point spread nfl

NFL Point Spread Betting Explained

Betting can be both a fun and beneficial activity when done with the right strategy. This is especially true for NFL betting since sportsbooks offer multiple options for your entertainment.

Real sports betting fans are pros when it comes to deep-diving into some of the best point spread NFL picks and NFL odds pages. Since it gives both teams an even disadvantage, NFL point spread betting by itself is a popular option among punters.

In our article, we’ll inform you what NFL betting lines are, what types of NFL bets exist, how to read their odds, where to place them and so on. Keep on reading to become an NFL betting expert in no time!

What’s a Point Spread in NFL Betting Lines?

The oddsmaker and the betting markets all together present their best predictions about the numerical gap between two rivals by a point spread. The spread might be as small as half a point at times. Sometimes (for example, during Team USA Basketball games at the Olympics), you’ll see spreads of up to 50 points.

Most of the time, especially at the highest levels of professional sport, the competitors have similar talent levels; therefore, the handicap is modest. Let’s take the matchup between the New York Giants and the Kansas City Chiefs as an example.

Giants have +10.5 (-110) spread, +425 money line, while the Chiefs have -10.5 (-110) spread, and -500 money line. The ‘over-under’ for these teams is >53 (-110) <53 (-110).

Most bookies have the Chiefs favoured by ten points over the Giants. To cover the spread, the Chiefs must win by 11 points or more. Similarly, the Giants are a ten-point underdog. Giants (+10) arise as a result of this. The Giants would have to either win the game outright or not lose by more than 11 points. If the Chiefs win by precisely 10 points with a (-10) line, the game is called a ‘push,’ and bettors on both sides get their money back.

Another example is the Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from last NFL season. The Chiefs were favourited to win by the betting public, making the Buccaneers underdogs. The Chiefs were 3-point favourites going into the game.

Here’s how we can describe the scenario:

  • Kansas City Chiefs -3
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3

The two teams are 3 points apart, with the Chiefs as the favourite ‘giving’ 3 and the Bucs as the underdog ‘receiving 3.’

The spread was the true reflection of the disparity between the two teams because the game was played on a neutral field (in terms of ticket sales since Tampa was the host city). It is unlikely that the home-field advantage influenced the spread. Because the home field is worth a percentage of the spread in most team sports, it is difficult to determine the actual differences in strength between two teams based just on their point spread.

Types of NFL Bets

NFL odds work the same with any given game. Whether you bet on your computer or via mobile apps, NFL Vegas odds follow the same rules. The good thing is that you don’t have to relate to how many yards or the number of points the team you bet on wins as the options are many. Moreover, there are European and American odds, and the main difference lies in the way bookies present their numbers. European odds are expressed with decimals, hence the name ‘decimal odds,’ while the American odds are fractional. It doesn’t matter which type you are using for your betting, as long as you understand the logic behind it.

Nonetheless, you can place many different bets on the NFL, such as point speed bets, prop wagers, money lines, etc. Check them out below and decide which one appeals to you the most.

NFL Point Spreads

A point spread bet is a wager on a game’s winning margin. Depending on the estimated difference in the two teams’ ability, the bookies will favour the stronger team or player by a given amount of points. 

  1. The team with a minus sign (-) is the favoured.
  2. The team with a plus sign (+) is the underdog.

Let’s look at the example of how point spreads operate in college football with Ohio State vs. Penn State, where Ohio State has -6.5 (-110) and Penn State has +6.5 (-110).

Given the odds, it’s clear that the Ohio State Buckeyes is the favourite. For bettors to win a wager, the Buckeyes must win the match by at least 7 points. Penn State must either lose by 1 to 6 points or win the overall game to cover the spread.

In cases where the point spread is a full number – for example, Penn State +7 – and Ohio State wins by precisely seven points, the game is called a tie, and all bettors get reimbursed for their wagers.


NFL Moneylines

A money line bet is the most basic and time-tested type of wager, making it extra appealing to newbies.

When a gambler bets on the money line, they choose a winning side. All you need to do is make the right pick, and the money line wager will pay off.

While a money line bet appears to be the most straightforward wager in principle, there are certain nuances to be aware of. 

A money line bet is a bet on one team or athlete defeating another. Following the conclusion of a game, the sportsbooks grade a wager in one of three ways:

  • Win – The oddsmakers will consider your bet a win if the team you chose was victorious. Accordingly, the sportsbook operator will return the bet amount plus the profits to you.
  • Loss – Your wager will be considered a loss if your chosen team loses the match. In this case, the bookie will keep your stake.
  • Draw – When the game or a section of the game (half, quarter, period, etc.) has finished in a draw, the sportsbook operator will return the amount you bet. There’s no profit or loss – as if the wager never happened.

Here’s how sportsbooks display money line odds:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (+360) 
  2. New York Giants (-460)

NFL Totals

Let’s start with some vocabulary before we get into the specifics. Both totals bets and over/under bets are the same things. Usually, bookies use both names interchangeably.

A gamble on the total number of points scored by both teams during a football game is an NFL total bet. The bookmaker sets the line at the total amount of points they believe both teams will score throughout the game. You can place a wager on whether you think the teams will score more or fewer points. The over is a wager on more points, while the under is a wager on fewer points.

