The first question bettors should ask when dealing with NFL pro football odds is what the point spread is in the first place. The point spread is a handicap that is applied to the number of points scored for the team a bettor is wagering on.
The amount of that handicap can vary depending on the NFL lines for a given week, which are based on the matchups between each team. Unlike a moneyline bet, which asks bettors simply who will win, bettors have to keep the point spread amount in mind when placing these bets.
An easy way to remember how NFL game odds work is to remember that points are subtracted from the favorites and added to the score of the underdog. This is meant to level the playing field between the two teams involved in an NFL game, even if one team is perceived to be vastly superior to the other.
The reason that NFL spread betting is as popular as it is is the fact that it is closely tied to the goal of every NFL team heading into each week: winning. NFL over/under betting can vary without impacting the outcome of a game.
Prop bets can also vary without impacting the outcome, as individual performances in props do not necessarily alter the result of a contest. But point spread betting directly correlates to which team will win a given game, which makes it a very popular type of bet.
The easiest and most accessible option to bet on the NFL is through a betting site. While the exact steps can vary, we’ll give you a general outline of what you should do:
In addition to betting websites, you can also make a bet on NFL in different ways:
So, you open the website and see a bunch of tables with the names of the team and some numbers. Since numbers are the most confusing part, we’ll focus on them.
In NFL betting, every team has a (-) or (+) value and a number attached to it.
Houston Texans+11.5 (-110)Indianapolis Colts-11.5 (-110)
Indianapolis Colts is the favorite team = more likely to win. The Houston Texans are the underdog = less likely to win. The favorite is already expected to win, so to level the playing field, the sportsbook attaches a special condition - the Colts need to win by a certain number of points.
Since the point spread is 11.5 points, you need to place a bet on the Colts if you think they can win by 12 points or more. For example, if the Colts win the game by a margin of 30-18, then they cover the spread (they win by 12 points).
However, the Colts may win the game and fail to cover the point spread. For example, if the final score is 30-19, they win by 11 points - your hypothetical bet loses. The bet also loses if the Texans win by any margin.
As for the -110 figure in NFL odds, it is known as the vigorish or the juice. This is a fee paid to the bookmaker.
In our example, you must risk $110 to win $100.
Read more about how to read betting odds.
The Super Bowl is one of the most exciting football events to watch and bet on. If you already know how to bet on other NFL events (or any other sports event, for that matter), you already know what to do. Here is a refresher:
Since the Super Bowl is the NFL championship, this is the time for the highest number of bets and the biggest bets in the season. We’ve gathered a few tips on how to bet on Super Bowl to increase your chances:
Let’s take another scenario of an NFL point spread bet and explore the topic in more detail.
TEAMPOINT SPREADBETTING ODDSLos Angeles Rams-9.5-110New England Patriots+9.5-110
In this example, the Los Angeles Rams are taking on the New England Patriots. To cover the spread, the Rams need to win by at least 10.
You’ve already talked about betting on the favorite, so let’s look at this bet from the other side. There are two different ways to win on the underdog (the Patriots):
As you can see, winning the bet isn’t always about winning the game. When favorites win games straight up but fail to cover the spread, it’s called losing against the spread.
Here is where it gets even more interesting. You remember that -110 means that you need to bet $110 to win $100, and the lower the negative number, the better for you. When the game is live, you can still make point spread bets, but the NFL betting odds will be adjusted as the game unfolds. You can see them moving down to -105 or going up to -120, so keep in mind that odds are not set in stone.
When a football oddsmaker determines the favorite and underdog teams, this handicap creates a margin (line) between them. There will be only two outcomes of the bet, and the sportsbook sets the parameters for wagering on the game.
There are two main ways for making uneven football teams equal: the point spread and the moneyline. NFL lines are usually set well in advance before the actual event, but they rarely stay there. There are two main reasons that move the lines:
Betting lines can also move in the opposite direction, often because of professional bettors, aka “sharps.” Casual bettors might be wagering $20 on an NFL game, but a professional bettor might wager $20,000. That difference can force the sportsbook to balance out the action and move the line.
