From Moneylines to Parlays: Everything you need to know to become an NFL betting pro — insights on odds, spreads, and more.
Last updated: October 24, 2023
NFL betting is one of the most beloved pastimes for Americans. After the famous 2018 PASPA repeal, millions of Americans can now enjoy their pastime legally outside of Nevada, as many states have embraced the new industry while others are set to join the train. On top of online sports betting, a growing number of American residents can now also place wagers at physical sportsbooks, where you’ll be surrounded by walls of televisions and odds boards around you, adding to the excitement.
Now that NFL wagering has reached a new peak in terms of popularity, more and more bettors analyze matchups, statistics, and betting trends to get an advantage on the sportsbooks. Since legal online betting still represents a relatively new feature in the United States, many new bettors are not fully aware of how the odds, spreads, and NFL markets function in general.
This guide covers everything you need to know before placing a wager on an NFL game.
To bet on NFL games, sports bettors from states that have licensed online betting must open an account with a sportsbook. On our website, you can choose from the most reputable sportsbooks in the US — the only brands we promote, complete the registration process, make a deposit, and start betting on your favorite NFL teams and markets within minutes.
Moneylines, spreads, and totals represent the NFL betting staples and are available at every single online sports betting operator in the United States. The vast majority of sportsbooks offer many more markets and prop bets of all kinds. If you are new to sports betting, you should be familiar with all these markets and learn how to increase your chances of winning in the long run.
|Type of Bet||What It Is|
|Moneyline||Bet on Which Team Will Win|
|Spread||Bet on The Winning Margin|
|Totals||Bet on Total Number of Points|
|Parlays||Combine More Selections Into One Wager|
|Teasers||Allows Bettors To Adjust The Lines|
|Prop Bets||Team and Player Specific Bets|
|Futures||Bet on Future Results & Outcomes|
Moneyline is the most common betting market in any sport, but its role in the NFL is different. NFL bettors normally prefer spreads and totals because of the even odds on both sides of the bets. With moneyline betting, the odds can sometimes be too short for the favorites, taking out the value from a potential pick. In essence, with moneyline, you choose the winner of the game.
The New Orleans Saints are the favorites in the home game against the Titans, but if you want to back them to win, you will need to bet $182 for a $100 profit. The winnings are fairly modest if you compare them with the stakes, which is why the moneyline market comes behind spreads and totals in popularity.
Obviously, if you fancy the Titans to secure an upset and see off the Saints on the road, the +150 moneyline odds will work just fine in this instance. A bet of $100 would then net you a $150 profit.
Spread betting is king when it comes to the NFL. A spread represents a number set by the sportsbooks (their odds specialists) to level the field and give both teams equal chances of winning. What they do is add a certain number of points to the underdogs before the start of the match.
We used the same match from the moneyline example. As you can see, the odds with spreads are equal for both home win and away win (-110 each). The catch is that the Saints have a -3.5 number beside their name. This means that if you want to back New Orleans with this spread and at -110 odds (instead of -182 odds for the moneyline pick), you need them to beat the Titans by four points or more. If the Titans win or lose the game by a margin of fewer than four points, your New Orleans spread pick will be losing.
You can use the spreads the other way around. Let’s say you believe in Tennessee to put up a strong effort in this game, but you are not too confident about them winning. Expecting a close affair, you can take the -110 odds and back the Titans to win in a +3.5 spread. In this case, you need them to either win the match or lose by a margin of one, two, or three points.
The spread lines can also be expressed by round numbers (not 3.5, like in the example above, but 3). In this case, we have an option of a push introduced.
As presented, Baltimore is a massive favorite here, and they need to beat the Texans by a margin higher than 10 points to cover the spread. However, if they win by exactly ten points, your pick is considered a push, and the sportsbook will refund your stake.
Totals are another super popular NFL betting market. The total represents the projected number of points scored by both teams combined at the end of a certain game. Much like the spreads, the sportsbooks set the number for totals for each game individually. Your task is to predict whether the total number of points scored in a game will be higher or lower than the one set by the sportsbooks.
Example: Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Browns
If you bet the Over, you need the final score to add up to more than 47 points (34-17, for example). For the under, bettors need the total number of points scored to be lower than 48 (27-20, for example).
Like with the spreads, players often see a round number set for the totals’ market for certain games. Whenever you see a round number, you should know there is a chance of a push.
Example: Jacksonville Jaguars vs Indianapolis Colts
If the total number of points scored in this game is 45 (25-20), the bet will result in a push, and you will get your stakes back. If it is higher than 45 points (26-20), the Over bet wins; if it is lower (24-20), the Under pick wins.