Whether you bet on the over or under, totals bets almost always pay out the same amount of money. In most cases, both parties pay (-110). This indicates that a $10 wager on the over will return $9.09, and a $10 bet on the under will return $9.09. The remaining $0.91 is the rake or juice of the house.

In the NFL, you may occasionally notice a slightly different payoff for over/under bets. This happens when a sportsbook wishes to prevent action on one side without altering the line. One side of the bet might be (-120) while the other pays out at even money.

NFL Prop Bets

A prop bet is essentially any form of side wager that has nothing to do with the game’s final outcome. Proposition bet is abbreviated as a prop bet. Individual player performances, exact scores, team win totals, etc., are all available NFL prop bets you can place.

Moreover, when it comes to Super Bowl odds and bets, prop betting takes the crown. This competition offers many more possibilities for prop bets, including some bizarre, weird, and humorous bets. For example, betting on the coin toss, the duration of the national anthem, and the colour of Gatorade on the winning coach are some of the most interesting ones.

NFL Futures

Simply put, a futures bet is a single gamble on a future event. You may bet on who will win each of the six divisions and the two NFL conferences via NFL futures betting. Such lines aren’t always open, but luckily Super Bowl odds are always available.

Sportsbooks will set odds for many games in the preseason, and change them throughout the regular season. The change in odds depends on the team’s possible wins or losses. The most popular choices for futures bets are on which team will win a championship (NFC, AFC, Super Bowl) or who will be declared as the most valuable player.

How to Read NFL Betting Odds

The easiest way to help you understand how betting odds work is to set an example and explain it step by step. We will take a matchup with the New England Patriots having +120 odds and the Pittsburg Steelers with -140 odds.

The Pittsburg Steelers have a negative sign in front of the odds, meaning they are the favourite and are more likely to win. With that said, placing a bet on them will payout less than the amount you’ve wagered. 

On the other hand, the positive sign of the Patriots’ odds makes them the underdog. Accordingly, if you bet on that team, the payout will be more than what you’ve wagered.

Money-wise, the odds suggest how much money you should bet in order to win CA$100. In this example, you would have to bet a CA$140 on the Steelers to win CA$100. The plus sign is the opposite as it tells you how much money you would win if you bet CA$100. If you bet a CA$100 on the Patriots you would win CA$120. 

You can also choose not to bet a CA$100. The math stays the same; only you should calculate with a decimal point moved over by one spot. Instead of a -140, the number is -14. If you bet CA$14, you will win CA$10. The same thing applies to the positive sign. Instead of +120, it would be +12. This means that if you bet CA$10, you will win CA$10.

Key Numbers in NFL Point Spreads

Key numbers are the most common margin of victory in a game, and the scoring system significantly impacts it. The increments in which points are scored are always the key integers. Football’s most important key numbers are three and seven (each field goal brings three points, and every converted touchdown brings seven). Key numbers are less relevant in games with a single scoring system, such as hockey or soccer, because you can only score one goal at a time.

However, in sports like football, where varying numbers of points are awarded based on the kind of scoring, key numbers become highly significant, particularly in gambling.

Top Sportsbooks to Place Your Bets on NFL Football Games

The internet is abundant with various sports betting platforms to satisfy every player’s needs. To find the one that will satisfy your demands, you need to do proper research. Besides searching for the best odds, you should also ensure the sportsbook operator has a proper licence. Moreover, it has to be reliable regarding the safety of your information.

Fortunately, you won’t need to endlessly scroll through the web because we did your homework for you. In addition, you will find the top 5 sportsbooks where you can place your bets on NFL Football Games.

  • Caesars Sportsbook – Best for finding the most generous odds
  • Unibet – Best for Moneyline betting 
  • DraftKings – Best for future markets
  • Bet365 – Best strong display of in-play markets
  • BetMGM – Excellent choice of futures markets and odds

Whether you register to fulfill your entertainment purposes or win a few dollars, the fun is guaranteed. All our pics are respectable bookies that offer premium safety as well as favourable odds.

A Few Questions on NFL Betting

What does -110 mean next to an NFL spread?

When you come across any number with a negative symbol in front of it, it means that the given team is a favourite. Moreover, all odds are pre-calculated in hundreds, so you have to wager that same amount of money to win CA$100.
In this case, you’ll have to wager CA$110 to win CA$100. If the number is not in a hundred, keep the math in mind, as you should do it with one decimal point moved over by one spot. 

What does +200 mean in NFL odds?

When you see a number with a positive sign in front of it, the sportsbook tells you that the particular team is less likely to win. Accordingly, betting on the underdog will give you a bigger payout. If you wager CA$100, you will win as much money as the value of the number with a plus symbol. So, if you take that risk and you turn out to be correct, you would win more than what you’ve paid.

How does a teaser bet help in point spread betting?

A teaser works in a way that you trade points for volume. Players buy a certain amount of points in exchange for having to parlay two or more picks.

What are the reasons for point spreads to change in NFL games?

The main goal of point spread betting is to create an even handicap between the teams. Accordingly, the sportsbook will only change the spread in order to keep the handicap even, when differences have occurred. Among the many reasons, point spreads changes add a lot of variability and player props for both the sportsbook and gamblers.

Can I bet on point spreads for half-time scores on an NFL game?

Generally, yes. Considering there is a huge variation in sports betting platforms today, you will surely find some sites where you can bet on point spreads for half-time scores and much more than that.

Last Updated on November 29, 2021

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