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How to Bet on the NFL | Everything you Need to Know to Bet on Football

Major League Baseball may bill itself as the “National Pastime” but when it comes to U.S. sports betting, football is king. The American Gaming Association estimates over 46.6 million people in the U.S. bet on football in some form during the 2022 season.

Many of these people bet with friends but an ever-growing number of sports bettors wagered at online sports betting sites (23 million) or at a brick and mortar sportsbook (6 million). Both groups saw continued growth in the number of bettors from the previous year.

The growth of sports betting coincides with the increasing number of legal sports betting establishments, both online and in person. As more US states legalize sports betting, the number of bettors will continue to increase.

Can I legally Bet on the NFL?

For many years, sports betting was legally restricted to Nevada as a result of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. What PASPA did was prevent states from offering sports betting if it was not allowed at the time the act was passed.

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled PASPA was unconstitutional and overturned it. While that didn’t legalize sports betting in the United States, it did allow states to decide if they want to offer legal sports betting.

At the time of this writing, 31 states and the District of Columbia offer legalized sports betting. Four more states have legalized sports betting, with their launches soon to come. Most of these states allow online and in-person sports betting, though some states allow only online betting or only in-person betting depending on the state laws.

NFL Betting Odds Explained

When looking at the betting odds on an NFL game, bettors are likely to see three different sets of odds presented. Those are the point spread, moneyline, and total, also known as the over/under.

The point spread is considered the great equalizer in NFL betting, as it theoretically makes both teams equal for gambling purposes. If a point spread is written like Minnesota Vikings -7 vs. Detroit Lions it means the Vikings are favored by 7 points over the Lions. 

  • If you bet on Minnesota, the Vikings must win by 8 or more points for you to win your bet. 
  • If you bet on the Lions, you win your bet if Detroit wins the game or loses by 6 points or fewer.
  • If the Vikings are victorious 27-20 and win by exactly 7 points, the best is declared a tie or a ‘push’ and wagers are refunded.

Moneyline bets simply require you to pick the winner of a game, it makes no difference if the winning team wins by 1 point or by 41. For example; the odds mentioned above on the Vikings vs. Lions game using the moneyline may look like Minnesota (-300) vs. Detroit (+240). This means a bettor will be required to risk $300 to win $100 on the Vikings or wager $100 to win $240 on Detroit. Should a tie occur in the game all bets are refunded.

Since the NFL is bet globally, you may occasionally see the moneyline odds listed in different formats. Some online sportsbooks give you the option of choosing which method your odds are displayed. Instead of Minnesota -300 you may see Minnesota 1/3, which means risking $3 to win $1 and is called fractional odds. Fractional odds on Detroit will be shown as 12/5, meaning a win of $12 for every $5 wagered on the Lions.

With decimal odds, which are very popular in Europe and sometimes called European odds, the Vikings -300 will be shown as 1.33, which means a total return of $133 for every $100 wager. Odds on the Lions will be shown as 3.4, which indicates a total return of $340 for every $100 wagered.

Total wagers are bets that are determined by adding the final score of both teams together. The sportsbook will post a number and bettors can wager whether the combined score will be higher or lower than the sportsbooks’ number.

NFL Betting Types

One reason for football’s betting popularity is the fact there are a wide range of betting options available each game. Not only can you bet on which team wins or the number of total points scored, you can also wager on things such as the number of passing yards for the quarterbacks to which player scores first. Here are some different types of NFL betting:

What Is NFL Money Line Betting?

Moneyline bets are only concerned with which team wins, not by how many points. The higher the point spread is on a particular game, the higher the moneyline odds will be. A 6.5-point favorite could be -280 on the moneyline, while a 2-point favorite would be closer to -135.

As moneyline odds get higher, there will be a bigger difference between the amount of money you risk on the favorite and the amount you receive on the underdog. In the Vikings vs. Lions game shown above, Vikings (-300) bettors risked $300 to win $100, while Lions (+240) bettors risked $100 to win $240, which is a difference of $60. In a NFL game with a 2-point favorite, the moneyline odds would be closer to -135 and +115, a much smaller difference of just $20.

What Is NFL Spread Betting?

The point spread is essentially a handicap placed on one team for betting purposes. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing the Detroit Lions, there’s little question the Bucs are the better team. The sportsbooks will then post odds on the game for example Tampa Bay -10 vs. Detroit. What this means is you subtract 10 points from Tampa Bay’s score for betting purposes.

  • If you bet on Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers must win by 11 points or more for you to win your wager. 
  • If you bet Detroit +10, you win your bet if the Lions win the game or lose by 9 points or less. 
  • If the Bucs win by exactly 10, it’s considered a tie or a ‘push’ and all wagers are refunded.

Most NFL point spread bets require the bettor to risk $11 to win $10 aka -110. However; bettors can be asked to risk -115 or -120 to win. When this happens, bettors on the other team will often find themselves risking -105 or +100 to win. 

Seldom will bettors be asked to risk more than -120 to win on point spread bets, unless the point spread is on one of the key numbers of 3 or 7.

What Is NFL Totals Betting (Over/Under Bets)?

