The National Football League (NFL) is currently the most popular sport to wager on in the United States, well ahead of NBA (Basketball) and MLB (Baseball). Despite the fact that each team only plays 16 regular season games, the betting handle on the NFL laps the field. In the United States, NFL is king. Sundays in the fall are spent watching NFL football and wagering on the games.The NFL’s expansion of their schedule to include “island” games on Thursday and Monday nights (and Saturdays later in the season) has only increased the popularity of wagering on these events, as they are stand-alone contests with no other competition for viewership. Although local fanbases support their local teams vehemently, there is more of an interest in other teams in the league than in the other major North American sports – fueling the massive wagering interest.
The recent developments across the sports betting landscape in the United States (whereas New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Indiana are offering legal online sports betting) should only further the interest in NFL wagering, as access to this wagering is made more readily available to the common fan. Compared to the other major sports leagues, the NFL stands to gain the most out of partnering with sports wagering sites should they decide to do so in the near future. The manner in which those partnerships materialize will be a key storyline to monitor in the coming months.
One of the unique features of NFL is the uniqueness of the schedule – the manner in which the season plays out creates a substantial event out of every game played.
This scheduling quirk drives frenzied interest with sports bettors, as the week between games allows for odds and spreads to change fluidly as bets are accepted through the week. The NFL not only contains a plethora of games to bet on each weekend, but numerous, almost endless types of bets offered within each game, perhaps more than any other sport.
The number of events to bet within an NFL weekend can be overwhelming, so understanding each type of bet and how wagers can correlate is a recipe to successful wagering and a profitable fall and winter season. The different types of bets offered allow the bettor to leverage projections and predictions to maximize their return.
Game Result Bets
These types of bets are 2-way bets you can make on for example team to win, winning margin or total points scored. These are the most popular type of bets and stand for the majority of all sports wagering.
Money Line (ML) Bets
Money Line (ML) Bets, while common, are not the most common wager for NFL bettors. ML is the simplest form of wagering on NFL however as far as picking a distinct result.
With ML bets, it does not matter how many points one team wins by, just that they win the game.
When wagering on the money line, the bettor is simply picking who will win the game outright. With ML bets, it does not matter how many points one team wins by, just that they win the game. With the current overtime rules, ties come into play very rarely in the NFL, and new rules in the near future may make tie results even more remote. The way in which sportsbooks show the difference in talent or projection between the two teams with money line bets is by weighing the ML with heavier odds on the favorited team. For example, a perennially excellent team such as the Patriots playing a below-average team such as the Redskins will often have substantial odds in their favor, such as the below.
|Washington Redskins (+325) at New England Patriots (-450)|
The plus sign always indicates the underdog team, and the amount you will win (or the equivalent) on a $100 bet. The minus sign always indicates the favorited team, and the amount you must bet to win the equivalent of $100. The above odds can be interpreted in the following manner – if wagering $100 on the Redskins ML, you would win $325 (plus the $100 you wagered) – if wagering on the Patriots ML, you would need to bet $450 in order to win $100 (plus the money wagered). This is how the sportsbooks create balance in an unbalanced game. The ML betting odds are often affected by many factors, such as how strong a team tends to fare at home or on the road. As sportsbooks collect wagers on both sides of a game, they will adjust the money line odds for both teams to account for the money being attributed to each team within a game. Other factors that will often impact ML betting odds and details to always be aware of when wagering on NFL include injuries to key players, weather/wind, home/road performance, and recent player/team trends.
Point Spread Bets
NFL’s bread and butter, the point spread wager. By far the most popular type of bet for the sport, point spreads are a point of discussion between fans and bettors alike for the days leading up to each weekend of games.
As with money line odds, spreads will vary during the week leading up to games as sportsbooks receive bets on either side of each game.
The point spread can be understood as how many points the favorited team would have to “give” to the underdog team for the game to be viewed as equal. Let’s look at an example from the same Redskins at Patriots game used above might to show the what the point spread might look like:
|Washington Redskins +9.5 (-110) at New England Patriots -9.5 (-110)|
The interpretation of these point spread odds are as follows – a $110 wager on the Redskins +9.5 means that you are betting that the Redskins will either win the game outright or lose by 1-9 points. The Redskins losing by ten or more points would result in a loss. With the odds posted, you would stand to win $100 (plus the $110 wagered) if the Redskins win the game or lose by nine or less. If betting on the Patriots -9.5, the odds tell you that you must wager $110 to win $100, and the Patriots must win the game by at least ten points for your wager to be paid. This method of evening out each game is what makes point spread wagering so popular in the NFL, where there are often large mismatches between teams on paper. As with money line odds, spreads will vary during the week leading up to games as sportsbooks receive bets on either side of each game.
Game Total Bets
NFL total bets follow the same procedure as total bets from other sports. The sportsbook will set a line for the total number of points expected to be scored in a game, and the bettor will wager whether the total score for both teams will be over or under that total.
