Betting on football is one of the most popular American pastimes. Saturdays and Sundays in the fall are filled with endless waves of college football (on Saturday) and pro football action (on Sundays). If you’ve been standing on the sidelines, waiting for your chance to get in, now is your chance to get up to speed. In the article below, we’ll introduce you to how to bet on football. That way you’ll have a basic understanding of how it works and the types of ways you can start betting on football games. If you want to learn specifically about NFL betting, we have a complete guide for that too.
The point spread is one of the most common ways how to bet on football games. What the point spread refers to is a margin of victory. The oddsmakers set up a line and the favorite has to win by that margin to “cover” the spread or the underdog has to stay within that number or win the game to “cover”. Let’s take a look at an example:
|Football Team||Point Spread|
|New York Giants||+2.5|
The first thing you’ll want to note is the numbers next to each team and the plus or minus sign. If there’s a minus sign, as there is with the Cowboys, that indicates the favorite and that they have to win by at least that margin. In this case, they have to win by three points or more to cover the spread. If there’s a plus sign, that indicates underdog and gives them a cushion. In this case, the Giants could lose by two points, by one, tie or win the game and they cover the spread. They’re “getting” points as they’re viewed as the weaker team while the Cowboys are “laying” points as they’re viewed as the stronger team.
If the Cowboys win 27-10 or 17-14, they’ve covered the spread. If the Cowboys win 21-20 or if the Giants win, then New York has covered.
Keep in mind that sometimes you’ll see a point spread land on a whole number like -3. If the spread is a whole number and the final score lands on exactly that margin, the bet pushes (ties) and you receive your wager back. Typically, those who are new to this and are just learning how to bet on football games will stick to point spreads.
While the point spread deals with a margin, the moneyline is a football bet type that allows you to predict the outright winner of the game. In this case, if the team that you bet wins, you win your bet. That’s all that matters. However, the odds are different, so let’s take a closer look and use an example:
Once again, the first key here is to look for the plus and minus signs. If there is a minus sign in front of the number, that denotes how much money you’d have to bet to win $100. In this case, a $150 bet on the Cowboys would produce a profit of $100 if the Cowboys won. With the plus sign, that denotes how much you’d win if you bet $100. In this case, a winning $100 bet on the Giants would pay $130.
Of course, you’re not tied to betting in $100 increments. This just gives you an idea of what the payout will be.
If you’re not exactly sure who’ll win the game, another way to bet on pro football games is wagering on the total. With this type of wager, you don’t have to worry about who’ll win the game. What you’re focused on is the combined score of the two teams. Let’s take a look at an example:
|Giants @ Cowboys||45.5|
In this case, the total, which is also known as the over-under, is 45.5. This number is set by the oddsmakers and you have to decide whether the final combined score of the two teams will be over or under 45.5. If the final score lands on 46-10, 35-11 or 24-23, those would all be overs. Scores like 20-0, 17-10 or 40-5 would be unders.
For those who are still learning how to bet on professional football, it’s worth noting that this type of bet allows you to focus on the game flow rather than predicting a winner. In other words, if you don’t know who’ll win the game but you think it will be a low-scoring game or you think it will be a shootout, you can bet on the over or under, accordingly.
Parlays are a type of bet where you make multiple selections that are tied together. If they all come through, you win your bet and your odds are multiplied. However, if you lose any of those games in the parlay, you lose the entire bet. We have a full article on parlays but let’s take a look at the following example:
In this case, if the Jets, Packers and Seahawks all cover, you win your bet and your payout will be in the range of six times your money. However, if any of those three lose, you lose the entire bet. It’s a type of wager that offers high risk but high reward.
Props are another option for football bettors as they allow you to be on all sorts things relating to player or team performances. Once again, you’re not so much worried about who’ll win the game in most cases but you’re more focused on how different players or teams will perform.
Some examples of player props could be how many receiving yards a player will have in a game or whether a field goal kicker will make more or less than 1.5 field goals? As far as team props go, you might see something like will a team score in the final two minutes of a half or if their first score of the game will be a touchdown, field goal or safety?
