Placing a point spread bet means gambling on how much a team will win or lose by. In our above example, the Cowboys are the favorite. How do we know that? The minus symbol in front of the point spread indicates that the bookmaker thinks the final score will have Dallas winning by 7.5 points or more. The underdog, in our example that’s the New York Giants, will always be indicated with a plus sign. If you wager on the Cowboys on the point spread, America’s Team will have to win by at least 8 points for your wager to pay off. Should the Cowboys win by less than 8 points, your bet is lost.
Like many high scoring sports, NFL wagering is dictated by the point spread. The spread, or line, is a type of side bet that equalizes the chance of winning a wager. The line offered for any given team will be accompanied with a – or + symbol to indicate whether a team is a favorite or an underdog. The example below displays the spread from the Sports Insights archives at the time of kickoff:
Football betting is by far the most popular form of sports betting by far. Most professional gamblers only bet for 5 months out of the year because of this. When you include College and NFL together there are almost a hundred games to bet on during a 2-day span. This is what is so appealing to the professional gambler; the action packed two days that comes every fall for five months. The gambler has so much to watch in a 48 hour span that the rush alone makes these bets fun. Now I do not expect you to go out and bet on every game played on a Saturday or Sunday. However, I will outline below how you can bet on football also how to become more successful at football betting
A favorite (e.g. Patriots -280) on the money line works just like our bet price example above. In our new example, the Patriots are listed at -280, meaning you would need to risk $280 for a return of $100 on them. It follows that a winning bet on the Pats pays $100 (plus your initial investment of $280 back). This added risk is why betting the spread is usually more popular, especially on favorites.
Many reasons contribute to why point spread betting is one of the most favored by NFL players, certainly one reason it is so attractive to the recreational player is that essentially you have a 50-50 proposition on every team no matter who they are playing meaning you have the opportunity to bet your favorite team no matter who their opponents and in theory have a 50% chance of winning your bet at reasonable odds. Take the 2008 Detroit Lions who went through the regular season without winning a game, now betting them on the NFL money line odds would have been a disaster whereas their point spread record for that season was 7 wins and 9 losses. Similarly the 2007 Dolphins went through the NFL regular season with only one win however their point spread record stood at 5 wins, 7 losses and 4 pushes against the closing line.
The optimal situation for bookmakers is to set odds that will attract an equal amount of money on both sides, thus limiting their exposure to any one particular result. To further explain, consider two people make a bet on each side of a game without a bookmaker. Each risks $110, meaning there is $220 to be won. The winner of that bet will receive all $220. However, if he had made that $110 bet through a bookmaker he would have only won $100 because of the vig. In a perfect world if all bookmaker action was balanced, they would be guaranteed a nice profit because of the vig.
Using an online sports betting site is far and away the best way to bet on football, or any sport for that matter. It's the most convenient and accessible option, and there are several other advantages too. Best of all, it's legal in the United States. There are some laws against online gambling in the US, but these mostly apply to companies and individuals providing gambling services. There's no law that states it's illegal to use a gambling site of any kind, so Americans are at liberty to place football bets online if they so choose. We've written the following page explaining things in more detail for those interested, or you can just keep reading for a quick guide to getting started online.
The most common NFL spreads are usually set between about 2.5-10.5 points, but you will also almost always have games each week with spreads lower than 2.5 and higher than 10.5. In the event that the oddsmakers feel the game doesn’t need a spread, it would be set at 0 or what some call a pick’em (both teams are given even odds to win for this type of bet).
Spread betting are wagers that are made against the spread. The spread, or line, is a number assigned by the bookmakers which handicaps one team and favors another when two teams play each other and one is perceived as being more likely to win. The favorite "takes" points from the final score and the underdog "gives" points. This number can also be in increments of half-a-point (.5) even though very few sports have .5 point scoring (i.e., The Ryder Cup)
“The Compact Negotiation Act, NMSA 11-13A-1, et seq., authorizes the state to negotiate a tribal-state class III gaming compact pursuant to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”). Thus class III gaming conducted pursuant to a Gaming Compact is lawful in the state. Nothing in the Compact Negotiation Act qualifies or limits the term ‘class III gaming.’ Federal regulations issued under IGRA classify sports betting as class III gaming. 25 C.F.R. § 502.4(c).
Futures bets are exactly what they sound like, a wager placed on an event that will occur in the future. As you can imagine, the most popular futures bet in the NFL is who will win the Superbowl. In fact, the Team Odds to win it all are released within a week after the previous year’s championship. It is not uncommon to see last year’s worse team to be 100/1 dogs or worse. Naturally, Futures are not limited to simply who will win the big game. Much like proposition (prop) bets for any particular contest, you can place several futures bets on potential outcomes, from who will win what division to who will win the league’s MVP. Futures Odds can be found at nearly any reputable sportsbook, but some have a limited selection of wagers they will actually take.
Pools, cards, and parlays - A parlay is just a combination bet. Instead of making five separate bets on five different games, the bettor places a single parlay bet, hoping he or she can predict the outcome of all five games. If any one of the games is a loser, the entire parlay is a loser. The payout is better for parlays, because the odds of successfully picking multiple winners are much tougher to beat [ref]. Most people are familiar with parlays through office betting pools or football cards. If you've ever paid $5 to select your winners from a list of that week's football games (sometimes using the spread, sometimes using the straight scores) in hopes of winning the weekly prize, then you have made an informal parlay bet. Office pools don't usually involve actual bookies beyond the person who organizes the pool, and no one takes juice from the pool. All the money is distributed to the winner or winners.
The simplest way to think about a moneyline is to consider a base bet of $100. A moneyline is a number larger than 100, and it is either positive or negative. A line with a positive number means that the team is the underdog. If the line, for example, was +160 then you would make a profit of $160 if you were to bet $100. Obviously, then, the team is a bigger underdog the bigger the number is - a +260 team is perceived to be less likely to win than a +160 team.
Several factors influence a point spread. It starts with power rankings. The media creates power rankings throughout the year, but those can be entirely subjective based more on feelings and emotions than actual raw data. An oddsmaker creates power rankings based on a host of statistics, some more complex than others. The rankings will include record, strength of schedule, and various offensive, defensive, and special teams metrics. They might use Football Outsiders’ efficiency metrics, they might use expected points added, or they might use a host of other internal and external options. The idea being to develop as objective an assessment as possible as to how good or bad a given team is compared to the rest of the NFL.
NFL odds do not stop at the point spread and OVER/UNDER. There are numerous ways to bet on football these days, including the NFL moneyline, futures (odds to win the Super Bowl), and first-half and second-half betting lines. Throw in fun fantasy-style prop bets (will Tom Brady throw for 300+ yards this week) and live NFL betting (where you can wager on the next play and on odds that change all game long) and the importance of understanding how NFL odds work has never been greater. Check out the lines and bookmark for more updates and football lines enhancements in the coming weeks and months.