For many people across North America, there is no more important league than the NFL. It’s the most-watched league out of all the major ones in North America, and the Super Bowl is one of the largest sporting events in the world.
Football is woven deeply into the fabric of the United States. Beyond the NFL, college football is also wildly popular across the country. In fact, in some places, it is much more popular than the NFL or any professional sports league, for that matter.
In addition to all of that, football is a popular sport to gamble on. The Super Bowl is one of the most popular betting events every year, with so many wagers that it can be overwhelming.
If you’re a football fan, you’re going to want to be able to place some wagers on the sport. No matter if you just want to bet casually on the Super Bowl, or want to carefully examine the market every week for inefficiencies, it’s important to understand all the tools at your disposal.
There are a variety of different bets that you can place on a football game. Whether you’re more confident gambling on the outcome between the two teams or individual events within the game, it’s key to know how to find the selections you need. In this guide, we will break down the various bet types and explain how they work.
Types of football bets explained
Some football bets are simple and easy to understand, while others take a little bit more thinking to grasp. We’ll break down all the different types of football bets below.
Each team will have the point spread listed next to the team name. The favorite will have a negative number, meaning the team needs to win by more than that number for a bet on that team to win.
The underdog will have a positive number, and that team will need to avoid losing by more than that number. If the score lands exactly on the point spread, it’s called a push, and you receive your bet back.
For example, let’s say that the Chicago Bears are playing the Minnesota Vikings. The sportsbook has determined that the point spread is Chicago -3 and Minnesota +3. You feel as if the Bears will win by a larger margin than just three points, so you bet on that side.
The game ends Chicago 31, Minnesota 27. Congratulations, your bet won as Chicago won by four points. If the game had ended Chicago 30, Minnesota 27, you would have received your original wager back.
The moneyline is the simplest bet to understand, and it’s also one of the most popular due to its simplicity. You’re attempting to predict the winner of the game. No matter what happens, bets on whichever team is the winner of the game will be winning bets.
The biggest factor when making a moneyline bet is the odds associated with each team. Most commonly, the odds will be displayed in the American format. The favorite’s odds will be negative, and the underdog will have positive odds.
Any set of odds that is negative represents how much money you would need to wager for a chance to win $100. On the other hand, any set of odds with a plus sign represents how much you would stand to win from a $100 wager.
Let’s go back to the example of the game between the Bears and the Vikings. Since the Bears are three-point favorites on the spread, they will also be the moneyline favorite. The sportsbook may set the Bears’ moneyline at -150, for example. On the other hand, the sportsbook has the Vikings as the underdogs with a moneyline of +125.
Suppose you bet $150 on the Bears. If they win the game, you’ll receive your original $150 plus winnings of $100 for a total of $250. If you had bet $100 on the Vikings, and they won, you would have received that $100 back plus $125 in winnings for a total of $225.
The total is the combined score of both teams. Before every game, the oddsmakers will put out a line, and you can bet whether the combined score will be over or under that line.
The odds for betting on the total are usually close to -110 on each side. If you believe that the line for the total is far off what it should be, often sportsbooks will offer alternative totals with stronger or weaker odds.
If we look at the example game between the Bears and the Vikings, the oddsmakers may have set the line for the total at 54. Suppose you bet $110 on the total score going over 54 at odds of -110; you would stand to win your original $110 plus winnings of $100 for a total of $210 if the final score was 31-27, for example.
Parlays and teasers
Parlays and teasers combine multiple selections on one ticket. The advantage of doing this is that the odds for these bets can be very high. While sportsbooks may have slightly different ways of calculating odds for teasers and parlays, no matter where you go, the more selections you add, the higher the odds will climb.
Of course, the more selections you add, the more difficult the bet becomes to win. For these bets, you must get each selection correct. If you get even one wrong, you lose the whole wager.
For parlays, you just add selections as you would see them normally on your sportsbook. These are popular among novice gamblers due to the attraction of the large potential returns. However, some will refer to them as “sucker bets” due to their difficulty.
Teasers work much the same, but they have the added benefit of giving you more points on the spread or total in return for weaker odds. Thus while the potential return may not be as large, teasers are easier to win than parlays.
Some sportsbooks allow same-game parlays. You should check to see the specific rules that are available to you.
Prop bets, also known as proposition bets, are wagers on the smaller events that happen within the game. These can be on team or individual accomplishments and are popular with gamblers due to the high volume that is available.
As an example of a prop bet that you could make for the game between the Bears and Vikings, you could bet on there being two or more field goals in the first half, or which team will reach three touchdowns first. Sportsbooks will have a variety of prop bets available, and you should check your sportsbook to see what your options are.
Last but not least, we have live betting. Live betting is the act of wagering on a game as it occurs, and with the spread of online gambling, it has become a very popular way to bet on games.
Most of the selections that are available to you before the game will still be there during games. The odds on selections during games move fast to reflect the events that are occurring. Be sure to be quick to get the odds that you want, or else they might move before you get the chance.
For example, let’s say that the Vikings score first against the Bears and lead 7-0 in the first quarter. While the Vikings were +125 on the moneyline before the game, now that they lead the new live odds could move to -120, with the Bears’ odds shifting as well.
Betting on football in the US
While wagering on sports has only recently become legal in multiple US states, football has had a black market for wagers for years. As mentioned above, the Super Bowl has always been one of the most gambled-upon events in the world.
As sports gambling has started to become increasingly legal, it has helped those states tax some of the money from wagers on the Super Bowl, and thus let different states see some benefits from it.
Between legal and illegal wagers, we wager an estimated figure of at least $5 billion on the Super Bowl each year, and that number is slowly rising over time. As sports gambling becomes more popular, larger numbers of people are going to find their way to sportsbooks to gamble on football games. This will lead to more and more money for these states to use on other ventures that need financial help.
Football remains America’s favorite sport, and thus gambling on football is not going to disappear anytime soon. It has a betting history in the country, and as sports gambling continues to grow as an industry, it also has a bright future ahead of it.
Knowing all the different bets available to you is a key component of being a successful gambler. These bets are available when betting on both the NFL and college football alike. When Super Bowl weekend rolls around and you’re looking to make a wager, we hope that this guide will have opened your eyes to the plethora of options available. Perhaps the College Football Playoff is more your speed, and that works just as well.
While some are lower risk and some are higher risk, you’re going to need to find out which ones work best for you. A solid gambling strategy could include a variety of wagers so that you can have safe bets as well as risky ones to maximize your potential profit.