When the point spread was invented in Chicago by Charles McNeil the money line took a backseat. When two unevenly matched teams played, the playing field was leveled by having the favorite give points (for example Chicago Bears –7) while the underdog got points (Minnesota Vikings +7). No matter which team the bettor took the bettor would always risk $110 to win $100. The extra $10 needed to win $100 is called the juice or the vig, it is basically the house’s or the bookie’s take. It’s 10-percent of the bet so it would take $33 to return $30 and $440 to return $400 etc. (winning bettors get the vig back).


For the player who wagers on San Francisco -5, San Fran must win by more than 5 points for this to be a winning bet. For the player who wagers on St. Louis +5, they must either win the game or lose by less than 5 points for this to be a winning bet. If the outcome falls on the number, the bet is declared a “Push” and your original stake amount gets refunded.

In this example the Jets are listed as four-point favorites (-4) over the Bills and the 49ers are three-point underdogs (+3) against the Seahawks. So, if you bet $110 on the favored Jets, they must defeat the Bills by more than four points in order to win $100. If you bet $110 on the underdog 49ers you will win $100 if they win outright or lose by less than the three-point spread. If the final score happens to end up exactly on the number it's a tie, or 'push,' and you get your money back.
For those who are only really interested in wagering for a bit of fun, you'll be ready to go as soon as you've finished reading this page. For those of you with ambitions of making long term profits, we also point you towards a wide range of additional information and advice that will help you to achieve such goals. We're not promising that we'll make you an instant expert, but we'll certainly give you the chance to become one.
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned NFL spread? Not only does the point spread remain the king when it comes to wagering on pro football, it is a favorite among pro sports bettors and beginners alike. Also known as the line or spread and as betting “sides,” a common misconception is that sportsbooks set the spread as a predicted margin of victory. It’s actually the number oddsmakers predict would be a good balance between people who want to bet the underdog and those who want to bet the favorite.
In this example the Jets are listed as four-point favorites (-4) over the Bills and the 49ers are three-point underdogs (+3) against the Seahawks. So, if you bet $110 on the favored Jets, they must defeat the Bills by more than four points in order to win $100. If you bet $110 on the underdog 49ers you will win $100 if they win outright or lose by less than the three-point spread. If the final score happens to end up exactly on the number it's a tie, or 'push,' and you get your money back. 

Before I go on, let me clarify some terminology. Despite it being probably the most popular way to bet, there is no particular term for a bet against the spread. Many people call this a "straight bet." However, this term can also be used, and is printed on tickets for, money line bets, total bets, and any other bet involving just one game. For purposes of this page, I call such bets a "point spread" bet, and invite the rest of the world to adopt this terminology.
Let’s say you decide to bet $100 on the Packers to win by more 7 points and the final score is Packers 30, Seahawks 21.  The Packers have won by 9 points, meaning they’ve covered the spread, and you’ve won the bet. The -110 means that your $100 bet will win you a total of $190. That total includes your original bet amount, so your total profit is $90.
Above, you can see several numbers to the right of both teams. These all represent the different lines that are available on the San Francisco vs. Los Angeles game. The first set of numbers for both teams is the point spread, the second set is the moneyline, and the third set is the over/under (a.k.a. totals). We'll explain each of these lines more in-depth below.
It's also important to consider whether or not there's any correlation between the point spread and the betting total. If they are, a parlay wager is a good way to get maximum value. For example, a college football point spread +24.5 parlayed with under 48 points in the same game might be a great parlay bet. If the +24.5 team covers the point spread, then there's an increased chance that the game also goes under the posted total of 48.
Wagering on the NFL revolves around the point spread in which one team is designated the favorite and the other team is called the underdog. The NFL point spread sets a specific number of points that the favorite must win by in order for a person betting that particular team to win their wager. Lets use an example from last week's NFL slate to demonstrate the art of NFL point spreads. This past weekend the New England Patriots played the Seattle Seahawks. The Patriots were four point favorites in that game. So in your local newspaper, you might have seen something similar to this illustration.
There might be some movement when injury reports come out, but barring any kind of shocking news development (Tom Brady suspended for the game!), the line likely will not change all that much. The point spread is currently sitting at 2.5 points. I could see sportsbooks dipping into three points to level out the money on each side, but that might not happen until later next week after the teams are wrapping up their practice week. My prediction is the line settles at a field goal heading into kickoff.
For example, a negative value (-11.5) next to a team indicates that they are favored by that many points. So you must deduct 11.5 points from their score to determine if they won the game or not. On the other hand, a positive value on the same game (+11.5) means the underdog starts with an 11.5-point lead before the game even begins. In NFL betting, the favorite must win by 12 points or more to cover the NFL spread. The underdog is able to lose by 11 points and still cover the spread.
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