The NFL is by far the most popular sport to bet on, and for good reason. Bettors have such a large variety of bets to choose from when betting on the NFL, whether it’s pregame, during the game, or picking the Super Bowl champion, there’s no shortage of options.
But are you new to betting and need help on how to bet on NFL games? We have you covered.
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Different Ways To Bet on NFL Games
The point spread (or line) represents the expected margin of victory between two teams. Oddsmakers post this betting line prior to a game and the intention is for that number to make the two teams equal.
For example, if you see the Denver Broncos listed as (-3) point favorites hosting the Las Vegas Raiders, that means oddmakers are setting this as the expected margin of victory.
If you were to bet the Broncos (-3), they would have to win by four or more for you to win your bet. A one- or two-point win (or outright loss) would result in a lost bet, while a three-point win would result in a push. On the flip side, if you bet the Raiders (+3), they can lose but by only 1 or 2 for you to win the bet. Some key numbers to remember are three, seven, ten, and (to a lesser extent) 14 and 17. The six has become more prevalent as well since the extra point rule change.
An old rule of thumb was to give three points to the home team. In this instance, that would mean sportsbooks view the Raiders and Broncos as even. If you don’t believe that to be the case, you have the basis for a wager in the purest form.
This rule is dying, however, as upgrades in technology lead to a better chance to prepare for the road team, and home crowds are not what they used to be. Some organizations still deserve the three-point home rule, but I’ve found that most teams deserve a one or two-point advantage instead.
Even though the NFL betting market is the most efficient market in the sports betting world, pro sports bettors still place wagers, as no other sport allows you to bet as much as the NFL does.
Betting on point spreads is difficult because oddsmakers have high-end models that predict outcomes extraordinarily well.
Another common way of referring to the moneyline is “straight up.” Moneyline bets involve you picking a winner, without a spread attached. The bigger the favorite, the higher odds you’ll have to lay to bet the moneyline.
Let’s take our above example of the Raiders and Broncos. In this scenario, the favorite (Broncos) would be about (-160) on the moneyline. Most will tell you this means you’d have to bet $160.00 to profit $100.
The odds (-160) also represent a percentage of that “event” happening. You can go to the odds calculator to convert odds to percentages. In this case, sportsbooks are saying the Broncos will win 61.5% of the time.
On the other side, the underdog offers enticing odds. By wagering on the underdog or the team that is not favored, you can win more than you risk. For a +160 underdog, you win $160 for every $100 risked. The team must win the game outright. Money line betting is more common in baseball, combat sports, and hockey.
Every NFL game comes with a total, or over/under. The total is simply how many points sportsbooks project both teams to score. As with NFL spreads, NFL totals also have key numbers.
These include 37, 41, 44, 47, and (to a lesser extent) 51. How to bet NFL totals is simple. All you do is pick whether a game will go over or under the projected amount of points.
Player props are other option and one growing in popularity. You can wager on individual “props” such as yards, catches, interceptions, and touchdowns. This market is more exploitable than the primary markets, as sportsbooks don’t entirely trust their numbers.
For this reason, they lower the limits (amount of money) you can wager on each prop bet. If you’re venturing over to betting from fantasy football, player props are the most natural transition for that.
A futures bet typically involves bets that won’t be graded until after the season, or when a certain plateau becomes mathematically impossible. The most common futures are Super Bowl odds and player awards, such as MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, etc.
The “hold” (or amount of money the sportsbooks expect to make) on futures markets is often remarkably high. What does this mean for you? Well, the simplest explanation is you’re paying a higher price than you should for the bet you want to make. Naturally, this means the odds of your bet hitting are lower than they should be.
For example, if you bet Patrick Mahomes to win the NFL MVP at +600, you are getting $600 for every $100 (or $60 for every $10) on him to win the award. You give the books the money when you bet it, but have to wait until the award (or event) is over.
Some stay away from futures markets because they don’t want their money tied up for several months. You decide for yourself if you’re comfortable having pending bets for months on end.
A parlay is probably the most popular type of bet. It is simply combining two or more bets for a bigger payout. The caveat is, you must hit every bet (or “leg”) of a parlay to win your wager. The payout is more substantial, but the likelihood of winning is smaller.
To calculate the odds of your parlay, use a parlay calculator.
