How To Bet On American Football: An Easy Beginners Guide

How To Bet On American Football: An Easy Beginners Guide

The most popular sport in the US is American football, both at the professional and collegiate levels, with popularity levels much above those of baseball, basketball, and ice hockey.

Each team in the NFL, the professional version of the sport, plays 16 games during the regular season—eight at home and eight away—across 32 teams in 8 divisions. As a result, the season, which runs from early September to early February, is shorter than that of the majority of the major sports leagues.

Although there are fewer games and opponents throughout the NFL season, it might be challenging for those of us who enjoy placing bets on the league to determine a team’s genuine potential.

Yet it’s a problem that everyone, including bookies, must deal with. For those who are ready, it can be a benefit.

Similar difficulties arise when betting on college football because teams only play twelve games throughout a given season. The first division of NCAA football has almost 100 teams, compared to the 32 NFL teams, and includes illustrious football schools like USC, Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Florida State, to mention a few.

How To Bet On American Football Betting Guide

Is betting on college or NFL football simple? No, is the response. Understanding how to bet on American football requires focus, effort, and the cultivation of hard-earned value betting intuition, just like betting on any other sport or sports league.

American Football odds Explained

Three common forms are available for American football betting odds. Which are:

  • Decimal odds
  • Fractional odds
  • Moneyline odds

American sports fans are more accustomed to American money line odds, so we will mostly deal with those odds for the purposes of this article because they are considerably simpler to work with.

Successful American football betting requires an understanding of betting odds. Understanding the probability represented by betting odds enables you to quickly determine the value of a wager.

You’re quite unlikely to be a long-term American football bettor if you can’t judge betting value.

American Football Bet Types

Now let’s talk about the different betting markets for American football and how to wager on it. American football betting can be done in a variety of ways. Today, bookmakers all over the world provide a wide selection of American football betting odds, ranging from the more conventional to the more unusual. We will discuss the most popular American football odds in this area.

Point Spread

The Point Spread is the most standard way to wager on American football games.

The margin for a certain American football game is calculated by the point spread, sometimes referred to as betting lines or handicaps. The margin is calculated by bookmakers as a 50/50 wager.

To put it another way, they think there is a 50% chance the outcome will fall on one side of the predicted margin and a 50% chance it will fall on the other side. On which side of the margin the game will end, bettors can wager.

Let’s look at an example. Consider that the Washington Commanders are playing the Dallas Cowboys. The game’s point spread is:

  • Cowboys -6.5
  • Commanders: +6.5

Why does this matter?

Well, to begin with, the Cowboys are the favorites with the minus handicap, while the Commanders are the underdogs with the plus handicap.

So, you bet on Dallas -6.5 points if you think Dallas will win by more than 6.5 points, such as 7 points or more. Or you can also bet on the Commanders if you think they can win the game or not lose by more than 6.5 points.

Calculating An American Football Winning Bet

It’s easy to determine whether your NFL point spread wager was successful. Let’s assume Dallas defeats Washington 20 to 30 in the game.

When betting on the favorite, in this case, Dallas -6.5, the final score is reduced by 6.5 points. In this situation, the final score after adjustments would be Dallas 23.5 and Washington 20. Dallas are still in the black after subtracting the handicap, thus your wager on Dallas -6.5 points was successful.

But, if you had wagered on Washington to win by +6.5 points, we would have added 6.5 points to their final score, giving us an adjusted final score of Dallas 30, Washington 26.5. Regrettably, Dallas wins the game even with the handicap applied to Washington’s score, therefore our wager on Washington +6.5 points was unsuccessful.

The phrase “covering the spread” is frequently used to describe a team’s success in a point spread wager.

Total: Over/Under

The points total market, sometimes referred to as Over Unders, is another well-liked American football wager option.

What is a bet on the Over Under?

A simple Over Under wager. A bookmaker specifies a total amount of points they anticipate being scored in an American football game, similar to a point spread, with a 50% chance that the game will end with more points than that number and a 50% chance that it will conclude with fewer points than that.

Here’s an example, the Over Under points total for a game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Atlanta Falcons is shown:

Total Points:

  • Over 50.5
  • Under 50.5

As we can see, wagers can be placed on either side of the game’s final score of 50.5 points.

