Oddsmakers want you to gamble on underdogs as well as favorites. They set points spreads that encourage balanced betting. They analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each team, factoring in won-loss record, strength of schedule, results against common foes, key injuries, recent performance and previous games between the teams. They also rate the value of home field advantage and consider the game day weather forecast where relevant. If they see heavy wagering on the favorite, they will increase the point spread during the week to spur more betting on the underdog. If more money is going on the underdog, the spread will decrease as game time nears.
A point spread in sports is a figure set by oddsmakers to provide an advantage or disadvantage based on the margin of victory or defeat for a given team. The “favorite” team (labeled with a “-” sign) would be at the disadvantage as they would need to win the game by a set number of points while the “underdog” team (labeled with a “+” sign) would be given an advantage to not lose the game by a set number of points. The reason oddsmakers do this is to provide betting interest for both sides due to one team typically being better than the other.
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.
If you follow football at least reasonably closely, have some idea about the relative strengths of all the players and teams, and have absorbed the information provided on this page, then you should be able to become a competent football bettor. You don't really need to know much else should the aim be to simply have some fun and win some money every now and then.
Oftentimes a point spread will not be a whole number, and will be accompanied by a decimal point and a half number. This can be significant for a point spread. Essentially what it comes down to is that a whole number point spread gives the opportunity for a wager to push. A push means that if the favorite is favored by 10 points and wins by 10 points, bettors get their money back. Just like when betting on the over/under total for points, the spread is a half-point in addition to the whole number, there is no chance to push.
For the player who wagers on San Francisco -5, San Fran must win by more than 5 points for this to be a winning bet. For the player who wagers on St. Louis +5, they must either win the game or lose by less than 5 points for this to be a winning bet. If the outcome falls on the number, the bet is declared a “Push” and your original stake amount gets refunded.
When you see a moneyline value associated with the point spread, it is the percentage amount you must pay in order to book the bet. Also known as the juice or vig, if you see -11.5 (-115), it means you have to bet $115 to win $100 — a 15 percent commission for the sportsbook. The underdog may see a value such as +11.5 (+105), which means you’ll have to bet $100 to win $105 if your team successfully covers the spread.
But what if the basement-dweller team was spotted 24 points? That's the concept behind the point spread. When two teams meet on the football field or a basketball court, one team is typically better than the other. If all bettors had to do was to pick the winning team, everybody would simply wager on the best team and collect their money. Gambling institutions, sportsbooks, and bookies would soon go broke.
Money Line: More common in baseball and hockey, pro football moneylines are growing in popularity. There is no spread, so your team just needs to win the game, not win by a certain number of points. The negative value means a favorite (-190) and a positive one indicates an underdog (+170). Picture the number 100 sitting in between these two values. Example: if you want to pick a -190 favorite, you must risk $190 in order to win $100. To back a +170 underdog, you put up $100 and win $170 if the dog wins. In some cases, betting moneylines is actually better value and can provide a bigger profit for less risk.