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:
In addition to knowing the basics of betting, you should also know at least the basics of football too. It's likely that most people reading this are big sports fans, and fully understand it, but that's not necessarily the case for all our readers. We like to cater for everyone, so we've written the following two articles explaining all about the game at both professional and college level.
As soon as time runs out on the Super Bowl game this year, there are odds available on who will win next year. Wagers on a future event are known as NFL futures. Oddsmakers adjust lines during the year, depending on the strength or weakness of teams, then offer wagers on each team to win. For example, a league's top team may be +150 to win the championship. That means a $100 wager would pay $150 profit. However, a poor team might be +3000, indicating it is not expected to win and a $100 wager would pay $3,000 as a huge longshot. They can be profitable but also take a long time to settle the bet.
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Sports spread betting began in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s to offer an alternative form of sports wagering to traditional fixed odds, or fixed-risk, betting. With fixed odds betting, a gambler places a fixed-risk stake on stated fractional or decimal odds on the outcome of a sporting event that would give a known return for that outcome occurring or a known loss if that outcome doesn’t occur (the initial stake). With sports spread betting, gamblers are instead betting on whether a specified outcome in a sports event will end up being above or below a ‘spread’ offered by a sports spread betting firm, with profits or losses determined by how much above or below the spread the final outcome finishes at.
For reading the fraction odds, I strongly recommend converting them to a decimal. This will make figuring out your potential win much much easier! To do this, just like in 2nd grade, you take the first number and divide it by the second. So if your odds read 7/4, you simply divide (7) by (4), which equals 1.75. That is the decimal form odds, now you simply multiply (1.75) by whatever your wager amount is to figure out your potential profit. In this case, if you were to risk $100, then your potential win would be $175 profit if you are correct! Also, you will receive your initial bet amount of $100 as well, for a total of $275 in your hand.
What's the difference between an oddsmaker and a bookie? A bookie's job is purely mechanical. He gets the line from Vegas or another source, offers bets at those odds, then collects money from the losers, pays out to the winners and keeps the vig. Oddsmakers don't actually take bets -- they study the games and set the lines. Bookies often adjust the spreads for their games, so they do a little oddsmaking, and oddsmakers work for casinos, which operate sports books that take bets.
The National Football League (NFL) remains the only sports league to maintain public opposition to sports betting, however critics have noted that with the move of the Oakland Raiders relocation to Las Vegas in 2019, the NFL has positioned itself for legalization, while simultaneously contradicting its long-held position that sports betting in NFL markets would lead to potential match-fixing.[47] Commissioner Roger Goodell agreed with Manfred in a July 2017 seminar that betting on in-game events, as opposed to the outcome of games, was a more palatable form of sports betting.[48]

The odds and lines for football games are not always the same at every bookmaker. They don't tend to vary by a lot, but they do vary. It's very much in your best interests to always try to place wagers where you can get the best value. A half point difference on a spread or a couple of points difference on the odds may not seem like a big deal, but over time these small differences can add up. By opening accounts with a few different sites, it's easy to shop around for the best odds and lines. This is one of the best ways to maximize potential profits.


Another way to beat football point spreads is to shop for off market prices. For example, let's say you're shopping online betting sites and see every site is offering Vikings +7.0. Then, you stumble upon one site that's offering +7.5. There's a good chance that this is a +EV wager, simply because it is out of sync with every other site. Please note that this strategy isn't quite the same as simply shopping for the best lines. Here, you're specifically looking for wagers that are +EV because they're against the market.
Who will win the next Super Bowl? You can place futures bets at any time on the upcoming Super Bowl champion. Oddsmakers set lines and change them throughout the entire season, depending on a team’s success or lack thereof. For example, a first-place team in October may be +300 to win the title. This means a $100 bet would pay out a $300 profit if they go on to win the title. However, a 1-8 team may be set at +2000, where a $100 wager would pay $2,000 as a long shot. They can be profitable and it’s always fun to predict the winner so early in the season. Be careful, though — wagering a large amount on an NFL futures bet ties up your money for a long time.
We hope this short beginner’s guide to understanding and interpreting odds will give you the confidence to get out there and start making winning bets.  Our experts are here to help you on this journey, so do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you have about sports betting!  We have only scratched the surface on reading betting lines, but this is an excellent place to start.
However, there are some good values with teaser bets if you know how and where to find them. For instance, the six-point teaser is an especially effective bet in the NFL, where most games are tightly contested and six points can make a world of difference. For instance, in our previous example, the Bears would go from laying six points to simply needing to win if you put them on a teaser bet. Conversely, Detroit backers could get 12 points instead of the starting six. (Source: Doc's Sports Service)
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.
In North American sports betting many of these wagers would be classified as over-under (or, more commonly today, total) bets rather than spread bets. However, these are for one side or another of a total only, and do not increase the amount won or lost as the actual moves away from the bookmaker's prediction. Instead, over-under or total bets are handled much like point-spread bets on a team, with the usual 10/11 (4.55%) commission applied. Many Nevada sports books allow these bets in parlays, just like team point spread bets. This makes it possible to bet, for instance, team A and the over, and be paid if both team A "covers" the point spread and the total score is higher than the book's prediction. (Such parlays usually pay off at odds of 13:5 with no commission charge, just as a standard two-team parlay would.)

