Each week we see the volatility in the pro football point spread market with opening spreads often but not always moving and closing at a different number. In general the movements are caused by the weight of money on one side or the other however injury rumors or confirmation of an injury to a key player, unrest in a particular NFL team's management or any number of other reasons can contribute to a point spread line being reassessed and changed by the sportsbooks. The question is often asked then, is it better to place your NFL point spread wager early on the opening lines or wait until the hour or two before kick off? There are certainly pros and cons for both which are discussed further in The Football Lines .com's When to Place Your NFL Bet article however ultimately there isn't a definitive right or wrong answer as varying NFL betting situations can require a different and flexible approach.
Here you can see that the Rams are +3.5, while the Cowboys are -3.5.  So for this example the Cowboys are 3.5 point favorites, while the Rams are underdogs of 3.5 points.  If you were to bet on St Louis you would need them to lose by 3 or fewer points or just win the game outright.  If you were to bet on Dallas you would need the Cowboys to win by 4 or more points.
Football betting is by far the most popular form of sports betting by far.  Most professional gamblers only bet for 5 months out of the year because of this.  When you include College and NFL together there are almost a hundred games to bet on during a 2-day span. This is what is so appealing to the professional gambler; the action packed two days that comes every fall for five months.  The gambler has so much to watch in a 48 hour span that the rush alone makes these bets fun.  Now I do not expect you to go out and bet on every game played on a Saturday or Sunday.  However, I will outline below how you can bet on football also how to become more successful at football betting
Ideally, the lines I release will balance the action equally, so that the winners get paid out from the pockets of the losers and we take the vigorish. That’s an ideal that rarely happens – especially in sports without a pointspread, like NASCAR and golf. If Team A is getting too much action, I’ll move the line toward Team B to try to achieve that balance. My personal preference is to tweak the vig from –110 to –105 or +100 before taking the bigger step of moving the spread a half-point or more.

Here in this point spread example for the NFL, the Falcons are playing the Panthers. Atlanta has been set as a three-point favorite on the betting line. That means that for Atlanta to cover the spread that has been set, they will need to win by at least four points. And for Carolina to cover the point spread, they can do so with a loss by two points or less, or obviously a win straight up. If the Falcons win by exactly three points, the bet would result in a push with no payouts.


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 >>

Betting “against the spread” (ATS) just means you’re betting on the point spread in a particular matchup as opposed to the moneyline, or some other type of wager. Bettors often use a team’s ATS record to gauge its performance against the spread. For example, the New England Patriots were 11-5 ATS in the 2017 regular season, meaning they covered the posted point spread 11 times, and failed to cover five times.


The house vigorish - and your chances of winning - get worse with the more teams you add. So while some sportsbooks will let you place a 15-teamer with astronomical odds, you probably have a better chance of being struck by lighting - twice - before winning one. You are much better off sticking to two-team parlays exclusively, if you insist on taking poor odds and placing parlay wagers.