On top of standard statistics, such as the team’s offensive and defensive production, form, or specific matchups, you should always check the weather forecast before placing a bet on this market. To be more precise, you want to know the wind speed. As soon as it goes above 15MPH, scoring stats normally drop as passing gets more difficult, hence making the Under option the way to go.
While adding fun and entertainment to your NFL Sundays, parlays do not represent the best EV+ way to wager. It isn’t easy to land multi-game parlays consistently, which is why you will always be better off sticking to singles and doubles to increase your chances of staying profitable in the long run.
However, nobody can deny the attractiveness of big payouts on an action-packed NFL Sunday parlay. We by no means want to forbid you to have fun and place NFL parlays, but minimize your stakes with them and keep the core of your bankroll for singles.
|Single Game Parlay (SGP) Example||Odds|
|Kansas City To Win -6.5 vs Detroit Lions||-110|
|Over 40 Points in Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons||-110|
|Cleveland Browns to Beat Cincinnati Bengals||+105|
If you place a parlay with these three bets, the total odds would be +650. A $100 bet would net you a $650 profit (or a $750 total payout). It is important to know that you need to land all three picks to get the winning parlay. If only one of the selected options lets you down, the parlay would be considered a losing one.
You do not even need to choose different games to create a parlay. A same-game parlay option has become increasingly popular among the US bettors of late. Almost all sportsbooks now offer it as a possibility.
Single-Game Parlay Example: Los Angeles Rams vs Cincinnati Bengals
Sports bettors are free to try and combine whichever market you can from any game. Just hit the “SGP” (Same-Game Parlay) tab among the markets available for a game. Then, add the selections you want, and the sportsbook will come up with the total odds. If you like the potential payout, proceed to placing a wager.
Teasers work on the same principle as parlays but have one significant difference. They allow bettors to adjust the lines for spreads and totals in their favor. In reality, they represent alternate betting lines. They usually start at 6 or 7 points, but the sportsbooks nowadays offer bettors an option to select more or fewer points as per a la carte scheme. The odds move accordingly because you will be looking at a significantly lower payout with a teaser than a standard parlay. After all, teasers move the lines in your direction.
Example — Standard Parlay:
Example — 7-Point Teaser:
The chance of landing the teaser is much higher than a regular parlay, but the odds are also significantly weaker.
On top of the basic markets described above, NFL betting brings us many both team and player propositions — prop bets, for short — to wager on. The number of these markets is on a constant increase, especially now that legal online sports betting has become available in most states.
A prop bet represents a bet on an event within the game, and it is usually not bound to the final score of a match. It adds a special excitement to the game, allowing bettors to focus more on specific segments they’ve wagered on rather than the outcome of an event.
For each outfit, you can bet on team props and predict the number of points, touchdowns, total passing yards, total rushing yards, etc.. Quarter scores and half scores also represent popular props. However, player props are the kings of NFL betting. Some of these include:
Props get an extra dimension ahead of the Super Bowl. Here are some of the options you can wager on for the biggest game of the season:
The range of options is extreme, as sportsbooks keep amusing us with new betting features every year. It is very important to distinguish the props that can bring you value from those that are available purely for fun. No statistical parameter can help you predict the coin toss ahead of the Super Bowl, which is why we would warmly suggest skipping this market, for example.
The value does come in with player props, though. Matchups, injury reports, offensive and defensive stats, etc., can be your best friend before placing a player prop. This market is still considered fairly soft for seasoned handicappers. Player props are not yet fully streamlined, meaning you should not be surprised to find a significant distinction in yardage for certain bets among different sports betting operators.
A futures pick is a season-long wager where you get to predict either team or player outrights for the end of the season. The most popular NFL futures pick is the Super Bowl winner, while the bettors also have a wide range of other variants, including some of the following:
These picks are always hard to land, but they also promise big payouts regardless of the market. For example, the Chiefs are +600 to win the Super Bowl in a season in which they are considered the main contenders for the championship. Similarly, Patrick Mahomes would also be +600 as the main favorite for the MVP award.
In-play betting is another highly entertaining way to bet on NFL games. It offers all markets and props that are available for standard pre-game wagering. On top of these, bettors get a chance to predict the outcome of each drive. You can thus place bets on whether a team will secure the new first down in the next action, whether the quarterback will complete his next pass or get sacked, etc.
You should also approach these markets with caution because the odds and the lines vary in a matter of seconds. Also, it is very hard to be consistently successful with these predictions because of the lack of proper statistical parameters. Player props might be fruitful with NFL live betting. You will thus be interested in backing the Over on the quarterback props and Under for the running back props for a team that is trailing late in the game.