Three well-known wager types exist in NFL betting: the total points, moneyline, and spread (handicap) markets. There are also future bets and prop bets and plenty of more bet types that you will find at US sportsbooks, but in this article, we will mainly focus on the three first-mentioned betting types.
We are going to look at these three bet types and strategies to make them as successful as possible.
The most common bet that fans make is the match bet (also known as the moneyline). This is a simple bet on which team you think will win the game. Draws are incredibly scarce in the NFL. It is advisable to bet on the away team or the home team to win. When it comes to moneyline bets, bettors also have the option to wager on whether the game will enter extra time. This is the additional duration of play if regular time ends in a draw. The extra time will continue until either of the teams score.
However, extra time is difficult to come by in a game. Also, the chances of a draw at the end of a game are rare. That is why bettors usually bet on the team they feel will win the game.
Betting on the points total means wagering whether the game or event will go under or over a particular amount of points. This is popular because the teams can score a lot of points in American football, and this can mean that teams can win by 30 or 40 points.
Over/under betting does not mean you are staking on specifically how the number of points each team will score. You'll forecast whether the total points scored will be below or above a particular line. For example, you could wager on a game that sees +37.5 points. If there are over 37.5 points in the game, you have made the right bet.
Against the Spread market
The next most common bet type in the NFL is handicap (ATS) betting. The handicap bet balances the odds, changing an uneven game into a more even one. One side has a point advantage so that both teams are close to even money. This is also known as the 'point spread.'
Let's look at an example: Imagine the New York Jets (+3.0) are playing the Buffalo Bills (-3.0). You can see that the handicap line is three and favors the Buffalo Bills, as there's a minus attached to their number. This means that the market rates the Bills as three points better than the Jets. Hence, in the handicap wagering, the Bills start with a three-point lead.
A wager on the Bills -3.0 wins if the Bills win by over three points. Similarly, a bet on the Jets +3.0 pays out if the Jets lose by only two points or win the game.
If the Bills win by three points, wagers on both sides of the handicap will be pushed, and bets returned. You'll usually come across handicap lines with a .5 number at the end, as they remove the chance of a push and make sure that one side will beat the handicap line.
Another interesting betting method is NFL live betting. This is similar to betting in-play on any other sport. Markets will be offered on various outcomes and potential game events. You might bet on the match-winner, total points, particular player to score a touchdown, total home/away points, and so on.
Be savvy. Look for emerging patterns or take advantage of game-changing events by betting live.
Other picks and predictions
When you have fully understood the three main betting types, you can start to look at other picks and predictions.
Betting props (also known as propositions) mean bettors can wager on a player's individual performance, the score type that opens the game, and the specific margin of victory. You will find that these options increase in prime time and playoff games.
You can combine multiple propositions, or several wagers on different games, into a 'parlay.' This is an all-or-nothing proposition that will pay out if all (between 2 and 12) wagers are correct. The more events you add to a parlay, the higher the potential payout.
You can also bet a teaser which is a type of parlay that combines 2 to 10 bets, and you can modify the point spread or point total. This means the bets are more likely to be successful, but the pay-outs will be lower than in a straight parlay.
Lastly, you can bet on NFL futures. Here you will wager on the divisional champion, eventual Super Bowl champion, or the number of wins of a particular team in the course of the regular season. This is in place of betting on individual games. If you love details, then you can even place futures bets on postseason awards. Examples include the most valuable player (MVP) and other storylines that are specific to the season.
If you choose a spread or line bet, then there are several factors you should consider:
- Try assessing the number of points that the various teams will likely score in any game. Think about variables such as weather conditions, injuries, home advantage, etc.
- Be selective and do not feel you must wager on all games: chances are you cannot foretell all NFL results, but you will start to feel confident that a particular team will cover the handicap line with a majority probability.
- Always bet early: benefit from the spread by betting when the handicap lines first show (handicap lines will often change in the lead-up to games).
- Try to ignore the hype. The media's main job is to create excitement that draws ratings. Avoid being fooled by stories about upcoming games. A successful NFL gambler will be someone who can remove media noise around an event or game and use reliable data to decide on successful bets.
- Pay close attention to available statistics and past results. NFL teams and players are consistent, and the better teams will usually be the ones competing for the win at the end of the season.
- Finally, you can 'fade the public.' Fade in betting means to wager against. A popular team will be backed in a way that the people in charge of the odds will change them, so more money goes to the opposing team. This makes the well-known choice less appealing, lowers the value, and removes it from the higher chance of that team winning the margin.
Use this strategy to watch the lines move out and wager on your preferred team. Aim for when the line is at its peak, the optimum time to bet.
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To help you make more informed bets, here is a summary of essential NFL information that will give you an overall picture of the sport.
There are a total of 32 teams in the NFL. These come from two 'Conferences': The NFC (National Football Conference) and The AFC (American Football Conference). Each Conference has four Divisions containing four teams, resulting in 16 teams per Conference.
|American Football Conference|
|Buffalo Bills||Denver Broncos||Baltimore Ravens||Houston Texans|
|Miami Dolphins||Kansas City Chiefs||Cincinnati Bengals||Indianapolis Colts|
|New England Patriots||Las Vegas Raiders||Cleveland Browns||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|New York Jets||Los Angeles Chargers||Pittsburgh Steelers||Tennessee Titans|
|National Football Conference|
|Dallas Cowboys||Arizona Cardinals||Chicago Bears||Atlanta Falcons|
|New York Giants||Los Angeles Rams||Detroit Lions||Carolina Panthers|
|Philadelphia Eagles||San Francisco 49ers||Green Bay Packers||New Orleans Saints|
|Washington Commanders||Seattle Seahawks||Minnesota Vikings||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
Game scheduling includes:
- Teams play opponents in their division both home and away (the NFL allocates other games across Divisions and Conferences, this is based on the already determined cycle that moves around season-on-season).
- Each team will play 17 games in a season, with the winner of each Division moving onto a postseason playoff scenario, plus three teams from each Conference who move on via the Wild Card route.
- Seven teams from each Conference will go forward into the playoffs, making 14 teams in total.
Playoffs take place (Wild Card Weekend, Divisional round, and Conference Championship Weekend) and result in just one team from the NFC and one team from the AFC. This is where they meet in the Super Bowl, determining who will be the overall season's champion.
The Super Bowl takes place every year and started in 1966. Since 2022, the game takes place on the second Sunday of February and has been watched by millions worldwide. An additional attraction is a half-time show, which usually features big celebrity names.
Be smart and do your research. A wealth of information is available to help you understand more about statistics and historical data.
Do not be tempted by media buzz and check your sources. Websites and news stories draw in an audience. Make sure you are listening to and reading reliable details.
Avoid being a fan and favoring teams on this bias. It is difficult to move away from your favorite team, but consider this as an investment and save your emotional cheering for games where you make no bets.