A guide to betting on the NFL

Football is one of the most popular sports in North America and is at an all-time high in terms of betting, particularly the NFL. People from all over the world analyze data, matchups, and patterns every week as they try to gain an advantage in the NFL markets at US sportsbooks.

If you are new to NFL betting, however, the terminology can seem confusing. To help you understand the NFL odds and the basics of betting on the league, we’ve put together this short NFL betting guide.

The point spread

The point spread is based on the expected margin of victory or defeat for an NFL team and is created by the odds specialists at a sportsbook. The favored team would be at a disadvantage on the spread, whereas the underdog team would be given an advantage.

A typical NFL spread may look like this:

Green Bay Packers -7

Arizona Cardinals +7

Each option would usually be priced at -110, which ensures that the sportsbook makes a small profit with each bet in this market. The key thing to remember if you are betting on the point spread is that it is an assessment of the difference between the teams in the form of points.

To settle bets in this market, the real-world score is added to the point spread. So, if the Packers win the game by 26-20, they would actually be a losing bet on the point spread once the -7 figure is applied. In this case, if you think the Cardinals will win or lose by less than seven points, you should bet on Arizona and you would bet on the Packers if you think they will win by more than seven.


Betting on the totals in an NFL game means that you are wagering on the combined scores of both teams. The sportsbook will set a total and you will be able to bet Over or Under that figure. A typical Totals market for the above game may look like this:

Green Bay Packers v Arizona Cardinals – 48.5

If you think the total will be higher than 48, you would wager on Over and you’d choose Under if you think the total would be 48 or lower. The 0.5 element of the combined score quote ensures that there are no ties in this market. If the figure was set at 48, it would be possible for the combined score of the two teams to be exactly 48 and bets would be void.


Moneyline bets are bets on which team will win the game. These are relatively straightforward bets to understand, although the odds formats can be strange at first. A typical market may look like this:

  • Packers -160
  • Jets +140

The Packers are favorites, and their odds reflect the amount in dollars you would need to wager to win $100. In this case, if you wager $10 on the Packers, you would win $6.25. The figure for the Jets, on the other hand, indicates your return on a $100 bet.

NFL futures

Futures betting involves predicting the outright winners of a particular competition. In the case of the NFL, you can wager on a wide variety of outcomes, such as the Conference and Division winners, the MVP, the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and many more.

If you know your football, this can be a profitable option, however, the further an event is in the future, the greater the risk and the longer you’ll have to wait for any winnings.

Props and parlays

A prop bet is a bet made on a game that is not related to the outcome. Player props are the most popular form of this bet, and it is possible to wager on a huge number of prop markets, including First Touchdown Scorer, Quarterback Rushing Yards, and Running Back Rushing Yards.

A parlay bet is a combination bet in which you put together multiple bets on different markets into one single bet. If all the bets are winners, the payout can be significant as the profit from each bet rolls forward into the next bet. If one bet is a loser, however, the parlay bet loses.

The golden rule

The most important thing to remember when betting on sports is that it is supposed to be fun. Don’t bet with money that you cannot afford to lose and don’t allow your sports betting to get out of control. You can find a wide variety of resources online, or through your state’s gambling regulator to help if you feel your sports betting is becoming a problem.