A Beginners Guide on How to Bet on NFL Games 690x400 1 300x174 - A Beginner’s Guide on How to Bet on NFL Games
May 11, 2020

The 2021 NFL season is starting soon, and odds, predictions, best bets, and more are already out. Many bettors are already placing bets while some are waiting to get a feel of the season first.

Nevertheless, it’s a good time for beginners to learn how to bet on NFL games. Football betting is a good way to make the games more enjoyable for spectators. If you want to learn how it works, keep on reading.

Favorites vs Underdogs

First, know the difference between the favorites and underdogs. The former is usually the stronger team, while the latter is the lower-ranking one. The bookmakers determine which is which before releasing the betting line.

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The favorites have a good track record, scoring goals and winning matches frequently. They’re not always on top of the rankings, though. Sometimes, an underdog can become a favorite when they climb up the ranks.

While betting on the favorites gives you higher chances, it gives you smaller winnings. The odds are lower because it’s the safer option.

On the other hand, betting on the underdogs usually give much higher returns. After all, the favorites don’t always win the game. In 2020, the Jets (underdog) pulled off a surprise win against the Rams (favorite).

You have a lot to assess before deciding when to choose the favorite or the underdog. Consider each team’s performance during the season, the availability of the players for the match, and more. Research and look at predictions Docs Sports provides.

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Common Betting Lines

In NFL, there are three popular betting lines. These three are usually grouped in the sportsbook. If you’re a beginner, you can start here.

Money Line

The money line bet is the easiest to understand in NFL betting. In this option, you bet on which team you think will win. The odds depend on which team is the favorite and the underdog.

Determine through the odds next to their team name. Money line bets usually look like this:

Dallas Cowboys -200
New York Giants +200

The team with a negative number is the favorite, making the team with a positive number the underdog. Note that the numbers next to them vary each match.

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The number next to Dallas Cowboys means you have to bet that amount ($200) to win $100. If you bet $100, you get $50 (or a total of $150) when the team wins.

The number next to the New York Giants is the amount you win ($200) if you bet $100. You get a total of $300 if they win.

You can bet any amount and your winnings depend on the odds. To find out how much you can win on a bet, use tools like the odds calculator.

Point Spread

The point spread bet is more complex than money line bets. You don’t bet on who wins or who loses – there’s another condition for you to win.

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It’s a disadvantage to the favorite and an advantage to the underdog. It’s a way to level the playing field as football games are not always good match-ups.

The point spread of an NFL game usually looks like this:

Dallas Cowboys -7
New York Giants +7

The oddsmaker sets the line or the point spread. They base it on the number they think is a fair value on both sides. They analyze several factors, including different statistics, trends, public teams, and so on.

The number next to the favorite means the Dallas Cowboys has to win by that much (7 points). The plus indicates how many points the underdog loses.

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If you place your bet on Dallas Cowboys, they must win by at least 7 points to win your bet. If you bet for the New York Giants, you win if they lose by less than 7 points or win the game.

More often, point spreads have half-points attached, also called a “hook.” The point spread would look like -7.5 or +7.5. It eliminates the possibility of a tie or a push.

Totals (Over or Under)

When betting on football totals, you don’t care about who wins or who loses the game. There is no favorite and underdog. Instead, focus on how many points both teams score collectively at the end of the game.

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The sportsbook sets a single number for both teams. You might see the total as “47.5,” for example. It usually has a half-point to prevent a push.

You bet whether the total points scored in a particular game will be over that number (more than 47.5 points) or under it (less than 47.5 points) when combing the scores of each team.

If the game ends with 27-20 for New York Giants, the total would be 47 points. You win if you bet “under” and you lose if you bet “over.”

In case the sportsbook doesn’t set a half-point, you might get a push. If the oddsmaker predicts that the total will fall on 47 points and the final score sums up to 47, you get a push. You don’t win or lose: you simply get your money back.

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It might seem simple but when placing a totals bet, consider a lot of factors. Bettors must research some key variables, like team stats, game logs, recent matchups, standings, power rankings, and more. Keep an eye out for injury reports and the weather.

Multiple-Game NFL Bets

The three most popular betting lines allow you to bet on a particular match only. However, other options allow you to bet on multiple games.

With 13 to 16 matchups in a week, you may want to bet on NFL games more than one time. These are also a great way to win big.


Parlays can include bets on the money line, point spread, and totals or any combination from one or more games in a week on a single ticket. For instance, you can bet for New York Giants to win their match with Dallas Cowboys with an ending total score of 48 points.

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In this example, place a money line bet and a totals bet. You win if both bets win. Losing on one bet means losing the whole bet.

There’s less risk because the potential payouts increase with a single bet. You can bet $100 and get fivefold the amount when you win.

A bettor even turned his $25 into $16,000 because of his 12-team parlay. Remember, you don’t get anything for winning 4 bets out of 5 in a parlay.

In many cases, sportsbooks won’t allow betting on both money line and point spread using one ticket. Some also put a limit on the number of events in a parlay, while others might allow unlimited events.

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Teaser bets are a type of parlay allowing you to adjust the lines shift them in your favor. You can adjust the point spread to lower your risk level, but you need all your bets to hit to win. You sacrifice a bigger potential payout in exchange for a more favorable spread.

You can tease the spreads by 6 to 15 points, depending on the betting platform. However, most sportsbooks allow you to tease by +6.0, +6.5, and +7.0.

Let’s go back back to our example involving New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys with the point spread:

Dallas Cowboys -7
New York Giants +7

If you tease the point spread by 6.5, the New York Giants would get 13.5 points while the Dallas Cowboys would get -0.5 points. It’s more favorable if you play it right. Remember that your potential pay-out lowers as a result.

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Other NFL Bets

Advanced bettors can bet on more than a match or a series of matches. They can also bet on the outcome of a play, award recipients, and more.

Here are some of the most common bets:

Game and Player Props

In prop bets, you make a bet on the team to score first in a match, how many yards a particular player throws for, and everything else in between.

The most common props are usually over/under bets about individual performances. Some other popular props you may encounter include the team with the highest score in a quarter, the number of touchdowns in total, total receiving yards, and more.


It’s a bet you can only win (or lose) at the end of the season. It’s a long-term wager because it can take weeks or even months before you see the outcome of your bet. Futures usually pertain to end-of-the-season outcomes, like who wins the Super Bowl, the MVP of the season, Offensive Rookie of the Year, and so on.

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Continue Learning How to Bet on NFL Games

Now you know the types of bets to make on football games, you now have to learn how and where to bet on NFL games. Learn some football betting tips and get a feel of it first.

It’s best to come prepared even when placing a betting for the first time. If you want more tips, feel free to visit our blog for more informative guides today.

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