If you're just getting started with NFL betting, the most important thing you need to do is learn how the lines work. But this is easier said than done because NFL lines can seem like learning Greek to new bettors. Fortunately, learning football betting lines won't take you nearly as long to master as the Greek language. In fact, you should have a good understanding of the matter just by looking at the following information on how NFL betting lines work.
If you want to predict what will happen when Team A meets Team B, your best stats to analyze are those generated in their most recent head-to-head matchups at the same venue. The habits of the betting public are fairly constant, so ATS results in general have a longer shelf life, but don’t bother going too far back in time. The 2009 New York Yankees are going to look a lot different than the 2008 Yankees or the 2000 Yankees. (Source: The Sports Bookie Blog)
The team that has the minus sign, which is the favorite, has points deducted from its final score, while the dog, with the plus sign, has points added. The favorite must beat the spread, which means they have to win by more than the negative number to pay off. The underdog pays off in two instances—if they win outright or if they lose by less than the spread.

Also known as NFL OVER/UNDER betting, the total is the number set by sportsbooks that estimates the total number of points scored by both teams combined. Bettors then must predict whether there will be more or fewer points than the NFL “total.” If you bet the 37.5 UNDER, you are hoping for a defensive battle and predicting the offenses to struggle. If you bet the 37.5 OVER, you are hoping this will be a high-scoring game.


The busiest season of the year in the sports book is upon us. Betting on football makes up more than half the money wagered on sports every year in Nevada. The Nevada Gaming Commission doesn’t break down the wager money by the level of football. However, it’s widely discussed that there’s more money wagered on the NFL than college football. Canadian and Arena football are really just available to pass the time for fans until the fall.
If you like favorites, you're going to be betting a lot to win a little. The money line will always be listed to the right of the point spread on the odds board in a sports book. In the above example, the money line would probably be Chicago -250 and Detroit +200. To bet Chicago simply to win, you must wager $250 to win $100, while a $100 bet on Detroit would pay $200 if the Lions come through.
--Fractional odds are most commonly found in racing. A 10/1 payout should be read "$10 paid for every $1 wagered." When the bigger number is on the left, you will find that bet is normally an underdog in the race. Also note, however, that in case such as "Who will win the Super Bowl in the NFL?" you will see all the teams listed as "underdogs"… i.e. paying at least 2/1 (some up to 300/1 or more).
Most online sportsbooks will list their odds in what is called “American Odds”. There are a couple different versions of sports betting odds, but these American Odds are the most common odds used. Reading and understanding sports betting odds can bet a little confusing to beginners, so we have provided an example below using two NFL football teams:

Once you understand how odds in college football are expressed, you can use them to start to determine where your money should go. Be sure to see our college football odds page that connects you with the top sportsbooks on the Internet. The odds makers are trying to even out all bets. Your job is to determine on which side of the point spread, line or over/under it goes.
For example, the Golden State money line above is listed at -340 odds. Using the same principles we just discussed, $340 needs to be bet in order to win $100. Again, this is just the bet to winnings ratio - $34 will win $10, $17 will win $5, $20 will win $5.88, etc. This may seem unfair at first but it is logical. The Warriors are by far the best team in the league and have a much better chance of winning the game. Therefore, sportsbooks even this out by placing the odds at a high price for bettors to win a little.
If you wanted to bet the underdog Orlando to win the game, their money line odds are +280. Whenever a "+" is listed for odds, the number after it is how much you will win for betting $100. So in this example, a $100 bet would win $280 if the Magic win the game. This definitely seems like a way better deal than betting $340 to win $100, but remember that Orlando has a small chance of beating the best team in the league. Some bettors may see value in this, but you should never blindly bet an underdog - or any side for that matter (just talk to the thousands that bet on Conor McGregor last August).
There are several very important terms and phrases you need to know if you have your sights set on becoming a sports bettor who has even the slightest idea of what you are about to bet on. Doc's Sports "How To" section has you covered for everything you need to know, but this may be one of the most important phrases to know when betting on sports that use a point-spread. Sure, money line, juice, totals, covering the spread and bad beat are all important words and phrase to know, but "laying the points" is something the general public loves to do. Read More >>
NFL moneyline betting continues to gain popularity as many begin to understand the value of moneyline bets, especially in betting the underdogs. In this type of bet, there is no spread to beat, your team needs only to win the game “straight up” (SU), and there is no requirement for how many points they need to win by. The juice is the only number you really have to pay attention to with moneyline, where the negative value indicates the favorite (-140) and a positive one means underdog (+120).
NFL odds do not stop at the point spread and OVER/UNDER. There are numerous ways to bet on football these days, including the NFL moneyline, futures (odds to win the Super Bowl), and first-half and second-half betting lines. Throw in fun fantasy-style prop bets (will Tom Brady throw for 300+ yards this week) and live NFL betting (where you can wager on the next play and on odds that change all game long) and the importance of understanding how NFL odds work has never been greater. Check out the lines and bookmark for more updates and football lines enhancements in the coming weeks and months.
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