NFL Week 17 Teasers: A Play Based on Updated Wong Teasers

Updated Wong Teasers are 7-2 in 2022 after going 5-1 last season.

Last Updated: Dec 30, 2022 9:46 AM ET Read Time: 5 min
Najee Harris Pittsburgh Steelers NFL
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever looked at a sportsbook’s NFL betting lines and noticed something like this?

Team Spread Odds
Team B +9.0 -125
Team A -9.0 +105

And then you wondered why those lines are displayed instead of a more traditional and evenly priced option under a dropdown menu like Team B +7.5 (-110) / Team A -7.5 (-110)? Sure, it makes sense to see a price like that listed for key numbers, but you’ll often see it out on non-key numbers a few times across a slate.

The reason for it is teaser protection on the sportsbook’s behalf.

Teasers are bets that can be valuable if used correctly — in fact, using teasers made using the logic presented in this article went 5-1 last season. This guide will explain the basic strategies you should use in 2022 when playing teasers.

Modern NFL teaser strategy at a glance

•Key traditional rules still stand today (not crossing zero, crossing key numbers, etc.)

•Totals remain to be a suboptimal way to play teasers

•The previously highly profitable Wong Teasers require some critical updates

Teaser bet(s) to consider for this week (Week 17)

For the uninitiated, a teaser is a combo bet (like a parlay) with fixed odds (unlike a parlay). You pick a certain number of points and a certain number of teams, and each spread is moved in your favor by the selected point amount. For example, a three-team six-point teaser with +150 odds would look something like this:

Team A -8.5 now Team A -2.5
Team B +1.5 now Team B +7.5
Team C +4.5 now Team C +10.5
Risk $100 to win $150

Profit proposition

The reason why teasers can be a +EV bet is that it is a fixed-odds bet. It doesn’t matter which spreads you pick for your teaser; the payout odds are always the same. And since not all point spreads are created equal due to the frequency that games end on football’s key numbers, we can use the fixed odds in our favor to make +EV wagers. 

So what do those +EV teasers look like?

Well, for one, it is essential to know your book’s teaser rules. The most crucial distinction is the handling of pushes:

  • Some books count pushes as losses.
  • Some count pushes as pushes.
  • Some offer you different odds for either.

Secondly, and this is the golden rule of teasers, NEVER cross zero

In the 6,568 games since 1995, a whopping 13 games (0.19%) have ended in a tie. So by going from -1 to +1 (or vice versa), you are fundamentally gaining just one point but paying two points to do so. 

So what should we be targeting?

Try to cross two key numbers, and aim to go across three and seven in particular because they are the two most important key numbers in football. Around 15% of games land on three, and another 9.5% land on seven. Grabbing other key numbers like 10 and 14 are okay but not the best for maximizing probability. 

So what does that look like? 

Using the example spreads from before:

  • Team A -8.5 now Team A -2.5 (crosses -7 and -3)
  • Team B +1.5 now Team B +7.5 (crosses +3 and +7)
  • Team C +4.5 now Team C +10.5 (crosses +7 and +10)

Teasers with NFL totals

But what about totals? Quite simply, it is wise to avoid teasing NFL totals because any point stretch of totals will never come close in cumulative frequency to an equal point stretch in spreads that includes three and seven. 

For example, the highest six-point cumulative frequency in totals is about 19% (typically from 40-45), whereas the six-point stretch going from three through seven has a frequency of 44%. By playing a total in this example, you are reducing your cumulative frequency by 2.3x.

The one thing totals can help us with when it comes to teasers is helping us get the most out of the type of spreads we pick. Lower totals fundamentally imply that each point in that game is harder to come by. So intuitively, each point we’re gaining on a low total game spread adds to our frequency sum. 

But this low-total idea isn’t an original one, which brings us to the holy grail of teasers.

The Wong Teaser

In his book Sharp Sports Betting, Stanford Wong outlined a teaser strategy that would aptly be named and referred to in the industry as the “Wong Teaser.” The gist of it is:

  • Play a two-team, six-point teaser
  • Only play favorites of -7.5 to -8.5 and underdogs from +1.5 to +2.5

Wong Teasers provided high profits for over a decade. They were so profitable that Stanford Wong arguably changed the way books offer their lines and how they price and grade wagers.

You can look at any sportsbook today and see his influence:

  • Prices of two-team teasers have become shorter
  • Many books now grade any teaser with a push leg in it as a loss
  • Books deliberately try to stay out of the -7.5 to -8.5 and +1.5 to +2.5 ranges

But we adapt. Many bettors have made adjustments to help improve the theoretical profit of Wong Teasers to combat the increased difficulty. Some have proven to show some promise, such as limiting it to spreads from games with totals of 49 or lower (which adds about 1.0% to the hit rate of each individual leg). Others have suggested limiting it to just home teams for both favorites and underdogs. 

However, my data has shown that restricting teaser legs to home teams has reduced the hit rate of those legs by 2-3%, whereas exclusively playing road teams has increased the hit rate of those legs by around 3.0-4.5%. This intuitively makes sense given the diminishing effect of home-field advantage and how that diminishing rate has outpaced Vegas’ pricing of home teams. 

So to review, my suggested updated Wong Teaser strategy moving forward would be the following:

  • Play two-team, six-point teasers (look for -110 odds)
  • Only play favorites of -7.5 to -8.5 and underdogs from +1.5 to +2.5
  • Only play games with totals of 49 or less
  • Only play road teams

Week 17 NFL teasers

Not every week of the NFL season will have the ability to fill these updated Wong Teasers. Since books have gone to war with Wong Teasers for a while now, the profitability is much slimmer, and we need to be extremely cautious and patient. So far this season, teaser plays given out here are 7-2.

As of Friday morning, the following teaser legs fit our criteria:

  • Cleveland +2.5 (total 40.5)
  • Pittsburgh +2.5 (total 35)

Our teaser play for Week 17 is pairing Cleveland +8.5 with Pittsburgh +8.5.

We'll continue to monitor for more opportunities throughout the year — follow us on Twitter to be updated when a play becomes available. 

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