Football will be here before you know it and nothing compares to the excitement of the National Football League. For some, the game gets even more exciting when they wager on it and thanks to a number of states allowing NFL betting, fans have more options than ever. The days of having to bet with deadbeat friends or Vito the Schill are as dead as the Arena Football League.
The beauty of betting on football is that there’s a type of wager for every type of gambler. Like any type of game, you need to know the rules and what the payouts are so I’ve put together a quick run-down on the main types of bets available and which ones work best for you. Like any good football coach, you need to know what options you have and when to use them if you want to succeed. Otherwise, you might as well take your money and invest it in the XFL.
There are a number of ways to place bets: 1) spread betting; 2) moneyline betting; 3) over/under betting; 4) parlay betting; 5) teaser betting; 6) prop betting; and 7) futures betting. Sound confusing? As we’ll see, it’s not, and every type of betting offers something for every type of bettor whether they’re a conservative player or someone willing to go high-risk.
Spread Betting: Spread betting is your classic bet where you wager a team will beat another team by a certain amount of points. The oddsmakers pick the team which is likely to win (the favorite) and the team which is likely to lose (the underdog), assessing a number of points by which the favorite must win (aka the point spread). For example, if the Buffalo Bills are playing the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chiefs may be favored by 10.5 points.
Bills vs. Chiefs (-10.5) (Here, the Chiefs are favored to win by 11 points)
Bills (+10.5) (this means the Bills can lose by less than 11 points if pick them to win)
Chiefs (-10.5) (this means the Chiefs must win by 11 points or more if you pick them to win)
The Push In some cases, the odds will not include the half-point. The odds read as:
Final: Chiefs (21) Bills (11) In this situation, the game ends in a push, which means your money is refunded, whether you bet on the Chiefs or the Bills.
Moneyline Betting: Unlike spread betting, moneyline betting has you picking the winner, with no point spread involved. However, it’s more complicated than that because if you pick a team that’s heavily favored to win (say, Kansas City over the Buffalo Bills), your payout will be less. Conversely, betting on an underdog means a bigger payout.
In this instance of NFL betting, a $100 wager on the Bills would result in a $350 payout while a $400 wager would get you a $100 payout. This bet is a good example of the subtleties of NFL betting. It’s often said the devil is in the details and here, picking the Chiefs to win may seem like an easy bet, but the payout reveals where the details bit you in the ass.
Over/Under Betting: You’ve probably heard of over/under betting, but just what is it? It’s all about the combined scores for both teams. The oddsmakers will calculate how many points both teams will score, making the game total. For example, if the Chiefs play the Bills and the oddsmakers predict a combined score of 50 points, that’s your game total. If you wager that the combined score will be greater than 50, that’s an example of betting over. If you’re betting the score will be less than 50, it’s betting under. The under bet would be UNDER 49.5 while the over bet would be OVER 49.5
This type of NFL betting requires sophistication and a thorough understanding of the game and the teams involved. You’ll want to know a number of factors beyond the obvious such as whether one team (or both) is strong offensively and the other is strong defensively. You’ll want to know weather conditions, key injuries, and anything that could significantly affect the score. Personally, this is the type of bet where you can really show your football I.Q. if you’re making the calculations based on your own knowledge. Don’t forget though, “that on any given Sunday…” A team may be on the hot streak of the season only to have a lousy game, ending your over/under predictions due to dumb luck.
The Parlay Bet: A parlay bet is a high-risk bet that can be high reward. Rather than betting on one game, a parlay bet involves wagering on two or more games. For example, rather than just betting on the Bills vs. Chiefs game, you might decide you’re going to bet on the Cleveland Browns vs. Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears. With a parlay bet, you choose the winner and the team must beat the point spread. Every one of your teams needs to win so if you pick the Chiefs and they shit the bed against the Bills, you’ve lost your bet, even if your other two teams win. On the other hand, if you win, your bet is greatly multiplied. Here’s an example.
A Three Team Parlay Pays Off (+600) which means a $100 bet would net you $700 ($100 for your original bet and $600 for the parlay). A parlay bet is excellent for people who feel they’ve got a good grip on the teams playing as well as the dynamics involved when one team plays another. For NFL fans who like watching more than their favorite teams, this is one way to enhance their NFL betting.
NFL Teaser Betting: If you want to take your parlay bet and adjust the odds, you have what’s known as a teaser bet. Here, a gambler adjusts the spread or total to their liking, hoping to make it easier for teams to make their point spread. This provides a bit of security but it also lowers your payout. Consider our previous parlay bet:
Chiefs (-3) Chiefs (+3.5)
Browns (+3.5) Browns (PK) (PK=pick)
49ers (-6.5) 49ers (+10)
Confused by this instance of NFL betting? Don’t be. Here, the Chiefs go from 3-point favorites to 3.5-point underdogs. The Browns adjusted from 6.5-point favorites to only needing a win while the 49ers can lose by 9 or less and still make the spread. In this case, the teaser bet pays (+160) which means you’ll get $160 on your $100 bet ($60 for the teaser bonus and $100 for your original bet).
Proposition Bet: And then there’s the proposition bet (aka a “prop bet”), a bet which opens up just about every conceivable wager in a game. For example, a player could make prop bets involving the Bills vs. Chiefs game such as:
Josh Allen over/under of 150.5 yards passing
Josh Allen over/under of 4.5 on times he’s sacked
There’s no seeming limit to prop bets although sports bookies might stop at bets on the over/under of cats running onto a field during Sunday’s games.
Futures Bets: Think you’re good at seeing the future—then the future bet is good for you Nostradamus. A futures bet involves gambling on a variety of long-range predictions such as:
Who will win the Super Bowl?
Who will win a division?
Who will win a conference?
Who will win Rookie of the Year?
Like any bet, the odds-makers will calculate just how likely a future bet is to occur. Think the Chiefs will go for a repeat and become back-to-back Super Bowl champions? A solid bet but the payout will be much less than if you bet on the Buffalo Bills or Cleveland Browns to win. These are fun bets however and for casual fans, a good way to keep their interest throughout the season without betting every week.
If you’re thinking of betting on the NFL, this is a good year to start. Whether it’s betting on a point spread, making crazy prop bets, or looking far into the future, NFL betting has a nearly infinite number of wagers. Now is the time to research teams and players so you can prepare for the 2020-2021 season.