The argument is that for all the knowledge of the spread firms’ traders, the massive betting market of Las Vegas and its teams of analysts are likely to have the best contacts and knowledge in the business. If they are moving the handicap, there is a lot to be said for following it. Look out also for spread quotes that are notably different to the Vegas line. This is a rare occurrence, but if a British trader is going out on a limb against the American- based experts, it is always tempting to take him on.


For the spreads, expect to see the points total in the low 30s for games involving strong defensive teams and up into the 50s for higher scoring teams. Supremacy spreads, particularly during the early weeks of the season, rarely rise above 7–10 and even in apparent mis-match games it is unusual to have to give away more than 14 points (the equivalent of a two touchdown start).


There is a trend towards bringing teams together in terms of ability in recent years and the result can be seen in individual games as well as over the season. In the 2001–2002 season nearly half (48.8 per cent) of all games were decided by less than seven points and a quarter of the games were decided by three or less.