When it comes to Super Bowl betting – the NFL’s championship game – you’ll find a whole host of wacky Super Bowl props that are posted. That could include how long will it take to sing the opening anthem, what color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach and the opening outfit of the halftime musical performer.
Overall, football betting props are just a variety of bets on different happenings in the game.
Futures are a type of bet that focuses on results that are further down the road. In other words, betting on the immediate winner of the game on an upcoming Sunday is not considered a futures bet. However, predicting who’ll win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season or in even midway through in Week 8 is a futures bet. The lines might look something like this:
|Football Team||Super Bowl Win Odds|
In this case, if you make a football bet of $100 on any of these teams, you’ll earn either $300, $500 or $1500 if your team wins it all. However, keep in mind that there are pros and cons with these types of bets. Futures often payoff generously, so you can bet a little and win a lot. On the flipside, these tend to be risky bets because your money is locked up for a while. For example, with Super Bowl futures, a lot can change in a couple of weeks, so a team that looked great early might turn out to be very bad. Or things might not play out as expected or injuries could factor. There are all sorts of risks and your money is tied up for a while. However, these are generally viewed as some of the best football bets to make there’s generally good value with these lines if you really know the sport and have a good feeling for what to expect.
Teasers & Pleasers
Teasers and pleasers are two similar, yet opposite wagers that – when used properly – are a good tool in your football betting arsenal. Both types of bets are parlays and both bets allow you to move the point spread, which has its benefits.
Teasers will allow you to move the point spread in your favor but in return, you have to parlay at least two games and you’re losing out on the payout. Pleasers are the opposite as they allow you to give up points and decrease your margin of victory but in return, you get a bigger payout. You also have to parlay these. Let’s look at the following football sports betting example:
|Football Team||Point Spread|
|New York Giants||+7.5|
|Football Team||Point Spread|
A seven-point teaser would allow you to shift these lines by seven points, so you could be Dallas at -0.5 instead of -7.5 and Philadelphia at -2.5 instead of -9.5. As you can see, your margin of winning each bet increases quite a bit but now you have to play at least a two-game parlay with these new lines. Your payout on a regular two-game parlay with regular lines might be around 3/1. With a teaser, it would be around 2/1. As for pleasers, they’re simply the opposite: you give up points, have to play a parlay but receive an even bigger payout. Both offer differing strategies that are useful in different scenarios.
3 Football Betting Tips
Now that you know a little bit about football betting, we’re going to do a quick intro into how to make money betting on football games. We’re just scratching the surface here but this little football betting tutorial should get you off on the right foot:
- Study the GamesThe best way to bet on football is to study the games. If you’re going to wake up on a Sunday morning and bet on teams because it’s your favorite team, because you idolize a certain player or because someone on TV made a prediction you love, you’ll probably not have much success in the long run.What you want to do is read the game previews, get an understanding of the matchups, momentum and trends, and then make an educated decision. Watch the games yourself and learn about happenings in the league. Then you’ll learn who to bet on football and you’ll be far more profitable in the long run.
- Track The InjuriesA big key to successful football betting strategy is tracking the injuries. Football is a physical game and far too often, players discount the bumps and bruises of a team. Make sure to look beyond the quarterback. Sure, Tom Brady might be in the lineup but what about the most important players on defense? Is everyone along the offensive line healthy? Losing parts of a team is like losing cogs on a wheel: they will be impacted and you have to take that into account.Also, keep in mind the different labels of ‘questionable’, ‘probable’ and ‘doubtful’. Also track practice history. Players might play but they might not be 100%. Or they might play a little bit and reinjure whatever is nagging them. If you want to know how to gamble on football and win, this is a big key to your success.
- Shop AroundOne of the best way to win money betting on football is to shop around for the best line. Sportsbook Audit has created a page to compare NFL odds offered at some of the top sportsbooks. First of all, it doesn’t cost you anything to have accounts at multiple sportsbooks (it’s free). When you’re looking at the lines, you’ll notice that different books have different prices. For example, the New England Patriots might be -2.5 at one sportsbook and -3 at another. That half-point could be the difference between winning or not, so why not put yourself in the best position? Make sure you have at least a few accounts where you can place your wagers. That way, you’ll always get the best line and boost your winnings in the long run.