Identify the favorite. Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
Understanding NFL betting lines is just the first step towards making profits with football wagering. Once you've got the basics down, it's important to continue learning sports betting strategy to improve your long-term chances of winning. If you're able to win more than 52.4% of the time, you'll be well on your way towards being a profitable NFL bettor.
The point spread is a handicap placed on one team for betting purposes only, it has no place in the game itself. It's designed to give both teams an equal chance at winning in the context of wagers. Think of it this way: If last season's Super Bowl champion was playing a basement-dweller team that hadn't won a game all year, that's a shoo-in bet. Of course, you're going to take the Super Bowl champs, and in all likelihood, you're going to win. What's the fun in that? Even your bragging rights would be next to nil.
Winning a game in a professional sports league of any kind can be difficult for even the best teams. Very few teams have gone through a season undefeated (only NFL Teams) and even then, not every win is as easy as teams hoped they would be - even the margin of victory is sometimes too close for comfort. Unfortunately for bettors, teams don't care how they win or by how many runs, goals or points, as long as they win the game. Read More >>
Bookmakers use odds to even out the bets, getting gamblers to wager on both sides of the line by leveling the playing field. Although there is overall parity in the NFL, there are teams that are haves and others that are have-nots. Indianapolis is still superior to Cincinnati but when they play each other the bookies have to get about half of the bettors to put cash on the Bengals. This covers the sportsbooks ensuring they’ll make a decent amount of cash on just about every game.
That’s easy to understand because of the payouts. If a team is heavily favored, that means they’re perceived as having a better chance of winning. If that’s the case, then you would win less money betting on them. The opposite is true for the underdog: they’re deemed as having a smaller chance of winning, which means you would get a bigger payout if you bet on them (and they won).
The general purpose of spread betting is to create an active market for both sides of a binary wager, even if the outcome of an event may appear prima facie to be biased towards one side or the other. In a sporting event a strong team may be matched up against a historically weaker team; almost every game has a favorite and an underdog. If the wager is simply "Will the favorite win?", more bets are likely to be made for the favorite, possibly to such an extent that there would be very few betters willing to take the underdog.
Okay, so the other betting option available to you is the total or ‘Over/Under.’ You can choose to bet that the total points between the two teams will either be greater (OVER) or less than (UNDER) the projected total. Again, if you bet either way and the game ends up being 20-21, for a total of 41 points, then you will receive a refund of your wager amount.
The most important thing you can teach yourself early on is: "Just because the books assign one side to be the favorite (even large, -200 or -300, favorites), does not mean that they will win." We have all seen favorites get upset, and it is important to avoid the temptation of finding comfort in the fact that the lines makers put one team as a favorite. 

A sharp bettor is viewed as a professional in the world of sports betting. Even the best bettors over time are not going to win more than in the mid-50 percent range, with general public losing more than they win. A sharp bettor is viewed as someone who has a proven record of success, and so when they place a bet on a game, a sportsbook will suspect they know something the general public might not. The point spread can change with a large amount of public money bet on a game, but it can also move with a smaller bet by sharps.

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