Betting on NFL: A Comprehensive Guide

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For me, there is no better way to get in on the game than joining in NFL betting. You'll be surprised by the number of people that enjoy betting every Sunday, whether it be a small or large wager. Still, there are plenty more that are unfamiliar with the terms and how to bet, as I once was in the beginning. If it still confuses you, don’t worry, you aren’t alone, I’m here to help clear things up.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never waged on the NFL before or want to freshen up on your options before the season. I’ve got you covered. Below is my detailed NFL betting guide that will take you step by step through all of the different ways you can bet, definitions of the standard terms, and tips to get you ahead of the game from your first wager. 

Betting on NFL: Top Sportsbooks & Exclusive Promo Codes

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Betting on the NFL: Top 4 

Before you start betting I recommend you do your research and select a sportsbook that works best for you. Below are four of the most trusted options that I wager with on a regular basis.

Bet365

Bet365 is an excellent place to start. They are the leaders in sports betting and a safe place to learn, as I did. Once there, I found different types of wagers: totals bets, moneyline bets, and point spread bets. I found their platform comfortable to use and to learn on.

William Hill

A popular bookmaker for over/under betting is William Hill. When I signed up with them I got a new customer welcome bonus of up to $100, and plenty of useful tools and options for betting. They also have a plethora of other bet options and straightforward platform. 

DraftKings

DraftKings is what I use for live betting and quite a few other wagering possibilities. When I signed up with them I got a fantastic welcome bonus. If I deposit $5 or more on the first deposit, I get a $3 ticket to play in any $3 paid contest. I also became eligible to get up to $500 site credit bonus funds. 

FanDuel

The welcome bonus for FanDuel is fantastic, just wish I had read into it before betting. Turns out that if you lose your first bet you get a full refund up to $500. I could have made a major bet without the risk. They also have a easy to use platform and plenty of betting options.

NFL Bets on Single Games

This type of betting focuses on betting on individual games and is a personal favorite of mine.

Point Spread Betting

One of the most popular ways to wager on NFL football is betting against the spread. There are several different ways that people refer to the spread, such as ATS, or against the spread, point spread betting, betting the spread, or as I like to call it, betting against the spread. 

I have found that NFL football games are rarely perfectly matched. The bookers level the playing field through the spread. To win a spread bet, the team that is favored must win by a set number of points.

The spread puts points to the underdog in the game and encourages betting on both teams equally. To prevent the chance of a tie, or frequently called push, there is a hook. The hook is half-points attached to spreads. 

Say you are looking at a spread. The favorite is the NFL team with the negative number by its name. As an example, I’ll put that number at -5.5. To win a bet if I bet against their opponent, they must win the game by no less than six points. I can also subtract the 5.5 points from the total score of the team at the end. If their opponent has more points, even after subtracting the 5.5, then the spread is covered. 

So, as I mentioned above, the goal of the spread is to give a leveled playing field. For the spread to be covered, the favored team must win by a set number of points. 

The positive number next to a team’s name means that they are the underdog. For me to win the bet, they don’t have to win the game. Looking back at the example above, if the favored team has a spread of -5.5, the underdog has +5.5, then the underdog can’t lose more than the five points indicated to get a payout. Of course, if the underdog is the winner, I also win the bet. 

When betting on either of the two teams, point spread odds will generally be the same. This means that if one side is heavily wagered, the spread will be altered throughout the week to push bettors to put wagers on the other team. Their goal is to have the money split evenly. Regardless, once I’ve made my bet, it is locked based on the spread I wagered on, these changes will not affect my wager.

Moneyline Betting

This is by far the easiest NFL bet to understand, even though it isn’t nearly as popular as betting the spread. It’s straightforward, I pick the team that I think will win the game. If I choose wisely, I win the wager.

The sportsbook's implied probability and the potential payout are dictated by the odds that are attached. The favored team is indicated by a negative number on the moneyline next to its name, say -200. This number tells me that if a wager of $200 is made on the said team and they win, the payout is $100. That’s it, I choose what team will win the game.

Likewise, the number next to the opponent, the underdog, is positive. This information tells me their winnings on a $100 bet. If the number next to the team name is +150, this means that if I bet $100, I will win $150 if I’ve bet on them, and they win.  

The key with a moneyline bet is that to get a good return on my investment, a bet must be placed on the underdog. By betting on the favorite, I will get a poor return on my investment. So, regardless that it is much simpler to understand and bet, chances are I won't get much of a profit. It’s an easy form of betting that I started out with, but don’t do it very often anymore due to the low profit.

Over/Under Betting Totals

With this type of betting, on the “total,” I am not concerned about what team will win. The focus here is on how many overall points are scored. Common names for this type of betting are, betting on the total and over/under betting. 