So the sportsbooks and bookies created a point spread to make both teams equally attractive in the eyes of bettors. Carolina was installed as a 6-point favorite, which is commonly written as Carolina -6. Denver, the underdog, is commonly written as Denver +6. In other words, Denver would be credited with whatever points they actually scored — plus six. If you bet the favorite, the Panthers would have to win by 7 points or more for you to win your wager. And remember, the Panthers are favored by 6 points, so we have to subtract 6 points from their final score for betting purposes.


The over/under in this example has been set at 42.5.  If you project the Jets and Patriots to combine to score more than 42.5 points, you would place a wager on the over.  If you think they will score less than 42.5 points, you would bet the under.  Let’s say the final score of this game is Patriots 27, Jets 24.  Which bet would lose and which bet would win?  The sum of all points scored is 27 + 24 = 51, so an over bet wins and an under bet loses.
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.

If you're seeing 15 or 25 instead of 15/1 or 25/1, you're seeing a decimal form of odds, as opposed to fractional. Multiplying your stake by decimal odds gives your total return, not your profit(which is total return -stake). To get to fractional from decimal, add 1. So 3/1 fractional = 4 decimal (just 4). 4/6 frac = (4/6+1) dec = 10/6 = 5/3, or 1.666, which is rounded to 1.67 by bookies. To go from decimal to fractional, subtract 1(which makes sense from profit = total return - stake) So 15 dec = 14/1 frac. 2.33... dec = 1.33/1, or 133/100.
If a team favored by six points wins by exactly six points, the outcome is considered a "push" and the bettors get their money back, minus the bookmaker's commission. To reduce the number of pushes, oddsmakers often set spreads with half-points. So if the Cowboys are 3 1/2- or 3.5-point favorites over the Giants, they must prevail by four or more points to pay winning bets.
For each NFL game the oddsmakers set a number of points in which the favored team is favored by. Bettors can then either choose for the favored team to win by more than the number of points set, or bet on the underdogs to lose by less than the number of points they are underdogs by or win the game straight up. For example, the spread could be set on the favored team at 6.5 points. This would mean in order for a bet on the favored team on the spread to win they would need to win by more than 6.5 points (7 or more) in order to win the bet. It also means that a bet on the underdog team would win if the underdogs lost by less than 6.5 points (6 or less) or won the game outright.
Hello! I'm Stephen and am the creator of Fast Break Bets. I'm a young Chicagoan with a huge passion for sports betting and analytics. My interest in betting started back in 2011, and I have been studying models and strategies ever since. Fast Break Bets launched in 2015 to primarily help others become a successful sports bettor and share my models' projections. So browse around, follow @FastBreakBets on Twitter, and feel free to ask me a question!
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.
Another way to beat football point spreads is to shop for off market prices. For example, let's say you're shopping online betting sites and see every site is offering Vikings +7.0. Then, you stumble upon one site that's offering +7.5. There's a good chance that this is a +EV wager, simply because it is out of sync with every other site. Please note that this strategy isn't quite the same as simply shopping for the best lines. Here, you're specifically looking for wagers that are +EV because they're against the market.
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.
A point spread - Lets take, for a hypothetical situation on one of the types of football bets (using the point spread), that the Kansas City Chiefs were visiting the Detroit Lions and Detroit was established as a six-point favorite at game time, which is commonly written as Detroit -6. Kansas City would be the underdog and displayed as Kansas City +6. If you bet the favorite, Detroit has to win by more than six points to win your bet. Remember, the Lions are favored by six points, so we subtract six points from their final score on a spread bet. If Detroit were to win 27-20, Lions bettors would win their wager. If the Chiefs were to win the game by any score and you picked the Chiefs you would win not including the extra six points. If the Lions were to win, 20-14, it would be exactly six and a push, so you would get your money back. 

