There are several ways to bet on football. But even though the market has unlocked a number of new NFL betting options, traditional bets like spread, total, and Moneyline are still the most common ones. Let’s examine the different options you have when it comes to betting on the NFL.
Betting with Point Spread
Football spreads serve as a handicap between two opponents to even them out. The oddsmaker gives each a point total that is either added or subtracted from the final score.
One team is designated the favorite (-), and the other team is called the underdog (+).
Let's say the New York Giants are 7.5-point favorites. If you bet on New York, they must win by 8 points or more. If you were to wager on the Dallas Cowboys, they would have to win outright or lose by 1-7 points for your wager to win.
The 0.5 value is set to prevent a push or tie, where both bettors would neither win nor lose their wager.
Totals are also called over/under bets. With this type of bet, sportsbooks offer the total points the teams or players will score in the contest and set a benchmark number. Your goal is to guess whether the final score will be over or under this threshold correctly.
For NFL games, the low score end is in the 30s, and the high end is 55-plus. It doesn’t matter who scores the points (by only one team or collectively), who wins the game, and when the points are scored (in-game or in overtime).
For example, you have Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks, and the game’s over/under score was set at 46.5. The game finished with a total score of 51, so wagers that were placed on the over won.
Moneyline is one of the simplest bets to understand and place - it implies betting on which team you expect to win.
Once again, you’ll see positive and negative values attached to each team. At this point, you’re already familiar with favorites and underdogs - if there is a (-) value, the betting sites expect this specific team to win.
The number you see in the table indicates how much money you need to bet/spend in order to win $100. Using the above image, the moneyline on the underdog (Team A) is +130. A $100 wager at +130 will pay $130 in profit if Team A wins the game. The total payout will be $305.
Let’s say you’re betting on the favorite (Team B) at -150. You need to risk $150 and win $100. If this team wins, you pocket $100, plus your original $150 back.
How to Bet On the NFL With a Point Spread Strategy
For a spread betting strategy, you need to understand how the score works - like three points for field goals, six-point touchdowns, extra points, two-point conversions, etc. Some margins of victory are much more common than others, and the key numbers are 3, 7, and 10.
2.5- and 3.5-point spreads are tricky because you may lose your bet because of a game-winning field goal (three points). But these bets are also where the biggest profits lie. It’s also worth keeping an eye on 6.5-, 7.5-, 9.5-, and 10.5-point spreads because of those key numbers.
Home teams usually get a spread of three points. So, if you see a home team favored by a few points, the road team might be a better pick. For example, if a home team is favored by -2.5, the sportsbook is telling you that the road team is stronger.
Other than the home-field advantage, look at factors like injury status, current form, and overall talent in the game. Most importantly, see how NFL betting sites react to them. Also, pay attention to how often the team covers the spread. They might win, but you need them to win by a specific margin.
NFL Football Betting Tips
Of course, it would be great to strike it lucky either on a regular basis or in a big way. But a good NFL betting approach involves focusing on markets and events that you understand. And not only that, it takes dedication, investment, and persistence.
If that doesn’t sound descriptive enough, continue reading to learn how to bet on the NFL the right way:
Sometimes, the unexpected performance the teams show in the first several weeks lasts all season. If your team plays way better or way worse than you projected, don’t panic. Most bets are won by just hanging on to preseason expectations.
Don’t Chase Losses
When you become consumed by the idea of winning money back after a loss, logic tends to go out the window. The best way to recover your funds is to stick to the original betting budget and focus on games left on the board.
Parlays allow recreational bettors to turn small wagers into big money, but they come at fr worse terms than other bets. Sportsbooks “hold” around 30% of parlay bets, whereas for a single-game NFL bet, they “hold” roughly 5%.
Stop Buying Unnecessary Points
Only margins of 3-7 have consistently occurred with some statistical significance. If you’re hoping to win on a nine-point margin of victory, keep in mind that it accounts for less than 2% of the time in NFL history.
