Understanding the terms associated with the various wagers and odds when betting on the NFL can seem a little confusing, especially when you first start out. Even those familiar with points spreads may steer clear of prop bets and parlays, but once you’ve worked out what it all means, it’s pretty straightforward. Here, we explore the various wagering options, offer some tips and strategies, and get you up to speed on everything NFL odds so that you are properly prepared before placing your very first bet.
NFL and American Odds
Most sportsbooks use American Odds for the NFL. These odds show how much money you need to wager in order to win $100. The plus and minus signs designate which team is the favorite. A -110 favorite means that you need to wager $110. If your team wins, you will receive $100 winnings, and you’ll get your initial stake back, as well.
Naturally, the sportsbook takes a cut of any wagers placed. They aren’t a charity, after all. This fee is known as the vig, which is short for vigorish, or the juice, so you may see this mentioned on the various betting sites. The vig is added to the odds when they are being calculated, and you pay it regardless of the outcome of the games.
The Basics of Spread Betting
Spread betting or the ‘points spread’ is the most popular wager in NFL betting. It’s also known as lines, spreads and sides, so these are terms that you may see mentioned on the betting sites. In each NFL game, one of the teams is assigned the label of favorite and the other is known as the underdog. This simply means which team is most likely to win.
How the Spread Works
Spread betting is effectively a way of evening up the NFL odds. Each team is awarded a point score by the sportsbook. This is either a whole number, such as 3 or 4, or a half-number, such as 3.5. The favorite is given a negative number, while the underdog is given a positive number. This figure represents the number of points that each team needs to achieve to win the bet.
For instance, if the favorite has a negative number of -3.5, the team would need to score 4 or more in order to win the bet. If the underdog has a positive number of +3.5, the team will need to lose by no fewer than 3 points.
Spread Betting Terminology
Covering the Spread – This means that the team has stayed within the points set and so has won the bet. The team that covers the spread may not be the one that won the game, however. If the underdog covers the spread and the favorite does not, then the favorite wins the wager.
Betting Against the Spread – Essentially, this term means that you are betting against the favorite by wagering on the underdog. Betting Against the Spread (ATS) can be a good strategy when the point spread is low.
A Push – This is when there is a tie in the result. If neither team has covered the spread, the sportsbook will refund your money.
Pick’em – This term is used when the teams are so closely matched that there isn’t a clear favorite or underdog. In this situation, no points are assigned to either team on the spread, so you just have to pick the winner.
Some Strategies for Spread Betting
The points spread changes constantly, so it’s vital to keep watching it and to place your bet at the optimal time. The points can be influenced by the number of bets, by team injuries, and even by potential weather conditions. The timing of your bet can really affect the outcome, so keep an eye on how the lines are changing through the week.
It’s useful to know that there are two margins of victory that crop up regularly in NFL odds. These are sometimes referred to as the key numbers, and they are significant for both the sportsbooks and experienced bettors. The first of these numbers is 3. This is the highest probability of winning margin in NFL. The other number to look out for is 7.
Understanding the Moneyline
If you’re new to the world of NFL betting, then the moneyline bet is a great way to find your feet. You’ll sometimes see this wager referred to as a straight-up bet, and that’s because it genuinely is that simple. With this wager, all you have to do is to guess which team will win and bet on that one.
How to Read the Moneyline
The moneyline assigns a favorite and an underdog categorization to each team. The favorite is given the minus sign, and the underdog is given the plus sign. For instance, the favorite could be listed as -145 and the underdog as +120. These numbers show how much you would need to wager in order to win $100. In our example, if you bet $120 on the underdog and the team wins, you get your money back, along with another $100.
When to Opt for the Moneyline
The moneyline bet is a good option if you favor the underdog, especially when the point spread is close. If there is only a few points difference between the two teams, you would be better to put down a moneyline bet as the odds are likely to be greater. A useful tip is to watch the changes in the point spread and make your decision based on that.
Wagering Options for Parts of the Games
Some of the wagering options for NFL don’t involve betting on the whole game. These types of bets can attract profitable odds and fall into several categories.