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).
Although the odds on a spread bet are often listed as being even at 1:1, the fact is they are 0.90:1, which is a bit less than even. How does this work? Often in the point spread you’ll see next to each spread number -110. This tells you how much you have to wager to make $100. Thus, with the point spread -100 will always be listed, which means if someone wagers $110, they will make a $100 profit if they win. (If betting $11.00, the payout would be $10.00)
The most common NFL spreads are usually set between about 2.5-10.5 points, but you will also almost always have games each week with spreads lower than 2.5 and higher than 10.5. In the event that the oddsmakers feel the game doesn’t need a spread, it would be set at 0 or what some call a pick’em (both teams are given even odds to win for this type of bet).
Identify the favorite: Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
To achieve this balance, the book can move the spread and/or the juice at any time after the first lines hit the NFL odds board, all the way up until kick-off. If there had been too much action on the Packers at Super Bowl 1, the oddsmakers could have made Kansas City a 15-point underdog (+15), in order to encourage more people to bet on the Chiefs. They also could have kept the spread at 14 points and moved the juice, perhaps to –105 for Kansas City and -115 for Green Bay. You’ll often see the books adjust the juice first when the spread is three points; since so many NFL games end in a winning margin of three points (roughly one in six games), moving the spread from 3 to 3.5 points is a pretty big deal, and it might tilt the balance too far in the other direction.
For all the talk of new forms of wagering, the good old point spread remains the bet of choice for most NFL fans. Also known as the line or spread, the myth is that Las Vegas sets the point spread as its predicted margin of victory for one team. In reality, it's a number chosen by oddsmakers that will encourage an equal number of people to wager on the underdog as on the favorite. The negative value (-3.5) indicates that team is favored by 3.5 points. The positive value (+3.5) indicates that team is the underdog by 3.5 points. Betting on the favorite means the team must win by at least four points to cover the point spread. The underdog team can lose by three points and still cover the spread. You will also notice a moneyline value associated with the point spread (such as -3.5, -115). This indicates how much you must risk in order to book the bet (also known as the vig or juice). It means you have to risk $115 to win $100. The underdog may see a value such as +3.5, +105. This means you risk $100 to win $105 if your team covers the spread. The spread is not a static number, so you will notice line moves during the week. Team A may be favored by 3 points on Tuesday and by 4.5 points on Friday. This indicates more people are betting on them, so Las Vegas increases the underdog value hoping to encourage more wagers on the underdog.
You may have heard the term “covering the spread” or the phrase “betting against the spread.” This means that if the favorite team wins an event with the point spread taken into account or that the underdog team wins with additional points, they have covered the spread. If the Packers win that game by more than 7 points, they have covered the spread.
Round robin betting is a creative type of parlay betting that requires making multiple parlay bets at once. Deriving its name from round robin tournaments—where each team in the tournament plays against each other at least once—this type of betting is when you have a number of betting lines (moneyline bets, spread bets, totals bet, etc.) you want to parlay.
Point spreads are used since most recreational bettors prefer to wager even money propositions. In the above example, if there was no point spread, only moneyline betting would exist. So, if odds makers are giving the New England Patriots a 73% chance of winning a game, then in order to take bets and still have a small profit margin, the bookmaker would have no choice but to require Patriot bettors to stake $3.00 or more for each $1.00 they want to win.
If you're new to football betting and keen to get involved then you've just come to exactly the right place. On this page we will teach you all the basics of betting on football, and make sure that you are on the right track from the moment you place your first wager. If you feel like you're ready to dive right in, here are the top football betting sites we reccomend:
Sometimes with NFL odds you’ll see a spread posted as a whole number. Decimals or fractions are usually utilized to ensure there won’t be a tie. If in our example the spread was reset to 10 with the Colts favored and they win by 10, then the game is considered to be a tie, which in betting terms is called a push. If there is a push all bets are off and the sportsbooks return all wagers back to the bettors.
Sports betting would be easy — or maybe just easier — if all that was required was to correctly pick the winning team. Gambling institutions, sportsbooks and bookies fall back on point spreads to make the process a little more difficult and to create the ultimate wagering challenge. You'll need a solid understanding of the point spread system if you hope to have a profitable season.
You may often notice that the spread is sometimes set at an even number such as 3, 6 , 10, etc. In this case if the favored team won by the exact amount set for the spread the bet would be pushed, and all bets would be returned. For example, if the Patriots were 3 point favorites and they won by a FG (3 points) than this would results in a push, meaning no matter which side you bet on you would get your money returned to you.
The concept of betting on totals, or Over/Under (O/U), is quite simplistic. The bettor wagers on whether the TOTAL points scored in a game will fall over or under a pre-determined number set by the sportsbook. Much like the point spread, game totals can be swayed by public opinion. The example below, from the SI Archive, shows the opening totals line for Superbowl XLV:

In Asian betting markets, other frequently used formats for expressing odds include Hong Kong, Malaysian, and Indonesian-style odds formats. Odds are also quite often expressed in terms of implied probability, which corresponds to the probability with which the event in question would need to occur for the bet to be a break-even proposition (on the average).


