sports, particularly in the NFL, you often hear the phase “key numbers.” But what does that mean, and what is the advantage here?
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What Are the Key Numbers in the NFL?
The NFL has an unusual method of scoring. We all know that field goals are worth three points, touchdowns six points, and that you can either kick an extra point field goal for one point following a touchdown (most commonly) or go for a two-point conversion to get two additional points.
That means that the most typical margins of victory in an NFL game are three and seven points, making them key numbers to target when betting on point spreads.
For example, if you’re betting a favorite to cover the spread, a key number would be (-6.5) because winning a one-touchdown victory gives you a winning ticket, and betting an underdog of +7.5 means that they can lose by a touchdown but still cash your bet.
Key numbers are really important when betting on point spreads, which is why it’s critical to shop for the best lines. Most legal states have numerous sportsbooks for you to choose from, and their odds may differ from one another, giving you the opportunity to shop for the best value.
For example, the New York Giants are currently three-point underdogs vs. the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season at DraftKings Sportsbook. At FanDuel Sportsbook, however, the Cowboys are currently 3.5-point favorites. So if you’re interested in betting on New York to cover the spread, you would place your wager on Giants +3.5 at FanDuel as opposed to DraftKings.
In scenarios where you can’t find a better line for a team you like to cover the spread but still want to get to a key number, you can do what’s referred to as “buying points.”
When you buy points, you improve the spread of your choice in exchange for shorter odds and a smaller payout. Typically, each half-point is worth 10 cents of juice.
For example, the San Francisco 49ers are currently -3 (-110) against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 on FanDuel. If you wanted to buy half a point and get the 49ers down to -2.5, your odds would move from -110 to -120, meaning you would have to increase the size of your bet from $110 to $120 to win $100.