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Guide to Football Betting

Football Basketball and Soccer PlayersWelcome to our football betting hub page! Whether you’re new to football betting or a grizzled veteran, you’re going to find a lot of information in here that will help you beat the books this gridiron season.

In addition to covering important topics such as what to look for in a football betting site, the benefits of betting on football, the various ways to bet on football, the biggest names in the sport, and a brief history of both NFL and college football, this page also contains links to specialized football content on our site. It might be too much info for you to consume today, so bookmark this page because you’re going to want to return.

With that, let’s kick things off by discussing the most important thing about football betting: how to decide where to bet online.

What Makes A Good Football Betting Site?

A lot of websites out there (including us) will recommend which online sportsbooks you should join, but most of them don’t really explain why.

That’s why we thought we’d take this opportunity to explain exactly what we’re looking for when determining which are the best football betting sites on the internet. By knowing what we value, you’ll feel a lot safer when deciding what site to join, whether it’s based on our recommendations or your own personal opinions.

1. Reliability

Winning money doesn’t do you any good if you don’t get paid. That’s why choosing a safe and reputable site should be the #1 priority for any sports bettor, and that’s why we make reliability the thing we weigh most heavily in the rankings.

2. Odds

You might not find a large discrepancy in odds between football betting sites when it comes to point spreads and Over/Unders, since most sites offer the standard -110 pricing. However, some sites offer much better odds than others when it comes to live betting or exotic wagers such as teasers, pleasers, props, and futures.

It may seem like it goes without saying that the better the odds, the more money you can win. But many people don’t fully appreciate the difference that just getting slightly better odds on every bet can make over the long run. We do, which is why we prioritize good odds when compiling our betting site rankings.

3. Betting Options

It’s no fun to join a betting site, make a deposit, and then find out that the site isn’t offering odds on the type of bet you want to make. At that point, you either end up making a bet that you didn’t initially plan on making, you have to join another site to make the bet, or you don’t end up placing a bet at all.

In order to make our recommended list of top football betting sites, a sportsbook must offer more than the average number of betting options. Whether it’s a player prop in an NFL game or a second-half betting line on an Ohio Valley Conference college football match, these sites likely have it.

4. Bonuses

Bonuses shouldn’t be the main thing that determines which betting site you join, but they’re still a nice perk. Because of that, we factor the bonuses that sites offer (both sign-up bonuses and reload bonuses) into the rankings, although they’re weighted lower than the more important things like reliability and odds.

5. Customer Service

It takes quite a bit of trust in order to deposit money at an online betting site, so we need to make sure that whoever has our money reciprocates with strong customer service. Whether it’s helping with withdrawals or clarifying the rules on a wager, any site we recommend will be quick to respond to your requests for assistance.

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2 BetOnline Logo $2500
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Why Bet On Football?

Have you never bet on football before and find yourself wondering what you’re missing out on? Or maybe you’ve participated in some pools and fantasy leagues but are considering wagering on the actual games for the first time.

Regardless, here are three benefits of betting on football that will probably convince you to finally take the plunge.

1. It’s Fun

When it comes to the most popular sports to bet on in North America, nothing even comes close to football. And while we all place bets with the hopes of making money, there’s no denying that the biggest motivation for most football bettors is to simply make the games more interesting and fun.

Let’s face it; not every football game is must-see TV. Since the NFL has rules that ensure that each of its teams get a certain number of national television games per season, we’re often subjected to Thursday Night Football games that are either big mismatches or have no significance in the standings. And although college football has several marquee games every Saturday, the majority of contests involve powerhouses beating up against smaller schools that don’t stand a chance.

Having a bet on the point spread or the Over/Under can make even the most meaningless of games a lot more interesting. You’ll find yourself staying tuned into blowouts longer in order to see if your team covers the big spread, and you’ll watch into the fourth quarter hoping for that last touchdown that will push the game Over the total. And if the bets that you placed before kickoff aren’t going that well, you can always keep things interesting by adding a wager in live betting at adjusted odds.

2. It Makes You a Bigger Fan

The NFL has always pretended that it’s against gambling, but who are they kidding? The only reason the NFL injury report exists is to keep bettors informed about ailments that might impact their wagers. Deep down, the league knows that the biggest reason for its immense popularity is the number of people who bet on it, since betting on the action makes you emotionally invested and a more avid follower of the sport.

By betting on the games, you’ll find yourself caring a lot more about every team in the league. You’ll learn the strengths and weaknesses of every squad, become familiar with each team’s depth chart, and understand the game in general a lot better. If you’re betting college football, it’ll open your eyes to the fact that life exists beyond the power five conferences, increasing the number of games that you’ll watch. Regardless of your success as a bettor, you’ll enjoy the sport a lot more because you know more about it.

