NFL Betting Explained: Get the Facts

NFL betting can be explained in simple terms (it’s a lot of fun), but if you want to make a lot of money doing it, you need to get the facts on NFL spread betting (ATS), totals, and moneyline betting.

NFL Betting Explained

The two most popular types of betting in the NFL are against the spread and totals


NFL Betting Explained

Betting on the NFL is one of North America’s favorite pastimes. Billions of dollars are bet on NFL games every year, with last year’s Super Bowl fielding over $7.5 billion risked. And with sports betting opening up in more and more areas, the annual haul will only grow exponentially for the next several years.

Whether you bet to pay the bills or you bet for fun, it is always smart to know what you’re doing. Here we’ll discuss basic NFL betting, so when you go to the window or open that app to place a bet, you are fully loaded with your options. There are several bet types on every game, and here I am discussing the basic betting options you will have at almost every sportsbook you visit.

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What is NFL Spread?

Betting against the spread (ATS) is the most popular bet type when it comes to football, so what is NFL spread?

The “point spread,” or line, is set by the bookmakers, and it is a way to make the games even for betting purposes. It is an estimated number by which a team will win or lose by, and it is the bettor’s job to predict if Team A will beat Team B by more than the set spread.

What does a +7 spread mean?

For an example of what a +7 spread means in football betting, let’s look at an example using Chicago and Green Bay. If the Bears are playing the Packers, and Green Bay is favored by a touchdown, the line will be listed as “Green Bay -7, Chicago +7.” The +/- signs indicate who is favored and who is the underdog.

In this scenario, let’s say you feel Green Bay’s home field advantage, as well as their QB play, is too much for Chicago to overcome, and you think they will win by at least 10 points. You would place your bet on Green Bay -7, and as long as they win by 8 or more points, your bet wins. If they win by exactly 7 points, then your bet is a push, and you will get your bet back.

What does +3 or -3 mean in NFL betting?

When the oddsmaker sets the line at +3 or -3 in NFL betting, it’s usually an indicator of a close game between two evenly matched teams. In football, field goals score you three points, and touchdowns with a convert score you seven points, so odds of +3 or -3 (or +/- 7) are common and considered key numbers.

NFL Betting Explained: Over/Under

Betting the total, over OVER/UNDER, is a very popular bet since you are not betting on any single team, but rather the number of combined points that will be scored in that particular game. As with the point spread, the totals line will be set by the lines makers, and it is up to the bettor to determine if there will be more or less points scored than the posted total.

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Sticking with the Bears vs. Packers example, let’s say both have outstanding offenses and porous defenses. This game would likely have a high posted total…48.5 points let’s say. Now first, you’ll notice the half-point. Sportsbooks will often add that half-point to their lines, eliminating the possibility of any pushes. So, from above, we still feel it’s the Pack by 10 points in this one, and we think it’s going to be a high-scoring game…Green Bay 34, Chicago 24. Added up, that’s 58 points we’re predicting, and our bet is going to be on the OVER 48.5 points. So, as long as 49 or more points are scored, regardless of who wins and by how many, our OVER wins!

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Get the Facts: NFL Moneyline Betting

Moneyline betting is also known as a “straight-up” bet, and all we’re doing here is betting on which team will win….no point spread. Moneyline bets do come with different odds than the ATS and totals bets do, however. And if you are betting on the favorite to win, you might have to bet more than you usually would to win back your standard amount.

For the most part, ATS and totals bets will be listed with odds of -110. This means you would need to bet $110 to win $100. That 10% is the house’s cut, otherwise known as the vigorish (“vig”). Moneyline odds are usually much different. As 7-point favorites from our example above, Green Bay would be about a 4-1 favorite to win the game straight-up, or -400 odds.

This means you’d need to bet $400 on Green Bay on the moneyline, or to win the game straight-up, for you to win $100. On the other side of that, Chicago would be listed at about a 3-1 underdog, or +300 odds. Now if you think the Bears are due and will pull off the upset, a $100 bet would win you $300. Moneyline bets on favored teams are a safer bet than asking them to cover a spread, but as you can see, the payout is often less.

Now you’re ready to bet the next game like a pro!

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