Do you want to know how to bet on NFL games? Read our ultimate guide on how to legally bet, where to bet, and the different types of NFL bets available.
Can you feel it? The air is getting a little crisper, people are swapping their tees for flannels, and pumpkin spice everything is planning its imminent return to coffee shops everywhere. That’s right. Fall is almost here, and with it, the NFL season.
As you nosh on your pumpkin spice scone, your favorite teams are preparing—reviewing preseason games in dimly lit locker rooms, finalizing their all-star rosters, and taking stock of the competition.
What are you doing? Put away that scone. You should be preparing, too—reviewing how to bet on NFL games, finalizing your NFL betting knowledge, solidifying your NFL betting strategy, and taking stock of the best NFL sportsbooks and live betting sites.
Now huddle up, and let’s get started.
Betting Basics: Types of Bets
When it comes to betting on NFL games, there’s not one correct way to do it. Football is the most popular sport in America. According to a 2021 Washington Post poll, 65% of adults said they were football fans and 34% said football was their favorite sport, surpassing the competition by more than double.
It should come as no surprise then that football is also an extremely popular sport to bet on. While we’ll delve into some of the more unconventional betting opportunities later, let’s first look at the three most basic types of NFL bets that most of the best nfl betting apps will have:
- Spread bets
Moneyline bets are probably the most straightforward bets you’ll find. When you place a moneyline bet, you’re betting on the outcome of an individual game. For instance, let’s say that Team A (the Denver Broncos) is playing Team B (the New Orleans Saints). For a moneyline bet, you simply decide who you think is going to win and bet on them. If they win, you win. If they lose, you lose.
So, what’s the catch?
The trick when it comes to moneyline bets is paying attention to the odds. Let’s look at that Denver Broncos - New Orleans Saints matchup again:
- Broncos +500
- Saints -650
The numbers next to each team show the odds of the matchup. Whatever team has a “-” before their moneyline odds is the favorite to win the game, and the team with a “+” is the underdog.
This is important to know, as a winning bet on the favorite will pay out less than the same bet on the underdog.
In the example above, if you were to bet $100 on the Broncos and they won, you would win $500. However, you would have to bet $650 on the Saints just to win $100. Since they’re expected to win, you have to put more money down if you want any return on your bet.
Even if you’re not a big sports bettor, you’ve probably heard people mention the spread before. In broadcasts, you may hear announcers say that one team is, say, “favored to win by 6,” or something similar.
So, what is a spread?
An NFL point spread is a tool that sportsbooks use to even the odds of a game. That way, no matter which team you bet on, you’ll get a similar payout. However, for a bet on the favorite to win, they have to do more than win the game. They have to win by a certain amount of points for your bet to pay off. Let’s look at our example from above:
- Broncos +12.5 (-110)
- Saints -12.5 (-110)
This shows us that the betting odds have been set at 12.5 points. So, if you bet on the Saints, they have to win the game by 13 or more points for your bet to win. If you bet on the Broncos, your bet wins if they win the game or if they lose by 12 points or fewer.
The numbers in parentheses next to the spread show you the payouts for a spread bet. In this case, the odds are the same for each NFL team, with you needing to bet $110 to win $100.
The last of the three main types of bets is an over/under bet (sometimes also called a totals bet). In this type of NFL bet, it doesn’t matter who wins the game, you’re simply betting on the final score. Let’s look at our example one last time:
- O 44.5 (-110)
- U 44.5 (-115)
In this example, the over/under has been set at 44.5 points. If you think the two teams will combine to score more than 44.5 points, bet the over. If you think it’ll be a defensive struggle and they’ll score less, bet the under.
Again, the number in parentheses next to the line shows how much each bet will pay. In this case, you’ll need to bet $110 to win $100 on an over bet. For an under, you’ll need to bet $115 to win $100.
