NFL Betting: Everything You Need to Know

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For many punters, American Football remains a sport that is largely off their radar as far as betting is concerned, while for others it is a game they have a passing interest in but no more.

This is a shame, because there is plenty of money to be made with smart betting on this Stateside institution.

You will need to know a little a bit about the sport to take the greatest advantage of course, but with a brief bit of research online you will have the basics in place. Watching matches will help you to come to terms with the unique intricacies and enable you a better platform from which to tackle the more obscure markets associated with this game which is incredibly simple yet beautifully complex at the same time.

Teaching you the basics of American Football is not on our agenda; instead we want to explore the most popular, and some obscure, markets to help build a rather handsome bankroll over time.

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

The Basics of NFL Betting

The most common bet in American Football is the Money Line, which is basically the same as the 1X2 market in football (soccer!) without the draw. So you might see:


So the Philadelphia Eagles are priced at 27/20 to win the match, and the Chicago Bears are at 20/31.

This is obviously the simplest market to target – we don’t really care whether our team wins by one point or twenty here, as long as they get the ‘W’. As such, it is the one most widely plundered by newcomers to American Football betting, and provides an excellent grounding for further markets to come.

Next up we have the handicap market, most commonly known as The Spread. This offers a pair of reimagined scorelines based on a + or – handicap added to the two teams. Here’s an example:


So here the spread is three points, and as shown the +3 is handed to the Philadelphia Eagles and the -3 to Chicago Bears, with both available at 10/11.

In order to satisfy the requirements and for your bet to win, we would need the Eagles to either win the match or lose by one or two points for our wager on them to be successful, alternatively for our +3 on the Bears to come in we would need them to win this match by a minimum of four clear points.

The Spread market is a great way to add greater value to your betslip in games where one side is clearly better than the other, but their outright (Money Line) price is too short to be of value.

The third type of American Football bet type we’re going to take a look at is Total Points, evidenced here:


Here we are trying to predict whether the match will go Over or Under the 42.5 total point mark. To cover the bet clearly we would need there to be 43 points scored in the contest for our ‘overs’ bet to be a success. Likewise, any points haul under 42 will prove a winner for punters in the ‘unders’ category.

NFL Betting Strategies

Armed with this basic information, punters can make their first foray into the world of NFL betting. But as with any sport, while there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to go about your wagering, it does make sense to follow some sensible strategies in order to give yourself the best possible chance of catching a few wins.

Spread Betting

Spread Betting is an age-old strategy for wagering on American Football and similar sports, and taps into that mindset that we have already outlined, namely that in the vast majority of cases one team is better than another….but by how much?

Factoring in other variables such as injuries, team selection and weather will tap into this strategy too, but the basic principle is to assign each team your own kind of ‘power ranking’, so that when #1 plays #12 you know that you can wager on your chosen spread with accuracy.

Basically the question we’re asking here is ‘we know Team A is better than Team B, but by how many points?’ If you can do this well then betting value should reveal itself….

Player-Based Betting

Another NFL betting strategy is to ignore these team markets and instead stick to those involving individual players. These include Touchdown Scorers (First or Anytime), Scorecasts, Total Passing Yards, Total Rushing Yards, Total Receiving Yards etc. Clearly these require a certain amount of knowledge about the sport, but if you’re willing to put in the graft then these markets offer some genuinely lucrative opportunities.

Hard Yards

In the NFL quality-gaps between franchises are all too common, and these mis-matches can result in very one-sided fixtures being played out. An easy way to calculate how big a gap exists between two teams is to calculate their respective yards differentials (offensive yards per play minus defensive yards per play). Basically, this calculation highlights how much time a team spends on the front foot, and so the higher their differential the better they are, in crude terms.

This data is readily available on the internet, so creating your own power rankings to determine whether a handicap or money line is priced correctly is straightforward enough. Using this metric, you will be able to analyse where one team is underpriced/overpriced given their yards per play ratio, and you might even be able to identify some under-priced underdogs – a great skill for punters of any sport to possess.

Home Field Advantage

Again, this is a phenomenon that exists across the world of sport and has done for decades, but home field advantage is very much a ‘thing’ in the NFL; and this can help to shape your thinking as a punter.

Since 2002 around 57% of all NFL matches have been won by the home side, so clearly there is an edge to be gained in betting on those teams playing on home soil (bearing in mind the multitude of other variables that exist).

Obviously, just betting blindly and wildly on home teams is not a betting strategy primed for long term success, but in close-fought matches or when covering spreads ‘HFA’ should certainly be factored into your thinking.

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