How to Bet on NFL

How to Read NFL Moneylines

A moneyline bet involves you picking a team to win the game outright. This method is the classic standard for entry-level sports wagers, remaining popular for its simplicity in analysis and understanding.

For example, consider a theoretical Super Bowl rematch.

In this scenario, Los Angeles is the favorite (meaning oddsmakers expect the pick to win), while Cincinnati reprises the familiar role of underdog. Sportsbooks universally denote the favorites with a minus sign (-) and underdogs with the plus sign (+).

What do the numbers behind the signs mean? Profiting $100 off the Rams necessitates a $200 bet. A correct bettor wagering $100 on the Rams earns a payout of $150. The original money is returned in full, in addition to a profit of $50.

Betting on the underdog always pays better because the bettor trades a higher chance of losing with a higher return if the less-likely bet pays. In this case, a $100 wager on the Bengals earns  $270 – the $100 returns alongside $170 is welcomed with open arms and wallets. 

How to Read NFL Point Spreads

Point spreads offer the ability to bet on a margin of victory, rather than which team will obtain it. Converting our Rams/Bengals example to a point spread format might see the Rams at -6.5. Football sportsbooks typically set the odds between two numbers to seize the advantage of making the bettor commit to the over or under without a tie possibility. 

A -6.5 point spread translates to the Rams being favored to win the game. Those who bet on the Rams need the team to win by at least 7 points to win the wager (when a favorite wins by more than the point spread, this is commonly called “covering the spread”). 

Conversely, bettors wagering on the Bengals enjoy victory if Cincinnati wins the game or loses by under 7 points. These odds attract by typically featuring less juice/vig, which is essentially the cut the sportsbook gets for making a bet and collects on lost wagers. They will often be the same or close to even, barring significant movement. 

Convention wisdom behooves new bettors to consider that, unlike basketball games where scoring is constant, or games in baseball parks conducive to increased run production, football varies in scoring volume and can be very dependent on the game script (which is difficult to predict before the game starts).

How to Read NFL Over/Unders or Totals

NFL rules softened over the last 15 years in the interest of concussion prevention, fantasy football’s ascension into a billion-dollar enterprise, youth football enrollment concerns and the fact that modern fans with a shorter attention span require faster action to retain viewers. 

Over/under and totals betting transfers the scoring spirit from the gridiron onto the gambling table.

The total, or over/under, is a bet on the combined total score of an NFL game. For example, oddsmakers set the Rams/Bengals game at 48.5. This means that if the final score exceeds 49 points, the over bet wins. If the final score underperforms the 48.5-point benchmark, the under wins.

How NFL Prop Bets Work

A trove of real-life statistics permeates the fantasy-crazed landscape of modern football. 

Sportsbooks capitalize on many opportunities to turn catches into cash through prop bets. Common ones other than receptions include receiving yards, rushing yards, passing yards and touchdowns. 

Today’s younger masterminds, such as 49ers head coach Kyle Shannahan and Falcons head coach Arthur Smith’s usage of Cordarrelle Patterson, revolutionized the game by turning receivers into hybrids capable of running out of the backfield/jet sweeps beyond their traditional role of lining up outside or in the slot position. Players like Deebo Samuel who fit this versatile archetype possess unique betting value and risk/reward for prop bets.

Each team deploys unique plays, strategies and personnel usages that impact final statistics. Tactics adjust based on the opponent as well. It’s also worth noting that, even in today’s safety-conscious surroundings, professional football remains a comparably violent sport that leaves participants vulnerable to injuries on any play. The increased chance for injury heightens prop betting risk as well.

Understanding the statistics players produce proves much simpler than analyzing the systems giving the opportunities. Yards are self-explanatory. A reception occurs when a player successfully catches the ball within the legal boundaries. A touchdown occurs when any part of the ball breaks the plane of the goal line while the player is upright on a play without a nullifying penalty.

