How to Bet on NFL?

How to Bet on NFL?

Have you been wondering what NFL betting is all about? We’ve put together a guide that’s just for you. Find out about the different kind of bets out there, and exactly how to bet on NFL games and which bets to choose to win big bucks. Keep on reading all you may need about How to Bet on NFL.

Football is one of the most fiercely contested and fervently followed sports in the United States. As a sport that has spawned an industry worth billions of dollars and embedded itself so deeply within the local tradition, it’s not hard to imagine why football also draws the interest of the third group of very valuable stakeholders, namely, the betting crowd.

That’s right, NFL betting is an industry to rival any other mainstream form of gambling. And it’s not as if betting is restricted to the big leagues. Since the greatest upcoming talents are honed in the collegiate circuit, even college football draws big local crowds and remains a staple on most popular sportsbooks.

But more on that later; you’re here to learn about how to bet on the NFL, after all. So to start, we’ll take a look at how to bet on nfl how NFL works and the different types of bets out there. Let’s begin with one of the most fundamental aspects of NFL betting: the odds.

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Reading the odds | NFL Betting explained

If you’ve been looking through an online sportsbook, or you’ve spoken to your local bookie about how to bet on nfl and possibly placing a bet, you’ve likely seen or heard about the odds since they’re probably the most critical numbers that go along with each event or bet. 

You probably know what the odds are, or rather, what they represent (the prospective payout on a bet and a representation of a team’s likelihood to come out on top), but you might not know how they’re calculated or how you can use the odds to determine your winnings. That’s why we’re going to start off by teaching you exactly how to bet on nfl, so that you can read start analyzing your bets like a pro!

Let’s say, for example, that the Green Bay Packers are going head to head against the San Francisco 49ers in an inter-division game. After perusing your local sportsbook’s catalog, you learn that a bet on the game has the Packers and the 49ers at (+150) to (-200), respectively, on the moneyline. What exactly does that mean?

It means that if you bet $100 on Green Bay to win and your bet is successful, you’ll get a return of $250 from your bookie. Since the Packers are the underdogs in this one, as denoted by the positive sign next to their odds, they actually offer a return over 100 percent. A positive sign means a riskier bet in most cases, and to encourage bettors to bet for the team that’s less likely to win, they have to offer a bigger return. In this case, you’d get 1.5x your original bet in winnings and have the original bet returned for a total payoff which is 2.5x that original amount.

But what if you feel like playing it safe this time, or you’re a 49ers fan, and you just can’t bet against your own side? A bet for the team that’s favored to win is denoted by negative odds, and while that might seem a little counter-intuitive to some, it’s actually not. In the case of our example, the odds tell you that you’d have to bet $200 on San Francisco to possibly win $100 more. As the safer bet, the 49ers give you a substantially smaller reward to go with the smaller risk associated with the bet. It’s critical to note that it’s not as if the teams’ odds directly represent their chances at victory. So, if there’s a 55 percent chance that San Francisco will win and a 45 percent chance that the Packers will be able to steal, you could possibly see odds like the ones we described. Compared to the 1.5x profit someone could earn on betting on the Packers, you’ll only have a chance at 0.5x profit when betting on the 49ers, making your net total 1.5x what you started with.

A good tip for remembering these numbers and how they work is to keep in mind that a number next to a positive (+) sign represents how much you stand to win (your reward), while a number next to a negative (-) sign represents how much you stand to lose (your bet). In the case of the above example, (+150) represents what you’d win on a hundred dollar wager on the Packers, while (-200) represents what you’d have to risk in order to potentially net a profit of $100.

Different systems of odds

Learning how odds are read and what they mean is a critical first step in assessing not just an NFL bet but also any other bets. NFL Odds are calculated exactly the same way as they are in every other form of sports betting, so getting the numbers down gives you expertise that you can take advantage of when placing bets on other sports. It’s important to note that we used multiple odds systems besides the American system to illustrate our example.

The European System

European odds, also called digital odds or decimal odds, are a system that sees extensive use in the EU and in Australia and New Zealand. These tell you what your winnings are in terms of multiples of the bet amount. When we talked about the Packers possibly earning you a 1.5x profit, while the 49ers could only promise you a 0.5x return, we were actually listing decimal odds.

Converting positive American odds to decimal odds is simply a matter of dividing the American odds by 100 (so the Packers’ (+150) simply turns into 150/100 = 1.5). In the case of negative odds, though, the calculation is slightly more complicated. You have to divide 100 by the American odds for negative odds (so for the 49ers, this means 100/200 = 0.5). Decimal odds thus don’t feature positive or negative signs, negative American odds simply represent a decimal value under 1, while positive odds can represent any value greater than 1.

The British System

British odds, also known as fractional or traditional odds, are popular in the United Kingdom. Of all the systems, fractional odds are the oldest and the easiest to recognize. When you hear the term “four to one” odds, that’s actually the verbal equivalent of fractional odds and means that you’d win four extra dollars for every dollar you’d wager. “Extra” here means just your profit, aside from the amount that you’d get back in the event of a successful wager.

