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An Expert Guide to Online NFL Football Betting

Posted by Kevin King on
Last updated:

The NFL is by far America’s most popular sport for online betting. While online football betting may seem confusing at first, once you get a hang of the terminology, it’s really quite simple.

Our NFL betting guide will cover:

  • The best NFL betting sites for US players
  • Different football bet types
  • Recommended NFL betting strategy
  • FAQ about NFL online betting

Best NFL Football Betting Sites for US Players

Our experts have compiled a list of the industry’s best sites for US players to bet on football:

Online NFL Football Bet Types

NFL Point Spread Bets

NFL Point Spread Bets

Wager on the winning margin

Simply put: a point spread is the number of points that one team is favored by. NFL point spreads are set by the sportsbook, and will likely vary from site-to-site. For a bet on the favored team to be considered a winner, that team must win the game by more than this number. This is known as “covering the spread”.

On the other hand, for a bet on the underdog to win, that team must either win the game outright or lose by fewer points than the spread.

The Seattle Seahawks are -2.5-point favorites against the Dallas Cowboys.

In this instance, the Seahawks are the favorite, the Cowboys are the underdogs, and the spread is 2.5.

This would typically be stylized on a sportsbook like this:

  • Seattle Seahawks -2.5
  • Dallas Cowboys +2.5

In this example, if you wager on the Seahawks spread, you would need the Seahawks to win by more than 2.5 points (i.e. three points or more) in order for your bet to payout.

If you were to wager on the Cowboys spread, the Cowboys need to either win, or lose by less than 2.5 points (i.e. by 2 points or fewer).

If the Seahawks won the game 30-28, the Cowboys would “cover the spread”, because even though they lost, they did so by fewer than 2.5 points.

How are NFL Point Spreads Determined?

Point spreads vary slightly from site-to-site, but are generally quite similar. Typically, point spreads are determined mainly on two factors:

  • Each team’s record and skill. If a great team is playing a bad one, expect a large point spread. If two good teams are playing each other, you may see point spreads as small as 0.5 points.
  • The amount of wagers on each team. If the majority of bets are coming in on one team rather than the other, sportsbooks may alter the spread slightly to provide a more even betting field. This is important to remember, as it means point spreads can change throughout the week. The spread released on Monday morning (the line “opens”), may not be the same as it is when the game kicks off on the following Sunday (the line “closes”).
NFL Moneyline Bets

NFL Moneyline Bets

Wager on the outright winner of the game

NFL moneyline bets are simple and straightforward: this is a bet on who will win the game, regardless of the point spread. This is the easiest form of NFL football betting, as you’re simply picking the winner – it doesn’t matter if they win by 3 or 30.

The payouts for moneyline bets depend on who the favorite is and who the underdog is. The underdog will always offer a higher payout due to being viewed by oddsmakers as the inferior team, while the favorite will offer a lower payout, as oddsmakers expect them to win.

NFL Moneyline Example

The Seattle Seahawks have odds of -250 on the moneyline against the Dallas Cowboys, while the Cowboys are +200 against the Seahawks. The (-) signals the favorite, the (+) signals the underdog.

In this example, a $100 wager on the Seahawks would pay a profit of $40 if they won, while a $100 wager on the Cowboys would return a profit of $200 if they won. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.

Head over to our online sports betting guide to learn more about how to read odds.

NFL Totals (or over/under) Bets

NFL Totals (or over/under) Bets

Wager on the total number of points scored in a game

Totals – often referred to as over/under – wagers are made on the total number of points scored in the game by both teams. Totals bets are not dependent on who wins the game, just the combined score of both teams. Typically, NFL totals range from high-30s to mid-50s.

NFL Over/Under Example

The Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks have a total of 47.5 set for their game. You will often see this stylized like this:

Cowboys vs. Seahawks (Totals)

  • Over 47.5 (-110)
  • Under 47.5 (-110)

The numbers in brackets signal the odds of each wager. In this instance, both wagers are at -110, signaling an even bet.