Only Tease When It’s Wong
A Wong teaser is a 6-point teaser that involves the favorites of -7.5 to -8.5 and the underdogs of +1.5 and +2.5. Wong’s teasers knock the regular chances of winning out of the park because NFL games land on these key numbers very frequently.
Don’t let your excitement cause you to jump into a bet too soon. Choosing the right NFL betting platform requires some research and patience to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Compare the types of bets you’re interested in, all associated fees, and potential payouts.
Respect the Market
The betting market is made up of thousands of individuals, many of whom are trying to outsmart all the others. Nobody has been able to beat this system by developing superior models. In fact, playing by the market rules pays off if you know how to spot the right opportunities.
Don’t Forget About Live Betting
Live betting gives you more information to work with, which you can turn into better judgments. You don’t have to operate on NFL statistics only. But you need to be quick with all the twists and turns of the game; you need to place bets before bookmakers change the odds.
When you try to play many different games, you may end up being average in a bunch of different areas. Consider focusing all of your energy on mastering one thing - for example, an exotic kind of bet.
Track Your Bets
A detailed report will open your eyes to what aspects of betting you are doing well at and aspects you’re struggling with. Keep track of the date, type of bet, amount, odds and spreads, outcomes, and all other important comments.
What to Learn Before Betting On the NFL
Researching your NFL betting picks is essential. If you’ve done it before, it can be pretty tough to know where to start, especially with so many resources and so many stats at your disposal.
In the sections below, we’re going to walk you through some of the most important points for informed betting decisions.
How to Win Money Betting on Football
The process of making good bets comes down to three main activities:
- Researching and structuring the data. It’s not just about which team has won the last six games; it’s also about how many points they scored and who were the key players. Is the team good at keeping possession of the ball, or are they lucky? Who recently had a team shuffle or changed coaches? These are the kinds of details that can help you spot those good-value opportunities.
- Making conclusions. Knowing all about the teams that will play, you need to see how you can apply your predictions to available bets. For example, you already have the hunch that an underdog might play at relatively the same level as the favorite. If you see a bet with a large margin, bet on the underdog!
- Diversifying your bets. Don’t pour your money into a single bet. If that bet loses, then you lose everything. So, spread your risks to make sure you have enough funds to go on. Plus, NFL betting isn’t like betting “on black” - you can actually have multiple winning bets at the same time.
How to Understand Football
Football is played by two teams of 11 players. The offense, or the team with control of the ball, tries to advance the ball down the field while the other team tries to stop them. To score, the offense must advance towards the opponents’ end zone - either with a touchdown or kicking a field goal.
To score a touchdown, which is worth six points, a player must carry the ball across the goal line or catch a pass in the end zone. The team that scored a touchdown can also attempt to score two extra points by lining up at the two-yard line and running/passing the ball into the end zone.
Field goals, worth three points, are another way to score in the game. This is when the kicker kicks the ball between the upright bars of the goal post in the other team’s end zone. Finally, there is a “safety,” which is when a player tackles an opponent possessing the ball.
Like any team sport, the object of football is to score more points than the other team during the time allocated, i.e., 60 minutes. The time is divided into 4 parts of 15 minutes. But in reality, games last more than 60 minutes because of the action being interrupted, the assessment, and the time allotted between innings.
Most Common Football Scores
The most common score in NFL history is 20-17, which has happened a total of 269 times. In the 2020 season, this has happened three times. Over the last three years, the score of 20-17 happened three times per season on average.
The second most common score is 27-24, which has happened on 217 occasions. And in the third place is a score of 17-14 - this happened 196 times in the NFL’s history.
There is also an interesting statistic on the average total points for an NFL game.
How to Bet on the NFL Online
The process actually starts with choosing a worthwhile betting site. Pay attention to:
- Reputation and customer reviews
- Licensing and regulation
- Interface and usability
- Available betting options.
- Competitiveness of odds and lines
- Payment methods
Choosing the right platform is what determines half of your success. Once this part is done, there are three simple steps to make an online bet:
- Open an account at a sportsbook and make a deposit.