Fractional odds work almost exactly the same way as decimal odds; you just leave the final result as a simplified fraction instead of converting it to a decimal value. So in the case of our example, where the Packers had 1.5x decimal odds, they’d have 3/2 odds in terms of fractions. The 49ers, meanwhile, would have 1/2 odds in terms of fractions.

Fractional odds also don’t have any associated signage. A fraction where the numerator (the first number) is larger than the denominator (the second number) represents positive odds, while the denominator being larger than the numerator represents negative odds.

How to bet on NFL Odds | Knowing how to spot a value bet

How the odds are calculated has to do with the fundamentals of bookmaking. Most sportsbooks only make bank when they have an equal, or near equal, a number of bets on each side (this is especially true for bets with a standard base payout, such as the many bets that have (-110) odds). This means that they need to structure their odds to generate bets on both sides. Bookmakers have to account for all the factors surrounding a bet, including fan interest, locality, and squad makeup. A local, offline bookie operating out of San Francisco might offer (-250) odds for their win and (+200) odds for the Packers winning. This is to make a bet for the 49ers even less competitive, thereby encouraging more people to bet against the home team.

The fact that you’re supposed to pick up on here is that odds are not linked exclusively to a team’s chances of achieving victory. This leads to some bets just being mathematically more competitive than others; we call these value bets. This isn’t because one bet just offers a higher return; it also factors in a team’s chances of achieving the result on your ticket. But how do you figure out whether or not a particular bet is a value bet? Let us explain.

Expected Value/Return | A good way to standardize your bets

Expected value is a nifty method for measuring your bets against each other to see how well they stack up. To calculate your expected value, you’ll have to first deduce a team’s actual chances of winning. You can also find estimates through sports analysts or from informational sites.

In our example, you might recall that the 49ers had a 55 – 45 chance of winning their game against the Packers. Let’s use those numbers, along with our odds, to figure out which team our hypothetical bettor should bet on. The formula for a single bet’s expected value is as follows:

(Probability of winning * amount won) – (Probability of losing * amount lost)

Using this information, you can plug in an amount for the hypothetical bet (we used $200), and calculate that the expected value you gain from betting on the 49ers is:

(0.55 * 100) – (0.45 * 200) = 55 – 90 = -35

Now lets calculate the EV of a similar bet on the Packers:

(0.45 * 300) – (0.55 * 200) = 135 – 110 = 25

Since the Packers have a positive EV while the 49ers have a negative EV, we can roughly estimate that the bet for the Packers is a better, more competitive option. The values themselves don’t matter too much; what matters is how they compare when the bet amount is kept constant. Even if both were negative EVs, the less negative one would be more viable than the other because you’d likely lose less money. The same applies to positive numbers; a more positive number offers greater returns per dollar bet.

A positive number can also be taken to mean a value bet, which is a bet that offers better returns than it should, quite literally meaning that the potential rewards outweigh the risks. While our example resulted in two bets on opposite sides of the spectrum, this may not always be the case. When you do this calculation based on the odds and NFL stats surrounding an actual bet, you often find that neither is a viable bet.

This doesn’t mean that you should never place a bet with a negative expected value; it just means that you should do so with a grain of salt if you choose to do it at all. Like we said earlier, your bookie needs to structure the bet to result in them netting a profit regardless of which team wins. You can exploit this particular factor to your advantage and either find fixtures that have a sure bet with low return or a risky bet with a higher return than it should have. Sometimes this means placing bets at the very last minute when you have the most information at your disposal.

The different kinds of NFL bets

Now that we’ve discussed odds, it’s time to talk about the many different kinds of NFL bets that are available to patrons of sportsbooks. These include:

Single Bets

The Moneyline

The simplest kind of bet. In our example earlier, we discussed a moneyline bet, so there isn’t much need to go into detail here. These are bets that are concerned with just the outcome of the game. Whichever team comes out on top wins the moneyline bet for its fans. 

If you’d like to learn more about the simplest bets on offer, Read our Moneyline Betting Guide.

The Point Spread

For those of you wondering how to bet on NFL spreads and what they are, we’ve got answers. Point spreads are a handicapped version of the moneyline bet. Instead of betting on simply the absolute outcome of a game, you’ll see a number of points added to the underdogs’ total and the same amount subtracted from the fan favorites’ total. So instead of betting simply on the Packers vs. the 49ers, you’d be betting on the spread between them and which team you expect to cover it. The number of points can differ from fixture to fixture but usually stays within 4-5 points in the NFL. 

In a hypothetical game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chiefs are the underdogs, and the spread is set at 3.5 points. Let’s say, for example, that at the end of the game, the score reads 18 – 12 in favor of the Buccaneers. If this were a moneyline bet, the Buccaneers’ bettors would have definitely come out on top. However, with a Point spread:

18 – 3.5 = 14.5 (For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

12 + 3.5 = 15.5 (For the Kansas City Chiefs)

Post-calculation, you can see that the Chiefs actually covered the spread. This means their bettors are victorious, even though the team itself lost by quite a margin.