There are special systems that judge NFL teams or players and generate ratings to forecast the outcome of every game. The nuts and bolts of those systems are not disclosed to the public, but we still have a pretty good understanding of the judging criteria for NFL odds:
Technically, NFL betting lines are not predictions. If you want actual predictions, there are tons of resources online. Forecasts are posted on all major sports websites, with regular updates during the weeks leading to the event in question. However, we recommend taking these predictions with a grain of salt. Professional football forecasters can make pretty accurate guesses, but you also need to do your own research.
From the betting perspective, the Super Bowl is no different than any other football event. On each spread, you will see an underdog and a favorite.
The sports betting math is also the same as for general NFL betting. If the Dallas Cowboys are playing the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cowboys are the favorite, they will get the minus sign. The point advantage is also set in advance, for example, -7.5.
With the Super Bowl, you’ll likely see a lot of movements in odds and spreads. It’s not only due to the external factors, which are applicable to any other NFL event, but the influx of bettors is like no other championship. The amount of money wagered is astronomically higher, both online and offline.
One of the most famous examples of moving spreads in the NFL was the Super Bowl III. The New York Jets won a historic upset over the Baltimore Colts. The Jets were 18-point underdogs, which is the largest point spread in Super Bowl history up to this day. They won 16-7, and people were wondering why football oddsmakers created such a huge spread. Bob Martin, a famous oddsmaker, was later asked about this. He said that this spread attracted so many bets from both sides that the profit for the house was guaranteed.
In-season betting odds change every week, and bettors are eager to get in on the action right from Week 1. It all starts with them spending the offseason poring over the Week 1 matchups in detail and trying to identify quality underdogs and undervalued teams. After the weekly schedule is released and Week 1 is played, bettors and analysts get some insights from the games.
NFL schedule odds are very dynamic, and bettors get to see if their bets come to fruition each week and start preparing for the next one.
NFL odds for the weekly schedule have the same format. For example, the point spread in Week 6 for Tampa Bay Buccaneers is -7.5 (the Buccaneers are favored to win by more than 7 points, otherwise Philadelphia Eagles cover). Or in Week 7, Denver Broncos (+5.5) cover by winning Cleveland Browns.
At the early stages of the season, there aren't a lot of impactful injuries, but as the schedule progresses, there is a lot of information that bettors and bookmakers need to pay attention to. They can start making projections based on game performance, get a preview of the rookie quarterbacks, see a handful of old faces in new places, etc.
Future odds are made on events that lie way ahead in the future. Most bets are placed on hames in the near future, but future odds are attached to games in many months’ time. Here are some of the most popular future bets in the NFL:
The highest number of NFL future bets are led by bets on the Super Bowl winner. Odds for all 32 teams are released a year in advance. As the season progresses, they bounce up and down.
What’s good about future bets is that they are paid down in advance, so even if the NFL betting odds change, yours is locked up. This can potentially save you money; plus, you don’t have to worry about fluctuating lines.
You can make single-game NFL bets (point spread, moneyline, or totals, i.e., over/under) or multiple-game NFL bets (parlays, teasers). Other types of bets include prop bets, futures, and in-game live betting.
Different players favor different sportsbooks, so we recommend looking up and trying a few ones. Some of our top picks are DraftKings, PointsBet, and FanDuel.
+2.5 is a set of odds attached to a given event that means the team is a clear underdog. If you place a bet on the underdog and they win or lose by two or fewer points, your bet wins.
It means the team/player is the favorite - more likely to win but a less profitable bet if they win. With a -2.5 bet, your team needs to win by more than 2.5 points.
NFL odds are decided by oddsmakers. They consider home advantage, injuries, the weather, and other factors and determine who is the favorite (-) and who is the underdog (+).
If a team has negative NFL odds, it means the betting site thinks they’re more likely to win. On average, the favorites win the underdogs, so even when the payout is lower, the chances to win the bet are higher.