If you had the Browns in last Sunday's game against the Raiders at +6.5, you probably gave up when they were down 24-7 in the fourth quarter. If you had them at +7, maybe you stayed on. But if you had +7.5, well then you knew you had a shot for a backdoor win.

Of course, the Browns rallied in garbage and ended up losing by seven. But that's not the point. The real message is that shopping for the best line is a necessity, not a luxury. It's perhaps the No. 1 tool that separates "sharp" bettors from "square" bettors.

More than 15 percent of all NFL games are decided by exactly three points. Plenty of others are decided by seven. Obviously, the sports books know this and are working around those numbers carefully as well. But simply doing your best to shop around for the best possible number on any game you like is going to add up to a lot of profit at the end of the year.

Ways to shop:

1. If you bet offshore, use multiple sites: There are certain sites, like Bodog, that are considered "square" shops. They bump all the favorites up a point on the rest of the market, generating tons of value for dog bettors.


2. Pounce on numbers early: Lines move all week, but the opening line is where there's the most value. That's the time to grab a number if you think the number posted by the book is off. You can bet on Mondays in Vegas or online.

3. Buying points: Most books will allow you to buy points for increased juice. Let's say you want the Lions -2.5 this week instead of -3. You can take them down to 2.5 by laying -120 (or more, depending on your book) instead of -110. In other words, risking 120 to win 100 instead of 110 to win 100. You're not gaining anything mathematically here, but it's a desperation move if you weren't able to find the best line earlier in the week.

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