The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season. They may be at the forefront of the “Tank for Trevor” mantra, which refers to expected first overall pick Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson. As a result, hopes are high that the Indianapolis Colts and new quarterback Philip Rivers can start the season 1-0 with an easy win over one of the league’s projected doormats.
The thing about sports betting is that it is never as cut and dry as it seems. The reason why a point spread exists is place a handicap the teams that levels the playing field a little bit. In this instance, that handicap is to take eight points away from the Colts and give eight points to the Jaguars in a betting context.
You can think of this in a lot of ways. For example, Jacksonville leads the game 8-0 and the game has not even started it because of the +8 spread. You could also just simply subtract eight points from the Colts once the game is over and see if they would still win the game if you did that. That would be called “covering the spread”.
Let’s take a deeper look at what all of that means because there are so many beginners trying sports betting for the first time this season in states like Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, Colorado, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and all of the other states that have adopted legalized sports betting.
As mentioned above, the spread is a handicap placed on the two teams in hopes of leveling the playing field. If sports betting was as simple as picking the winner of a game, the sportsbooks would get buried. They’re in the business of making money, not losing it.
As a result, a group of people called “oddsmakers” get together and decide what a fair number is to represent the difference between the two teams. As a general rule, most sportsbooks will have the same “opening line” early in the week. Once bets are placed on that game, sportsbooks can tailor the game to their needs in terms of trying to balance action on both sides.
For example, as of Friday afternoon, BetRivers Indiana had the Colts -8 while BetMGM had the Colts -7.5. That is an indicator of how the bet counts look on both teams. Right now, we can assume that BetRivers has gotten more money on the Colts than BetMGM. As a result, the line is a little bit higher at BetRivers than it is at BetMGM.
The decision for you as a bettor is whether or not you think the Colts can win by more points than the spread. If they win by a touchdown, you lose. If they win by 10 points, you win. Basically, you either start the game Jacksonville 8-0 or you wait until the result is final and apply the spread.
Do you think the Colts will win comfortably? In this case, comfortably, at least at BetMGM, would be by eight or more points? If the answer is yes, then you would bet on the Colts.
If you are worried about Indy’s ability to win by more than eight points or worried that they might even lose the game, then you would bet on the Jaguars.
The return on your bet is dependent on two factors – how much money you bet and what the “vigorish” is. In this case, and in most cases with football, the vig (short for vigorish) is -110. This is another tool used by the sportsbooks to balance their action and attempt to come out ahead. What this means for you is that you win $10 for every $11 that you bet.
There is a way to simply bet on the winner of the game and that is called Money Line Wagering. The money line is a straight-up bet, but the vig is much higher. For example, at BetRivers, the outright price on the Colts is -400. At BetMGM, the outright price is -385. That means that you win $10 for every $40 you bet on the Colts at BetRivers and $10 for every $38.50 you bet at BetMGM.
The size of the money line odds are relative to the spread on the game. The higher the spread, the higher the money line odds. For example, with a spread of 2.5, the Packers are +125 to win and the Vikings are -150 to win at BetMGM. That is much smaller than -385 and +300 because the game is expected to be more competitive and the line is a lot smaller.
Money line wagering is all about risk and reward. If you want to bet with a low amount of risk, say, -385 on the Colts to win, you get a low reward of $10 for every $38.50 you risk.
If you want to bet with a high amount of risk, say, +300 on the Jaguars, that would net a higher reward. But, remember, you’re betting on a team said to be 7.5 points worse than the opposition to pull the upset.
Also called “totals betting”, this is a pretty simple and straightforward bet type. You are betting on the total number of points scored by both teams. The total is 44.5 at BetMGM and 45 at BetRivers for Jaguars vs. Colts. Like the spread, this would imply that there is more money on the over at BetRivers than BetMGM because the line is higher.
Sportsbooks are going to adjust lines to their needs in hopes of balancing action. As a bettor, you have the ability to see these price differences. If you think the game will be high scoring, you wouldn’t want to bet over 45 when you could bet over 44.5. Just like you wouldn’t want to bet the Colts -8 when you could bet the Colts at -7.5. In order to wager on the better odds, you would have to have an account at that sportsbook, which is why a lot of bettors have accounts at multiple sportsbooks in order to do what is called “line shopping”.
Learning the basics is the starting point for any bettor. With the NFL, the basics are the spread, money line, and over/under. Having an understanding of the odds and what the different bet types are will give you the chance to make informed decisions with your hard-earned money at sportsbooks like BetRivers and BetMGM.
If you want to give it a try for this game or any Week 1 game, sign up through us and get some extra money in your account with an exclusive deposit bonus from BetRivers Sportsbook or one from BetMGM Sportsbook.