Key Numbers In Sports Betting

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New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy (78) prepares to snap to quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 24-15.
(AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jan 12, 2024, 12:49 PM

In online sports betting, key numbers are the margins at which games most often end. Experienced bettors always consider key numbers as reference points when considering a wager.

Consider college basketball odds, where the closest thing to a key number is 5.5. Because of the fouling and free throws at the end of games, many winning margins are often popped out to around five or six points. 

Experienced college basketball bettors like to get favorites at -5 or less because they are underneath the key number. Alternatively, they may target underdogs at +6 or longer because they’re on the far side of the key number.

Key Numbers in NFL & College Football Betting

In both NFL and college football betting, three and seven have long been the two most powerful key numbers in the sport. Many games end with either 3-point margins or 7-point margins because of the field goal and touchdown and extra point score values. 

About 1 in 7 NFL games ends with a 3-point margin, which is the most common differential in the sport. Thus, 2.5-point margins are lucrative spreads for favorite bettors, and 3.5-point margins are lucrative spreads for underdog bettors.

Six has become an increasingly key number in the NFL in recent years, thanks in part to how analytics have driven some teams to go for two more frequently after touchdowns. 

Key numbers are slightly less powerful in college football, where blowouts and odd scores are more common.

Football Odds at BetMGM

At the BetMGM online sportsbook you have access to a variety of online sports betting opportunities throughout the year, including during the football season.

From the NFL preseason through the College Football Playoff and Super Bowl, you can view updated football odds for hundreds of games. You can build a parlay for primetime games, select a player prop bet for a Sunday afternoon game, or bet on the spread on Thursday night.

If you don’t have a sportsbook account, sign up for the BetMGM welcome offer, one of many sportsbook offers at BetMGM.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.