Totals, or over/unders, are a simple bet which involves the sportsbook posting a number and bettors placing wagers whether the combined final score of both teams in the game will be greater (over) than the number posted or lower (under) the number posted. Totals are typically in the 40s, but can be in the 50s for games with two good offenses, or in the lower 30s when two good defensive teams or possibly poor weather conditions.

If the total on the Vikings and Lions game is set at 45.5, over bettors will win their wagers if the combined score of the two teams is 46 or greater, a 27-20 for example would be 47 total points and a win. If the Vikings and Lions combine for 45 total points or less, for example 20-21 under bettors would win their wagers.

What Is NFL Prop Betting?

Proposition bets are a little tricky to describe, but easy to show. Prop bets are basically wagers on a game that are not dependent on the final outcome. The most common proposition bets involve particular players and how they perform.

For quarterbacks, the number of passing yards, passing TDs, or interceptions are frequently bet, while running backs and wide receiver prop bets will involve rushing or receiving yards, the number of rushes or receptions, and touchdowns. You can also find proposition bets for defenses and kickers depending on the sportsbook.

Proposition bets are frequently offered as totals, where Tom Brady’s passing yards will be listed as 272.5 and bettors can wager if he will throw for more yards or fewer yards than the posted total.

Other popular NFL prop bets include which player scores first in a game, how many pass attempts or completions a QB will have etc. As a general rule, the bigger the game, the more proposition bets that will be offered.

What Is NFL Parlay Betting?

Parlay betting in the NFL can be done using the point spread or the moneyline, although point spread wagers and totals are the most common bet. Here, a bettor selects two or more teams and all of them must win for the bettor to cash a winning ticket. In return for choosing more than one side, the bettor receives much higher odds on their wagers.

A two-team point spread parlay pays 13-to-5, meaning the bettor wins $13 for every $5 wagered, while a three-team parlay pays 6-to-1, where the bettor wins $6 for every $1 wagered.

Different sportsbooks have different parlay odds, so it pays to see which parlay sportsbooks offer the most generous odds if you plan on betting parlays. Some sportsbooks, such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM allow you to parlay prop bets, giving bettors the opportunity to key in on certain combinations, such as keying on a quarterback with his favorite receiver.

What Is An NFL Teaser Bet?

Teasers are similar to parlays in that a bettor must make two or more selections and all of them must win in order for the bettor to win their wager. But bettors are allowed to move the point spread 6 to 7 points in their favor. In return for moving the spread, bettors receive lower odds than they do on a traditional parlay.

If the Vikings are -7 over the Lions and bettors are making a 6-point teaser, they can choose the Vikings -1 or the Lions +13 in their teaser. A 7-point teaser would see the Vikings even or the Lions +14.

A traditional two-team, 6-point teaser will be at odds of -120 (risk $120 to win $100), while a three-team, 6-point teaser will return +160 (risk $100 to win $160). Sportsbooks do offer different teaser payouts and rules on ties, or pushes, so check the payouts before placing your bets.

What Is NFL Futures Betting?

Futures bets are pretty self-explanatory, as they relate to an outcome that will be determined down the line or “in the future”. Some of the most popular futures bets are which team will win the Super Bowl, the number of wins a team has during the season, or the league MVP.

Betting on which team wins the Super Bowl is always a popular bet before the season starts. Here, bettors have the opportunity to make a big return for a small wager depending on which team they like. 

Entering the 2022 season, the Buffalo Bills have the lowest odds to win the Super Bowl at +650, while eight teams have odds of 100-to-1 and higher.Check out all the current NFL Superbowl Futures Here.

Best Online Sportsbooks for NFL Betting

BetMGM Online Sportsbook

BetMGM is a solid sportsbook for NFL bettors, offering all of the standard NFL bets like point spread, totals, moneyline, parlays and teaser wagers, along with an excellent live betting platform that lets you make plays while a game is being played.

BetMGM has an extensive NFL props market. Bettors can make one game game parlays using their single game parlay builder

BetMGM als offers a number of futures bets, including alternate season win totals on teams, along with division championship odds that allow you to bet on the top two teams for an increased payout.

BetMGM’s new user bonus during the NFL season generally includes a risk-free wager option or a bet and get odds boost. They also offer specials throughout the course of the season for their customers, such as parlay boosts, parlay insurance, refer a friend, risk-free prop bets and free bet challenges. 

Caesars Sportsbook

Caesars Sportsbook is an excellent choice for NFL bettors, offering all of the wagers football bettors have come to expect. Whether you want to bet point spreads, totals, or parlays, Caesars has you covered.

Caesars offers one of the most generous new player offers for new customers that sign up using our exclusive promo code, but Caesars’ strength is all of the extras customers receive for betting there, including Caesars Rewards, which allow you perks at Caesars establishments throughout the country and can also be used for free wagers and more.

Caesars also has special profit boosts daily, where bettors win more money on selected games, as well as a Big Bet offering, where bettors can earn free wagers for betting a certain amount.

DraftKings Sportsbook

DraftKings has become one of the giants in NFL sportsbooks for good reason, offering an excellent selection of prop betting opportunities, including all of the standard wagers and a great platform for live betting.

