Our Guide to Live Betting NFL Games
Betting on the NFL is a rite of passage every September. While experienced and casual bettors can make their bets prior to a game’s start, online sportsbooks now offer the option to jump in on the action with live odds while the game is being played. Live NFL betting or in-game betting is when you place a wager on a game after it has already started.
How to Live Bet an NFL Game
Most sportsbooks offer an In-Play option that would show the bettor how much time is remaining in the game along with the line history. It would also show what the current updated betting lines are based on the current score and the time remaining. If you select that game, you’ll be privy to lines and odds that you can wager on.
Moreover, odds change as the game goes on. A team that opens as a 7-point favorite might slip to -4 or -3 after falling into a 7-0 deficit early in the first quarter. If you have a good eye for teams that seem primed for a comeback, or sense an upset could be in the making, you can take advantage of your instincts and past results with live wagering.
In order to bet live on an NFL game, you simply select the In-Play or Live button and you’re good to go. Live odds will be available, ready for you to start betting, but they could change quickly depending on what’s happening in the game.
In-Play Betting Options
The type of bets available would depend on how much time has elapsed in the football game and the sports betting site you wager with.
Live moneyline bets are like the same straight-up bets you’d make before the game starts. Here, you’ll simply need to pick a winner. You can look at betting trends from the past or you can make an educated guess based on the live odds.
For example, if the moneyline odds for the Dallas Cowboys to beat the Washington Redskins were -200 before kickoff, those odds would change if Dallas were to score an early touchdown and go up 7-0. If the Cowboys scored in the first quarter, bettors could typically see the Cowboys moneyline odds go up to -300 or more.
On the flip side, if the Redskins moneyline odds were +350 prior to kickoff but they gave up an early touchdown to Dallas in the first quarter, sportsbooks could alter those +350 moneyline odds to closer to +450 or more for in-game betting.
Like a traditional point spread bet, odds for the live version would look something like this:
Los Angeles Rams -4.5
Seattle Seahawks +4.5
If you believe the Rams will cover the spread, they would need to win by five points or more. Conversely, for the Seahawks to cover the spread, they would need to win outright or not lose by more than four points. These spreads will change throughout the game and bettors can use their instincts to jump in on the action.
For example, if the Rams are 4.5-point favorites but score an early touchdown in the first quarter, their live spread could shift from -4.5 to -10.5 while the Seahawks line could change from +4.5 to +10.5. It’s up to bettors to determine if that’s an overcorrection from sportsbooks with the in-game spreads and place bets accordingly.
Prop betting is where live NFL betting gets even more entertaining. For example, at the beginning of a team’s drive or possession, live bettors can bet on drive/possession results such as how long the upcoming drive will be or whether it will end with a field goal, touchdown or turnover. As the drive is progressing, bettors are also offered the option to bet on what the next play will be (a run, a completed pass, an incomplete pass or an interception).
Another in-game option is betting on touchdown scorers. Bettors can wager on the next touchdown scorer of the game, the next touchdown scorer for each team, anytime touchdown scorers of the game or if there won’t be any more touchdowns for the remainder of the contest.
For example, running backs and wide receivers score the bulk of touchdowns in an NFL game. If you were to bet on a running back like Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys to score an “Anytime Touchdown Score” pregame, his odds would typically be at -130 to -200 depending on the quality of opponent.
But if bettors were to wait until halftime and look at the “Anytime Touchdown Scorer” prop, they may find Elliott’s odds closer to +150 or +200, which could be very advantageous for a bettor with two quarters of a game still left to play.
As with any totals bet, you would forecast if the combined score will be more or less than the total set by oddsmakers.
For example, if the totals betting odds for a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys is set at 38.5 before the game, the live total will probably change as the game progresses.
For instance, if the score is 20-16 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the new live total odds could switch to 50.5 if both teams are putting on a scoring clinic. For this live bet, you would need to decide if you think the total would go OVER 50 or UNDER 50.
In-Play Football Betting Tips
When it comes to live betting sports, you should not only watch the game carefully but use our tips. Odds Shark is here to help you make smart picks whether it’s a live prop bet on the Dolphins’ kicker or an in-game spread bet on the Colts and Chiefs.
Predetermine Your Strategy
Coming up with a strategy before the game starts may sound counterproductive to betting live but it’s essential to in-game betting the NFL. Football games can be similar to roller-coasters in that they typically don’t end the way they start.