3. You Can Make Money

Yes, it’s true that most people who bet on football end up losing money, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. If you’re willing to put in the research and learn smart football betting strategies, it’s totally possible (or even likely) that you can make money betting on the gridiron.

The bar that you have to clear to profit when betting on football really isn’t that high when you think about it. Point spreads, Over/Unders, and several other types of football bets (we get into all of them in the section below) generally have odds of -110, which only requires you to win 52.4% of your wagers in order to break even. If you can pick winners at a 55% rate, you can make some really good money as long as you manage your bankroll responsibly.

The key here is to be realistic. If you’re just looking to bet on football to make the games more fun and aren’t interested in investing that much time or research, you’re better off to keep your wagers small. But if you are willing to learn about the various football betting strategies and have confidence in your ability to pick winners (recording your wagers and tracking your performance is the best way to determine your abilities), football betting can become a lucrative investment.

Types Of Football Bets

Another one of the many great things about football betting is all of the different ways that you can wager on the sport.

Here are 10 of the main types of football bets, along with some information about each of them.

1. Point Spread

Betting against the point spread is the most popular way to bet on football because it levels the playing field in even the biggest of mismatches, allowing you to bet on either team at close to even odds.

Here’s how it works: the team who the oddsmakers see as most likely to win the game (the favorite) will be listed with a (-) sign in front of the point spread, while the team that is less likely to win (the underdog) will have a (+) sign in front of the point spread. In order to win a point spread bet on the favorite, the favorite must win the game by more points than the point spread. If they don’t, the underdog will have “covered” the spread, even if they didn’t win the actual game.

Most point spreads in NFL football are 7 points or less, and it’s rare to see point spreads higher than 14 (the equivalent of two touchdowns). In college football, however, the lack of parity between conferences can result in point spreads as high as 40 or even 50 points. The standard odds on a point spread is -110.

2. Moneyline

When you bet on any sport on the moneyline, you’re simply wagering on which team will win the game (it doesn’t matter how many points they win by).

Favorites are indicated with a (-) sign in front of their odds, and the number that follows the minus sign tells you how much you need to risk in order to win $100. Underdogs have a (+) sign in front of their moneyline odds, followed by the number that reflects the amount of money you could win on a $100 wager.

Most people prefer to bet the point spread instead of moneyline when wagering on football because it reduces the amount of money you have to risk on favorites and it makes bets on underdogs easier to win (they just need to keep the game close). But if you love a team’s chances of winning the game and don’t want to worry about how many points they win by, the moneyline is a nice option to consider.

3. Over/Under

Over/Under is the most fun way to bet on a lot of different sports, and football betting is no different. When you bet on the Over/Under (also known as the total), you’re simply betting on how many points will be scored in the game, not which team will win or how many points they’ll win by.

Over/Unders for NFL games are usually in the 40s, although a game between two defensive-minded teams might see a total in the high 30s, and a clash of powerful offenses may lead to a total in the 50s. College totals are generally higher, and it’s not uncommon to see Over/Unders in the 60s and 70s. Like point spreads, Over/Unders generally pay -110 odds on each side.

In addition to the offenses and defenses of each team, there are many other things to consider when doing Over/Under betting. We get further into that in our football strategy guides (links to those can be found at the bottom of this section).

4. Live Betting

Live betting allows you to bet on the game after it’s already begun, with odds that have been updated to reflect how the game is going so far.

For example, if a 10-point favorite is trailing midway through the second quarter, you may suddenly be able to bet on them as a 3-point favorite. Or if the Over/Under of a game was 49 before kickoff, and then the first quarter is scoreless, you might be able to bet Over 40 instead.

Another big advantage of live betting is that you can actually see how the teams are matching up against each other before wagering on the action, rather than making a pre-game wager without knowing how much intensity and motivation each team will bring to the game.

5. First Half/Second Half

You don’t necessarily need to bet on the full game when wagering on football. Practically every betting site will offer first-half odds on a game before it kicks off, and sites also post second-half odds after the first half is completed (just like live betting odds, the second-half odds will be based on what has happened in the game so far).

When you’re betting on a particular half, whatever happens in the rest of the game won’t affect your wager. First-half betting is a great option for when you want to bet on a big favorite but are concerned about the potential of them letting up in the second half (or possibly putting in their back-ups) when they have a big lead. Meanwhile, second-half betting often allows you to take advantage of odds that are more favorable than when the game began, such as when a favorite is trailing at halftime.

