Football Betting Guide

It is without a doubt that one of the greatest American past times is to watch football due to its action-packed nature, hard-hitting tackles, and high-scoring shootouts. Every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday during the NFL (National Football League) season, you can find millions of people in front of their television sets enjoying the excitement of an American football game and cheering on their favorite team.

One way that you can increase this level of excitement even further is to make a wager on the outcome of the game that you are watching or following. Even if you are new to betting or new to watching American football, there is no reason to be intimidated by the plethora of betting options that are available to you for this amazing sport. Throughout this article, we will explore the American football betting options that are most commonly offered by sportsbooks and explain everything that you will need to know about them.

Spread Bets in Football

In betting markets that have relatively high-scoring games such as American football, the most common type of wager that sports bettors will make is known as a spread bet. The spread is the number of points that the favored team is supposed to beat the underdog team by over a large sample size. It is interesting to note that since the 2003 season, 18.69% of all football games have ended with a 3-point margin of victory while 11.47% of games ended with a 7-point margin of victory.

If you make a spread bet on a football team that has a negative spread, that means they are the favorite to win and they must win the game by more points than the positive value of the negative spread in order for you to avoid a loss. For example, if the Detroit Lions are sporting a -7 spread against the Miami Dolphins, the Lions must win the game by at least 7 points for bettors to win or push. 

Conversely, any spread bets that involve a spread which is a positive number means that the team in question is the underdog. This indicates that the team just has to lose by less than the spread or win the game outright in order for you to win your bet. Using the example from above, if the Miami Dolphins lose the game against the Lions by 6 points or less you will still win your bet since they are given 7 points extra from the +7 spread.

The only scenario where the spread bet is a push is when the favored team wins the game by the same amount of points as the spread. If the Detroit Lions from our imaginary example won their game by 7 points then the game would be considered a push by the sportsbook since their spread was -7. Whenever this happens, every bettor who wagered on either side of the spread bet will receive their money back.

American football spread bets will typically lay odds between EVEN and -120, with -110 being the most common odds that you will find. These numbers dictate exactly how much money per dollar wagered that you will be paid out if your bet wins. For instance, if you make a spread bet that has the odds set at -120 then you will need to bet $120 to receive an overall profit of $100 or a total payout of $220.

Moneyline Bets in Football

Want to make a wager on your favorite football team that keeps things as simple as possible? If so, moneyline bets are exactly what you are looking for since they are about as easy to understand as it gets.

When you choose a football team to make a moneyline bet on, you are simply betting that they will win the game by getting a higher score than the other team. This means that both your goal and the team’s goal of winning the game are exactly the same, which can be an advantageous situation.

The most important thing to pay attention to when making a moneyline bet is what sort of odds the sportsbook is laying you since moneyline odds vary a lot more than spread bet odds do. It is not uncommon to see teams that are big favorites listed at -400 odds to win their game, which means that you will need to wager $400 to win $100 if they are victorious.

Out of the four major sports (which consists of basketball, American football, hockey, and baseball), American football ranks third in underdog win percentage at 33.6% over the last five seasons. This means that if you were to bet on the favored NFL team with a moneyline bet for every game that was played over the last five years you would have won 66.4% of your bets.

Quarter and Half Bets in American Football

Don’t have time to watch the entire football game but still want to get in on some of the action? The best type of bet for this scenario is certainly quarter bets or half bets which will allow you to bet on the outcomes of each quarter or half and then you can totally ignore the rest of the game. A half bet that is made targeting the first half of the game is generally called a first-half bet while a half bet that is made at halftime is called a second half bet or a halftime bet.

The confusing part for most beginners to understand is that when you make a halftime bet it is essentially as if the game is starting over again at a 0 to 0 score once the second half begins. At the end of the game, all you have to do is subtract that amount of points that each team scored in the first half from the total amount of points that they scored in the entire game and you will be able to calculate if you won your halftime bet. It is easier to understand first half bets because the game naturally starts at 0 to 0 and there is no extra math needed when trying to figure out if you won or not.