For your wager to win if you bet on Over 50.5 points, the two teams must score a combined total of at least 51 points. In contrast, if you wager on Under 50.5 points, the two teams must only achieve a combined total of 50 points.


American football moneyline wagers are essentially head-to-head wagers in which you wager on the outcome (including over time). No points totals, no handicaps. Who triumphs is all that matters.

Here is an example of a moneyline for American football for a game between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns:

  • Browns +150
  • Giants -150

As we can see, the Giants with the minus are the favorites to win the game. If you place a bet on New York and they end up winning, you will get $100 for each $150 you bet.

The Browns on the other hand are the underdogs, and for this reason, you can bet less to win more. In this case, you will be making $150 for each $100 you wager.

American Football Futures

You can wager on NFL and College football futures and outrights in addition to American football games. Betting on futures for American football entails picking the winners of the following:

  • NFL Super Bowl Winner
  • NFL Conference Champions
  • NFL Division Winners
  • NFL Most Valuable Player
  • NCAA National Champions
  • NCAA Heisman Trophy Winner

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How to Bet On American Football: Betting Strategies

1. Don’t Play If There Is No Value

Although it might seem excessive, we cannot emphasize this enough. Finding real betting value is the key to winning in American football betting. That’s all there is to it. You will only lose money if you wager on the NFL or NCAA with no thought given to the betting value. And when we say taking into account betting value, we don’t mean spending five minutes reading the thoughts of well-known football gurus or watching TV and nodding along with the hosts’ philosophies.

Study up on value betting.

2. Be Prepared to Learn

Many inexperienced American football bettors make the error of conflating knowledge of the sport with knowledge of the sport’s betting. Don’t misunderstand us. A fantastic place to start is by having a thorough understanding of the NFL or NCAA and the sport of American football. Yet, it is merely the first step in creating a mindset for identifying value bets in American football. Football knowledge and knowledge of how to wager on football are two very different things.

It’s true that you’re in a terrific position to learn about American football betting if you have a solid comprehension of how the NFL or NCAA operate as well as a comprehensive understanding of how the game is played. But you won’t be able to really adjust your knowledge of the NFL and NCAA to your newly acquired knowledge of the markets that you wish to bet on until you have experience dealing with a variety of NFL and NCAA betting markets.

3. Comparing American Football With American Football Markets

Consider it in this way. Being familiar with the NFL is similar to being familiar with cake baking. Does being able to make a cake give you a better idea of how much it would be worth to sell it? Probably not. The reason is that figuring out whether a given NFL game is going to be a high-scoring match is one thing, but figuring out whether the odds being offered on the over under line are worthwhile is quite another.

Many gamblers enter the world of American football betting with a lot of confidence. They are the experts. They’re unbeatable. When it comes to selecting NFL and NCAA games against the spread, they are in charge. It’s one thing to be brash and speak a big game, but quite another to get paid when you bet on American football. Hence, be modest. Realize that you don’t have all the answers. Be aware that mistakes will be made. Be open to learning.

4. Start by Placing Bets on The Teams You Know

Betting on the teams or divisions you are most familiar with is a fantastic place to start. Of course, our ultimate goal is to be able to broadcast the majority of the NCAA as well as the full NFL. The teams and/or divisions you are most familiar with should be your primary emphasis when you first begin betting on American football if you are a beginner.

The majority of American football fans root for one team, hence they are more likely to be aware of that team’s results. This usually results in a better comprehension of that team’s typical divisional rivals. It’s a good idea to start by simply concentrating on the team you are most familiar with, even if we may want to jump in and start wagering on games throughout the entire NFL and NCAA.

5. Bet On The Markets That You Know

The most popular American football betting markets have previously been covered. Which are:

  • Point spreads (betting lines, handicaps)
  • Moneylines (head to head, match winner)
  • Point Totals (over unders)

Although there are many additional markets, most American football bettors concentrate on at least one of the ones above. When you gain more insight into NFL or NCAA betting, you’ll find that some markets make more sense to you than others. Each American football betting market has its own peculiarities and intricacies. Hence, trust your betting instincts.

The best NFL and NCAA bettors usually concentrate on one, sometimes two betting markets. Many seasoned American football bettors just concentrate on point totals, while others concentrate on point spreads. Focus and specialization are the keys to long-term betting success. Find the American football markets where you can consistently see value and stick with those.