Reading a Line
Now that you understand the three main types of bets, you should be able to easily read a betting line. Let’s look at our example from above. However, this time we’ll show you the full betting line as you might see it in an NFL sportsbook:
- Broncos +12.5 (-110) O 44.5 (-110) Money +500
- Saints -12.5 (-110) U 44.5 (-115) Money -650
In this line, the spread betting odds come first, followed by the over/under, and the moneyline betting lines last. Each online sportsbook may change the order, but now that you know what each row means, you should be able to decipher the line no matter what order the odds are listed in.
Other Types of Bets
If you know the three main types of bets, you already know enough to start betting on NFL odds. But if you’re looking to build a winning strategy, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with a few other betting options you can utilize to help your chances:
- Parlays – Parlays allow you to string bets together to maximize your potential winnings, whether it's a prop bet, point spread, or moneyline bet. In a parlay, you tie multiple bets together and, if they all win, you win more money than you would by betting on them separately. This is a high-risk, high-reward type of bet since only one part of your parlay has to lose for the whole bet to bust, and you lose your money to the NFL sportsbook.
- Teasers – You can think of a teaser as the slightly more conservative cousin of a parlay. In a teaser, you still string bets together, but to change the NFL betting site’s odds. For instance, by teasing two games together, you can lower the point spread on both games. This, in theory, makes it easier to pick the winner. However, just like a parlay, if even one leg of your teaser doesn’t win, the whole bet is a loser.
- Futures – If you’re looking for really big payouts, NFL futures are the bet for you. Right now, before the season begins, you can make a futures bet on who will win the Super Bowl. Because this is so far off, a correct futures bet can pay big. Of course, it’s also harder to make an informed NFL futures bet so far in advance, so it may be best to sprinkle small amounts on futures bets as opposed to betting big.
- Props – Prop bets aren’t bets on the outcome of a game. Rather, you’re betting on certain events that will happen in a game. For instance, you can place a prop bet on which team will score first or whether a QB will pass for over 300 yards. Each sportsbook, betting site, and betting app will offer different props, and they can be a good way to put a little extra on a game if you feel confident about what will happen.
- Live bets – Wouldn’t it be nice if you could watch a bit of the game before you bet on it? Well, these days, you can, with live betting. Many books continually update odds as the game is being played and allow you to live bet on the action. This lets you get a sense of the game before you put any money down.
Where Can You Bet Legally on the NFL?
It wasn’t too long ago that legally betting on American football could be a difficult proposition outside of certain places (like Las Vegas or New Jersey). However, things are changing.
In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled on the case Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association. This ruling opened up sports gambling across the country. It is now up to individual states to decide on what sports gambling is allowed in their jurisdiction.
Some states currently allow online sportsbook betting. Others allow only in-person betting. Many states are still codifying their laws. As this is a fluid situation, it’s worth looking into what’s allowed in your state before you start looking to place money on an NFL game.
Things to Remember
Betting on NFL games can be a fun way to enhance your enjoyment of the NFL and potentially win some money. But there are some things worth keeping in mind before you start placing your bets:
- Only bet what you can lose – Even experts have trouble picking the winners of NFL football games. By only betting what you can comfortably lose, you’ll ensure you have fun without having to worry about your bank account.
- Don’t chase – We all experience bad beats. Sometimes, you’ll want to make up for a close loss by placing another bet. Resist that urge. Stick to your plan and accept that sometimes losses happen.
- Have fun – Sports betting is meant to be fun. Remember that. Keep it social and enjoy the adrenaline rush.
- Find help if you need it – Every state has free resources available for people struggling with a gambling addiction. If you think you might have a problem, don’t wait. Seek out the resources in your state that can help.
NFL Action at Tipico
Now that you know how to bet on NFL games, the only thing left is for you to start placing your bets. Once you’re ready, be sure to head to Tipico. We have you covered with all the NFL action throughout the season. And when you join, we’ll offer you a 100% deposit match up to $250.
So what are you waiting for? Get in the game with Tipico!