No sport sees betting action quite like the NFL. NFL is king for a reason, and in the sports betting landscape that is no different. The NFL is the most heavily bet sport in the US, and by a wide margin.
If you want to look at what all the NFL odds are for week 1, look no further than OddsJam! With that said, it is important to understand just exactly how to bet on the NFL. Now that mobile sports betting is becoming legal in more and more states, it has also become much easier to bet on the NFL as well.
Starting off, there are 3 main markets when betting on the NFL. Let’s get into it.
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NFL Point Spread
Point spreads offer the ability to bet on a margin of victory, rather than which team will obtain it. Instead of betting on who you think is going to win, you are betting on how much a team is going to win or lose.
Looking at the Eagles vs Lion’s screenshot above, you see that the Eagles are 4.5-point favorites. You can tell this by locating the minus next to the 4.5 on the Eagle’s side. We see that the eagles are -4.5, whereas the Lions are +4.5. This means that the Lions are 4.5-point underdogs.
A -4.5 point spread translates to the Eagles being favored to win the game by 5 points or more. Those who bet on the Eagles need them to win by at least 5 points to win the wager. When a favorite wins by more than the point spread, this is known as “covering the spread”.
Conversely, bettors wagering on the Lions enjoy victory if they either win the game or lose by under 5 points.
The next main market that NFL bettors enjoy is the moneyline.
A moneyline bet involves you picking a team to win the game outright. This is the most simple form of betting- you are literally just picking who you think is going to win the game. It doesn’t matter how they win- how many points, whether it takes overtime or not, none of that matters- just that the team you bet on wins the game.
You can bet on either the favorite or the underdog, of course with the payouts being drastically different depending on the odds and who you decide to bet on.
Let’s go back to that Lions/Eagles screenshot from above.
- Philadelphia Eagles -210 on Caesars
- Detroit Lions +175 on Caesars
As we learned from above, Philadelphia is the favorite (meaning oddsmakers expect the Eagles to win), while Detroit reprises the familiar role of underdog. Sportsbooks universally denote the favorites with a minus sign (-) and underdogs with the plus sign (+).
What do the numbers behind the signs mean? Good question!
The -210 means that a bettor would need to risk $210 in order to profit $100. So, a $210 wager would have a payout of $310 ($210 in risk + $100 in profit = $310.)
For the other side, the Lions and their +175 odds: this means that if bettor risks $100 they would profit $175 if the Lions won. So, a $100 wager would have a payout of $275 ($100 risk + $175 payout = $275).
As we can see above, it is considerably more profitable to win an underdog moneyline bet than betting on the favorite. The difficult part is deciding which underdogs to bet on!
Betting on the total, or also known as the over/under, of an NFL game is a market that has become increasingly popular as sports betting has grown. When you bet on the total, you are betting on the number of points scored in the game, combined between both teams. For an over/under bet you are betting on the score being over or under the projected amount. For the Eagles/Lions game, that total is 47.
Sports bettors love betting on the total because it is a way they can get some skin in the game without needing to back a specific team. Unsure of who is going to win or even cover the spread? No worries! Bet on the total instead.
If you bet the over in this game between the Eagles and the Lions, you would need 48 or more points to be scored in order to win your bet. Conversely, if you bet the under you would need 46 or fewer points to be scored to win. If exactly 47 points are scored, then your bet would be considered a push and you would have your risked amount refunded.
Now that we have gone over the 3 main markets of a point spread, moneyline, and total, what’s so great about the NFL is that there is much, much more betting to go. Along with these 3 main markets, there are also prop bets that sports bettors can place wagers on. These include both player props and game props.
Prop Betting in the NFL
First, we will start with player props.
Thanks to the rise in fantasy sports, and specifically daily fantasy in more recent years, NFL player props are becoming a hot commodity to NFL bettors. Some sports fans would rather back or fade a specific player than bet on that player’s team. Player props give you this avenue.
Essentially, if there is a counted stat in the NFL then you can bet on it as a player prop. This includes every position (QB, RB, WR, TE) as well as defensive player props as well!
A player prop wager is similar to betting on a total, in which you are most likely betting on an over or an under. For player props specifically, though, you are betting on a player to go over or under their projected total of that specific stat. Sometimes, it can be much more fun to bet on Patrick Mahomes to throw for over 300 yards or 3 touchdowns than it is for the Chiefs to win.
Next up are NFL game props.
NFL Game Props
Another type of prop that is available to bettors are game props. Similar to player props and totals, game props provide more options for an NFL bettor to wager on without needing to bet on the direct result of the game.
With game props there are a ton of different options, some more obscure than others. The most common game prop to bet on are team totals, though. Team totals are similar to the game total in which you are betting on an over or under in terms of points scored, with the key difference here being you are betting on one team to go over or under their projected point total, as opposed to the game total itself.
Another way you can bet on the NFL is through a futures bet. A future bet is exactly what it sounds like: you are betting on an event that will occur in the future- normally at the end of the regular season or the playoffs.
The most popular futures bets are MVP, Super Bowl Champion, and Conference Champion. But, with that said, as you can see below there are a ton of different options. This screenshot is taken from Caesars Sportsbook futures markets, and it doesn’t even include everyone!
Futures bets can be fun because they almost always have high payouts. It can also be incredibly satisfying being able to cash a futures bet. Bragging rights for life when you cash a Super Bowl champion’s future!
Of course, with that said, betting on futures are also extremely risky. The variance is extremely high due to injuries, trades, and a bunch of other unforeseen circumstances that occur during a typical NFL season.
General NFL Betting Advice
So we’ve learned how to bet on the NFL, but the fun in sports betting is making money. So, let’s discuss some typical NFL betting strategies and learn how you can make money betting on the NFL.
Be up-to-date with Injury Reports
The unfortunate truth about the NFL is that injuries occur far more often than any other sport. The NBA has to deal with load management and players resting, but because of how physical a sport the NFL is, injuries are just a part of life.
Sharp sports bettors are able to scan the injury news/reports, and if you can hop on a bet prior to a star player being ruled out you can find some truly profitable bets.
NFL Line Shopping
This is important for every sport but is especially important for the NFL because of how many different markets and props you can bet on. That screenshot above in the Lions and Eagles game had the Eagles as 4.5-point favorites at -110 odds. Even if you think the Eagles are going to cover the spread, that doesn’t mean you should automatically place that bet.
Instead, you should shop around and see what every sportsbook is pricing this line at.
As we can see in this screenshot above taken from OddsJam, we can actually get a better line on the Eagles on DraftKings. We can take the Eagles at -4 at the same exact odds of -110. A half-point might not seem like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things it can be the difference between legitimately making money or losing money betting on sports.