How to Bet on Football? How Does NFL Sports Betting Work?
The king of sports betting in the U.S., how to bet on football is a multi-billion dollar enterprise every year. With ever-increasing popularity as more states legalize sports gambling, an extra weekend of games on the regular season schedule, and as teams form partnerships with sportsbooks, the $7.5 billion legally wagered on the NFL in 2020 could triple once 2021’s numbers are reported.
With this guide, we’ll give you a brief history of the NFL and provide a clearer understanding of how you can get better at betting on the game.
A Brief History of the NFL
The National Football League began in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association before rebranding as the NFL two years later. In more than 100 years of play, the league has grown to 32 teams across the United States. Though talks appear stunted for now, there’s been talk of expansion across the pond to put a team in London.
Of the 12 charter members of the league, only two remain in play today: the Chicago Bears (who at the time were known as the Decatur Staleys) and the Arizona Cardinals (who played in Racine, Wisconsin and later Chicago, Illinois). Though the Green Bay Packers first took the field in 1919, they didn’t join the NFL until 1921.
After agreeing to merge with the rival American Football League (AFL), the league forever changed for the better with the debut of the Super Bowl, meant to be a uniting championship between the top AFL and NFL teams. That impact is still felt today, as the two conferences, the AFC and NFC, are named after those two leagues.
As of writing, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have each won six Super Bowls, the most of any team. The Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars have all yet to play in the Big Game, while the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings hold the dubious distinction of being 0-4 in their Super Bowl appearances.
The NFL has seen tons of changes throughout its history. From the introduction of the forward pass to the implementation of video replay, football has continued to evolve at a fast pace, often faster than other sports. Football has become interwoven with the fabric of American society and has often been a platform to reflect and bring awareness to social issues and causes.
Types of betting
Like in most styles of esports betting, there are multiple fashions in which how to bet on football? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones:
The single bet is very simple. Whether it is a prop or a single game bet, a single bet slip involves betting on just one thing to happen. We’ll talk more about props in a moment.
A single is not a layered bet. If your prop bet hits, then you outright get the money. An example of this would be “Dak Prescott will pass for over 295.5 yards”. If Prescott throws for more than 296 yards, you would win the money.
However, this type of bet would not win you the most amount of money. It is very simple but the risk is so little that you would not get so much monetary gain. A single bet is very simple but the risk can, at times, fail to be worth the reward.
When people think of outright betting, they more than likely mean the moneyline. It is a very simple concept that simply involves picking the team that will win. The teams that are in positive odds are the underdog and betting on those teams would win you more money. Similarly, the teams that are in negative odds are the favorite to win and betting on those would win you less money.
For instance, let’s say the Dallas Cowboys are listed as the favorites against the San Francisco 49ers. Dallas, being the favorite in this matchup, is listed at -160. This means you would need to bet $160 to win $100 on the Cowboys. The underdog 49ers are listed at +150. Betting $100 on San Francisco would result in a $150 win if they pulled the upset because they are the underdog.
The underdog payout will always be larger than the favorite when the amount wagered is the same. But some risks are worth the reward. Furthermore, you don’t need to bet exactly $100 on any matchup; winnings and payouts are scaled proportionally to the wagered amount.
The point spread is arguably the most popular style of NFL betting. The point spread was invented in hopes of making the matchups even by giving the underdog team more “points” in the matchup.
For example, let’s say the Kansas City Chiefs are listed at -675 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are underdogs at +475. Kansas City is heavily favored, so to level the playing field, sportsbooks will award the Steelers extra “points” to level the betting action a bit more.
With those moneyline odds, the Chiefs would likely be around a 13.5-point favorite, meaning even if the Steelers lost the game, they could still win the bet if they lost by fewer than 14 points. This is called “covering the spread.”
Conversely, a bet on Kansas City would require the Chiefs to win by at least 14 points.
Spread bets are usually listed at -110 on either side of the line, and the spread number will move based on the betting action. If many bettors think the Steelers will lose by fewer than 14 points, sportsbooks could bring the line down closer to 10 (or even more if things really get crazy), or they could up the spread to 15 or more if bettors are still overwhelmingly taking the Chiefs.
The spread makes it worth your time to bet on the favorite because you would get a bigger payout if the favorite covers the spread than just picking them to win outright. Similarly, if you felt like the Chiefs were going to win but the Steelers would keep it close, it would be wise to pick Pittsburgh to beat the spread.
This is one of the trickier concepts in sports betting, but once you understand the spread, you’ll open up a whole new world of wagering on NFL action.
Betting on totals or the over/under on a match is betting on the combined score of the game. It’s a great option if you don’t feel confident in picking a winner or betting against the spread.
With totals betting (sometimes referred to as the “over/under”), sportsbooks will determine a score they think the teams will combine to score. From there, your job as a bettor would be to decide if you think the teams will score more or less than that projected total.
Time for another example. In our hypothetical game, the Indianapolis Colts are facing off against the Los Angeles Chargers, and the point total is set at 50.5 points. If the point combined point total in this matchup is less than 51 points, regardless of who wins, the under would hit. However, if it is more than 51 points, then the over on the bet would hit.
Within the past few years, parlays have become one of the most popular styles of betting. This is easily the best way to make big money with a low risk Parlays are simple yet complex. A parlay is when you bet on a series of bets, whether it’s games, props, or futures, and all of them have to hit.
Whether it be 3,8, or 12 legs, all of them must hit for the most amount of money. All of the odds will start to pile up and will therefore allow you to turn $5 into thousands of dollars. Certain betting apps will allow you to cashout if you are uncertain as to whether or not your bet will succeed.
Parlay betting is something new bettors should approach with caution. While it can lead to some fun and sizable paydays, it can also be a good way to blow through a lot of money in short order. The more legs a parlay has, the bigger the payday, but keeping it simple is more likely to result in wins over time.
How to Bet on Football?
Betting can be done either in person at a sportsbook retail location or online with a mobile app or from a computer. Mobile betting has become increasingly popular because it’s easier than getting in your car and driving to place a bet. Not to mention, odds can change before you get to the retail location, and by then, things may not be as favorable.
Sportsbook apps in the U.S. are regulated at the state level by local gaming control boards. These boards ensure companies are operating in a safe and legal manner as defined within the state laws. Some states will only issue licenses to certain sportsbooks, so it’s important to make sure you’re using a legally licensed sportsbook. Otherwise, you’re opening the door for a ton of issues and could be in trouble if the book operates in a sketchy way. Legal sports betting is the only way to go.
One of the best strategies to use as a better is to keep a consistent betting unit. Units are a predetermined amount decided by the better, usually around $5 or $10 but it can be more for high rollers. By keeping your betting units consistent, it will be easier to keep track of how much money you’ve put up on your bets, and you can avoid blowing through your bankroll in a hurry.
This may go without saying, but you should never, ever, bet beyond your means. A good rule of thumb is to never bet more than you can afford to lose. If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, there are abundant resources available at a local and national level. Want to learn more about on NFL? Follow us on Twitter.
How to Bet on Football? FAQs
To bet on the NFL, bettors have to go to a sportsbook that is legal in their state. From there, they can look through the betting options and decide which they want to take advantage of and how much they want to risk on each one.
There are multiple ways to bet on NFL. The most popular are single, moneyline, point spread, totals, and parlay.
Yes, it’s important to make sure you’re using a legally licensed sportsbook. The legal status of NFL betting and all sports betting in America is decided on a state by state basis.