When betting on NFL odds, it’s important that you know how to read the lines and how the types of wagers work. This is the most basic information you should know to make informed bets and to eventually succeed.
Many beginners may look at these NFL lines and spreads and think that it’s like learning a new language.
The good news is that learning how football betting works is pretty straightforward with proper guidance. That is why we have written down this short guide to help you understand how NFL betting works, what to look out for, and some extra tips.
With that said, let’s begin by taking a look at some common terminologies and fundamentals of sports betting in the NFL season.
WHAT IS THE POINT SPREAD?
One of the first things beginners should know when wagering on the NFL is how the point spread system works.
Oddsmakers are professionals that are tasked at setting the line or point spread. A line is a number that experts believe offers the fairest value for bettors on both sides.
An oddsmaker looks at various stats, trends, and other factors that let them decide on a point spread. They also consider how popular a team is on the betting lines, just like Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. Since these two teams are going to get a lot of bets in, the oddsmakers will increase their line by a few points in their favor.
In essence, oddsmakers set the number, and the public puts money on the side they think will win. Bettors can also influence the line if a lot of cash is heading towards a particular play.
Every spread also comes with an underdog and the favorite. Favorites are simply the teams that are expected to win while the underdogs are the opposite. There is also an over/under total in each NFL game. This number is the total points the game is limited to have for both teams.
Here’s an example of a spread:
|Los Angeles Rams||-7.5||O/U|
|New York Giants||+7.5||47|
In the table above, Los Angeles has a -7.5 spread. This minus sign means that the Rams are expected to win the NFL match by at least 7.5 points. On the other hand, the New York Giants are expected to lose by 7.5 points. The O/U that you see above stands for “over/under,” the total projected points for the entire game.
If you bet on the Rams and they win the game by at least 8 points or higher, then you win the wager. If they only had 7 points or less, then you lose. But if you wagered on the Giants and they lost by less than 7.5 points or even won the game, then New York covers the spread.
As for the over/under, oddsmakers believe that the game will reach 47 points in total. If you believe that the two teams will make more than this number, then you go for the over. If you think otherwise, then you take the under.
However, if the final score ends a total of 47 points, you will get what is known as a “push.” A push pretty much means that you will be getting exactly how much money you wagered.
WHAT ARE MONEYLINES?
As for a moneyline, you can expect to see something like the one below:
|Miami Dolphins||-500||-7.5 (-115)||O/U|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+425||+7.5 (EVEN)||47 (-110)|
When you hear someone say “ML,” this means moneyline. This is the odds that a team will win the game outright. Many people prefer betting on just the winners or losers of a match, so moneylines are what they go for.
In the table above, the Dolphins are set at -500 to win the matchup. If you want a safer pick than going for a point spread, you can play for the -500 for Miami. The catch here is that for you to win $100, you will need to wager $500. But if you think that the Raiders are going to win, placing $100 on them would give you $425 if they win. The odds here are that they are 4.25-to-1.
You will also see a number with the point spread (often anything between Even to -125). With the Dolphins (-115), bettors will have to put down $115 to get back $100. For those betting on the Raiders, they will get $100 back (Even) if they put down $100.
A “minus” moneyline basically just means that you won’t win back the same amount you bet while the “plus” moneyline is the opposite.
WHAT ARE PARLAY AND TEASER BETS?
A lot of bettors try to win big, and this is where parlays come in. A parlay is betting on a combination of outcomes wherein each play has to win for you to cash out. With more point spreads comes longer odds and more money for you to earn just like in the MLB.
Take, for example, this list of teams in a parlay bet:
- Denver Broncos/Cleveland Browns OVER 52 points total
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3.5 vs. Carolina Panthers
- Arizona Cardinals +14 vs. Los Angeles Rams
- Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles
If you bet on this setup for your parlay and you win all but the fourth one in the list, this means that you lose the bet. A parlay winner will have to win all of their bets to succeed.
Usually, a 4-team point spread parlay has a 13-1 odds. Placing down $50 will give you $650 in return if you win.
These are the odds to expect for point spread parlays:
|2-Team Parlay Winner||2.5-1|
|3-Team Parlay Winner||6.5-1|
|4-Team Parlay Winner||13-1|
|5-Team Parlay Winner||25-1|
|6-Team Parlay Winner||50-1|
|7-Team Parlay Winner||100-1|
A teaser is also another type of bet common among NFL bettors. In a teaser, a person can play two or more matches by changing the NFL lines. Most of the teasers let you adjust the point spread to 6 or 7 points, but let’s stick to the standard 6-point teaser matchup for now.
Say, for example, you have the following spreads:
- San Francisco 49ers -8 at Indianapolis Colts
- Buffalo Bills +2 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
For this, you are betting on the 49ers and the Bills and wish to adjust each of their spreads by six points. By teasing these points in favor of your teams, San Francisco now becomes -2 and the Bills at +8. For you to win, you will need to cover these numbers.
Keep in mind, however, that the odds for teasers aren’t the same as with parlays. Often a two-team teaser just has a money value of -110.
A lot of bettors enjoy wagering on teasers in the NFL. They may bet on the Green Bay Packers -7 over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Minnesota Vikings -7 over the Seattle Seahawks, for example. They can then lower both points by one and then go with Green Bay and Minnesota.
WHAT ARE FUTURES AND PROPS BETS?
Prior to the start of the regular season, you may see a lot of people talk about futures bets. A futures bet is a person playing for the success of a specific team or individual for the upcoming season. This can include the betting odds to win the AFC Championship, the NY Jets scoring this amount during playoffs, the total goals for both the LA Chargers and LA Rams, etc.
One particularly common futures bet is the odds to win the Super Bowl this year. Below is an example of a list for this:
- Baltimore Ravens +750
- New Orleans Saints +1000
- Dallas Cowboys +2000
- Pittsburgh Steelers +2500
- Chicago Bears +3000
- Houston Texans +3300
- Tennessee Titans +4000
- Detroit Lions +5000
- New York Jets +5000
- Cincinnati Bengals +6000
- Washington Redskins +7500
Most bettors look for the value in placing futures bets and play for that amount. For instance, you can put a bet on the Texans to win the Super Bowl with their odds sitting at +3300 or 33-1. If they end up becoming the champions, and you put down a $100 bet, you get at least $3,300 in winnings!
Another type of bet is called a props bet. These are bets that are made on the performance of an individual or a team, or even on a certain event. Some common examples of prop bets are a player achieving the longest touchdown, the total points of a team, whether or not a specific player scores a goal, etc.
Many sportsbook platforms have various props bets available during a game. It’s even possible to bet on coin tosses, if an overtime will happen, or if there is a defensive touchdown. The Super Bowl when many prop bets happen, where even the specific time the national anthem is sung can be wagered!
TIPS TO MANAGE YOUR BANKROLL
For the first time bettors, it’s better if you play with a sufficient amount and never go past 25% of your balance. When you start winning, you can expand and bet more to build up your cash. A prevalent mistake that you should avoid is the idea of trying to make up for losses all in a single bet.
Practice some self-control and avoid going for a one-time bet to try and win all of the money you lost. Be smart about it, and sometimes just accept that you lose. There are highs and lows in gambling, with hot and cold stretches as well. It’s always good to take a step back and regroup when you’re down.
The bottom line is that you should play smart and don’t get too attached emotionally. Have fun!