For example, our Redskins at Patriots game total is set at 47.5 points. A bettor could either wager on the over or under for that total. Some game totals are set at whole numbers which bring pushes into play as well, an added wrinkle not seen as much in the two bet types discussed above. As bets are accepted on this bet type, the game total and odds will move concurrent with the level of money being wagered on each side (over/under) of the contest, making game total betting (like others) a very fluid market depending on when you place a wager. For example, the game total betting profile might look similar to the below for this Redskins/Patriots game, and then change based on wagers received.
|Redskins at Patriots Over 47.5 (-115)|
|Redskins at Patriots Under 47.5 (-105)|
Many factors including each team’s historical and recent performance at home or on the road, weather, wind, and injuries to star players have significant impact on game total lines and odds.
Team Total Bets
NFL team total betting is a sub-section of game total betting, except the game total is broken down more granularly into the expected number of points for each team. The dynamics are the same as game total betting – bettors can wager over or under the set team total for either team involved, allowing four wagering options for each game. Below is an example of how our Redskins/Patriots game might look for team total wagering, given the other odds offered above for the other wagering types.
|Redskins Team Total: Over 19.0 -105 ; Under 19.0 -115|
|Patriots Team Total: Over 28.5 -115 ; Under 28.5 -105|
Team total betting can be an excellent way to leverage Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) action and research, for example, a bettor identifying a team total that he or she believes is incorrectly valued and aggressively pursuing one side of that team total. This is an excellent way to substantiate DFS action if educated stands are made on a certain team to over or under-perform are made consistently.
Parlay Bets – As with other sports, NFL wagers can be parlayed – this is a very popular method of betting NFL games, with all of the game action occurring simultaneous each Sunday. A parlay is defined as multiple bets within the same wager, where all bets have to hit in order for a successful wager to be graded.
Most sportsbooks will not allow parlays that include correlated bets, such as parlaying a team’s ML with their team total.
Parlay bets provide bettors with higher payouts in exchange for longer odds of a successful wager. For example, if a parlay bet is made on the Patriots point spread in their game against the Redskins, plus the Cowboys point spread in their game against the Eagles, both the Patriots and the Cowboys must cover their respective point spreads in order to be paid out on that wager. If one of the two teams do not cover their point spread, the wager is a loss. An important note on parlay bets in NFL (as with other sports): most sportsbooks will not allow parlays that include correlated bets, such as parlaying a team’s ML with their team total. Parlaying many games on a Sunday slate of NFL is wildly popular, as bettors try to hit long odds that all legs of a parlay will hit for a massive profit.
Player Props – Rapidly growing in popularity, player proposition bets are an excellent way to substantiate other wagers within the same NFL contest. For many players in each game, sportsbooks will over/under propositions for major statistical categories for bettors to wager on the performance within that game. For NFL, these statistical categories include touchdowns, yardage, receptions, among others. There are many other options within player props that likely deserve their own article to further examine the extensive possibilities of wagering on them. A note for DFS players – player prop wagers allow an excellent way to leverage player projections and capitalize on what are sometimes soft propositions on certain players.
Game Props – Along the same lines of player props, game props are bets which are event-based within the game itself. Examples of some NFL game propositions include the following:
|Team to Score First|
|Longest Touchdown – Over/Under (number of yards, i.e. 50 yards)|
|Will there be a Safety during the game? Y/N|
Game props are quite volatile and hard to predict by nature and are therefore widely seen more as “fun” bets to make. As the sports betting industry grows in the United States, game props will become more prominent as teams and arenas plan on allowing game proposition wagers within their arenas to enhance the viewer experience.
Futures Bets – Among the more popular wager types amongst casual bettors, futures bets are perhaps even more common with NFL bettors as they are with other major sports. Futures wagering involves predicting long-term results of a season, whether it be choosing the team to win the Super Bowl, a team to win its Division, or a player to win a major season-long award. The draw of futures bets are the long odds payoffs that come with predicting the correct Super Bowl winning team, or the correct player to earn the MVP award, well before the results are known. Futures bets are most common before the season begins but can be made daily up through the entirely of the season – with odds changing daily based on the on-field results of the players and teams involved.
Arguably the future of sports wagering is on our doorstep. As more and more States pass sports gambling legislation, sports franchises will be increasingly incentivized to include some sort of in-game or live betting option for game attendees. Ted Leonsis, owner of the Wizards and the Capitals, has already expressed his interest in having consoles at seats where fans can live bet the action unfolding in front of them.
Viewers can see the action unfolding in front of them and bet “live” with the game as they watch the game play out.
