Even if you’re brand-new to betting on football, you’ve probably seen NFL spreads published in the paper or talked about on TV. The point spread levels the playing field, making betting on either the favorite or the underdog equally attractive. Either the favorite has to win by the margin listed, or the underdog has a buffer to lose the game by that margin, or win it outright.
Straight bet - Amid all the fancy and lucrative-looking bets that are available, never lose sight of the value in a standard straight bet. You probably should learn and practice this bet often before learning any others, and it should be noted that people who bet for a living or a large portion of their income place straight bets almost exclusively.
The key here is to target the point spread five and seven, because these are virtually tied as the most common margins of victory. It's important to recognize that most betting sites are only willing to sell 2 or 3 half points for 10 cents each, after which point they start charging more. Some sites sell up to four half points at this price though.

Before I go on, let me clarify some terminology. Despite it being probably the most popular way to bet, there is no particular term for a bet against the spread. Many people call this a "straight bet." However, this term can also be used, and is printed on tickets for, money line bets, total bets, and any other bet involving just one game. For purposes of this page, I call such bets a "point spread" bet, and invite the rest of the world to adopt this terminology.
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.
Apply the money line. It's easiest to think of money lines in relation to $100. A minus sign means you have to bet that much money in order to win $100; a plus sign means that a $100 bet will return that much money. If you bet on Chicago at -110, you'll have to wager $110 in order to get back $100 (plus your original $110). If you bet on Detroit at +145, then a $100 bet will give you $145 (plus your original $100).
Total: Also called the over/under, it is a number set by the sportsbooks that proposes a number of points that will be scored in the game by both teams combined. Then, fans predict whether there will be more points or less points than the ‘total.’ If you bet the under 41.5, you are hoping for a tough defensive battle with lots of running game. Pick the over, and presumably you feel this will be a high-scoring game. In short, you are predicting whether the combined total score will be more than (over) or less than (under) the total.
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