When it comes to professional sports in the United States, American football is far and away the most popular sport in the country for fans to both watch and wager. The game’s scoring system lends itself well to many betting options like point spreads and totals, and the limited number of games to bet on during the season makes every Sunday during the NFL’s season feel like an event. Here’s a look at some of the most popular ways to bet on the NFL & the #1 recommended site.
The most popular way to bet on NFL football is with the point spread. The point spread serves as a handicapping tool to make two teams of different skill levels more evenly matched.
For example, say that the New England Patriots are hosting the Miami Dolphins. A perennial Super Bowl contender like New England shouldn’t have much trouble beating Miami outright, making a moneyline wager on this game a very expensive proposition for someone who wants to bet on New England and a very ambitious one for someone who wants to bet on Miami.
So with the point spread, this game might be listed as something like Miami +9.5 (1.91) vs. New England -9.5 (1.91).
On this wager, both sides pay the same. Now if you bet on New England -9.5, this means you are laying 9.5 points, so the Patriots must win by at least 10 points for your bet to be graded a winner. Conversely, if you are betting on Miami at +9.5, you are receiving a 9.5-point handicap. Your wager will win if the Dolphins find a way to win the game outright OR if they lose the game by nine points or less.
This style of wagering opens up many possibilities that moneyline betting does not. Bettors can get a much more attractive price on the favorites that they love and be given a much better chance to win on the underdogs that they think will put up a fight.
Totals betting is another popular form of betting on the NFL that is based on the score of the game instead of picking a side. The “total” is short for the total number of points scored in a game. So if the Carolina Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints 38-34, the total in this game was 38 + 34 = 72 points.
Before each game, the sportsbook sets a total that it projects for the game. So in the Carolina at New Orleans example above, the sportsbook might set the total at Carolina at New Orleans OVER 48.5 (1.92) or UNDER 48.5 (1.92). Now, bettors must decide whether the total score combined between the two teams in this game will go OVER or UNDER 48.5.
For this reason, totals bets are also often referred to as “Over/Under” bets. If this hypothetical game were to finish with a final score of New Orleans 13, Carolina 10, the total would be 10 + 13 for 23 points, which would pay UNDER 48.5 tickets. A final score of 40-7 in Carolina’s favor would also pay the UNDER 48.5 tickets with the total score in this game coming out to 40 + 7 = 47.
Who wins or loses the game is irrelevant in totals betting; all that matters is how many points are scored. This option gives bettors the chance to take advantage of when they handicap that a game will be high or low scoring but don’t necessarily prefer one team or the other.
The most basic way to bet on an NFL game is on the moneyline. A moneyline bet is simply a wager on which team will win. There are no point handicaps like there are with the point spread, just a straight “win” wager.
As a result, odds on each team can vary largely based on their perceived chances to win. For example, if the Denver Broncos are a 2.5-point favorite at home against Seattle on the point spread, this is expected to be a pretty close game. So on the moneyline, this might be bet at Seattle (2.20) vs. Denver (1.71).
On the other hand, a game like the 9.5-point example we used earlier when Miami was visiting New England would be a much more severe gap, such as Miami (4.50) vs. New England (1.22).
Bettors must weigh the risks and rewards on betting their side on the point spread or the moneyline and choose what is best for them on a game-by-game basis.
While the foundation of most betting strategies starts with sides and totals, there are many other exotic ways to bet on football games. Prop bets cover a wide array of wagers that are generally team or player specific. Bettors can bet on props such as first half spreads and totals, how many yards a certain player will gain or which team will score first.
Futures wagers are on long term events instead of single games. Examples of futures bets include betting on a team to win its division, conference, or the Super Bowl. Player futures bets include what player will win league MVP or defensive player of the year.
Betting on individual games is fun, but some NFL bettors prefer going for big scores with parlay betting. Parlays are bets in which you can connect two or more teams into one wager, with your wager requiring every team included to win. The more teams that you add, the more your risk of losing goes up (as just one team losing breaks the parlay), but so do your potential payouts.
For example, parlaying two 1.91 sides will pay out 3.60 if both teams win. A three team parlay with three 1.91 sides or totals pays 7.00.
Teasers are a less risky form of parlays, which means they also pay less. Bettors can select a 6-point, 6.5-point, or 7-point teaser. This number of points is added to each leg of the teaser. So for example, teasing Oakland -4, Washington +4.5 and Houston -11 with six points would leave you with a teaser of Oakland +2, Washington +10.5 and Houston -5.