The Cowboys win with a final score of 29-20. This is a total combined score of 49 points (29 + 20), which means the over would hit (49 > 47.5)

NFL Live Betting

NFL Live Betting

Wager on a game that’s already in progress

Just because a game has started doesn’t mean you can’t bet on it. In recent years, online sportsbooks have begun offering more and more live betting, wherein you can bet on NFL games once they have begun. Typically multiple bet types are available, with sportsbooks offering spreads, totals, & moneyline wagers with odds that change along with the game.

NFL Live Betting Example

It’s halfway through the second quarter, and the Dallas Cowboys are leading the Seattle Seahawks 20-10. Leading up to the game, the oddsmakers had the Seahawks as heavy favorites, meaning they were expected to win and were offering a low payout.

However, now that the Cowboys are up by ten points, they have become the heavy favourite. With live betting, you could bet on the Seahawks with their new odds if you believe they’ll come back and win, and the odds will be adjusted to reflect a higher payout for the Seahawks.

NFL Parlay Bets

NFL Parlay Bets

Combine multiple bets to increase your potential payout

A parlay bet is when you place two or more connected bets. In a parlay, all connected bets must win in order for your wager to pay out. This is a great way to increase your potential payout, but beware that the risk is much higher when combining bets.

Depending on your sportsbooks, parlays can typically include multiple bet types, whether that’s moneyline, point spreads, over/unders, or more.

NFL Parlay Example

The Dallas Cowboys are playing the Seattle Seahawks, and the Green Bay Packers are playing the New York Giants. You place a parlay bet on the Cowboys moneyline and the Packers moneyline.

In this instance, your wager would pay out only if both the Cowboys and the Packers win their games. If they do, your payout would be your wager size, multiplied by the Cowboys odds, multiplied by the Packers odds.

NFL Prop Bets

NFL Prop Bets

Wager on something other than the game result itself

Prop bets – or proposition bets – are incredibly popular in NFL betting. These vary widely in topic and by the sportsbook itself.

Just about anything that can happen in or around an NFL game can be turned into a prop bet. The best example of this is the Super Bowl, where props get wild, allowing bettors to wager on the length of the national anthem, the result of the coin flip, the color of Gatorade poured on the winning coach, and more.

NFL prop bets can be profitable if played wisely, but be sure to do your research.

NFL Game Prop Bets

Examples of NFL game props often include: which team will score first? Will the total points be odd or even? How many field goals will be kicked?

NFL Team Prop Bets

The most common NFL team prop bets are on season-long success rates: will the team win more than X amount of games? Will the team make the playoffs?

NFL Player Prop Bets

Examples of NFL game props often include: how many touchdowns/yards will a quarterback throw for? How many receiving yards will a receiver have? Will player X score a touchdown at any time during the game?

NFL Special Prop Bets

These types of prop bets are similar to the Super Bowl example above, and often have less to do with the games themselves. They may include whether or not the commentators will mention a certain topic, how many times a player is shown on the bench, if a player will wear something out of the ordinary, etc.

NFL Season Prop Bets

NFL season prop bets can vary widely. Many are similar to future bets, wherein you wager on the league MVP, Super Bowl winner, conference champion, who will be drafted first overall, etc. Sometimes, however, season prop bets can be a little wilder and include topics like whether or not any games will be cancelled due to weather.

Recommended NFL Betting Strategy

green american football helmet icon

Look for Home Underdogs

Playing on your home field is a statistically proven advantage in the NFL. It’s rare to see good home teams lose by double digits at home. If you see a team favored by 10 points or more on the road, take a close look.

a man wearing a tie next to a bag of money

Manage Your Bankroll

Our experts cannot stress this enough: have a bankroll strategy. A general rule of thumb is to only use 5% of your bankroll on any one bet (e.g. if you have $100 total, no more than $5 per bet). This will keep you in the game longer and provide you a better chance of winning in the long run.

american football going through the goal posts

Look for Traveling Teams

Keep an eye out for West Coast teams playing Sunday morning games on the East Coast. Whether it’s the jet lag or the time difference, West Coast teams have historically struggled to cover the spread when traveling East.

NFL Football Online Betting FAQ

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