6. Teasers

Teasers are when you move the point spread or Over/Under a few points (normally 6) in your favor, making it more likely for your bets to cover. In return, you need to combine at least two outcomes into your wager and get them all right in order to win your bet (similar to a parlay). The odds on your teaser bet will be determined by how many points you are teasing and how many outcomes you include.

For example:

Let’s say you decide to play a 2-game teaser involving the Houston Texans (who are +10 on the regular point spread) and the Dallas Cowboys (who are -8). If you bet a 2-game, 6-point teaser, you will now have the Texans +16 (+10, plus 6 points in your favor) and the Cowboys -2 (-8, plus 6 points in your favor), but they’ll both need to cover those reduced spreads in order for you to win your wager.

Football teasers are most effective when you are able to move the point spread past the “key numbers” of 3 and 7 points, since those are the two most common margins of victory in both the NFL and college.

7. Pleasers

Pleasers are similar to teasers, but they differ in one major way: instead of moving the point spreads and Over/Unders in your favor to make it easier to win, you’re actually moving the point spreads and totals away from you, making it more difficult for your bets to cover.

Instead of teasing the Houston Texans up from +10 to +16 and the Dallas Cowboys down from -8 to -2, a pleaser would mean you are now taking the Texans +4 (+10 minus 6 points) and the Cowboys -14 (-8 minus 6 points). You’ll still need to win both outcomes in order to cash your bet.

Why would you ever make it harder for your bets to cover? Because the payouts on pleasers are way higher to account for that increased difficulty of winning. While a 2-game, 6-point teaser will usually pay in the vicinity of -110 odds, a 2-game, 6-point pleaser will pay around a +600 return!

Whenever you think a team is going to easily cover the point spread or a game is going to go far Over or Under the total, you might want to use them in a pleaser in order to really capitalize on some fatter odds.

8. Parlays

When you bet a parlay, you’re combining several different outcomes onto one wager. The upside is that you have a chance to win a lot more money than if you just bet on one game at a time, but the downside is that you need to get all of your picks correct in order to win your bet.

Parlays might be a good option for you when you want to take several big favorites on the moneyline but don’t want to have to risk a lot to win a little on each of them. For example, a moneyline parlay on the New England Patriots (-200) and Alabama Crimson Tide (-300) would pay exactly even odds, allowing you to double your money as long as both of those big favorites won their games.

9. Props

Prop betting (when you basically bet on anything other than the final outcome of the game) has long been a huge hit in the Super Bowl, where casual bettors love to wager on silly things such as how long the national anthem will be or whether the coin toss will be heads or tails.

But thanks in part to the explosion of popularity of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), oddsmakers now offer prop bets on virtually every NFL game and most big college football games as well. That allows you to wager on individual player performance, rather than how the teams perform collectively.

Examples of player props include:

Props aren’t limited to players, however. Most betting sites will allow you to bet props on a wide variety of things taking place during a game, such as:

10. Futures

When you bet on football futures, you’re betting on what will take place over the course of an entire season, not that weekend’s games.

The most popular football futures are regarding which team will win the championship, whether it’s the Super Bowl in the NFL or the BCS National Championship in college football. However, there are plenty of other team futures to bet on, such as division winners in the NFL, conference champions in college, or simply which teams will qualify for post-season play (the NCAA introduced a four-team playoff several years ago.)

Player futures are also often available throughout the season, with betting sites updating them after every week of action. Common NFL player futures include who will win the league MVP award, passing yardage title, or rookie-of-the-year honors, while the top NCAA player futures bet is always on who will claim the Heisman as college football’s most outstanding player.

Football Betting Strategy Guides

Each of the football betting options listed above come with their unique set of strategies.

How do you decide whether to take a favorite on the point spread or play it more conservatively on the moneyline? What should you consider when making your teaser selections? What are the things you should be looking for in a game to find value on the live betting odds?

We answer all of these questions (and more) in our football betting strategy guides. Whether you’re a beginner at football betting or consider yourself an expert, we’ve got a guide specifically for you:

Major Events

Not many events will draw people together for a party quicker than a big football game.

Here are some of the major events in both the NFL and college football that you’ll want to circle on your calendar and make sure you tune in for.

NFL Major Events

Super Bowl

SBLIII Super Bowl 2019No event in North American sports rivals the magnitude and popularity of the NFL’s championship game, which has been known as the Super Bowl since 1967. In fact, the Super Bowl ranks behind only the UEFA Champions League final when it comes to annual viewing audience across the world!

