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The Quick Guide to NFL Betting

No sport in the United States creates more betting interest than American Football, and that’s a fact. The sense of anticipation and hype surrounding the NFL regular season is always impressive, then things really burst into the stratosphere with the spectacular end of season Super Bowl extravaganza.

What’s more, thanks to changing legislature and more states around the country permitting fully legalized online sports betting, more people than ever before are starting to wager on games. Indeed, the gaming industry generated revenues of almost $1 billion US dollars in 2019, while that figure could easily double in the next couple of years.

While this points towards huge continued growth in completely legal sports betting throughout the United States, it also means that millions of new players will also start participating. However, for the average novice bettor, understanding what everything means when browsing a sportsbook can be quite daunting, particularly if they’re not sure what the numbers and terminology means.

With that in mind and focusing on American football, this quick guide aims to highlight the three most commonly backed NFL bets ahead of the upcoming season, and just as important for anyone who is new to wagering on gridiron games, how these betting lines typically work across the most popular sportsbooks, as recommended by, sports betting community, here.

The 3 Most Popular NFL Betting Lines

Taking a glance at any of the leading online sportsbooks and mobile betting applications, the landing page for NFL betting, along with the format and layout, usually tends to be similar across most websites. The aim here is familiarity, given that if visitors to the site are quickly able to understand the information they see, they’re also more likely to stay and place bets.

Likewise, the most popular NFL odds betting lines are also those which tend to be most frequently displayed at websites, usually alongside a list of all the upcoming games. This means that bettors can save time and with just one click of the mouse or touch of their mobile screen, they can instantly place bets without having to navigate through other screens.

Right now, the three most popular betting lines for NFL games are Point Spread, Total Points, and Moneyline. You might hear friends mentioning those terms when talking about betting, without knowing what they mean. Read on for a simple explanation of what each kind of betting line entails, working from the image below as an example

Point Spread

Although we are often witness to some tight games between teams in the NFL, with just a couple of points shading the difference from winning and losing, there’s rarely such a thing as the perfect match-up. There are always favorites and underdogs in any given game.

The aim of point spread betting is to level the playing field a little. It’s also a way for sportsbooks to encourage equal betting on both teams, giving a starting points advantage to the underdogs and subtracting points from the favorite. This is also known as handicapping betting in other sports and locations around the world.

Which team wins or loses the game is of little consequence with this kind of bet. All that matters is the difference in the final score between the two teams. The team with the negative number next to them are the favorites, while the team with the positive number are the underdogs. In the image example above, the Kansas City Chiefs favorites to beat the Houston Texans in NFL season opener.

If you’re backing the point spread for the Texans, they must win the game by 10 points or more for your bet to be successful and if they don’t, you lose the bet. If you’re backing the Chiefs, whether they win or lose the game doesn’t really matter, because all that matters here is that they don’t lose by 10 points or more. If they win the game or lose by a score of 10 points or less, your bet is a winner.

Total Points

This kind of betting line is easy to grasp and again, it doesn’t matter which team wins or loses the game. The aim here is to predict whether the total points between the two teams is over (O) or under (U) what the sportsbook has displayed.

Using the example image again with the Texans versus the Chiefs, we can see the sportsbook has the target total set at 54.5 points. What we’re betting on is whether the final game score is greater (over) or lesser (under) that target of 54.5 points. Most sportsbooks use the same format with this kind of betting line, therefore it’s always simple to understand.


When it comes to betting lines, arguably the easiest to understand are the moneyline options. This is simply betting on which of the two NFL teams will be the outright winner of the game. However, it’s important to get familiar with the odds format used, which provides an indication of how much you’ll potentially win back, based on the odds displayed.

The negative number reflects which team is the favorite, while the positive number indicates the underdog. Using the image featuring the Chiefs against the Texans again, it’s clear to see that the Chiefs are strong favorites for this game, which is hardly surprising as they are the reigning Super Bowl champions.

The Chiefs are priced at -500 in this example and what this indicates is that to win $100 back from a successful bet, you would need to put down a $500 wager. Basically, the Chiefs have been given 1-to-5 odds of beating the Texans, therefore using the same principle a smaller bet of $100 would give you an additional $20 return if they win.

By comparison and if you chose to back the Texans at +375 odds to win, this positive number indicates that if you bet $100 on them to beat the Chiefs, the potential return would be $375 on top of your original stake. Essentially, the Texans have been given a 3.75-to-1 chance of winning, so for ever $1 you bet they would return $3.75 for beating the Chiefs.

More Betting Lines to Discover & Enjoy

Once you get familiar and more comfortable with the three most popular betting lines, you might get more adventurous and start looking at other betting markets, where a huge variety of additional options can be found at many of the leading sportsbooks. NFL betting has become so popular, these are increasing all the time.

Favorite lines with many bettors include NFL “props” which focus on team and player milestones during a game. These can include bets for which team scores the first points or predicting how many passing yards a quarterback will achieve, to name but a few options.

Long-term bets are also popular early in the season, when bettors look at odds in the “futures” markets. These can include the chance to back which team you think will win the Super Bowl, along with individual achievements like which player might win the annual NFL MVP award.

Wherever your NFL betting adventures take you over the course of the season, and whatever lines you try, set yourself a staking limit and stick to it, even if you’re lucky enough to hit some big winners along the way. The aim here is to have fun, adding an extra layer to your enjoyment of watching the games and observing how the NFL unfolds. Good luck!

Categories: SportsGambling