Use your knowledge of football to determine the types of live bets you want to make. Knowing how coaches and teams handle specific situations and what’s required to win a football game could dictate how bettors correctly predict the outcome. Examples are which team will cover the spread, score a touchdown or kick a field goal or what an offensive coordinator is likely to draw up on his next play.
Even keeping notes to track tendencies of teams along with the odds that accompany that typical scenario can be vital to predicting an NFL game’s outcome.
Knowing that a certain head coach with the New Orleans Saints who likes to wear visors – looking at you, Sean Payton – likes to go for it on fourth down could be a great way to capitalize on “result of drive” props and make betting on a touchdown or turnover very profitable.
Make sure to study each team’s tendencies and how they’ll react to each play, whether it’s an aggressive defensive strategy that will keep their opponent to nothing more than a field goal, or an offensive showcase with a passing game that runs through defenses like a sprinkler on a hot day.
Some teams take their time getting down the field and rack up as many yards as they can before finally scoring. On the other hand, some teams fumble – pun intended – their way to a win. Keep that in mind when betting live and that this isn’t an exact science.
NFL games are generally decided by three or seven points. These are called key numbers because a field goal is worth three points, and a touchdown is six points with the PAT counting for one point (totaling seven) and those combined add up to 10. With live bets, the odds are constantly shifting, so it’s important to keep these numbers in mind. Much like the stock market, timing is everything when identifying the key numbers.
This isn’t the CFL or XFL with unique scoring rules, or any other sport for that matter, where goals or runs count for only one point. This is the NFL. Be wary of live odds lines that deviate from the key numbers themselves (or multiples of them like 14, 28, etc.).
Oddsmakers Know about Injuries
Much like the stock market, bettors can take advantage of real-time news of injuries to predict outcomes for NFL games. If you’re following a broadcast of an NFL game while having your online sportsbook loaded in front of you, you may be able to jump on spreads, totals and props to bet on before oddsmakers can adjust.
For example, if the Green Bay Packers were playing the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field and leading 14-7 at the end of the first quarter, the Packers would likely be favored in that spot for both in-game moneyline and spread odds.
But if quarterback Aaron Rodgers were to get hurt or injured at the start of the second quarter, bettors could take advantage and immediately bet on the Bears to win the game or cover the spread. Sportsbooks will likely scramble to adjust the odds and perhaps take them off the platform temporarily but there’s a small window before that typically occurs during which bettors can profit.
That being said, if a star player gets hurt and is removed from the game, oddsmakers take that into consideration when setting live odds and will do it quickly. The moment a key player like Rodgers or Bears defensive end Khalil Mack goes down, the live betting odds will reflect that. It may take a few moments for these odds adjustments to occur, but it will happen.
An important part of football betting – or betting on any sport – is being able to manage your money. One of the major facets of being a successful live bettor is bankroll management. Set aside an amount for each game that makes sense for your wallet.
Next, break that amount down into smaller betting units for specific markets like touchdown scorers or “result of drive” props. Good money management will help you avoid disaster when some bizarre trick play or an awful penalty flag goes against you on Sunday.
It’s also worth noting that most touchdown scorers and “result of drive” props can be very volatile. Oddsmakers would typically set the odds on these outcomes at +300 or more depending on the option for each prop so that means it’s not a typical outcome.
Bettors need to keep that in mind and be prepared to lose more than they win. However, a smart and calculated bettor can be profitable in the end with proper bankroll management because of good timing and inflated odds for these props.
Forecasting Momentum Swings
In the end, betting NFL games live is all about predicting changes to momentum. Momentum isn’t something that can be tracked or has an accompanying statistic. But anybody who regularly watches sports knows momentum exists and it can be glorious or infuriating, depending on the side of your bet.
If you can successfully guess (and remember, it’s a calculated guess) how a team will respond to their surroundings and circumstance, be it a pass rush, a trick play or any other possibility that can take place during a football game, you’ll become a live betting pro in no time.
That being said, there are some cautionary gambling terms about teams that border on hyperbole. “This team is due” or “they’re motivated” may be well and good for mentally reassuring you of a wager but it would not be responsible for a bettor to solely bet on those factors. Statistics, the eye test, momentum and talent on the field all go hand in hand in making a successful in-game NFL bettor.