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Odds Theory and Sports

James Westerman provides advice on the information you should consider gathering to help you predict the outcome of a sports event.

While it is the unexpected that makes sport such a great spectacle, there is also a lot of enjoyment to be had from trying to predict both the game's outcome and how well individual players are going to perform.

The latter is at the heart of fantasy NFL – the activity that is estimated to have around 75 million followers in the US alone. Of these people, everyone has their pet techniques and strategies for putting their strongest teams together, whether this means focusing on a particular team doing well and concentrating on their players or being more analytical and carefully studying the stats.

But most can even go one stage further and use the same odds theory that can help to predict the likelihood of specific outcomes, whether in an online poker game or playing blackjack or roulette.

At its most basic, odds theory is a way of presenting the possibility of a specific event or result occurring as a probability – from which the player can decide on whether they will take that chance. Many aspects must be considered, including past performance, quality of the opposition, and even the predicted weather conditions.

While it might seem essential to gather vast amounts of data before any predictions can be made, the good news is that most of them are easily accessible from the NFL website. This will undoubtedly be more than enough to start working out the odds.

One of the first things to be examined whenever you are considering a particular player for your NFL fantasy team is to take a good look at how they have been doing over previous seasons, including, if possible, if they have improved or got worse as the season’s progressed. But it is the less well-known players who have been putting in the great performances that you want to focus on. It will be easy to spot that players like Tom Brady are a good bet – but their price is always going to reflect this. Much better to scout around for ones who may be doing great in a more low-key way.

How teams have performed against each other in previous meetings is also a great indicator. This information becomes even more helpful if you can discover the odds before the game and compare these with the actual results. The games you should include in your reckoning are ones where the result closely matched the odds.

Plus, do not forget the manager. Look at their success rates and their actions when in charge of against particular teams.

Once you have mastered all of these facts and put them together, working out odds should be reasonably straightforward as long as you use a little intuition. But one word of caution. However, carefully you have calculated the odds they are never set in stone as any follower of the NFL will have seen on countless occasions in the past.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • WESTERMAN, J. (2017) Odds theory and sports [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

James Westerman is a graduate of Media Studies from the University of Derbyshire. James enjoys writing about sport, has a keen interest in football, and is a fan of Newcastle United FC.