First-Half Betting – First-half wagers are fairly self-explanatory; you wager at who will be winning at half-time and the payout occurs then. This is a tactical wager that works best when history shows that an underdog tends to do well in the first half of the game.
Half-Time Line Wagers – Naturally, if you can bet on the first half of the game, you can bet on the second. The odds for this wager are partially based on the initial odds but are also determined by the first-half play.
Quarter Line Bets – NFL games are divided into four periods, known as quarters, and you can bet on who will be the winner at the close of the first quarter. If you shop around, you may find odds for the other quarters of the game, too.
Totals Betting – Overs and Unders in the NFL
The over/unders bet is something different, and for this reason, it attracts a lot of attention among bettors. The overall concept is easy to follow, and it has little to do with which team is winning or losing. All you have to do is decide whether the total number of points scored by both teams during the game will be over or under a certain number. The payout on this is usually close to evens.
This combined number is known as the over under total, and the sportsbook sets the odds for the total number. For example, if the total is set at 40 and the game result is 18-20, the combined score is 38, and so the payout is for a bet on under total. However, if the result of the game is 20-25, the combined score is 45, and so the payout is for wagers on the over total.
Why Totals Remain So Popular
The main reason for the popularity of totals is that they don’t require any expertise, but there’s a still good chance at being successful. The NFL is highly unpredictable, and to some extent, the sportsbooks have to rely on history to set the totals. The totals are regularly adjusted throughout the week, but they are still hard to predict with any accuracy.
Betting Tips for Totals
The majority of the NFL games result in totals of more than 37, and so it’s usually better to go for the over wager. It’s a similar proposition if any of the games go into overtime. The extra playing time inevitably leads to a higher score. That said, it’s still important to watch the totals as they are adjusted throughout the week, and you can keep an eye out for any appealing opportunities that arise.
The NFL and Parlay Betting
Parlays combine two or more bets on the NFL into a single wager, allowing you to make multiple wagers as one. The more teams that are included in the parlay, the better the odds. If you choose mostly underdogs, you can take advantage of some very good odds.
While parlays are a way to get some competitive odds and big payouts, they are also extremely high risk. This is because if you lose one of the wagers, you lose the entire bet. You can opt for a 4 team parlay, but if the first three teams win and the last team loses, you walk away with nothing.
Things to be Aware of with Parlay Betting
Check all of the odds carefully if you’re thinking about parlay betting. You’ll often get better payouts by placing straight bets on the same games. You should also check the rules on a tie. Most sportsbooks will remove the team from the parlay in the event of a tie, and so a 5 team becomes a 4 team. However, some bookmakers will treat a tie as a loss, so you need to be aware of the rules surrounding this possibility.
Some Parlay Betting Tips and Strategies
If you want to try your hand at parlay betting, there are a couple of tips to follow. The first is to place more money on fewer teams. It’s often better to place two 3 team parlays than one 6 team parlay. Although this strategy will lower the odds, it gives you a higher chance of winning. By splitting your bets into several smaller parlays, you increase your overall win-rate.
The second tip is about ensuring a minimum win. If you have placed a 3 team parlay and you have two wins, then you need to protect the third game in your parley. To do this, you should place a straight bet on the team playing against your team in the parlay. Then you can enjoy the third game, knowing that you’re set to win something, no matter what the outcome is.
Getting to Grips with Teaser Bets
Like parlays, the teaser bets combine multiple wagers into a single bet. You also have to win all of the games selected in the teaser. The difference is that you can move the spread in your favor, and this increases your chances of winning. There are three teasers that you’re likely to come across: 6, 6.5, and 7 point teasers.
So how does it work? Well, in a 6 point teaser, a team that is -8 becomes a -2. Now, instead of the team having to score more than 8 points, they only have to score three for you to win the bet. It’s the same with the positive numbers. A team that is +2 becomes +8 with a 6 point teaser. They can now lose by this number, and you will still get the payout.
