Point spreads focus on a margin of victory between the two teams and again, what you’re looking for is the positive and negative signs. If there is a minus sign next to a team’s spread, that suggest that they are favored and have to win by or cover that amount. If there is a positive sign, that tells you that they are the underdog and they are getting points. For example: let’s say that the New England Patriots are playing the Buffalo Bills and the Patriots are -5.5 and the Bills are therefore +5.5. If you bet the Patriots, they have to win by six points or more to cover. If you bet the Bills, they can lose by five points or less, or they can win the game outright and you would still win your bet.
Although the examples from above are in $100 increments, you don’t actually have to bet those exact amounts. That’s just how the odds are set up so that everyone is on the same page. With a quick glance at the numbers, you can tell who is the favorite, who is the underdog and what type of payout you can expect on each. You’re free to bet $5, $500 or whatever amount fits your budget. If you want to find out the specific betting limits for each option, browse through the betting sites rating guide in order to find the sportsbook that better fits your minimum and maximum limits.
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.
The odds given on the spread are usually -110 unless otherwise noted. It is not uncommon to see one side of the spread being -105, with the other side being -115. If you don’t see any odds listed for each side of NFL spreads you are supposed to assume the odds are -110 on each. Not sure how to read NFL betting odds? Check out our Sports Betting Odds guide.
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.
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.
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