How to Bet on the NFL

December 23, 2022

The NFL is growing in popularity with bettors, partly because the regular season is now playing on our shores.

But also because of the dizzying amount of statistics available and the simplicity and Value of the betting market. If you like the Value and level playing field in sports betting, then the NFL is where you need to be.

Handicaps & Spreads

You can bet on NFL games through three main types of bets: Money Line, Totals, and Handicap (spread) markets.

Moneyline markets are straight bets on the winner of the game.

The total points market is betting on whether a match will end at or below a certain number of points.

In the handicap market, one side gains a point advantage so that the odds on both teams are close to an even split, which is where the big move in NFL betting comes into play.

You’ll often hear the handicap market referred to as the ‘spread,’ and it’s used by everyone from professional bettors to the mainstream media when determining the chances of two teams winning. Handicap betting lines balance the playing field to counter the varying strength of each team in the NFL.

It brings two advantages to bettors: firstly, in what may be a one-sided race, you are betting close to 2.0 on either side; and secondly, it introduces the oddsmaker’s opinion to the market. It is important because it means they can, and often do, make mistakes, and that’s where you can make money.

Let’s use a game from Week 3 of the 2021/22 season to illustrate how NFL handicap betting works.

Here the handicap is set at three and favors the New York Giants as they have a minus sign next to their number. The market rates the Giants 3 points higher than the Falcons, so in handicap betting, the Giants start with a 3-point lead.

Bet Giants -3.0 to win if the Giants win by more than 3 points. Likewise, betting Atlanta Falcons +3.0 will pay off if the Atlanta Falcons beat the game or lose by no more than 2 points.

If the Giants win by 3 points, bets on both sides of the handicap will be closed, and if the handicap line does not cross, stakes will refund. You will often see handicap lines with 0.5 numbers at the end are very popular as they eliminate the possibility of advancing and ensure that the handicap will beat by one side.

Beat the Spread

There are some factors you have to consider when betting on a handicap or handicap:

1. Each team’s expected points in any given game must assess. Many factors, such as weather, injuries, and home advantage, can affect expected points. You must evaluate these variables and the handicap to see who will cover their lines.

2. You don’t need to bet on every game. Be selective. You may not be able to anticipate every NFL game, but you see a few games each week where you are sure a team will cover the line with a probability greater than 53%.

3. Bet early. One of the simple ways to take advantage of the spread is to bet early on when the handicap for game posts. Handicap lines for NFL games often change in the lead-up; with the Giants at -3.0 at 1.91 the week before the match and -6.0 a few hours before kickoff, the odds are 1.91.

Avoid Noise

The media’s job is to excite NFL games and create buzz to drive ratings. Don’t be fooled by the noise from the press trying to sell the story of an upcoming game. A winning NFL bettor will be someone who can filter out all the media noise around a game and use the vast amount of data out there to find winning bets.

When betting on the NFL, pay attention to available statistics and historical data. Professional football references are a treasure trove for individual versus team play. NFL players and teams are often aligned, with the statistically best teams constantly vying for the top prize at the end of the season.

One strategy for betting on the NFL is to have the public downplay it. “Fade out” means bet. If the public likes a team to win an upcoming game, they’ll support that team so much that it causes oddsmakers to change the odds to put more money on another team.

The oddsmakers are trying to make the popular pick less attractive, less valuable, and away from the odds that the team is more likely to beat the margins. However, this is good news for bettors, and astute bettors will see the lines move away and bet on their favorite teams when the line is at its highest point and can get the most Value.

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