In general, the betting public tends to gravitate towards favorites when betting the games regardless of the actual pointspread. This is especially true with high-profile teams such as Dallas and Green Bay in the NFL and Golden State and Cleveland in the NBA. The sportsbooks are well aware of this phenomenon and often times they will adjust the betting spreads accordingly. This, in turn, actually adds some value to the underdog when you consider that a pointspread is nothing more than a handicapping tool that is designed to even out the match.

Placing a point spread bet means gambling on how much a team will win or lose by. In our above example, the Cowboys are the favorite. How do we know that? The minus symbol in front of the point spread indicates that the bookmaker thinks the final score will have Dallas winning by 7.5 points or more. The underdog, in our example that’s the New York Giants, will always be indicated with a plus sign. If you wager on the Cowboys on the point spread, America’s Team will have to win by at least 8 points for your wager to pay off. Should the Cowboys win by less than 8 points, your bet is lost.
Although the potential payouts look tempting - many sports bettors have dreamt of cashing in nearly $10,000 by nailing a $10, 10-teamer at 850/1 - they are a bad bet because they are difficult to hit and do not pay anywhere near true odds. This is how the sportsbooks make a lot of their money. For instance, let's say you want to bet a two-team parlay. For two games, there are four different possible combinations of outcomes, thus the true odds are 4/1. However, the sportsbook is only going to pay you 2.6/1 for your efforts, thus giving them a "juice" or vigorish in their favor. However, if you only have $20 to your name for a football bankroll and really like two games, the two-teamer might be the way to go because you could win $52 for your $20 wager.
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.
Easily the most popular type of betting for NFL football is “spread” betting or more commonly known as betting against the spread. Bettors who are new to NFL betting or betting in general may be a little confused with NFL spread betting, but it is pretty easy to understand once it is explained to you. We will explain what betting against the spread means below.
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.
This might be the most unlikely playoff matchup in NFL history. Why? Houston started the season 0-3 and Indianapolis began 1-5. Texans coach Bill O’Brien is probably fired if his team doesn’t win 37-34 in overtime at Indy in Week 4. The Colts won 24-21 in Houston in Week 14. The Texans claimed the AFC South title with Sunday’s 20-3 win over Jacksonville to reach the playoffs for the third time in the past four seasons. The Texans have won at least one postseason game in three of their four all-time trips.
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.
Bookmaker's interest - In order to guarantee a profit for the house, a bookie needs to create even action on both sides of a particular game. In a perfect world the bookie would have 50 percent of the handle come in on the underdog and 50 percent on the favorite. This ensures that the sports books are guaranteed a profit because of the 10 percent commission or "vigorish" charged on most sports wagers. This is why there is "movement" on the point spread. If one side on a game is being bet more heavily, the bookie must move the number in order to attract interest on the other side in order to balance action.
For example: New England –2.5 (–110) or Philadelphia +2.5 (–110) means you’d wager $110 for the chance to win an additional $100 if you bet on the point spread. Depending on which side is receiving the most action, a sportsbook will often move the line up or down in order to incentivize betting on the less popular side. Injuries or unforeseen changes can also impact a point spread gambling line. Point spreads are often listed with a half-point (ex: 2.5) in order to prevent the final margin from landing exactly on the point spread (ex: 10-point spread, final score of 20–10). A “push” or “tie” usually goes to the house or sportsbook, unless another arrangement has been agreed upon beforehand.

As a proud Canadian and a lover of hockey, this article shouldn't really surprise my American counterparts. You already know we like to do things differently here in Canada with our pro sports. A prime example is the CFL. However, hockey is no different. If you bet on hockey, you're usually betting the money line - who you think is going to win the game straight up. But in crazy Canadian fashion, sportsbooks offer something called the "puck line" which is exactly like the American version of the point spread. Read More >>


There might be some movement when injury reports come out, but barring any kind of shocking news development (Tom Brady suspended for the game!), the line likely will not change all that much. The point spread is currently sitting at 2.5 points. I could see sportsbooks dipping into three points to level out the money on each side, but that might not happen until later next week after the teams are wrapping up their practice week. My prediction is the line settles at a field goal heading into kickoff.
When you’re looking at over under bets, what you need to know is that that’s the combined score of the two teams for a game. In this case, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. All that matters is the final score. For example: let’s say that the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox and the total is 9.5. It doesn’t matter who wins the game but if the two teams combine for a total score of eight runs, say with a final score of Boston winning 5-3, then the game goes under. Or if the two teams combined for 10 runs – no matter who wins – then the game goes over. So when you’re looking at the odds and you see a total next to the moneyline or point spread, that tells you the over-under that is set for the game and you have to decide whether it will go over that set amount or under.
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.
In addition to the spread bet, a very common "side bet" on an event is the total (commonly called the over/under or O/U) bet. This is a bet on the total number of points scored by both teams. Suppose team A is playing team B and the total is set at 44.5 points. If the final score is team A 24, team B 17, the total is 41 and bettors who took the under will win. If the final score is team A 30, team B 31, the total is 61 and bettors who took the over will win. The total is popular because it allows gamblers to bet on their overall perception of the game (e.g., a high-scoring offensive show or a defensive battle) without needing to pick the actual winner.

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.

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