Throwers of the ball earn a passing touchdown statistic, but not for handing off the ball. An interception happens when the defense catches an offensive player’s pass within the legal boundaries and there isn’t an offsetting penalty.

Sack is the term for a defensive player tackling a quarterback behind the line of scrimmage before the ball is released. An offensive player getting tackled in his team’s own endzone when attempting to take the ball out results in a safety.

How NFL Futures Bets Work

“Futures” represents the operative word for futures bets. Futures bettors need their crystal ball to figure out who will ball well enough to make the season-long bet pay off.

These bets carry tremendous risk due to injuries, trades and other unforeseen circumstances derailing an individual or team’s season (football’s reliance on 11 starters working in tandem on each unit formulates more variance in players who are ball-dependent i.e.: receiver numbers suddenly suffering from a star quarterback getting injured). 

Moreover, anyone playing for the 32 NFL teams who overtakes the player wagered on sinks the bet (the same holds true for team bets). Future bets make up for stability in fun speculation throughout an entire season while providing strong return values, due to the unlikely nature of paying off. 

Examples of NFL futures bets include wagering on a team to win the Super Bowl, or on a smaller scale, the division/conference. Individual player options include MVP, Rookie of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Futures bets extend to statistical leaders — such as wagering on who leads the league in passing touchdowns — as well. 

OddsJam NFL Betting Guidelines and Resources

NFL Expert Picks

We equip our readers for enduring success with free predictions and analyses for each week of NFL action! We deliver profitable advice that brings more money to your table, even when Thanksgiving turkey is on the menu.

We assist long-term bettors as well with futures forecasts that cut through overhyped takes, as exemplified by our touting of the Rams as a great value pick to win the Super Bowl when the team presented +750 odds in October. Our seasoned staff enjoys years of sustained success navigating the tricky world of sports gambling. 

NFL Public Betting Data

Public money is the amount of money the majority of people are placing on one side of a bet.

Reverting to the Rams/Bengals example, if 80% of all bets placed are on the Rams -6.5, the public money is on the Rams. 

The average bettor is not the best one and is often wrong, or else Las Vegas would resemble a ghost town instead of a glitzy extravaganza. The bet percentage differs from the overall money percentage. In the above example, maybe 20% of the overall money being wagered might be on the Rams. In other words, there are bigger bets placed on the Bengals. The most common betting range online is between $10 and $25. The other most-common wager is simply less than $10. 

Sharps (a term for professional bettors) look for line advantages. Results often stray from where public money is going, making following the herd a bad idea, especially if public money on one side accounts for more than 80%. “Fading the public” refers to betting against the crowd in these scenarios.

Our article here covers sharps in more depth. 

OddsJam NFL Projections

Implied probability is a percentage derived by converting the given betting odds that represent the likelihood of that outcome occurring. For a complete look at implied profitability, view our detailed explanation here. This percentage factors in the bookmaker’s profit margin as well (consider the juice/vig). 

The three formats that odds are packaged in are American, Decimal and Fractional. OddsJam has an odds converter calculator that calculates all three major odds formats, including the implied probability of those odds, all within an instant. OddsJam’s Perfect Line odds are available to our Industry Plan subscribers for a monthly fee that is covered quickly by the 3% daily profits we generate while placing sports bets.

NFL Betting Data:

  • We provide the most comprehensive and updated odds from the most sportsbooks out there. If you want to place a specific bet, you can use OddsJam’s game pages to find the sportsbook offering you the best odds.
  • OddsJams offers odd breakdowns for all different types of bets you want to make from moneylines and point spreads to player props and alternative markets — make sure you’re using OddsJam to find the sportsbook offering you the best odds on your bet.
  • We’ve thoroughly reviewed nearly every major sportsbook to provide you a complete snapshot of which one offers you the best starting and continuous value as a customer for your specific sports interests and betting needs! 
  • Not in the action, but wondering if you can join? Our sports betting legalization tracker updates viewers on the status of the ever-changing and growing world of legal sports gambling.