For example, let’s say you like the Panthers moneyline at (-300) and the Steelers moneyline at (-150). Using the parlay calculator from Vegas Insider, we can see that combining these two picks would yield odds of (+122). If you bet $100 and win, you would yield a return of $222.00, profiting $122.00. What happens if you split the bets up? Let’s find out using the Odds Shark Odds Calculator.
However, this only applies when games are taking place at different times. If both games occur at 1 p.m. EST, this isn’t possible. However, if one is a night game, there is no reason to parlay the two bets. Just take your initial bet amount and bet all of it on the earlier leg.
If you win and feel so inclined, you can take your total return from the first bet and bet the would-be second leg of your parlay. You may lose a little bit of value having to wait for the first leg to settle, but it’s worth the trade-off for minimizing your risk.
Don’t bet parlays just for the sake of betting parlays, unless you admit you’re just trying to win a lot for a little. Otherwise, parlays are only worthwhile when each leg has value. If you were to parlay spreads or totals and push (land right on the number), whether you get paid varies from sportsbook to sportsbook.
It’s at their discretion, so be sure to familiarize yourself with their policy.
A teaser is like a parlay in that you need to hit multiple legs to win your bet. The difference is, teasers are spread/total based. I’ll explain below when I break down how to bet NFL teasers.
Let’s pretend you like the Panthers (-7.5) and the Browns (+2.5). Both are on the wrong side of key numbers (three and seven). Throwing these two bets into a teaser would give you a certain amount of points in your favor. In this case, you can tease the Panthers to (-1.5) and the Browns to (+8.5).
The two-leg, six-point teaser, where you take the spread through the key numbers of three and seven, is the most profitable teaser available. NFL betting platforms have recently raised the “juice” on this specific bet. You must lay (-120) to make this wager, but even at those odds, it’s still a profitable wager to make.
The different point totals on teasers offered by sportsbooks include six, seven, 10, and 13. A teaser must consist of at least two games but can include as many as ten if you please.
A teaser is “adding” points in your favor, with the tradeoff of having to hit all legs to win your bet. Much like parlays, whether you get paid for pushing a leg varies from book to book.
There are several individual game props offered by sportsbooks as well. These bets include what the first score will be (touchdown, field goal, etc.), team totals, whether there will be a safety or not, and more. There are other wagering options available for major games like the Super Bowl as well.
In-game betting might be the “wave of the future.” The spread, total, and moneyline odds change in real-time with each play. There are even play-by-play and drive-by-drive live bet options. You can bet on what the next play call will be, the result of that play, whether a drive will result in a touchdown or not, and more.
I imagine the league will implement these kinds of bets into a new NFL betting platform, where you can place bets live in the stadium. This kind of “mobile betting” could attract the more modern fan who’s used to having information available at the “drop of a hat.” Whether it’s this option or something else, a new type of betting experience will become essential at some point.
Top NFL Betting Platforms to Use
Finding the right sports betting app for you is key. We recommend downloading every available sports betting app and using our exclusive NFL betting promo codes to maximize the giveaways you can score.
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- PointsBet Sportsbook
- FoxBet Sportsbook
- Unibet Sportsbook
- BetRivers Sportsbook
NFL Betting FAQ
What If I Want To Track My NFL Bets?
The best way to track your NFL bets is to use Pikkit. Pikkit is a social sports tracker app that is completely free. You can sync your accounts from every legal sportsbook with ease and have an easy-to-read rollout of your trends and winnings.
What Is the Best Way To Bet on NFL Games?
It depends on what your goal is. Betting on NFL parlays is higher risk and more difficult to hit, but the payoffs can be huge, even with a partial unit placed. If your goal is to win on straight bets, then over/under bets are generally easier than betting on point spreads. Moneylines often have the lowest return but are easier to predict since it’s just about who wins and who loses with zero juice added.
What’s the Easiest NFL Bet To Win?
Predicting the straight-up winner is the easiest way to win your NFL bet. In 2021, underdogs went 137-133-2 against the spread, meaning you would’ve won 50.7% of your bets if you took every underdog to cover the spread. However, underdogs won only 97 of 272 games, meaning the favorites won on the moneyline in 65% of games.
Is It Better To Bet Straight or Parlay Picks?
Straight picks certainly have a better chance to win, but parlay picks can bring back massive returns if a multi-legged parlay hits. Which is better depends on your goal with NFL betting.
What Do the “+” and “-” Mean When Betting on NFL Games?
The “+” indicates which team is the underdog, and the “-” refers to the favorite. These are ubiquitous terms in U.S. sports betting that are seen in all types of bets.