Futures Bets in Football

A futures bet usually focuses on a big event or a prestigious award that will be won by a specific team or player in the far future. The most common futures bet that is made in the American football market is obviously which team will win the Super Bowl, but you can also bet on outcomes such as which team will win their conference championship, which player will be the season MVP, or which player will win the Superbowl MVP.

One of the big advantages to making futures is that you can get really big odds on some of the underdog teams. For instance, at the time of this writing there are four different NFL teams you can bet on to win the Super Bowl which will return at least 100 to 1 on your bet and the season has not even started yet. 

The only downside to futures bets is that your money will be tied up for a long period of time. There is no way to cancel a futures bet once you make it even though the bet can be made almost a year before it has a chance to be settled. It is possible to make futures bets this far in advance in the NFL because the sportsbooks usually release odds on next year’s winner a week after the previous season’s Superbowl has ended.

Parlay Bets in American Football

Finally, we come to the most exciting part about betting on American Football! A parlay is a combination of two or more bets where your winnings will carry over to the next game after each win. The only way to successfully win a parlay bet is if every selection you made was correct but if you manage to do so your payout will be massive. 

The more teams you add to your parlay, the higher your payout will be. However, the odds of success decreases with each team you add and your expected value will go down as well due to the books not paying the proper odds for each selection.

In the NFL, if you had bet on the underdog against the spread in every game that ever happened from 1994 to 2012 you would have had a 51.6% win rate. This is a fairly large sample size and there is no reason to believe that underdog winrates are going to change drastically anytime soon. This means it is a good play to make NFL parlay bets that are comprised of underdogs against the spread to give yourself the best chance at a big payday.

Most American football parlays will simply ignore the leg of your bet that is a push and pay you out as if that game was never a part of the parlay. Some parlay bets have the stipulation that ties will win while even rarer is to see one that makes a tie a losing proposition.  The parlay bets where a tie is a losing proposition is by far the worst option that you can make since your return will be lower and you can ruin an entire parlay with just one push.

Teaser Bets in Football

A teaser bet is a lot like a parlay bet except that you receive extra points to help you win the wager at the expense of getting worse odds on your payout. For example, if you make a 6-point NFL teaser bet then you can move the line for each game 6 whole points in your favor but the payout will not be as high as it would be if you made a regular parlay with the same selections.

The more teams you add to your NFL teaser bet the higher your payout will be, just like in a parlay bet. You will be able to include anywhere from two teams to 15 teams when making an NFL teaser bet.

The most common point totals that a teaser bet will add to your side of an American football game are 6 points, 6.5 points, and 7 points. On rare occasions, you will have the option to make a 10-point teaser bet which is sometimes called a sweetheart teaser or a monster teaser. 
In order to decide how many points to tease, you should keep in mind that the most common margin of victory for a football game is 3 points, with a margin of victory of 7 points being a close 2nd place. This makes a lot of sense considering the fact that a team receives 7 points for a touchdown and 3 points for a field goal. For instance, if you want to include the Cleveland Browns in your teaser bet and they are listed as a -9 favorite over the New York Jets, it would be smart to tease 6.5 points so that the Browns are then a -2.5 favorite and you will win your wager if they only win the game by the very common margin of victory of 3 points.

Pleaser Bets in American Football

A pleaser is the opposite of a teaser bet in that you will be giving up extra points instead of receiving them. Why would you make a bet harder for yourself?  Well, the catch is that the payout odds dramatically improve since you will be winning much less often and the sportsbooks can afford it.

Pleaser bets are so unpopular in the NFL that they are only offered by a handful of Vegas sportsbooks such as William Hill and MGM Grand. This is most likely due to the fact that they are insanely tough to beat with the house edge being in the 90% range for some options. 

The more teams you add to your pleaser bet, the higher the house edge will be and the lower your win probability will be. We recommend avoiding this type of bet and just sticking to regular parlays or teaser bets.

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