Second Half Lines Explained
Here is the first thing to wrap your head around when gambling on second half lines: a second half bet has nothing to do with the first half spread, the first half score, or the final score. Winning your second half bet is only dependent on how many points each team scores from halftime until the end of the game, including overtime.
That means you should look at the box score and only add up the points from the third quarter, fourth quarter, and overtime (if applicable) to figure out if your team covered the spread. Ignore the first quarter and second quarter points completely.
In Week 1 of the 2019 season, the Washington Redskins were soundly beating the Philadelphia Eagles by the score of 20-7 at halftime. Despite Philadelphia’s first half troubles, oddsmakers set the second half line at the Eagles -7. That did not necessarily mean sportsbooks thought the Redskins would lose the game outright. It means they expected Philadelphia to pick up at least one touchdown on Washington before game’s end.
In the second half, the Eagles outscored the Redskins 25-7 and more than covered the second half line. They also won the game, 32-27, but did not cover the entire game spread, which was set at Eagles -10 beforehand.
Good Second Half NFL Teams
What makes a good second half team? Well, not to sound too obvious, but teams with the best records tend to be strong second half teams. In 2018, seven of the top 10 best second half teams made the playoffs: Kansas City, New Orleans, LA Rams, Seattle, LA Chargers, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.
The other three were Cleveland (who looked like a playoff team once Hue Jackson), Atlanta and NY Giants. Since the Giants were one of the worst teams in the league, you can chalk up their second half points to garbage time – aka touchdowns scored when the other team was ahead by so much their defense stopped trying.
So, when looking for strong second half bets, look for teams with really strong records, bad teams that can put up garbage time points, and teams with environmental factors.
An example of the latter occurred in Week 2 of the 2019 College Football season. The Nebraska Cornhuskers were beating up on the Colorado Buffaloes in the first half. However, Colorado outscored them in the second half 34-14 and won the game in overtime. What happened? It’s likely the Nebraska players weren’t accustomed to the high altitude of Colorado and lost their edge in the second half.
Formula For Winning Second Half Bets
For full game lines, oddsmakers have much more time to study everything before setting the spread. With second half lines, they only have the first half of a game to decide. This gives smart gamblers an edge if they’re watchful.
Do your research beforehand and identify strong second half teams by their records and any environmental factors that might play a role. You’ll want to have some strong picks before the matchups the games even start.
Remember, you only have 10-15 minutes to adjust the marketplace and decide whether you want to bet. Use tools that track second half lines to be aware of the latest lines and which ones might be strong bets. And finally, make sure you have enough bankroll to cover second half bets you find appealing. You don’t want to blow your budget because you’re rushed.