On June 11, 2018, New Jersey became the third state to legalize sports betting, after Nevada and Delaware, with Gov. Phil Murphy signing the legislation into law.[21][23] Sports betting in New Jersey began when a sportsbook opened at Monmouth Park Racetrack on June 14, 2018.[27] Following this, sportsbooks opened at the casinos in Atlantic City and at Meadowlands Racetrack.[28][29]
That was all before Charles McNeil, a math teacher from Chicago, invented the concept of the point spread. An avid gambler, McNeil created what he called “wholesaling odds” and started his own bookmaking operation in the 1940s. He started out offering this new style of betting on football, but his business model grew to include basketball.  McNeil changed the way sports betting was done, and his legacy lives on today in what we now call the point spread.
As the numbers grow larger each way – the small numbers get smaller or the positive numbers get larger – that indicates that those options are bigger and bigger favorites, or bigger underdogs. That’s particularly relevant when you’re looking at something like the odds to win the Super Bowl. The teams with smaller numbers are deemed as having a better chance of winning and then as the numbers grow larger, those teams are deemed bigger and bigger longshots.

Many casinos around the world contain a sportsbook. They usually feature several big screen TVs showing any live sports action currently taking place, and computerized odds boards displaying all the latest odds. There are typically cashier windows where you can place your wagers with a real person, but some books have interactive machines instead. Either way, these are great places to place some bets and watch the games at the same time. The problem for Americans, though, is that they are only legal in Nevada. There are plenty of sportsbooks in Las Vegas casinos, but not in other parts of the country.

It's also important to consider whether or not there's any correlation between the point spread and the betting total. If they are, a parlay wager is a good way to get maximum value. For example, a college football point spread +24.5 parlayed with under 48 points in the same game might be a great parlay bet. If the +24.5 team covers the point spread, then there's an increased chance that the game also goes under the posted total of 48.
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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.
When reading college football odds, the first thing you will see on the left is the time and date of the game. Next, you’ll see two numbers and the team names. Each team is assigned a rotation number. These numbers are standard on all sportsbooks and do a few things. First, it creates a certain order for the games as each matchup is listed in numerical order. The other thing the number does is it allows bettors to refer to the game and team without having to mention the team name or anything else.

Several factors influence a point spread. It starts with power rankings. The media creates power rankings throughout the year, but those can be entirely subjective based more on feelings and emotions than actual raw data. An oddsmaker creates power rankings based on a host of statistics, some more complex than others. The rankings will include record, strength of schedule, and various offensive, defensive, and special teams metrics. They might use Football Outsiders’ efficiency metrics, they might use expected points added, or they might use a host of other internal and external options. The idea being to develop as objective an assessment as possible as to how good or bad a given team is compared to the rest of the NFL.
Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred has also advocated the league changing its stance on sports betting, with both Manfred and Silver noting that the scale of illegal sports betting makes opposition to betting meaningless. He also stated a willingness to "try to shape" any future legislation at federal level. This was noted as a marked contrast to former Commissioner of the MLB Bud Selig, with Manfred going beyond tacit approval and stating, "There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting."[46]
When it's not NFL season, BetOnline keeps on chugging along with point spreads for numerous other sports including men's + women's basketball (pro + college), along with run lines for baseball (full game + 5-inning), and they even have goal lines for several hockey leagues worldwide. BetOnline excels when it comes to betting on any sport, visit them today and give them a chance to prove it...it will not cost a cent!
Anybody who wagers on the 49ers would need them to win by 7 points or more for a winning bet. Those betting on the Rams (+6.5) would need them to lose by 6 points or less (or win) for a winning wager. It's also worth mentioning that a half point is used in many point spreads (such as the -6.5/+6.5) to prevent pushes because no team can score half a point.
For example, in NFL wagering you’ll have a pool of 12-14 quarterbacks, running backs, etc. and you can choose who will have the most fantasy points, 2nd most fantasy points, 3rd most fantasy points. Each player starts the week with certain odds that change as money wagered on different players. Your payout is based on the closing odds like parimutuel horse wagering.
In addition to knowing the basics of betting, you should also know at least the basics of football too. It's likely that most people reading this are big sports fans, and fully understand it, but that's not necessarily the case for all our readers. We like to cater for everyone, so we've written the following two articles explaining all about the game at both professional and college level.
If you see the point spread move, let’s say from -9 on Tuesday to -10.5 on Friday, this is known as a line move. It occurs when there is a surplus of bettors wagering on the same side of the game and sportsbooks move the line to balance the action. That means encouraging more people to bet the other way by making the line more appealing. This reduces risk for the sportsbook, who wants to have an equal handle on each team.
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