Champions of the NFL’s two conferences (the American Football Conference and National Football Conference) meet in the Super Bowl, which is held on the first Sunday in February and is contested on a pre-determined neutral field. The 2019 Super Bowl is scheduled for February 3, 2019, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in New Orleans.

For information about past champions and the all-time greatest moments in the NFL title match, visit our Super Bowl page.

Pro Bowl

Pro Bowl LogoThe best players from each conference are showcased every year in the Pro Bowl, the NFL’s all-star game that is held on the Sunday between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

Participants in the Pro Bowl are determined by voting conducted by three different groups: the coaches, the players, and the fans. Due to the potential for injury in the Pro Bowl, players whose teams made the Super Bowl do not play in the all-star game.

Even though the Pro Bowl lacks the intensity and physicality of a normal NFL game, many football fans enjoy betting on the match just to make things interesting. It’s also the second-last football game that you can bet on before the sport shuts down for six months.


College Major Events

College Football Playoff National Championship Game

College Football Playoff LogoThis game concludes the college football season and determines the overall champion of the NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) for that year. It was first established in 2014, replacing the controversial Bowl Championship Series (BCS) format that saw voters determine the two teams that would play for the national title. Prior to that, the college football champion was determined purely by voters, often resulting in controversy and sometimes even co-champions.

In the College Football Playoff, a selection committee determines four teams that will compete in the national semifinals. Those semifinals are played on or near New Year’s Day, with the national championship game taking place on the first Monday that is at least six days after the semifinals.

Alabama has won the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in two of the last three years and was also a finalist in 2016 when it lost 35-31 to Clemson. Ohio State won the inaugural title game in 2014, whipping Oregon 42-20.

FBS Bowls

Each year, the top teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) are invited to participate in a bowl game, giving each of those schools the chance to play one extra game on a neutral field and in front of a national television audience.

Bowl games are played over the holiday season in December and early January, making them a very popular event to bet on. That popularity has led to a tremendous growth in the number of bowl games contested, which has nearly quadrupled from 11 in 1968 to 40 in 2017.

Bowl games vary in tradition and history, and only teams from the 5 power conferences (along with the highest-ranked champion from a non-power conference) are eligible to participate in the most prestigious bowl games, such as the Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, and Fiesta Bowl. To learn more, visit our College Bowls page.

Below is a list of all 40 bowl games that were played in 2017:

  • Celebration Bowl
  • New Orleans Bowl
  • Cure Bowl
  • Las Vegas Bowl
  • New Mexico Bowl
  • Camellia Bowl
  • Boca Raton Bowl
  • Frisco Bowl
  • Gasparilla Bowl
  • Bahamas Bowl
  • Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
  • Birmingham Bowl
  • Armed Forces Bowl
  • Dollar General Bowl
  • Hawai’i Bowl
  • Heart of Dallas Bowl
  • Quick Lane Bowl
  • Cactus Bowl
  • Independence Bowl
  • Pinstripe Bowl
  • Foster Farms Bowl

See More

  • Texas Bowl
  • Military Bowl
  • Camping World Bowl
  • Alamo Bowl
  • Holiday Bowl
  • Belk Bowl
  • Sun Bowl
  • Music City Bowl
  • Arizona Bowl
  • Cotton Bowl
  • TaxSlayer Bowl
  • Liberty Bowl
  • Fiesta Bowl
  • Orange Bowl
  • Outback Bowl
  • Peach Bowl
  • Citrus Bowl
  • Rose Bowl
  • Sugar Bowl

Biggest Names In Football

Top NFL Teams

You know the phrase “Any Given Sunday”? Well, although it’s true that a big part of the NFL’s charm is that any team can beat any other team at any time, these five particular franchises have enjoyed more than their fair share of success in the NFL over the years.

Top College Teams

Unfortunately, college football doesn’t enjoy nearly the amount of parity that exists in the NFL. Some schools have more resources, put extra emphasis on football, or are simply bigger than their peers, putting them at a competitive advantage every time they take the field.

Here are five schools who are consistently powerhouse programs in NCAA football.

Top NFL Players

Football may be the ultimate team game, but it still takes superstars to win championships. Here are four current players who have led their respective teams to Super Bowl appearances, along with one who likely will in the near future.

As mentioned, the players listed above are just five of the top players currently competing in the NFL. For more on some of the gridiron’s greatest past and present stars, visit our NFL Legends page.

Top College Players

With rosters changing over every year due to graduation or the NFL draft, it can be difficult to stay on top of who the top players are in college football. Below are five big names to be aware of going into the 2018 NCAA football campaign.

Although success at the college level often leads to a productive NFL career, many football players have enjoyed their greatest moments wearing NCAA uniforms. On our NCAA football legends page, we look back at the top college football players of all time.

