How to Bet NFL Football Lines

Football is the most popular American sport for wagering. Of course it is because, after all, football is America’s most popular sport. Why is football betting so enjoyable? There’s more to the thrill of it than just the fact that people love football. Football is an intense sport and gamblers are generally intense people. Therefore, it’s a perfect mix.

Another reason football draws so much wagering has to do with the lengthy periods in between games. This gives bettors an opportunity to do a bit of research on the teams prior to the game. Baseball, for example, is a daily sport. Bettors don’t have as much time to prepare wagers.

However, it isn’t easy to beat the sportsbooks betting on football. The oddsmakers – those that set the lines – are good at what they do. They make it hard for you to win, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be one of the skilled bettors that beats the house. There are thousands of winning sports bettors out there, so why not you? We can’t transform you into a winner overnight, but we can get you started in the right direction. So let’s start with the most important basics – betting football lines.

Two Main Wagers: Moneyline and Point Spread

There are two main types of football wagers. The most common wager is a bet against the spread. This form of wagering requires bettors to pick one team against the listed point spread. The score of the game is all that matters, not the winner. With a point spread, your team must either win by a certain amount of points or not lose by more than a certain amount of points.

The other main type of football betting is a wager on the moneyline. To win this bet, the team you pick simply must win the game. There are no added points involved. Either your team wins and then you collect your winnings or you lose. Sounds pretty simple, right? There’s more to it!

Football Betting Line Odds; How Much Can You Win?

Before placing a wager you need to calculate the potential profit. This is simple to accomplish. Point spread wagers typically have –110 odds. What that means is in order to win $10 you have to wager $11. Or, in order to win $500 you have to wager $500. These aren’t even-money bets.

Payouts on a moneyline bet are different. You are paid based on the line and only if your team wins straight-up. Here’s how you calculate the payout. Favorites are always listed with “-“ lines. Underdogs are listed with “+” lines. If you select a favorite to win, you will make less than you would had you bet on the underdog, if your wager amount is equal.

A moneyline payout calculation is very simple. An even-money line pays out 1:1. So if you bet $50 and win, you will receive $100 ($50 refunded from your wager and $50 profit). Even-money lines are also referred to as a “pick ‘em”. Favorites payout less than 1:1 and underdogs payout better than 1:1.

For example, if Dallas is –150, you are getting 1:1.5 odds. That means it would take a $150 wager in order to profit $100. Whereas, if Dallas was the underdog at +150, it would take $100 in order to win $150. There are times where there are 2 favorites in a game. You may see 2 teams listed as –105 or something close to that. What that means is the oddsmakers haven’t determined a true favorite because the teams are so evenly matched.

How to Determine Which Bet to Place

There isn’t an exact science as to how to determine which team to bet on in every game. Sometimes you just have to trust your gut. However, before you place a bet, you need to take into consideration “value”. Perhaps you are confident Green Bay will beat Minnesota, but if the moneyline is unfavorable or Minnesota is getting too many points, betting on Green Bay might not be the best play.

If Green Bay is –280, there isn’t much value on the moneyline. Even though you’re confident in the Packers winning, there’s still a chance Minnesota could win. Anything can happen in sports. The online sportsbook will require a $280 bet if you want a $100 profit. That’s usually too much money to win $100. So if the moneyline isn’t favorable, you may be better off betting on Green Bay against the spread (-110 odds), but only if you’re confident they will win by enough points.

Remember to always consider value before placing a wager. Do your research on the teams involved and handicap the game on your own. But even if you’re confident in your pick, don’t drop any money on a team unless the potential payout is worth the risk. Good luck betting on football games. If you aren’t sure which online sportsbook to use, we've recommended a few below.