How Do NFL Odds Work?
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Top NFL handicappers and sportsbooks set NFL spreads, moneyline and total for upcoming games. These are known as opening lines, which will begin to set the NFL odds market for the week. Top NFL sportsbooks then react as the money comes in and adjust the NFL lines throughout the week. It’s not only about how much money comes in on a given team. It’s about where the money is coming from. Wagers from known “sharp bettors” can swing NFL point spreads throughout the week as sportsbooks adjust up until Sunday.
NFL Odds - Point Spread
The most popular NFL bet is the point spread. Sportsbooks and handicappers set the NFL point spreads to even things out in a game with two mismatched teams. Let’s say the New York Jets are 10-2 and hosting a 3-9 Miami Dolphins team. Obviously, very few would bet on the Dolphins to win straight up in this Jets vs. Dolphins matchup. NFL spreads essentially level the playing fields for bettors. A typical NFL line could look something like this.
- Miami Dolphins +14 (-110)
- New York Jets -14 (-110)
This means the Jets are a 14-point favorite. They will have to have a margin of victory of 15 points or more in order to cover the spread for Jets bettors. Betting on the underdog Dolphins means you’ll cash in if they lose by 13 or less. The -110 indicates bettors must risk $110 to win $100. That extra $10 on $100 bets is the industry standard for something called the vig, or juice — essentially a small tax added to every bet and collected by the sportsbook on losing tickets.
NFL Odds - Totals & OVER/UNDER
NFL total bets, also referred to as the over/under, pay out based on the total combined points scored by the teams. These NFL football odds don’t have anything to do with the final result or margin of victory from a win-loss perspective. Here’s how these NFL betting lines would look for a standard game.
You bet on whether you think the total amount of points scored in the game will be more or less than 49. The over could hit with a final score of Vikings 27, Bears 24 or Vikings 43, Bears 7. It doesn’t matter how much either team wins by. Same goes for the under. These NFL betting lines are very popular wagers and completely different than point spreads in terms of strategy. You can check out this weekend's NFL week 3 odds and picks, along with some analysis for each matchup.
NFL Odds - Moneyline
This one is simple. Pick the winning team and cash in. These NFL odds don’t have a point spread. Instead, they adjust the betting lines from a risk/reward standpoint. Bettors risk a lot to win a little on heavy favorites. And they can win a lot with small-risk plays on heavy underdogs. Let’s say the New York Giants are a 10-point favorite in their matchup with the Denver Broncos. Here’s how those odds would look on the moneyline. Denver Broncos (+325) vs. New York Giants (-450)
Bettors would need to risk $450 to win $100 on a Giants moneyline bet. It doesn’t matter how many points they win by. If they win by even a single point, the bet pays out. Bettors who want to roll the dice with the Broncos’ moneyline odds would win $325 on a $100 bet if the Broncos pull off the upset. NFL lines don’t always reflect the league’s parity. Big upsets happen all the time. That’s why underdog moneyline bets are popular, and often lucrative.
Sometimes moneyline odds might show up as fractional or decimal odds. You can easily convert those to more familiar American odds with our free odds calculator. Check out the NFL picks vs spread and/or moneyline bets to increase odds and potential payouts. You can check out the NFL week 2 odds and picks here, along with analysis of each game.
NFL Odds – Prop Bets
When you are looking at NFL odds this week, bet it from one of the betting apps or a desktop, it pays to dive a little deeper, to the game within the game. Prop bets are among the most fun way to bet on NFL football odds as you don’t have to pick a winner in the game. There are three types of NFL prop bets you will see in a given matchup: player prop, team prop and game prop. Prop bets are wagers that are not dependent on a game’s outcome. Some examples:
- Player props: Patrick Mahomes to throw for 3 TDs in a game; Tom Brady over 240.5 yards passing
- Team props: First team to score; total FGs by Bears kickers
- Game props: Who will win coin toss; will there be a safety?
NFL football odds go way beyond what’s happening on the field this weekend. You can also place bets on NFL futures – events that take place later in the season. There are both team and player futures odds available, typically from before the season all the way through the Super Bowl. The great thing about futures is that they reward bettors who get out ahead of longshot or under-valued team early. Examples of futures bets include:
- Betting on a team to win the Super Bowl before or during the season
- NFL MVP
- Team win totals
- Division winner
NFL Odds - Parlay
Parlay Betting combines multiple NFL odds for a low-risk, high-reward wager. Bettors can pick any number of point spread, moneyline or total bets and combine them into a parlay. They can even include prop bets! The more games in the parlay, the bigger the payout. Say you are looking at NFL odds today and want to play a three-game parlay. It would look like this and payout roughly $300 on a $50 bet.
- Houston Texans (-14) over Miami Dolphins (-110)
- Minnesota Vikings-Philadelphia Eagles Over 49 (-110)
- New York Giants (-10) over Denver Broncos (-110)
If all three bets are correct, the parlay is a winner. But they all need to hit. Winning two of the above bets while losing one equals a losing parlay ticket.
Adding an underdog moneyline bet into a three- or four-team parlay would lead to a much bigger payout. Use our free NFL parlay calculator to get exact numbers instantly and make the best betting decisions when shopping NFL odds this week.