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.
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.
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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