A good example of over/under betting is, say, the sportsbook sets the total points at 49.5. Don't forget that the half point, hook, is used to prevent the possibility of a push. When betting on the total, I have two options — either select over or under. Over means I am betting that the points between both teams will more than 49.5. For under it means I am betting that the overall scored points are less than 49.5.

So in a bundle, I don’t care who wins the game when betting on the “total.” My focus is exclusively on the total points scored during the game and determining whether they will be over or under. 

The sportsbook can change the total throughout the week. However, usually odds will be the same for both under and over. Betting is relatively simple. Just click “u” for under and “o” for over. The totals will be listed two times in the slim case that there is a difference between the two odds.

NFL Multiple Game Bets

When it comes to NFL betting, there are 13 to 16 matchups to choose from. This is why I recommend wagering on more than a single game per week. This is possible through teasers and parlays. If you know how to use them properly, they can be very profitable for bettors. This is usually the way I go with my wagers.

Parlays

A parlay bet is made on more than one event. An example is betting on a team to cover the spread and wagering over the 49.5 points in total. I can make both of these bets with a single stake. I can also choose to bet on both the teams to win their games. With parlay betting, this is made possible.

I can combine the different types of bets, including totals, point spread, and moneyline in a parlay. However, remember that most of the sportsbooks do not allow betting on the spread and moneyline in the same game. While some sportsbooks will let bettors place countless events in a parlay, others may have a cap of the maximum.

When putting together a parlay, the potential payout is increased because all events need to be correct. This way I will risk less for more winnings. However, there is no prize for getting seven of eight events in a parlay correct.

Teasers

This is a type of parlay. Here all the bets are against the total or the spread. The bettor then sacrifices their potential payout to get more favorable spreads. 

I usually have the option of teasing the spreads by up to +6.0, +6.5, or +7.0 points with most sportsbooks. Continuing with my examples, say one team has a +7.5 spread, while the other has -9.0 in two different games. The first team would result in getting 13.5 points, I get this result by adding 7.5 and 6.0. The other team will lay only 3 points. This is calculated by adding -9.0 and 6.0. However, the potential payout is decreased drastically as I get more favorable spreads. 

Teasers can also be used if I bet on the total as well. Some sportsbooks have many other spreads that you can choose from for each game. This lets me work the spread in each game in either direction.

Just like with parlay, with the teaser, all events have to be correct to win my bet. Different sportsbooks have different approaches to when the outcome is a push. Some count the push as a loss, while others will remove the teaser/parlay event. Knowing the sportsbook in this aspect is crucial.

Other Betting Options for the NFL

Aside from the widespread betting totals, against the spread and moneyline, there are more options to NFL wagering. This allows me to focus on one particular player and how they perform. I can bet on who will win individual and team awards. Another option is to narrow it down to a single play and bet on the outcome. There are plenty of options available if I am willing to learn and research.

NFL Prop Betting

The popularity of props, or propositions, grows during the Super Bowl, although I’ve done prop betting during the entire NFL season. They offer a wide range of options from the team that makes the first score to the yards a particular quarterback will throw for. 

The sportsbook sets a projected total if the propositions are concerning an individual statistic. In this case, I can either select over or under. The sportsbook present me with clear and specific options that include their odds for prop bets.

These are some of the most popular props I’ve seen:

  • What is the first scoring play?
  • What quarter will score the highest?
  • Will the first scoring team win? 
  • Will the last scoring team win?
  • The total touchdowns scored.
  • What will be the total passing yards by the quarterback?
  • What will be the total rushing yards by the running back?
  • What will be the total receiving yards by the receiver?

Just to name a few…

The props are numerous for every game, and not all are football-based, especially during the Super Bowl. I have seen absurd sounding proposition bets such as the color Gatorade dumped on the coach, length of National Anthem, and other such oddities. Although I can create a parlay for proposition bets, most sportsbooks won't allow me to have different types of bets in a parlay.

Futures

Futures start within 24 hours of the closing whistle of the Super Bowl. After that I start betting on the expected winner of next year’s Super Bowl is opened. Betting starts well before the teams of next year’s Super Bowl are even determine.

There are other widespread futures bets, as well. The most popular among them is each season's major player awards. There is a list of the favorites and a FIELD option. The FIELD option means the prize will go to none of the listed names.  

Futures bets are generally open until the season starts. A parlay isn't typical with futures bets either.

Live Betting

Live betting means that sportsbooks let me make bets throughout the game on the total, spread, moneyline, and more. Keep in mind that the odds and lines will continuously shift during the game as it progresses.

I can wager on the next play and the outcome. These types of propositions vary greatly. Some are very specific such as a range of gained or lost yards, touchdowns, and more. They can also be more general. The window for placing these types of prop bets is small, so I am always very fast to react.

If you have your heart set on betting on the NFL, there are plenty of options, even for beginners. As you grow your knowledge and experience, you can further experiment to make more educate and profitable wagers. I hope my comprehensive guide will help you take the first steps into NFL betting and winning your wagers.