NFL Odds Legend
NFL odds do not stop at the point spread and OVER/UNDER. There are numerous ways to bet on football these days, including the NFL moneyline, futures (odds to win the Super Bowl), and first-half and second-half betting lines. Throw in fun fantasy-style prop bets (will Tom Brady throw for 300+ yards this week) and live NFL betting (where you can wager on the next play and on odds that change all game long) and the importance of understanding how NFL odds work has never been greater. Check out the lines and bookmark for more updates and football lines enhancements in the coming weeks and months.
NFL Point Spread
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned NFL spread? Not only does the point spread remain the king when it comes to wagering on pro football, it is a favorite among pro sports bettors and beginners alike. Also known as the line or spread and as betting “sides,” a common misconception is that sportsbooks set the spread as a predicted margin of victory. It’s actually the number oddsmakers predict would be a good balance between people who want to bet the underdog and those who want to bet the favorite.
For example, a negative value (-11.5) next to a team indicates that they are favored by that many points. So you must deduct 11.5 points from their score to determine if they won the game or not. On the other hand, a positive value on the same game (+11.5) means the underdog starts with an 11.5-point lead before the game even begins. In NFL betting, the favorite must win by 12 points or more to cover the NFL spread. The underdog is able to lose by 11 points and still cover the spread.
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.
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.
NFL moneyline betting continues to gain popularity as many begin to understand the value of moneyline bets, especially in betting the underdogs. In this type of bet, there is no spread to beat, your team needs only to win the game “straight up” (SU), and there is no requirement for how many points they need to win by. The juice is the only number you really have to pay attention to with moneyline, where the negative value indicates the favorite (-140) and a positive one means underdog (+120).
For example, if you want to bet that -140 favorite, you’ll need to risk $140 in order to win $100. To bet on the +120 underdog we mentioned above, you’ll need to bet $100 to win $120 if the dog wins outright. In many cases, betting moneylines offers better value and can provide a bigger profit for less risk. Check out our NFL Betting Guide to learn more about when you should bet a moneyline instead of a point spread.
Total or OVER/UNDER
Also known as NFL OVER/UNDER betting, the total is the number set by sportsbooks that estimates the total number of points scored by both teams combined. Bettors then must predict whether there will be more or fewer points than the NFL “total.” If you bet the 37.5 UNDER, you are hoping for a defensive battle and predicting the offenses to struggle. If you bet the 37.5 OVER, you are hoping this will be a high-scoring game.
NFL totals betting has become fairly popular in many football games, especially where the point spread is very tight. It also becomes more popular if the matchup points to a certain style of game. The weather can play a huge factor, and rain, wind and cold temperatures can sway the total, and make betting the spread a little less reliable.
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.