Football Betting 101

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Online sports betting is huge in every part of the world and it’s still growing, with sportsbooks now offering betting lines on all major league sports in the States, Europe and beyond.

NFL Football is by far the most popular sport to bet on, with the volume of betting on the Super Bowl setting records, year after year. It may seem straight forward, but understanding betting lines and choosing the smartest wagers to make can be a daunting task for the rookie sports bettor. Here’s some basics that’ll get you up to speed.

Understanding the Point Spread

The most fundamental thing to understand when betting on the NFL is the point spread. The point spread is a betting line that represents the number of points a team will win or lose by, with sports bettors wagering on whether a team will win, or lose, by more or less than the established line.

For example, let’s say the Oakland Raiders are visiting the Denver Broncos, and the Broncos are favored to win by 7.5 points.

This will be represented by a betting line that looks like this:

Oakland Raiders +7.5

Denver Broncos -7.5

The + symbol in the Raiders betting line indicates that they are 7.5-point underdogs and would be a winning bet if they win the game outright or lose by less than eight points. And conversely, the – symbol in the Broncos’ line indicates they are 7.5-point favorites, which means they must win the game by eight points or more to “cover the spread:” and win the bet.

Understanding the Moneyline

Another fundamental line to understand in football betting is the moneyline. With a moneyline bet, a team must simply win the game outright for the bet to win. Winners will be paid off according to the posted moneyline odds. For example, let’s say that 49ers, as the home team, is the moneyline favorite in a matchup against the Seahawks.

That betting line that could look something like this:

Seattle Seahawks +130

San Francisco 49ers -125

As longshots, a $100 bet on the Seahawks would win $130, while the 49ers are moneyline favorites, meaning  it would require a $125 bet on San Francisco to win $100.

Understanding the Total

The third key element of an NFL betting line is the total, which predicts the total number of points that will be scored by both teams in the game. Total betting lines will look something like this:

OVER (-110)


UNDER (-130)

The point total in the example above is set at 51.5. You can bet that the total points in the game will finish OVER or UNDER 51.5, with moneyline odds accompanying each option.

In the above example, to win $100 by betting on the OVER requires a wager of $110 while a $130 bet on the UNDER is required to win $100.

It’s pretty easy to find explore different online sportsbook options by visting a site like Check out different site options and tinker with different bet types before actually making a wager.

Once you get the basics down, you can add a layer of complexity to your NFL bets by combining multiple single bets into a parlay wager, or manipulating point spreads using teaser bets.