How To Read NFL Betting Lines: 6 Tips for Beginners

How To Read NFL Betting Lines: 6 Tips for Beginners

Getty Image


As more states legalized sports betting last year, the excitement for NFL betting increased. As a result, an estimated $4.3 billion bet on last year’s Super Bowl exceeded the previous year by an incredible 35%. So football fans prepare early for next season, and you might be among them.

Yet, if you are new to sports betting, you might wonder how to best start reading NFL betting lines. NFL betting odds can seem confusing if you haven’t wagered on football before.

Well, have no fear and keep reading. We’ll guide you through six simple tips for making NFL bets like a pro before the action begins.

1. Understanding Spreads

One of the most common forms of NFL public betting involves picking games based on the points spread. As a result, sportsbook oddsmakers spend countless hours handicapping games to find a likely outcome. A plus or minus symbol indicates how many points one team is favored to win the game.

For example, the Los Angeles Rams began last year’s Super Bowl at -3.5 or favored to win by at least four points. The underdog Cincinnati Bengals then opened the game at +3.5. These NFL betting odds give you two choices to predict the outcome.

If you chose the favored Rams, winning NFL bets would require Los Angeles to win by four points or more. By betting on the Bengals at +3.5, your bet would still win if Cincinnati lost by three points or less. Choosing which team will cover the spread tests your knowledge of the two opponents to make your NFL bets.

2. Learning About NFL Betting Tax

Whichever type of NFL bets you prefer to choose, bookmakers add a nominal tax for taking your wager. This 10% fee is also called vig or juice. So, besides the spread for each team, you will generally see -110 for placing that bet.

The juice guarantees the sportsbook will earn 10% on all NFL public bets no matter which team. Think of the vigorish as a commission for accepting NFL bets. Oddsmakers make careful determinations to receive equal NFL betting for both teams to ensure a profit.

3. Pick Winners On the Moneyline

If choosing spreads is a little too complicated at first, you can simply choose the game-winner with the Moneyline instead. Again, the favorites get a minus sign, and underdogs are a plus for NFL betting odds.  The points spread has no bearing on a winning bet for these NFL betting lines.

Yet, it’s essential to understand the meaning of the posted NFL public betting odds for each game. When teams are evenly matched, you may see Moneylines of -110 for both contestants. Think of these NFL bets in terms of $100 although you don’t need to bet that much.

The -110 means you need to wager $110 to win $100 plus your original bet. However, if you took an underdog at +150, you would receive $150 plus your $100 stake on these NFL bets. NFL public betting on Moneylines pay the winner of the game no matter the score.

4. What Are Totals?

There are also NFL betting lines where the winner and loser have no bearing on the wager. So if you are not sure who will win the game, these are considered NFL best bets. Handicappers determine a total point score for the two teams combined.

For example, a game between the Chiefs and the Raiders might have a total of 52.5 points. Choose between over/under outcome for the total points scored during the game.

Take the over if you think the Chiefs and Raiders will score 53 points or more, and take the under if you see 52 or less points getting scored. So using the example above, NFL betting lines will appear like this on your favorite sportsbook page:

Spread                                                   Moneyline                     Over/Under

  • Kansas City Chiefs  -2.5  (-110)         -125 52.5                      (-110) O
  • Las Vegas Raiders  +2.5  (-110)        +130 52.5                      (-110) U

5. Props, Parlays and Futures

Sportsbooks give several other fun options for NFL public betting that entice more action on each game. With NFL prop bets, you get inside the action with bets on specific game stats or based on player performances. For example, you can bet on how many yards a quarterback might throw for or the number of touchdown passes he will make.

Parlay bets allow you to get increased odds by packaging NFL bets into one. These NFL betting odds rise with the number of picks you put together. So if you took the Raiders +2.5 against the Chiefs and the Packers -6 against the Vikings, your odds might go over 2-1.

You can place prop bets with spreads, Moneylines, and totals to make any combination you choose for higher odds. Then, at the start of a season, you can choose which team you like to win the Super Bowl with a futures bet.

NFL betting odds might show the Buffalo Bills as +700 to win the championship this year. If you are correct, a $100 bet earns you $700. Futures betting is also possible on division and conference winners.

6. Live NFL Betting

Online sports betting developed ways to keep NFL public betting possible during play. As the game continues, sportsbooks post NFL betting lines for all the listed types of bets. It’s critical to remember that as the game progresses, odds will change or get removed entirely.

Yet, the option for NFL public betting during games allows fans to engage longer. But you need to be quick with your picks if you plan to engage in live NFL betting.

NFL Betting Is Around the Corner

For many years, sportsbooks have enticed fans with different types of NFL betting. Online gambling establishments have made it even easier to get into the action.

Once you know the basics of NFL betting lines, the rest is up to your knowledge of the game. So have fun and follow your favorites with NFL bets and check our website regularly for insights into the upcoming NFL season and more of your favorite topics.