It’s Easy to Bet the NFL
Think betting the NFL is complex or confusing? Think again! Here’s a rundown of the most popular bets, and how they work.
Sports betting is at a fever pitch with NFL season in full swing. According to the American Gaming Association, approximately 13 percent of Americans—or 33.2 million adults—plan to bet on the NFL this year. That’s a lot of action, and it proves you don’t have to be a genius to grasp the basics of sports wagers.
There are plenty of ways to bet on football:
- Betting against the spread
- Betting the moneyline
- Betting totals
- Betting quarters and halves
- Parlays and props
- Futures betting
Still confused? Let’s look at each bet, keeping it simple enough even for newbies to understand.
Betting Against the Spread
Also known as ATS, betting against the spread is simple. The team that’s strongly favored to win (also known as “the chalk”) is listed with a negative number (for example, New England Patriots to win -5). In this case, the Pats have to “cover” those 5 points, winning by 6 points (or more) for you to win the bet. If they win by exactly 5 points, it’s a “push” or “no-bet,” and you neither win nor lose.
Betting the Moneyline
Moneyline betting is even simpler. Just pick the team you think will win the game outright. The favorite will be listed as a negative number (for example, Dallas Cowboys to win -200), in which case you’ll have to bet that amount to win $100. The underdog will be listed as a positive number (for example, Cincinnati Bengals +500), which means you’ll win that amount on a $100 bet.
Betting Totals (Over/Under)
This one’s pretty self-explanatory: you’re betting on the total points to be scored in a game. In the NFL, game totals typically fall between 38 and 60 points, according to BetQL. Similar to betting the spread, there can be a push if the total points scored in the game exactly equals the total.
The term “over/under” is also used to describe betting the total. Sportsbooks will give you a number that represents the total number of points scored by both teams combined (for instance, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, with a total over/under of 60 points). What you’re betting is on whether the teams combined will score below or above that number.
Betting Quarters and Halves
Most sportsbooks offer bets against the spread, on the moneyline, totals and team total bets for just one-half or one-quarter of play. A recent trend is to bet the second half of a game. Makes sense, as you can clearly make a more informed bet once you see how contestants do in the first half. You can further narrow this down into quarters betting, and stay in the action as it plays out before your eyes.
With a parlay bet, you stack together several bets. All bets must win for you to cash out, but it can be worth the risk, as you can win a lot more too; many parlays will pay out 10X to 1000X the original bet.
Also, with a parlay, you can combine multiple wager types (ATS, moneyline, over/under) into a single stake. Each outcome included is called a “leg,” and again, every leg must be successful for the parlay to stand as a winner. Though your odds of winning are reduced, the odds of bagging a big payout are increased.
As the name suggests, NFL future bets allow you to bet on sporting events that haven’t taken place yet. For example, you can bet on divisional winners, conference champions, Super Bowl champions, etc. These bets typically are available all year-round, with odds that are adjusted from week to week.
Sportsbooks offer a variety of prop bets on any number of random events, including but not limited to:
- Result of the coin toss
- Passing yards
- Rushing yards
- Receiving yards
- First player to score
- The weather on game day
- Player to score two touchdowns
Some player props are set up like totals betting (i.e., KC Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes will throw for more than 300 passing yards), and like moneyline bets (i.e., Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey is +500 to score the first touchdown of the game).
The NFL season is hot and heavy! Get your best bets for today, and every day, at betql.co/nfl/odds.
Finally, to enjoy sports betting this NFL season and in seasons to come, be an informed bettor. Learn about the sport you want to bet on. Be sure to bet responsibly, within your budget, and with a legal, regulated sportsbook.
For a complete list of U.S. states where sports betting is legal and regulated, visit www.americangaming.org/research/state-gaming-map.