How to Bet on NFL Games: Everything You Need to Know

December 23, 2022

Everything You Need to Know, How to Bet on NFL Games


Football is among North America’s most wagered sports, and its common is at an all-time high, especially in the NFL. Every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday (and some Saturdays), people worldwide study the stats, games, and trends to gain an edge over the various sportsbooks offering the NFL market.

It could be odds on a single game, player betting props, or NFL futures where bettors place bets to try to cash in. All of this is explained in detail in our how to bet NFL guide below.

Betting on an entire NFL football season can be a fun & profitable endeavor, especially if you put in the time & effort. Luckily, Odds Shark has done the heavy lifting, so all you need to do is read this page, & you’ll have a deeper understanding of how to bet on games of NFL from the preseason to the Super Bowl, in case you’re watching live odds or Traditional football betting lines.

How to Bet on Football: NFL Betting Markets and Odds

People can place the three most common football bets on NFL games point differential, money line, or totals. Let’s break down each bet type and how to understand the associated odds:

  • Point Spread

Point differential in football is a number calculated by odds experts based on sports betting to provide an advantage or disadvantage based on a given NFL team’s expected margin of error.

The “favorite” team will be at a disadvantage because it needs to win the game by a certain number of pts, while the “underdog” will gain the advantage and not lose the game by a certain number of points or win the game outright.

Typically, the point differential for an NFL game looks like this:



That means the Saints hope to beat the Falcons by seven points or more. In sports betting, each team assigns a “-110” odds designation (or vig) to make the game fairer, level the playing field for bettors, and provide a profit for the sportsbook.

Bettors need to determine before the game whether they think the Saints will make a victory by more than 7 points or whether the Falcons will win the game within 7 points. If you bet -7 on the Saints and New Orleans wins the game 31-28, meaning the Falcons cover the +7 point difference, you lose your bet.

  • Total

The total score for any NFL game is both teams’ projected final combined score. A Total sets by oddsmakers based on how they envision the game from a scoring standpoint. As a bettor, you need to determine whether the final score will be higher or lower than a set total, and there are many factors to consider before placing a total bet.

Before we look at the tips or online betting strategies, here are the totals to look for in your online sportsbook for NFL games:


As a bettor, you can choose whether the match’s final score will be over 48.5 or under 48.5. So if Dallas’ game ends 27-20, the Total would be 47, meaning the Total would be lower than the closing Total.

Here are some key variables that bettors need to research to place total bets with confidence:

• Recent offensive and defensive team stats

• Injury reports to find out who played today’s NFL games

• Recent game records and duels

• NFL standings

• NFL Power Rankings

• NFL Betting Trends

• NFL Computer Picks

• NFL Consensus Picks

Some of the above recommendations may be more important than others, but you should review all of them at least once before you place your bet.

Monitoring injury reports is critical. The absence of players at key positions, such as the quarterback, could affect the game’s flow. Weather is another factor to consider that can affect a team’s game plan. Once satisfied with your researched information, you can start making total bets.


NFL money line betting means picking the team you think will win the game outright. This type of betting is called an outright bet in sports betting because money line betting involves picking one team to win against another.

Because of the skill and talent differences between the two teams, the odds on the “favorite” are usually high as they have less risk of losing to the “underdog.”

For example, if the New York Jets travel to the New England Patriots, the odds will look like this:


JETS +140

A $100 bet on New England to win will bring you $162.50 – your original $100 returns along with your winning $62.50. On the other hand, if you put the same amount in New York and they win, you’ll get $240 – you get $100 back plus your $140 bonus.

Betting on the underdog, in this case, the Jets is considered a riskier bet, but you’ll get a bigger payoff. Conversely, betting on the Patriots is less risky, which means less reward.

Check out our odds calculator to find out how much you could win based on your bet.

What Are Other Popular NFL Betting Types?

NFL Futures

NFL futures were betting places on possible events at the end of the NFL season. One of the most accepted NFL futures bets is on “Which of the Team Will Win the Super Bowl,” but these markets aren’t limited to which team reaches the top and wins the title.