Brief History Of Football

The origins of American football can be traced back several centuries to the early days of soccer and rugby, the two sports that football is heavily based on. But it wasn’t until the 1870s that Yale University graduate Walter Camp blended those two sports together and added various modifications such as a line of scrimmage and blocking to create football as we know it.

Professional Football History

Akron pros1920 - APFAThe American Professional Football Association was the first professional football league, featuring 14 teams (all of them located in the northeastern United States) in its inaugural season in 1920. The following year, the league expanded to 22 teams (including the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears), and the APFA changed its name to the National Football League in 1922.

The NFL’s membership fluctuated over the next couple of decades as numerous teams joined the league, while several others ended up folding or moving. By the 1950s, however, the NFL had gained solid traction in the United States and even absorbed teams from the All-America Football Conference in 1950.

Another professional league, the American Football League, was founded in 1960 by owners who had not been able to obtain NFL franchises. The AFL was very successful in its 10-year stint, growing from its original eight-team membership to 10 by 1968. In fact, the very first Super Bowl in 1967 was held between the champions of the AFL and NFL, a format that continued until the leagues merged in 1970. To this day, the Super Bowl is contested between the winners of the American Football Conference and National Football Conference.

College Football History

University Of Pennsylvania 1878 - IFAAlthough it was a Yale graduate who invented football, Yale wasn’t part of the inaugural college football league. When the Intercollegiate Football Association was founded in 1876, it featured just Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton for three years until Yale (which was protesting a rule about the number of players per team) eventually joined in 1879.

By that point, schools elsewhere in the country were beginning to add football teams, such as the University of Michigan, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Minnesota. That led to the 1895 formation of the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, which was the early origins of the Big Ten conference that we see today. By the turn of the century, college football was popular across the country.

College football was incredibly dangerous in its early days, however, and more than 300 college athletes died as a result of injuries suffered while playing the game. After US president Theodore Roosevelt threatened to eliminate the sport unless modifications were made to make the game safer, it was determined that a national external governing body was required to monitor the sport. The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States was formed the following year and became known as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1910.

College football was contested regionally until the 1930s, when the sport began to build national prominence. The Orange Bowl, Sun Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Rose Bowl were created during that decade as a way for teams from different regions of the country to face each other, and the Associated Press began conducting a poll to determine which team was the national champion.

Over the years, the number of bowl games has continued to grow, going from 15 games in 1980 to 25 in 2000 to 40 in 2017. The NCAA has also tinkered with the way it determines national champions, whether it was the short-lived Bowl Coalition (when the #1 and #2 teams in the AP poll faced each other for the national title), the Bowl Alliance (when top teams from only the ACC, SEC, Southwest, Big Eight, and Big East conferences would play in a title game), or the Bowl Championship Series (when the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, or Fiesta Bowl doubled as the national final). In 2014, the NCAA implemented the four-team playoff system that exists today.

A much deeper and more comprehensive look at the origins and evolutions of professional and college football can be found on our football history page.

Is Betting On Football Online Safe?

Yes, it is, but only if you’re using the top football betting sites.

There are fewer scam sites out there than there used to be, but you still need to be careful about which betting sites you join. Since football betting is so popular, some sites are able to prey on people’s eagerness to join and make a deposit in time to bet on that afternoon’s action. Those sites have no intent of paying you if you win, and they also will offer massive bonuses in order to attract your business away from the more reputable sites.

Not that legitimate sites don’t offer big bonuses. Far from it, in fact, especially at the start of football season when there’s a lot of competition for your betting action. But before you join a site and make a deposit, you need to also make sure that the site has a strong history of payouts, offers all the types of betting odds you want, and has player-friendly deposit and withdrawal methods.

Does that sound like a lot of work? Yeah, researching the hundreds of sites out there definitely is. Fortunately, we’ve got a short list of the top sites to trust for betting on football, based on our years of experience in the industry.

Other Useful Resources

Below are links to some of our other in-depth pages that specialize in various areas of football. (COMING SOON!)

Conclusion

Football season is the favorite time of year for most sports bettors. Unfortunately, it’s a short season, with both the NFL and college football kicking off in September and wrapping up five months later.

Make the most of this football season by wagering on the action! Not only will you enjoy the games that much more, but you’ll also grow your comprehension of the sport and expand your horizons to leagues that you didn’t follow before. And if you are willing to put some time and research into your picks (or follow the advice of experts, such as the football picks that we regularly post on our site), there’s no reason you can’t make a few bucks in the process.

Join one of the top football betting sites today, make a deposit, and get ready to enjoy football in a way you never have before.