NFL Point Spread, Moneyline, and Over/Under Betting

Betting on the NFL is a great way to turn your knowledge of the game into cold, hard cash. Unfortunately for many, the desire to win money often doesn’t translate into walking away a winner. Most times, the difference between winning and losing a bet comes down to not how well you know the two teams playing, but how well you understand the style of betting you chose to pursue. In the following few sections, the three most popular betting styles will be discussed in order to give you a better idea of just how they work.

NFL Point Spread Betting

If you have ever been around people who are watching the NFL, one of the most frequently overheard inquiries may go something like this, “Hey, what’s the spread of this game?” Though you may have heard that phrase uttered in some capacity many times throughout your NFL-watching life, you may not have ever understood what it actually meant.

Betting the spread of a football game is nothing more than placing a wager on how much you think a given team will win, or lose by, as decided by professional bookmakers. As such, every game you will ever watch will have both an underdog and a favorite. Sometimes, however, the matchup is so tight that the spread will be 0, and you simply have to pick the team you think will win.

In spread betting, the team with a plus (+) next to their name is always the underdog while the team with the minus (-) next to their name is always the favorite. Next to the (+) or (–) will be a number; this is the amount by which the team is either favored to win by or expected to lose by. For example, let’s say that the Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5) are playing their arch-rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5). If you think the Steelers will win by more than 2.5 points, the appropriate bet would be on the -2.5 Steelers. If, on the other hand, you think the Bengals are going to win or lose by 2 points or fewer, the appropriate bet would be on the +2.5 Bengals. To think about more simply, think about the (+)’s and (–)‘s as meaning the amount of points the team starts with. In this example, the Bengals start with 2.5 points and need to either improve upon that tally or maintain it in order to win. Conversely, the Steelers will be starting the game with negative (-) 2.5 points and will need to undo the deficit in order to win.

NFL Moneyline Betting

Moneyline betting is different than spread betting due to the simple fact that moneyline betting does not take into consideration the margin of victory or defeat. Instead, you will simply have the choice of betting on Team A to win or Team B to win.

In order for you to better understand moneyline sports betting, another example is needed. In this hypothetical example, let’s say that the San Diego Chargers are travelling to Chicago to take on the Bears. When you view this moneyline, you may see something like, San Diego +200 v. Chicago -150. Just like it is with spread betting, the team with a (-) next to their name is the favorite while the team with a (+) next to their name is the underdog. On some occasions, both teams will be technically considered underdogs or favorites.

The numbers next to your teams name as well as the (+) or (-) help you understand how much a winning bet will win you. Nowadays, most online bookmakers will do the calculation for you, but it is always beneficial to know how to determine the amount of money you stand to win in order to determine if the bet is worth it or not. For all teams with a (+) next to their name, find out how much you stand to win by multiplying the amount you wish to wager by the number next to your team’s name and moving the decimal point two places to the left. In this example, placing a $10 bet on San Diego (+200) will see you stand to win $20 ($10 x 200 = 2,000 or $20.00).

On the other hand, all teams with a (-) next to their name require you to divide the amount you wish to wager by the number next to your team’s name and subsequently moving the decimal two places to the right. In this case it is the Bears (-150). A $10 bet on Chicago (-150) will see you stand to win $6.67 (10/150 = .06666 or $6.67).

NFL Over/Under Betting

Finally, the last most popular bet able to be placed on NFL games is referred to as an over/under wager. The simplest of the three, over/under betting is nothing more than a bet placed on the total number of points scored between both teams in a given game. Professional bookmakers set the over/under total before the game kicks off and allow you to place wagers on whether the total score will fall short of or exceed the preset tally.

In this final example, let’s say the over/under of an NFL game is 51.5 points (Over (-105); Under (-105)). If both teams combine for 58 points, all over bets win while all under bets lose. Conversely, if both teams only account for 36 points, all under bets will win while all over bets lose. To determine how much a given bet stands to win, take the number next to both the over and the under and apply the same multiplication and division rules as were mentioned in conjunction with moneyline betting.