The NFL is by far America’s most popular sport for online betting. While online NFL 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:
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:
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.
Point spreads vary slightly from site-to-site, but are generally quite similar. Typically, point spreads are determined mainly on two factors:
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 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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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 NFL 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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 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.
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.
Our experts cannot stress this enough: have a NFL betting 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.
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.
For U.S. residents who are new to online football betting, we recommend the online sportsbooks listed near the top of the page. When looking for NFL online betting sites, bettors should look for deposit options, withdrawal time, mobile accessibility and welcome bonuses.
NFL betting trends can cause the line to move. Bookmakers set a line based on what they think it should be. Their goal is to get 50 percent of the bets on one side and 50 percent on the other. This way they aren’t exposed and collect from the losers and payout the winners.
A point spread bet requires that you bet 11 to make 10, meaning you have to pay $110 to possibly win $100, regardless of which team you wager on. You’ll be paid $210 if you win, which is your original $110 plus the $100 in profits.
You can make an even-money bet, such as $50, but the casino will round down your profits to the nearest dollar. Instead of a 10 to 11 payout of $45.45, you’ll be paid $45 if your bet wins.
If you want NFL betting in the palm of your hand, these are the sites for you.
Ready to start playing for money? Check out our list of our favorite real money sportsbooks.