6. Implement Wise Money Management.

Finding value is the key to long-term success in American football betting, but using wise money management strategies is just behind it. What is this about, exactly? Simply said, it includes controlling your betting budget and determining how much to invest in a single wager.

You must handle your betting bankroll seriously if you intend to place wagers on the NFL and NCAA. You must constantly use your cash and staking plan. It’s acceptable to place random bets based solely on “gut instinct,” but don’t count on winning when you wager on American football games.

How much money should you have on hand? It should ideally only be as big as you can lose. Clearly, we want to see returns when we bet on NFL and NCAA games, but results can frequently go against us even when we use the most advanced value detection and money management techniques. Even the most successful American football bettors experience losing streaks occasionally. The use of a smart money management technique is the only method to generate steady profits while guarding against losing streaks.

Find out more about budgeting

7. Keep A Record of Your Betting

Every serious bettor keeps a record of their wagers, whether they wager on the NFL, College football, or any other league. Also, if you aren’t documenting your wagers, don’t anticipate learning anything new or increasing your winnings.

You should have the following in your betting history for American football:

  • Date
  • Bet Type (market)
  • Bet Details
  • Bookmaker
  • Your Stake
  • Your Odds
  • Your Profit/Loss
  • Comments/Notes

If you don’t keep such thorough records of your NFL and NCAA wagering, you’ll probably end up losing money over the long run. Why? Boosting your future betting returns depends on evaluating your betting history.

Keeping track of your bets will allow you to identify which American football markets are more profitable. You will also be able to identify any areas where you failed to practice discipline and apply a reliable staking plan. In brief, keeping track of your American football wagers will help you become more conscious of your betting patterns and performance.

8. Assess Team performance Accurately

Where the rubber hits the road is here. Understanding team performance is the key to determining betting value.

Sadly, doing this is not simple. A bookmaker’s ability to frame NFL and NCAA odds that are almost always extremely accurate comes from having access to some of the sharpest analytical tools and brains. Thankfully for those who wager on American football, bookmakers occasionally make mistakes. In fact, the bookmakers consistently underrate one, two, or even three NFL clubs each season. There are also teams that bookmakers like to overestimate. As an American football bettor, it is your responsibility to recognize the teams that the bookies have misjudged.

How can we go about this? In the NFL and NCAA football, there are several factors to take into account when evaluating team performance and potential.

Home Field Advantage In The NFL

There is disagreement over whether to use home or away forms. Some contend that while some teams may exhibit an enhanced home field advantage over a small sample size of games (possibly as long as two or three seasons), home field advantage in the NFL is consistent over the long term, with no team truly having a greater home field advantage than any other. Teams like Seattle, New Orleans, and Denver are among those who hold this belief.

In the NFL, having home field advantage is valued at three points. Why does this matter? The home team is seen as being 3 points superior if two teams are thought to have equal potential just because they are playing at home. This translates into a six point difference between performance at home and away.

Let’s use a game between the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets as an illustration, with the game taking place in Denver. We believe Denver to be a 4 point superior club against the Jets on an objective basis. If the game is then played in Denver, we give Denver an additional 3 points for home field advantage, giving them a 7-point advantage over the Jets. But, if the game is played in New York, we award the Jets 3 more points for having home field advantage, giving Denver merely an extra point’s worth of advantage over the Jets. When everything is taken into account, a team playing at home has a 6 point advantage over a team playing away.

The most frequently cited reasons for home field advantage in the NFL are crowd noise (which affects the effectiveness of the other team’s offense), referee bias (with home-team-favoring officials exhibiting a wide range of very human psychological biases), and weather (warm weather teams generally dislike playing in cold weather venues).

Injuries and Roster Additions/Subtractions

By precisely estimating the effect of each team’s roster additions and subtractions throughout the offseason, many seasoned American football bettors take advantage of early season odds. For instance, while the signing of a prominent wide receiver may seem exciting to spectators and TV experts, the loss of two important offensive linemen may have a greater impact on a team’s fortunes, causing them to perform much below expectations of both spectators and bookies. Early in the season, you can have a significant advantage over the bookmakers by correctly predicting the potential of a certain NFL or NCAA roster.

