How Does American Football Betting Work?

How Does American Football Betting Work

American football is one of the most coveted sports in the United States, and football fans enjoy placing monetary bets on games to add some excitement to the game, and to win a buck or two. It is common for football fans to place bets on collegiate football teams or professional teams in the National Football League (NFL). The most common form of betting in American football is betting from the point spread.

Point Spread

Point spread is the most popular method in American football betting. A point spread is the method used to evenly match unbalanced teams by adding or taking away points from the team's score. The favored team is the team that is more expected to win the game, and the underdog is the team that is generally not expected to win.

In a point spread bet, the favored team is indicated with a minus (-) sign and a number. The favored team must have a score more than the number of points indicated. The "more than" is crucial because if the favored team wins the game by the exact number of points indicated by the spread, then those who bet on the favored team do not win the bet. In this scenario, all bettors would have their original bets returned. This is known as a push. Because of this, many point spreads are indicated with a half point to eliminate the push.

A very common point spread for the favored team is -6.5. This means that the favored team must beat their opponent, the underdog, with more than 6.5 points. This is a common bet because one touchdown and the extra point equates to seven points.

Consequently, the underdog is indicated with the plus (+) sign and the same number on the favored team. If the favored team wins but does not win by more than the points indicated on the betting point spread, then those who bet on the underdog wins the bet. If the underdog wins the entire game, then those who bet on the underdog win the wager regardless of the point spread. The team that wins the bet, favorite or underdog, is described as the team that covered the spread.


The point spread is associated with the odds. The odds are the betting line that bettors wage their money on. In the NFL point spread, the odds are .90:1. This means that for every dollar bet, a better can win .90 cents. The most common line is -110, known as the stake. Someone placing this bet has to risk $110 to stand to win $100, ultimately receiving $210.

Money Line

The money line is another way to place a bet on a football team. This wager bets on which team wins the game regardless of by how many points. The favorite and underdog are indicated with a minus and plus sign, respectively. To bet on the favorite, bettors must risk more money to stand to win $100. The amount of money that is risked is the negative number stated. To bet on the underdog, a $100 bet can stand to win the positive number stated.


What are proposition wagers?

A proposition wager, more commonly known as a prop wager, is a bet on the outcome of a certain event at the football game. Bettors can make prop wagers on anything they desire. Popular prop wagers include which team scores the first touchdown in the Super Bowl, and more eccentric prop wagers is which flavor Gatorade will be poured on the winning team's coach at the Super Bowl. Prop wagers are formatted using the money line.

What is a parlay?

A parlay wager is a wager of multiple straight wagers, including the point spread or the money line. This type of wager strings multiple bets together to exponentially increase a bettor's potential winnings. If any of the bets made in the parlay loses, then the entire bet is lost.

Placing bets on an NFL game is legal only in some states in the United States. Some states have regulated online sports betting and allow betting on NFL games. Those who live in a state where NFL gambling is not legal usually resort to fantasy football if the state allows that. Bettors should not place bets on offshore betting websites as it is illegal and there is no protection to ensure you receive the winnings.

What are total wagers?

Total wagers is another way to bet on a football game. This type of wager combines the two final scores of the game, and bettors will place an over or under bet from a given number. The given number is referred to as the total. For example, if the total is 30 and a bettor placed an over bet, then the combined scores of the final game must be over 30 points.