You can also bet straight winners and losers -- with no point spreads involved -- with money line wagers. When there is a minus number you bet that amount to win $100 in profit. When there is a plus number, that is your winning profit for every $100 wagered. So if the Cowboys have a money line of -250, you would have to bet $250 on them to win $100 in profit on any Dallas victory. If the Giants had a money line of +150, you would win $150 in profit with a winning $100 bet. If a money line is posted as even, you would win a $100 profit on a $100 winning bet.
This is where you simply wager on which team will win the game outright, no point spreads, no BS…just the straight up winner. Although this may appear to be easier, you will pay for it as the odds (payout) will reflect the lack of a point spread. If you wager on a favorite, then you will win less than with a point spread, but if you wager on the underdog…and win…you will receive and even greater win amount based on the higher risk taken.
It is also widely known as the over/under and, just like the point-spread myth, it is not Las Vegas' guess at how many points will be scored in the game by both teams combined. It's a number it feels will encourage just as many bets on the over as the under. If you picked the under 47.5, you want tough defense and the team running the ball to eat the clock. If you pick the over, you want offensive fireworks and long bombs for TDs. In totals betting, you are predicting whether the combined total score will be more than or less than the total.
Sometimes a line will move far enough to create a “middle” opportunity. Say the Texas Longhorns end up facing the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of March Madness. If you have Texas early as a 5-point favorite, and I move the line to Texas –7 later in the week, then you can also place a bet on Wisconsin +7. If Texas happens to win by six points, both your bets cash in. Texas winning by either five or seven gives you a win and a push. Any other result creates a win and a loss, so you’re only risking the vigorish.

Without a points handicap, it would not make sense to pay both sides of a wager the same amount when it's clear that not all teams are on equal footing. In fact, it is entirely possible for a team to lose the game in real-life but still win a bet if they only lose by less than a set number of points. Vice versa, a team can win a game, but lose the wager if they do not win by more points than what was predicted.


--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).
Sports betting would be easy — or maybe just easier — if all that was required was to correctly pick the winning team. Gambling institutions, sportsbooks and bookies fall back on point spreads to make the process a little more difficult and to create the ultimate wagering challenge. You'll need a solid understanding of the point spread system if you hope to have a profitable season.
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.
The team is now 6-1 since rookie Lamar Jackson, the former Heisman winner, took over as the starting quarterback. Jackson is only the fifth rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win six of his team’s final seven games. Baltimore won at the Chargers in Week 16, 22-10. The Ravens defence completely dominated, holding L.A. to just 198 yards and forcing three turnovers. Our complete preview of this game can be read here.
Sports betting has resulted in a number of scandals in sport, affecting the integrity of sports events through various acts including point shaving (players affecting the score by missing shots), spot-fixing (a player action is fixed), bad calls from officials at key moments, and overall match fixing (the overall result of the event is fixed). Examples include the 1919 World Series, the alleged (and later admitted) illegal gambling of former MLB player Pete Rose, and former NBA referee Tim Donaghy.
Donald Hoover, FDU professor in International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and former casino executive commented on the results, "Betting on sports is not an uncommon practice for many New Jerseyans, but for the most part, the state doesn't supervise it, doesn't tax it and doesn't take any revenue from it."[12] In 2010 a national poll showed that voters opposed sports betting in all states by a margin of 53-39. Woolley commented on the results, "If some states allow sports betting and profit by it, other states will want to follow."[13] Yet by December 2011, after New Jersey passed its sports betting referendum, the national measure shifted to 42-42.[8] In January 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation allowing sports betting in the state after it was approved in a nonbinding voter referendum in 2011. He announced on May 24, 2012 that he planned to go ahead and set up a system of wagering at the state's racetracks and casinos that fall, before the National Football League season ended.[14]
If you are able to interpret NFL odds and know what the various terms mean, such as the rotation number, point spread, moneyline and over/under, you’ll have a basic understanding on what you are betting. Prior to wagering make sure you see our NFL odds page, which carries all the latest odds from the top online sportsbooks. Remember that the odds makers are attempting to even the out the bets on each game. The sports bettor has to analyze each game and the odds and make their bets accordingly in order to win cash.
Like many high scoring sports, NFL wagering is dictated by the point spread. The spread, or line, is a type of side bet that equalizes the chance of winning a wager. The line offered for any given team will be accompanied with a – or + symbol to indicate whether a team is a favorite or an underdog. The example below displays the spread from the Sports Insights archives at the time of kickoff:
You’ll need to know how the rotation number, point spread, moneyline and over/under are used and what each means. Each of these terms may be called by another name. The rotation number if often referred to as the number or the rotation mark, moneyline becomes line, point spread is called the spread, and over/under becomes the total. When you come down to it, these are the major terms that can be lumped under the heading odds.
The NFL spread (betting point spreads is also known as betting ‘sides’ since you are picking one side to win the game) acknowledges that not all teams are created equal. If they were, we wouldn’t need NFL point spreads at all – teams would be so evenly matched that every game was a toss-up (or a pick em in football parlance). Simply picking the winner would be enough of a challenge.
×