In-Game or Live wagering ranges from very simple to quite complex. Bettors can wager on what type of play will be – Pass or Run – or if the next play will result in a first down – or which player will score the next touchdown. This will undoubtedly enhance the in-stadium experience for individuals who attend games, as well as anyone with access to a sportsbook app or website during live game action. Live wagering also includes dynamic live odds which bettors can make bets during game action on many of the standard betting types above, including ML, point spread, and Game Totals. This way, viewers can see the action unfolding in front of them and bet “live” with the game as they watch the game play out. Look for this type of betting to make a huge popularity jump in the very near future, both at sportsbooks and in stadiums and arenas.
The ability to follow game trends, player news, injury reports, and other factors is essential to sustained wagering success across all betting types in NFL.
- Monitoring weather and wind is an excellent way to be successful in wagering on Game Totals. Many NFL stadiums are greatly impacted by weather and wind with historical trends showing that these greatly influence passing and rushing environments, which can sway betting odds significantly and quickly once impactful information is well-known.
- Know the individual matchups. Football is a team sport but if you break down the individual matchups it can play an important role for the outcome of a game. Knowing the head to head statistics between players and coaches is important.
- Check the injury reports is quite obvious and if you want to be a successful bettor try to follow all the injury reports throughout the week before GameDay. Injuries will affect the lines which leads us to the next strategy tip.
- Follow how the lines changes is another important aspect of betting on NFL (or any sport for that matter).
- Team totals and player prop wagers are perhaps the best way to leverage sports wagering with DFS play. Most NFL DFS players are in search of teams which will outperform their baseline expectation for a given game and will stack that team’s Quarterback with other skill players (Running Backs, Wide Receivers, or Tight Ends) in hopes of hitting a large score by exploiting increased correlation factors created by “stacking”. By augmenting your DFS team stacks with Team Total and Player Prop bets, you can capitalize on correct predictions about team production on a daily basis. A meaningful factor of being successful is capitalizing to the fullest extent when projections/predictions are accurate.
How to Find NFL Odds at Betting Sites
Most betting sites will contain a “Football” section prominently within their Sports offering. Within Football you can select “NFL”, and from there can choose any of the wagering options listed above. Many sites will have Player Props, Game Props, Futures Bets, and Live/In-Game Betting in a separate area of their site, within the Sports section.
Most Popular NFL Events
There are three major NFL events each season where casual fans and bettors join the regular crowd on the action.
Opening Weekend (Week One)
The interminable wait is over for NFL fans around the country – the season has finally arrived. Eternal hope abounds as every team is 0-0 and a new season is afoot. There is always a ton of pomp and circumstance surrounding the first game of the season for each franchise. This is the time for bettors to get futures wagers in and offseason research and projections can create an early-season edge against betting lines before sportsbooks have a chance to adjust.
Monday Night Football (MNF)
The NFL stumbled upon a wagering gem in the 1970 season when the league decided to separate one game from the Sunday schedule to showcase what would become known as “the game of the week”. The fact that the game stands alone in the spotlight is reason enough for heightened attention. Add in that the game is often the best game on the weekend’s slate including two teams that are likely bound for the playoffs and beyond, and you have a recipe for a heavily wagered affair.
The absolute Mount Everest of sporting events in the entire world, where the two best teams compete to decide the World Champion. Player and Game props are heavily expanded for the Super Bowl, at a level not seen for any other sporting event on the calendar. Hopefully the Super Bowl gives bettors a chance to cash futures tickets held since early in the year. The Super Bowl is the most wagered sporting event worldwide, and by a very large margin. Check out our Super Bowl picks.
The National Football League (NFL) is the highest level of football in the world. The NFL was founded in 1920 and is by far the most popular of the four major North American professional sports leagues. NFL teams are the heart and soul of their respective cities and see the largest fan following of any other American sport. The current model of NFL contains 32 teams, who each play 16 regular season games followed by the playoffs, ultimately resulting in the Super Bowl, where a champion is crowned. The NFL has the highest per-game attendance of any professional sports league in the United States. When originally founded, the NFL contained ten teams – only two of those still remain to this day, the Arizona Cardinals and the Chicago Bears (both have relocated and have been re-named). Other football leagues are vying to piggyback on the success of the NFL, and time shall tell if they will gain popularity and become viable wagering options in the future.
Legends in NFL
The greatest players in the history of the sport can be found memorialized in Canton, OH at the National Football Hall of Fame. The most iconic players in NFL history include names such as Barry Sanders, Mike Singletary, John Elway, Jerry Rice and Walter Payton.
There are many future Hall of Fame-worthy players currently residing in the NFL – they belong in two categories, the first comprised of the experienced and accomplished grizzled veterans of the sport. The second category containing the young group of exciting players with unbelievable potential.
The Old Guard Category: Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees, Antonio Brown, Antonio Gates, among others
The Young Studs Category: Odell Beckham, Jr., Aaron Donald, Travis Kelce, Le’Veon Bell, Von Miller, Jalen Ramsey, Khalil Mack, among others