Here are some of the popular futures bets you can place before and throughout the regular season:

• Odds of winning the NFC South Division

• Odds of winning the AFC

• Odds of winning NFC

• NFL regular season MVP

• NFL Defensive Player of the Year

• NFL regular season win totals

The downside of these bets is that it can sometimes take weeks, even months, to determine a winner, but the odds inflate, so if you win a futures bet, the rewards of waiting are usually worth it.

For example, if you placed a $100 bet on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl before the season started and they were at +500, you would win $600, a $500 profit, and $100 on your original bet. But since you placed your bet in August, you’ll have to wait until February to cash out, and the $100 will be frozen until the outcome is determined.

Games and Player Props

NFL props are like a game within a game that many bettors play in that it usually does not determine the outcome of a game.

The most popular NFL items you’ll find at sportsbooks are usually related to individual performances and are determined by the OVER/UNDER method. Here is an example:


As a bettor, you need to decide whether you think Mahomes will throw for 300 yards or more or be limited to 299 yards or less. Your underbet loses if you bet under 299.5, and he throws for 350 yards.

Here are some of the popular game and player props at regular NFL games:

• Quarterback O/U Passing Yards

• Running Back O/U Punch

• Wide receiver O/U receive code

• First touchdown scorer

• Anytime touchdown scorer

These are only the tip of the iceberg of NFL props available to bettors that will go into overdrive during the Super Bowl. When it comes time to bet on a big game, you can bet like the props above, which are sometimes considered comical props.

Props such as the coin toss, the length of the American national anthem, and what color Gatorade gives to the winning coach at the end of the game are just more than 300 props available for the Super Bowl.


Parlay means you make multiple selections in different games but on one ticket, such as money line, spread, and the total bet. To win a streak, you need all Bets to win.

Let’s use the three examples above from common NFL betting to determine payouts and what you could win if all three bets were successful:

Saints -7 vs. Falcons (-110)

Patriots Moneyline vs. Jets (-160)

Cowboys Giants Sub-48.5 (-110)

According to Odds Shark’s Odds Calculator, the odds for this parlay are +492. If you wager $100 on this parlay bet and all three stakes win, you will pay $592, a $492 profit, and your original $100 back.

You can also select two events in the exact match for a linked pass. For example, you could have the Cincinnati Tigers cover the Cleveland Browns handicap at odds of +10 (-110) and add an Under 41.5 (-110) bet for that game. The odds of this streak are +265, and if both are successful, you will pay $365, which is a $265 profit, and your original $100 back.


NFL pass-line betting is a way of adjusting the spread in favor of bettors. Like a parlay, you must bet your total bet to win the lottery. However, you can adjust the sportsbook’s preset spreads or totals to reduce your risk level.

Preliminaries usually start at 6 points and go up to 15 depending on the online sportsbook site, but the most common variety is to pick two or three teams and prep NFL odds at 6, 6.5, or 7 points.

Here’s an example of a two-team NFL preliminaries bet:

  • Two-Team Parlay – Opening Spreads
Game Pick
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Philadelphia Eagles Pittsburgh -4
Los Angeles Rams vs Seattle Seahawks Los Angeles +6


  • Let’s say you like Pittsburgh -4.0 and L.A. +6.0 but worry that Pittsburgh might only win by a field goal or that L.A. might lose by a touchdown. If you combine those games into a 7-point trailer, you now have Pittsburgh +3.0 and Los Angeles +13.0. Now it looks like this:
    • Two-Team Parlay – New Teaser Spreads
Game Pick
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Philadelphia Eagles Pittsburgh +3
Los Angeles Rams vs Seattle Seahawks Los Angeles +13


Now, any win in Pittsburgh (even a loss by a point or two) is a cover, and Los Angeles covers on more occasions. It comes at a price, as the teaser moves the line so favorably in the direction of your choice. Unlike most books that pay +260 for a two-team parlay, the two-team parlay pays -130. You are minimizing risk while also minimizing payout opportunities.

Live Betting

In-play betting means you place a bet after a football match has started. With live odds and odds for every tee-off, almost every option in the props section above can wager live. You can also place “result of drive” bets on how a given team will perform on a particular offense, such as whether the quarterback will intercept or complete his next pass or whether the team will score.

The types of odds available will depend on how much time is lefts in the game, and like the stock market, odds can change rapidly based on what’s happening on the field. These markets are intended for experienced NFL bettors and are not recommended for first-time bettors.

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