NFL Odds Legend
NFL odds do not stop at the point spread and over under. There are numerous ways to bet on football these days, including the NFL money line, futures (odds to win the Super Bowl), along first half and second half betting lines. Throw in fun fantasy-style prop bets (will Tom Brady throw for 300+ yards this week) and live NFL betting (where you can wager on the next play and on odds that change all game long) and the importance of understanding how NFL odds work has never been greater. Check out the lines and bookmark for more updates and football lines enhancements in the coming weeks and months.
Fancy new betting options may come and go and live NFL betting is the wave of the future. But the good old NFL point spread remains the king when it comes to wagering on pro football. Also known as the line or spread and as betting ‘sides,’ a common misconception is that sportsbooks sets the spread as a predicted margin of victory. In reality, it’s a number odds makers feel will be a good balance between people who want to bet the underdog and those who want to bet the NFL favorite.
A negative value like -11.5 next to a team indicates that they are favored by 11.5 points. So deduct 11.5 points from their total score and see if they still won the game or not. Conversely, a positive value on the same game would be +11.5 (add 11.5 points to their final score). In NFL betting, the favorite must win by at least 12 points to cover the NFL spread. The underdog can lose by 11 points and still cover the spread.
When you see a moneyline value associated with the point spread, it is the percentage amount you must pay in order to book the bet. Commonly referred to as the vig or juice, if you see -11.5, -115, it means you have to risk $115 to win $100, a 15% commission. The underdog may see a value such as +11.5, +105. This means you bet $100 to win $105 if your team covers the spread.
If you see the point spread is -9 on Monday and -10.5 on Wednesday, this is known as a line move. It occurs when too many people are betting the same side of the game and sportsbooks move the line to balance action. That means encouraging more people to bet the other way by making the line more attractive. This reduces risk for the sportsbook, who wants to have an equal amount of betting action (handle) on each team.
NFL moneyline betting continues to grow in popularity as many begin to understand the value of moneylines, especially in betting small underdogs. There is no spread to beat, so your team needs only to win the game straight up (SU), not win by a certain number of points. As with most betting numbers, a negative value indicates the favorite (-140) and a positive one means underdog (+120).
If you envision the number 100 sitting in between these two values, it helps explain how an NFL moneyline works. If you want to bet that -140 favorite, you must risk $140 in order to win $100. To back a +120 underdog we mentioned above, you bet $100 and win $120 if the dog wins outright. In many cases, betting money lines offers better value and can provide a bigger profit for less risk. Read some of the NFL betting 101 section to learn more about when you should bet a moneyline instead of a point spread.
Total or Over/Under
Also known as NFL over under betting, it’s the number set by sportsbooks that estimates the total number of points scored by both teams combined. Then, bettors predict whether there will be more points or less points than the NFL ‘total.’ If you bet the under 37.5, you are hoping for a defensive battle and expecting the offenses to struggle. Conversely, if you bet the over, you are hoping this will be a high-scoring game. Long story short, you are predicting whether the combined total score will be more than (over) or less than (under) the total.
NFL totals betting has become the bet of choice for fans in many games, especially where the point spread is very tight. It also becomes more popular if matchup or injury situations point to a certain style of game. Rain, wind and cold weather can also change the total and make it a more preferable bet than the spread.
Will the New England patriots win the next Super Bowl? You can place bets at any time on the future Super Bowl champion. This is known as NFL futures betting. Oddsmakers set lines and change them during the season, depending on a team’s success or lack thereof. For example, a first-place team in November may be +200 to win the title (roughly 2/1 odds). This means a $100 bet would pay out a $200 profit if they go on to win the title. However, a 1-8 team may be +2000, where a $100 wager would pay $2,000 as a longshot. They can be profitable and its always fun to predict the winner early in the season. But bet wisely. Betting a large amount on an NFL future bet ties up your money for a long time.