NFL Betting 101: An introductory guide to prop bets

What are prop bets and how can they enhance the experience of your NFL viewing? Let's take a look in our introductory guide to the world of prop bets

If you have ever looked to bet on sports, then you are most likely familiar with the conventional ways to do it. Whether that be betting on the result straight-up, the spread, or a total, all of those aspects at the very least will be recognizable betting options to most sports fans. However, while those three options are the most popular types of bets, they are far from the only options. The other kind of wager that a bettor can make are proposition or prop bets, with the NFL especially having a wide range of those alternative options.

A prop bet is any type of bet that is not based on the outcome of the game specifically. They are smaller events within a game itself, with a prime example being the first touchdown scored in an NFL game. However, futures bets, such as who will win the Super Bowl, are also considered prop bets.

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The origin of prop bets

The exact origin of prop bets is exceptionally complicated to trace. As a prop bet is essentially any bet on an occurrence or non-occurrence within any sporting event, it is likely many people have made a prop bet without even realizing they are doing it. For example, challenging your friend that you can run to the corner and back again quicker than them with the loser buying the winner a drink is technically a prop bet. Similarly, if you have ever been watching an NFL game and challenged a friend to guess who will score the next touchdown to decide who pays for the pizza, you have made a prop bet.

Given the ease of a prop bet to make, pinpointing the exact moment prop bets were first made is close to impossible. However, as discussed in the recent history of NFL betting article, official prop bets on everyday NFL games at sportsbooks actually appears to have first occurred outside of the United States of America.

The emergence of exchanges in Europe in the 1990s and early 2000s has been attributed to pushing sportsbooks to offer prop bets. Exchange betting essentially allows two people to bet in the same way you would have made that bet with your friend on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon. One person can offer a bet out, and if someone is willing to take them up on it, then a wager is made between the two users directly. As this way of betting became more popular 20 or so years ago, bookmakers had to evolve to keep up.

Types of prop bets in the NFL

The range of potential prop bets that you can place on an NFL game is extensive. However, prop bets generally fall into one of several categories. Let’s take a look at them below.


As mentioned above, futures bets can be on elements such as Super Bowl winners, MVP, rushing yardage leader, etc. While all bets are technically betting on the future, futures bets specifically focus on bets on the bigger picture of the sports world.

Team Point Totals

This may not seem like a prop bet on the surface, but because we are only looking at one team, it is not a direct game outcome and is, therefore, a prop bet.

The “first person to” bets

These bets can be as wide-ranging or as narrow as someone wants to bet. Some examples include; the first person to throw an interception in a season, or the first person to score a touchdown in a game. They can also be team-specific or game-specific. Whatever market you choose, you are simply betting on who will be the first person to achieve a particular event.

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Performance bets

The most common of these are often seen as will player X rush for more or less than Y amount of yards or Z amount of catches. However, they can also be head-to-head in terms of which player has the most receptions in a particular game or season. The other popular version of this type of bet is the “Anytime Touchdown” bet. This offers sports bettors more flexibility than is afforded by simply placing a wager on who will be the first player to score a touchdown, and also keeps the bettor interested deeper into a game.

“Will it occur” bets

Some performance bets also fall under this category, but this also includes team performance bets. Such as, will the New England Patriots score a touchdown in the first half, or will the Arizona Cardinals kick a field goal in the first quarter.

Time-based bets

This option has endless possibilities to some extent, and we will discuss some more abstract bets in a little while. On a week-by-week basis, the most popular of these is placing a bet on the time of the first touchdown in a game or a gameday.

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