DraftKings offer new players a variety of bonus opportunities that usually include deposit bonuses, bet and gets and profit boosts once you are in. Be sure to check back often for all the top DraftKings promotional offers.

All DraftKings customers are also enrolled in the Dynasty Rewards program, where bettors earn points that can be used for a wide variety of merchandise or free bets and boosts. 

BetRivers Sportsbook

BetRivers is a good choice for NFL bettors, offering the standard fare of betting opportunities, along with an excellent variety of prop bets and live betting available. 

The BetRivers sign-up bonus during the NFL is generally a deposit match option to go with their iRush rewards program which provides other betting perks throughout the season. For example, NFL parlay insurance, odds boosts, free bet tokens and more.

BetRivers also boasts 1x wagering requirements on all bonus offers. This means that on your first deposit bonus, the site credit is converted to your cash balance once you wager through the bonus cash one time. Essentially, you can take advantage of their bonus offers without ever putting any of your money in play.

FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel made the move from a top fantasy sports site to one of the most respected online sportsbooks in short order and is a favorite site amongst NFL bettors by offering the largest variety of prop bets to go with the usual point spread, totals, moneyline, and futures.

FanDuel offers new promotions weekly for the NFL they also offer a variety of specials for customers, such as boosted odds, same game parlay specials and plenty more. 

NFL Betting Basic Strategies

Bettors need to go into every NFL season with a game plan and a goal of maximizing their winnings and minimizing your losses. These will range from practicing sound money management to taking advantage of bonuses offered at different sportsbooks. Getting the best available odds on each bet you make will also help your bottom line at the end of each season. Here are a few basic NFL betting strategies:

Money Management

If you’ve been around the sports betting scene for any length of time, you’ve come across the phrase ‘money management.’ While it’s frequently mentioned by bettors, it’s seldom practiced by them. The money in your sportsbook account is frequently referred to as a ‘bankroll.’ Ideally, this is money that is set aside to be used for your sports betting ventures and nothing else.

A popular betting theory called the Kelly Criteria suggests betting a certain percentage of your bankroll on each play. While John Kelly’s method suggested the bet percentage to be chosen based on your expected winning percentage, most bettors overestimate how they will do. So a figure of 2-4% per game is frequently used.

If the money in your sportsbook account totals $1,500, your bets will be $45 if you are wagering 3% of your bankroll on each game. As your bankroll increases or decreases, the size of your bets will also increase or decrease.

Shop for the Best NFL Odds

When you see a point spread of Vikings -7 against the Lions at a particular sportsbook, that doesn’t mean that spread is universal at all other sportsbooks. A different sportsbook could have the Vikings -6.5, while another online sportsbook could have the Vikings -7.5. Finding the best odds can make you extra money over time. Check out our NFL odds comparison tool to easily find the best value.

If you want to place a bet on the game, it makes sense to try and find the most advantageous line you can before making your wager. If you want to bet on the Vikings, look for a sportsbook that has Minnesota -6.5, while if you want to bet on Detroit, look for a sportsbook that has Minnesota -7.5.

The best way to accomplish this is to have accounts at multiple sportsbooks. The more accounts you have, the more point spreads and betting options you give yourself access to. 

Take Advantage of Sportsbook Bonuses

Since there is competition among online sportsbooks, bettors will receive a number of enticements to open an account at each sportsbook in the form of bonuses. These range from free or guaranteed bets to matching funds of your first deposit. Take advantage of them.

You’ve seen the advantage of having more than one sportsbook for having access to different lines, but make sure you can squeeze the most out of the sportsbook when signing up for an account. Look over the different bonuses offered by each sportsbook and find the one most suited to your betting. A risk free $1,000 wager may not be as valuable to a bettor as matching the first $250 deposit for smaller bettors. A person who will wager large amounts is probably better off taking the risk-free bet.

Don’t worry, we did all the hard work for you as we break down all the top NFL betting bonus offers.

Separate Serious Wagers from Fun Bets

One big reason for the popularity of NFL betting is the number of games that are televised. People like to bet on games they can watch, but the Sunday night or Monday night games may not be the best from a betting perspective. While ‘experts’ will tell you not to bet on games where you don’t have an advantage, that does take some of the fun out of sports betting.

There’s nothing wrong with betting on televised games but make sure your bet size reflects why you are betting on a particular game. If your handicapping tells you a game is a good play, go ahead and make your normal wager. If you’re betting on a game simply because it’s televised, make a smaller wager. You still have rooting interest in the game but won’t hurt your bankroll should you choose the losing side.

Important Dates for the 2023 NFL Season

April 27-29, 2023 – NFL Draft

August 3, 2023 – Hall of Fame Game

August 10, 2022 – Start Of Week 1 Preseason Games

September 7, 2022 – First Regular Season Games

January 7, 2023 – End of Regular Season

January 13-14, 2023 – Wild Card Playoff Games

January 21-22, 2023 – Divisional Playoff Games

January 29, 2023 – AFC & NFC Championship Games

February 5, 2023 – Pro Bowl Game

February 11, 2024 – Super Bowl LVIII