Another method smart American football bettors benefit from NFL and NCAA odds is by accurately estimating the impact of injuries. Although they may not be well-known, injuries to both offensive and defensive linemen can have a significant negative effect on a team’s performance. Similarly, don’t expect the defense to contain the other team’s passing threat if a team is down to its third or fourth cornerback as a result of a string of injuries at that position. Although while an injury to a team’s quarterback, star running back, or hall-of-fame-bound wide receiver may make headlines, you should consider each team’s depth chart before placing your bets on an American football game. You’d be astonished at how frequently men you’ve never heard of have a significant influence on a team’s performance.

Tactical Matchups

In boxing, there’s an adage that styles decide fights. When it comes to the NFL and college football in general, this is undeniably true. How frequently do we witness teams with lesser talent overcome ones we believe to be far more talented? This is especially true in divisional games where the teams are familiar with one another.

The truth is that even if some teams may lack in some specific areas, when compared to a more talented competition, they possess all the necessary components to cause havoc. This is where your knowledge of the football game might give you the necessary insight to spot good betting opportunities. Finding NCAA and NFL value bets can be a lot easier if you understand how teams line up and where their strengths and weaknesses are.

Develop An American Football Betting Model

The ability to analyze and evaluate NFL and NCAA team performance and potential more precisely than bookmaker American football odds suggest has enabled many successful NFL and NCAA football bettors to make a fortune.

It takes effort and time to create a model or method for betting on the NFL or NCAA. But the benefits can be enormous. While some American football betting models solely consider point difference, others take into account a wide variety of game statistics and statistical variables. The majority of American football betting models take into account one or more of the following:

  • Points For/Against
  • Total Yards For/Against
  • Turnovers For/Against
  • Yards per Rush For/Against
  • Yard per Pass For/Against
  • Yard per Play For/Against

The goal, regardless of the statistics you choose to incorporate into your model, is to more accurately predict each team’s potential and, consequently, the likelihood that they will win a specific game than bookies do.

While it would be ideal to create an NCAA or NFL betting model that can identify value bets in every game, the truth is that any model will only be able to find value betting opportunities in one, two, or possibly three games each week of the season.

9. Bet Against Favorites

The secret to long-term betting success in American football is finding value betting opportunities, as we have often mentioned in this page. Even when we believe a team has a lower probability of winning the game than the long odds would imply, regardless of how slim those chances may be, they are still a value bet. This is true even if they are playing against a highly favored opponent and are in poor form. You may become a good NFL or NCAA bettor by constantly placing bets on events like these.

There are two main market biases when betting on American football. Which are:

  • Higher than-average point totals
  • Short odds home favorites

Let’s start with point totals. Most American football bettors will wager on Over in the points total market since most football fans want to watch high-scoring contests. The typical casual bettor isn’t overly concerned with in-depth research. He places a gut-instinct wager.

The bulk of casual gamblers instinctively bet aggressively on point totals because they want to see points scored. The market is distorted by the weight of this sporadic money on the Over, which causes the Over odds to be shorter than they should be while the Under odds inflate excessively, making betting on the Under the value bet the majority of the time.

Like this, the majority of casual gamblers search for a lock. They do not want to wager on underdog teams. This week, they want a winner. As a result, many casual gamblers placed significant wagers on home NFL and NCAA favorites, sometimes at extremely short odds. Once more, the weight of uninformed bets distorts the market, making the home favorite far shorter than they ought to be and frequently making the long-shot road underdog the better option.

These are two straightforward biases in the American football betting market that you can use to your advantage. No, betting on every road dog with long odds or every NFL or NCAA game with the Under will not result in financial success. Yet when creating your weekly best bets, it’s crucial to keep these biases in mind.

10. Follow American Football Handicappers

The problem is how to locate dependable NCAA and NFL cappers, of course. American football presents a particular challenge in this regard compared to other sports. If you just Google “NFL picks,” you’ll find an endless stream of websites and prognosticators claiming to provide trustworthy NFL advice, many of whom charge exorbitant subscription fees for their predictions.

We strongly advise against paying for NFL and NCAA picks from handicappers. Whatever the outcomes cappers may be bragging about, it’s far too prevalent for these to be fabricated data. You will only pay subscription fees if you follow these so-called experts, not to mention whatever money you could have spent at the sportsbook.

The good news is that trustworthy NFL and NCAA picks are free to use. And, you may choose which cappers you want to follow and which ones you don’t by looking at each one’s track record.