Spread bets help level the playing field, giving people a greater chance at winning a bet on the underdog. In this sense, they also help to make even one-sided fixtures more exciting to watch. Since they effectively do away with the favorite teams’ advantage, they do tend to feature more standardized odds, such as (-110) regardless of which outcome you bet on.

Future Bets:

Future bets are released at the beginning of every season and are slightly different from the other two bet types we’ve discussed up till now. Unlike point spreads or moneylines, future bets are not tied to the outcome of a single game and instead allow you to bet on factors that will be decided by the season’s end.

Popular future bets in the NFL include bets for which team will win their conference, which team (or teams) will make it to the Super Bowl, and who’ll be awarded the MVP award. Bets can be placed as soon as the season starts, or in some cases, even a few days before it, once the schedule is out.

Since most bets, in this case, are a longshot, especially at the very beginning of a season, you’ll likely find some insanely long odds for futures at an early point in the season. As the season continues and certain teams start to dominate their divisions and conferences, the payout for these teams will go down, though this might not be the case if the race for the Super Bowl is heavily contested.

Futures are great bets to place if you’re in it for the long haul or have a particular team in mind to win the season. They let you enjoy and gamble on events in the conference as a whole instead of being limited to a single event.

Combination Bets and Accumulators


For people who like to take more stock in their betting prowess, a parlay lets them combine multiple single bets into a single ticket. When converting multiple single bets into a parlay, you lose the right to your winnings if even one of the single constituent bets goes awry.

If you were to combine your bets on the Packers to win against the 49ers and the Chiefs to win against the Buccaneers, you’d arrive at a parlay that nets you a greater return than the sum of both bets individually. However, you’d forfeit all your winnings if even one of those choices didn’t turn out in your favor.

Parlays can contain any combination of single bets (moneylines and/or spreads), and the more bets you join together, the greater your potential reward. If one of your bets ends in a draw with your winnings being returned, that draw is said to “push.” This means that the fixture is removed from your parlay without invalidating it, letting you keep the combo going so long as you have at least two results on one ticket.

One critical fact to note is that you only have to wager money once, on the first event of the parlay. The rest of the events rely on the winnings of the preceding event coming through.

So learning on how to bet on nfl, the winnings from your first bet become the bet for your second, and your winnings from the second become your bet for the third, and so on. This means that parlays can offer insanely high returns, especially when they involve 4 or 5 games. This is because of the multiplier effect, which compounds your earnings as you get further into the parlay and “re-wagers” them. If you were to bet into an eight-game parlay, even with each game having a measly 1.5x payout, you’d end up getting over 25x your initial wager by the end, if you managed to make it. However, each of your eight bets would need to be spot on as well.

Round-Robin bets

Where a parlay allows you to combine multiple single bets, a round-robin bet lets you combine a bunch of parlays and individual bets. They’re different from parlays in that a single failed bet doesn’t invalidate your entire round-robin and also that each constituent bet must be wagered separately.

Round Robins are an extremely complicated form of combination bet, and it can be difficult to understand how they scale. A three-way round-robin will consist of four bets, while one featuring four matches will feature 11 individual wagers, and a five-way contest can feature upwards of twenty-five bets. What you should know for now is that Round robins are like a less risky alternate to parlays and allow you to hedge your five-stage bet by breaking it into many ones, two, three, and four-stage bets.

For a more in-depth look into round robins and how they work, click here.That does it for our guide on how to bet on NFL games. We hope you’ve gleaned all you need from this article and that it’s given you a head start you need to bet like a professional. While we’ve successfully dealt with all the theoretical aspects of NFL betting here, you might still be curious about where exactly to place your bets and how to strategize to maximize your winnings. If so, click here to look at our guide on NFL betting sites and strategy.


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How to Bet on NFL FAQs

NFL offers various types of bets, including moneyline bets, point spread bets, and future bets, among others. Familiarize yourself with these options to make informed wagers.

NFL odds indicate the prospective payout on a bet and a team’s likelihood of winning. Positive odds (+) represent potential winnings, while negative odds (-) show the amount you need to risk for a potential profit. Understanding odds is crucial for successful betting.

A value bet is a wager that offers better returns than it should based on a team’s chances of winning. It’s essential to calculate expected value (EV) to identify value bets and make more informed betting decisions.

Parlays allow you to combine multiple single bets into one ticket, increasing potential returns but requiring all bets to be correct. Round-robin bets combine parlays and individual bets, providing a hedge against losses and breaking down larger bets into smaller ones.

To place NFL bets, you can use sports betting sites or visit local sportsbooks. Developing a betting strategy involves factors like bankroll management, researching teams and players, and staying updated on injury reports and statistics. Understanding the odds and types of bets also plays a crucial role in strategy.