- Find the NFL event and study the betting options.
- Select one or a few bets, confirm them in the betting slip, and you’re done!
What NFL Team Should I Bet On?
While you might be an avid fan of football and know everything about your favorite team, there is always more to learn. Absorb everything you possibly can and keep up with the news surrounding the NFL in general, not only your team.
Here are other tips to help you decide:
- Look for value, not winners. A good betting selection is not only about the strongest teams; it’s about making accurate predictions. There is great value in making unpopular choices, too.
- If you want to use statistics in your formula, you can certainly do that. If not, you still need to have an organized system to gather all data.
- Be rational, not emotional. It’s okay to support your home state team. But for all other events, be careful not to choose the team/state that you simply like more.
- Don’t always pick the favorites. Or consider wagering on different outcomes other than “who wins the game.”
- Beginners should stay away from ridiculously wide margins. Big favorites don't win by big margins as often as you think.
How to Win Money With Over/Under
Our top tips are:
- Consider the average total score.
- Look at the team-versus-team defensive matchup.
- Study the coaches to predict how aggressive the game plan is going to be.
- Expect more goals when weather conditions are good and vice versa.
- Take advantage when the booker offers multiple lines.
NFL Betting Terms Explained
If you still feel that you don’t have enough knowledge to make a good bet, perhaps you’re just now familiar with the terminology.
We’ve given definitions to several essential terms and will also cover a few more in the next section. Here are the ones that might not know:
- Chalk - favorite
- Dog - underdog
- Juice (also called vig) - commission that the sportsbook that the sportsbook takes
- Straight bet - single-game wager
- Sharp - an educated, savvy, and smart bettor
- Hook - an extra 0.5 point
- Contrarian betting - betting against the public
- Pick ‘em - when neither team is favored
- Off the board or OTB - unavailable for bettings
- Handicapping - doing your research, studying the teams, and making picks
- Hedging - betting the opposite side of your original wager
Hopefully, this clarifies a few things for you. But there is still some information we need to go through in this guide.
Types of NFL Betting
If you want to explore the world beyond the usual bets, the market has plenty of bets to offer. Important note: before adding these wagers to your slip, learn the distinction between them and the conditions attached to them.
NFL futures are wagers placed on events over a considerably longer time frame, months or even a year in advance. It is riskier but also more lucrative - a small bet on a long shot future could payout a significant amount of money.
Some of the most common types of NFL futures bets are:
- Super Bowl Champion
- Conference Championship
- Division Winner
- Season Win Totals
- Player Awards
NFL Prop Bets
Prop bets can be made on practically anything; the only significant limitation is that they can’t be associated with the outcome of the game.
How to bet on the NFL with a prop wager:
- Will it occur: Will Tom Brady break Drew Brees’ passing record in the first quarter?
- Individual performance: Which QB will throw the most touchdown passes?
- Firsts: Who will score the first touchdown in the game?
- Team points: How many points will a team score in the first quarter?
- Timing: How long will the halftime show be?
Parlays link two or more bets together to create one bet with a greater payout. But you can only cash out your winnings if all your selections win.
If you’re a risk-taker, it can be a unique, intense experience. But the likelihood of multiple bets winning at the same time is low. We recommend only going for parlays as an exception and be conservative about the amounts you bet.
Teasers also involve making multiple selections and are used as a modified point spread.
For example, you have two games and their original spreads.
Los Angeles Rams
Las Vegas Raiders
You can bet on an NFL 6-point teaser. This means both teams need to cover their spreads, but you also have six points in your favor. So, you’d have the Rams at -2.5 and the Vikings at +9.5.
Live betting, or in-game betting, involves making a bet after the game has already started. Basically, you can bet on a multitude of different things at any point during the game. Prepare for a more challenging experience where you need to keep up with the action and make bets in time at their peak profit.
