NFL BETTING GUIDE
Tips & strategies to become a more successful NFL bettor
So you want to bet on some NFL action? What are your options?
Point Spread Bets
The most popular type of wager placed on the NFL is the point spread. A point spread is a type of bet which is used to create a balanced or fair wager between both sides.
To win your bet, the stronger team (known as the “favorite”) must win by a certain number of points, and conversely, the weaker team (known as the “underdog”) can lose by the same number of points, or win the game outright.
Example: The Packers are -3.5-point favorites against the Ravens. This means for the Packers to cover the spread, they must win by 4 or more points. For the Ravens to cover the spread, they can lose by 3 points or less, or win the game outright.
- Result: Packers win by 7 - Packers cover the spread
- Result: Packers win by 3 - Ravens cover the spread
- Result: Ravens win by 4 - Ravens cover the spread
Another way to bet on NFL games is via the moneyline, although it is less common than the point spread bet. The money line bet might just be the easiest betting term to understand. Simply put, if you are betting on the moneyline, you are betting on a team to win the game.
There are three possible results for a moneyline bet; your team wins and you win the bet, your team loses and you lose the bet, or the game ends in a tie and the bet is fully refunded to you (often called a push). Ties are rare in football but they do happen.
Unlike a point spread, the margin of victory in a moneyline wager is irrelevant.
Let’s assume you want to bet on the Packers to win this game. You have the option of betting them to win outright (the margin of victory does not matter) at -195, or betting them to win via the point spread at -3.5 (must win by 4 or more points to win the bet).
Obviously, It is more likely that Green Bay were to win on the moneyline rather than forcing them to win by 4 points to cover the spread. This is why the odds for the moneyline (-195) are more expensive than the odds for the point spread (-110).
To win $100 on Green Bay moneyline (-195) you must risk $195.
To win $100 on Baltimore moneyline (+165) you would only need to risk about $60.
Alternatively, a $100 wager on Baltimore moneyline (+165) would pay $165.
A totals bet (also known as an over/under bet) refers to a wager where you are betting on the combined amount of points that are scored in a game. In this type of wager, the winning team and the point spread have no bearing.
Let’s use the following example:
The total for the Packers vs. the Ravens is listed at 48 – This means you can bet on whether you think the total combined score will be over 48 points or under 48 points.
- If Green Bay wins 30 to 10 (a total of 40 points) the game went under.
- If Green Bay wins 30 to 21 (a total of 51 points) the game went over.
- A push would occur if the final score totaled exactly 48 points, which means that you would get your bet refunded.
Team Totals (Team Over/Under)
Can I bet on how many points an individual team will score?
Yes, this is also a very common type of totals bet, which we refer to as a “team total”.
Here is an example how team totals would be listed for any particular NFL game:
Based on the above example, you have the option of betting the Packers to score over or under 26 points, and the Ravens to score over or under 21.5 points. Keep in mind, when betting on a team total, the opponent’s score is irrelevant.
The vig on these bets is also worth noting. Most total plays are offered at -110 on each side. However, when placing a wager on a team total, it is common for the sportsbook to increase this price to -115 or -120 (although some sportsbook do offer -110 on team totals).
What is an NFL Prop Bet?
Prop bets are bets on the statistical performance of a player or a team. Prop bets are completely independent of traditional bets such as the point spread, moneyline or totals.
The most common football prop bets include:
- Player to score a TD
- Total passing yards
- Total receiving yards
- Total catches
- Team to score first
Football tends to have more prop bets compared to the other major sports. The popularity of prop betting has exploded among sports bettors, creating a market all on its own for sportsbooks.
Without a doubt, the most amount of prop bets are placed on the Super Bowl. Every year this event will offer hundreds of different prop bets that can be wagered on. From the National Anthem, to the coin toss to the first song of the halftime show, nearly every occurrence in the Super Bowl will have a prop bet tied to it.
NFL futures bets allow you to bet on an outcome that will take place at some point in the future, usually at the end of the season.
For example, you can bet on which team will win the Super Bowl. Here are the odds for the 2022/23 NFL season:
The better the team, the smaller the payout. We can see that the Chiefs are +750 to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. That means for every $100 bet on them, you could win $750.
A team like the Lions, on the other hand, are not likely to win. That's why sportsbooks are offering odds of +15000, as there is very little appetite for anyone to bet on them. This means that if the Lions were to happen to win it all, you would win $15,000 for every $100 you wagered.
Futures include more than just the eventual champion. You can bet on awards such as the MVP, or the Rookie of the Year; and you can bet on other props such as how many games a team will win throughout the season, or which team will win their division. Futures are a fun way to keep yourself engaged throughout the season.
Parlays are an extremely popular wager type for NFL games. A parlay is a sports bet that combines two or more plays into one ticket. The more plays you add to the parlay, the bigger the payout.
In order to win the parlay, all of your wagers must be successful. If just one of the wagers loses, the entire parlay loses.
Teasers are also a very popular way to bet on football games. A teaser is a wager where you must select multiple teams or totals, and all selections must cover an adjusted spread to win. A teaser bet can best be explained as a variation of the parlay bet.
The major difference between a teaser and a parlay is that the spreads and totals are moved into the bettor's favor, which gives the bettor a greater chance of winning. However, it does come at a cost, as the payout on a teaser is significantly reduced relative to a parlay.
Teasers generally must include two or more bets (although some teasers may require three or more) and the more bets added to the teaser, the greater the payout, but also the higher the likelihood that the teaser loses. All selections in a teaser must be successful for the teaser to win.
NFL Tips & Strategies
If you want to increase your chances of being a successful NFL bettor, here are a few tips to help you on your way:
- Price Shopping: When placing a bet, you always want to make sure you are getting the best price/line possible. Don’t be afraid to shop around. Different sportsbooks offer different prices; and they fluctuate throughout the day. If you want to save a ton of time, check out betstamp.app. It's free to join, and all the line shopping is quickly and efficiently done for you. You get updates in real time of which sportsbooks are offering the best line.
- Track Your Bets: Keep records of your wagers, and stay on top of what is working and not working for you. Without documenting your bets, it is difficult to see where you are winning or losing as a bettor.
- Bankroll Management: Set your bankroll and learn to manage it properly. Don't deviate too far from your average bet size and ensure that you are always betting within your limits.
- Monitor Injuries: Keep in mind that injuries play a huge factor in NFL games. Don’t rush to bet on a line that you think could potentially be impacted by a player injury that would allow you to get a better line later in the week. Take your time and do some homework. Make sure that your team doesn't have any injuries that you are not aware of. NFL teams are required to disclose all injury information throughout the week. We, the public, are privy to information such as who practiced, who didn't practice, who returned to practice, were they a full participant or were they limited? Do they have an injury? Additionally, teams must disclose which part of the body is injured (shoulder, calf, knee, etc.).Bettors should be aware of all injuries and updates before placing wagers.
- Know the Schedule: The schedule is a major component throughout the NFL season. Specifically, bettors should be mindful of team’s bye weeks and short weeks (teams playing on Thursday, or a team playing on Monday night one week, then Sunday the next). Rest and preparation are both major factors throughout a football season. It has been proven that short rest does have an impact on performance. Sportsbooks are aware of these details, and factor them into the line, and so should you!
- Travel: Travelling across the country (East coast to West coast for example) is also believed to impact a team's performance, although this impact has been reducing year after year. Taking a six hour plane ride, and then sleeping in a hotel room is not optimal for players. Be aware of teams that may have had to travel multiple times in a short period of time.