Betting Calculators: 

  • Our free play calculator, also known as a free bet conversion calculator, determines the rate at which you can turn a free bet into cash. 
  • Our no vig fair odds calculator is used to back out “fair” odds from a market (meaning no juice). This tool can be used to compare markets and odds, as well as find the implied win percentages for a given team.
  • Our odds converter calculator calculates all three major odds formats, including the implied probability of those odds, all within an instant. 
  • Our parlay calculator determines the final odds, or total payout, of your bet simply by entering each leg of your parlay. Keep in mind that all legs of a parlay must succeed for the bet to pay off. If just one fails, the entire wager loses. 
  • Our vig calculator will show you how much the sportsbook is charging to accept wagers in that market. Odds should be entered in American format. Simply enter the odds for both sides of a wager to determine the juice or “vig” of a given sportsbook. 

NFL Betting Tools:

  • Expected value (or EV) is a statistical calculation that results in the anticipated value of a bet at some point. It does this by taking the probability of a win, times the amount you win, and subtracting the probability you lose times the amount you’ll lose. Our live positive EV betting tool shows positive expected value betting opportunities across all sports sorted by the highest expected profit margin of each bet. It uses the OddsJam Perfect Line as a point of comparison to identify the “fair” or “no-vig” odds and identifies profitable mismatches at other sportsbooks.
  • Sportsbooks all offer many different promotions resulting in free bets and site credits in the form of deposit bonuses. Using OddsJam’s Free Bet Conversion Tool you can convert these free bets and credits directly into cash. To learn more about how exactly this works, read this blog post on free bet conversions. The tool displays betting opportunities for all sports sorted by the percentage of your free bet you can convert to cash.
  • OddsJam also has a Low Hold betting tool that allows you to find bets with low vig. The hold is a measure of the house edge, or vig, on each bet. Bettors can use these bets to bet through minimums on deposit bonuses or matches without having to pay too much in vig.
  • OddsJam also offers live, in-game odds that refresh every single second so you never miss a good betting opportunity, even during live games. OddsJam’s Live Odds Pass gives you positive EV, and middle bets during games to give you more profitable betting opportunities than anywhere else.
  • OddsJam’s Bet Tracker makes it incredibly easy to track your bets as you place them – just click the + button to the left of each betting opportunity and enter your stake and it’s as easy as that.
  • OddsJam’s Bet Tracking tool also automatically tracks the closing line value (or CLV) from the sharpest sportsbook in the world. This will give you an idea of how profitable your bet is by seeing if you beat the closing line (i.e. got better odds). Profitable bettors should aim to beat the closing line more than 50% of the time.

How do I read NFL odds?

Sportsbooks universally denote the favorites with a minus sign (-) and underdogs with the plus sign (+). Dollar amounts always refer to how much money needs to be wagered to profit $100 from a favorite, or how much money one wins from betting $100 on an underdog. 

Prop bets vary depending on what is being wagered, ranging from bets on statistical category totals for an individual player (ie: an over/under on Tom Brady’s passing yards) or a team statistic. These can be for a quarter, half or entire game. Futures bets potentially span the entire season.

Where can I bet on NFL games?

The NFL is the most popular sports league in the United States. As such, all major sportsbooks accept NFL bets. Two of the most popular are FanDuel and DraftKings, which offer daily fantasy sports games, in addition to traditional sportsbook betting. To find the right one for your needs and area, check out our sportsbook reviews.  

What is home-field advantage for NFL games?

Extreme crowd noise disrupts opposing offenses from focusing. Seattle’s Lumen Field produces deafening decibels, leading to Seahawks fans earning the collective moniker of “12th man.”

A few locations leave a unique imprint via inclement weather conditions. Lambeau Field is notorious for icy playoff games caused by the harsh, continental weather of Wisconsin.

Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High widens the kicking range, thanks to the altitude decreasing wind density. Domes shield players from weather conditions, making them optimal places to pass year-round. Artificial turf shortens many seasons by being hard to cut quickly on.

Frequently Asked Questions

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