Football Betting Rules
Sportsbooks have the freedom to place their own betting rules (as long as they don’t go against the law, of course). To help you navigate in the space, we’ve looked at the major sites and collected general rules for betting on football events:
- Bet acceptance: Bets need to be validated, and once they are, bets remain valid and cannot be canceled by the user. If you make a mistake, unfortunately, the bet can’t be disputed. If the event is canceled, all wagers are graded as no action.
- Cashouts: In some cases, sportsbooks allow you to return on your bet before the market for your chosen selection closes. However, any request to cash out is not guaranteed.
- Results and bet settlements: Bets are settled once the official governing body publishes the results. Any subsequent corrections or amendments do not apply to bets.
- Prize payments: Any winnings are automatically credited to users’ accounts. They can then decide to withdraw or place more bets.
- Maximum payouts: Betting sites can set their own limits for payouts, which must be quoted very clearly. The total payment of all the valid bets in your account is limited to one single maximum payout.
- Suspicious betting: This includes an excessive frequency and/or highly unusual pattern of bets, questionable integrity of the event, duplicate accounts, large bets made regardless of theoretical probability, etc. All of these activities are not allowed.
- Inside information: In contrast to injury or team selection news, anything that is not publicly available is not allowed in the betting space. You can’t pass inside information or place bets based on it.
NFL Score Predictions
Lines has its own predictions service. Our algorithm assesses every NFL game, publishes forecasts, and estimates each team’s skill level based on scores, locations of each game, and many other parameters.
Is the algorithm more accurate than a human being? In many ways, yes. Even though the technology is fairly new, it already handles high-level processes in a short amount of time. It uses complex equations to study patterns, trends, previous results, and teams and managers, which no person can do nearly as efficiently.
But it doesn’t mean you have to bet on whatever the machine is telling you. Some parameters simply can’t be measured, which is why we recommend combining your own research with algorithm-generated forecasts. After all, you probably don’t want to completely automate the betting experience - half of the fun is in digging into statistics, researching players, perhaps even getting into disagreements with other forecasters.
States That Allow NFL Betting
States that legalized some forms of sports betting are Nevada, Washington, Florida, New York, California, Arizona, Illinois, Miscihan, Hawaii, Virginia, Nebraska, Alaska, and more states (see our map below to check your home state).
Out of those states where betting is legal, not all of them have properly set up provisions or licenses to authorize sports betting online and mobile sportsbooks. Below are the states that are leading the way in terms of enforcing viable online platforms where you can bet on the NFL:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
If you’re in an unregulated or underregulated state, there are websites that operate across state lines. This way, they will be entitled to protections and guarantees from other state governments.
There are also several states that are making good progress in regulating online platforms that allow you to bet on the NFL. These are Virginia (a bill recently passed the lower chambers), Maryland (multiple bills being considered), New York (pressure to keep money in-state), and many more.
NFL Betting FAQ
What are the strategies to win at football betting?
Everything around the NFL is always changing, so whatever your strategy is, be ready to adjust it. Other useful tricks are to stay impartial, know your market, keep up with the news, and track your results.
How do I bet on NFL games?
Research available games matchups, find the best NFL odds, sign up for a sportsbook, deposit funds, and make your bet. If you’re not sure about the type of bet you want to make, this guide covers them in detail.
Where can I bet on NFL games?
There are several options: betting sites (the best option with a wide variety of choices), betting apps, in-person sportsbooks, real-money bets with friends, and private bookies (the worst option).
What is the over/under in sports betting?
Over/under (or totals) is a type of bet where a sportsbook predicts the total score of both teams added together for one game. Bettors place wagers over or under that number.
What is the difference between point spread and moneyline?
With a spread bet, you try to predict how close or how far apart the spread in the game’s score will be. But with a moneyline bet, you simply wager on which team will win a certain game.
Is it possible to make game predictions for the NFL?
Predictions aren’t always accurate, but it’s possible to make a fairly good forecast by analyzing multiple factors that affect the game. Lines has a predictions service with an impressive accuracy score.