Teaser bets can also be used with totals. If the total is set at 40, a 6 point teaser will reduce it to 34. Now, the total scored in the game by both teams only has to be this number, and so you have a greater chance of winning the wager.
Applying Strategy to Teaser Bets
There are all kinds of charts and data for teaser bets that you can follow, although they can seem quite complicated at first attempt. For a simpler strategy, you can keep to a few basic rules.
Use the key numbers. The NFL key numbers, 3 and 7, come back into play for the first rule. When you move the line, try to cross as many key numbers as possible.
Shop for lines. Even though you’re going to be teasing the lines, you still need to shop around for the best odds.
Select carefully. Avoid the higher number teasers, even though they might look tempting on the betting sites. The best strategy is to keep the teaser to a few games at a time.
What is a Pleaser Bet?
Pleaser bets are interesting because they are the exact opposite of the teaser bet. With this version, you move the line in favor of the sportsbook. As this gives the bookmakers the advantage, you may wonder why this would be a worthwhile wager. Well, typical pleasers give you higher than average odds, which can only be a good thing. The best strategy for pleaser bets is to go for the teams in the Pick’em selection. With no clear favorite, you stand a good chance of winning.
Cashing in with Futures
At the beginning of the year the oddsmakers will determine who they feel will win the Super Bowl, the AFC championship, the NFC championship, and winners of each division. You can usually bet on these in the futures section of most online sportsbooks.
Futures are for single wagers that are placed on a future event, and the Super Bowl is the most popular game for these types of bets. Bets can be placed on the outcome of the championship, a division, or a conference. You can wager on the performance of a particular team by betting on how many games they will win that year. You can even bet on players.
These type of plays are similar to the money line plays as far as odds are concerned. For example, if you were to play the New Orleans Saints to win the Super Bowl for $100 and the oddsmakers had it set at New Orleans +500 and they won the Super Bowl, you would win $500.
The significant difference with this wagering option is that it is a long-range predication, and there are lots of advantages to placing future bets. You have the opportunity to place a small wager at the beginning of the season and then wait to see how it pans out.
The NFL and Prop Bets
Prop bets stands for proposition bets, and they can be very entertaining as these are the off-beat types of wagers. You can bet on anything from whether the first score will be a touchdown to how long the national anthem will last at the Super Bowl. No matter what you think up, there will be a prop bet for it somewhere. In addition to the fun value of these wagers, they can be profitable. If you are knowledgeable about the NFL, you should definitely give them a shot.
Many years ago, online sportsbooks began offering Props Wagering for special occasions such as Super Bowl Betting, Pro Bowl Betting and Divisional/Conference Championship Games. These plays were extremely popular and now, you can play these types of wagers on nearly every game in the NFL.
Props Wagering vary from week to week but they will allow you to bet on in game items such as how many field goals will be scored, how many sacks will be in the game, who will score first, who will score last, how many turnovers there will be in the game and much more! During the bigger games like the Super Bowl, they will also offer entertainment props such as what color the gatorade will be that is poured over the winning coach’s head, how long the National Anthem will last and how many times commentators will mention certain words or phrases.
There is also the option to bet on individual player props, such as how many completions the QB will accumulate, how many INT’s the QB will throw, how many combined yards the Running Back will account for and receiving yardage from the Wide Receivers. These prop plays are based on odds, similar to the moneyline and each player is unique and provide different odds.
Employing a Strategy for NFL Bye Week
Bye week means that each team has a week off between weeks four and ten of the season, so pay extra attention to the NFL odds from weeks to eleven. Teams returning after the bye will be fully rested, and this could give them an advantage. An interesting fact is that the statistics show that a team that won the game before the bye week tends to win the one after they return, too. It’s something to consider when you’re wondering which team to go for.
It’s always great fun to bet on the NFL, but part of the enjoyment is employing a winning strategy and then sitting back to watch it unfold as you enjoy the game. The best advice is to watch the odds as they change over the week and even over the season. That way, you can make your decisions logically, based on the options that are available at the time. If you shop around a bit, time your wagers carefully, and do your background research, you’re giving yourself a realistic chance of being successful.