The National Football League has grown into the most popular sport in the United States. Some will still claim that baseball is America’s national pastime, and that may well be the case. But it’s football that dominates the country’s sports landscape in terms of television popularity, attendance and revenue.
As you may imagine, betting on football is also an incredibly popular pastime. There are many ways to attack the sport from a betting perspective, so let’s get started. What do you need to know if you’re interested in betting on American football?
As is the case with just about every sport, there certainly is no shortage of avenues for you to explore if you want to get in on football betting. Spread betting is the most common form of betting on the sport.
The concept is extremely simple. Rather than just picking one team or the other to win the game outright, you may bet on the point spread, which is what the sports book thinks the outcome of the game is likely to be. Let’s say the Houston Texans are going up against the Dallas Cowboys, and the spread looks like this:
Houston Texans (+7.5) at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5).
There are multiple ways to approach this bet. If you think the Cowboys will win by eight points or more, than you will bet on Dallas -7.5 to cover. If you think the Texans will either win the game outright or lose by seven points or fewer, you bet on Houston.
If you bet on Dallas -7.5 and the final score is Dallas 24, Houston 20, you lose the bet, even if the Cowboys won the game.
You’ll often see a spread bet listed with a second number, which indicates the odds. Using the example above, let’s say it appears as follows:
Houston Texans (+7.5, -110) at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5, -110)
So, if you bet $110 on the Texans at +7.5 (or vice versa) and win, you will get $100 back.
If you’re more interested in just picking a winner without having to deal with the point spread, you can also bet on the moneyline. There isn’t a sport in the United States that deals with as much parity as the NFL does, so betting on the underdog using the moneyline can be a profitable strategy if you can nail an upset pick.
We’ll use another example here. Here’s how an NFL moneyline may look:
Cincinnati Bengals +500 at Pittsburgh Steelers -250
The Bengals are heavy underdogs in this scenario, while the Steelers are heavy favorites. If you want to bet on the Steelers, you’d have to risk $250 just to win $100 back. If you have a strong feeling that Cincinnati can pull the upset, though, you stand to win some serious cash.
If you bet $100 on the Bengals +500, you’d win a profit of $500.
You aren’t just restricted to full game lines, either. While betting on the final score is by far and away the most popular option, you may also bet on quarter and half lines. Some books will offer the opportunity to bet on which team will be leading after the first, second and third quarters of a given game.
These bets work just like a final score bet would. The book will offer a spread for each quarter, and you can place a bet as you see fit. Quarter bets may be particularly unpredictable considering the shorter time span compared to a full game bet, but it’s just another option for you.
Another of the most popular forms of football betting is betting on the over/under, or implied total. This is another easy concept to grasp. The sports book will determine how many points one or both teams will score in a quarter, half or full game.
The 2017 Super Bowl, for example, had the highest over/under of any Super Bowl ever. Most books had the o/u for that game between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots at about 58 points. The final score was New England 34, Atlanta 28 for a combined total of 62 points.
So, if you decided to bet on the over, you won the bet. If you bet on the two teams combining to score fewer than 58 points in the game, you lost.
Parlays are also very common when it comes to betting on the NFL. With most games all taking place on the same day during the week (Sunday), some bettors will take the opportunity to maximize earnings by trying a parlay. Winning a parlay can be incredibly lucrative, but it also comes with considerably more risk than your standard bet on one game.
To win a parlay, you need several outcomes to go your way. You bet on a bunch of different games, and if you happen to hith on every single one of them, you win. The more games you put into parlay, the longer the odds get, which obviously increases your winnings if you somehow strike gold.
You can always head to Las Vegas if you want to bet on the gridiron action, but the advent of the Internet has made it easy for you to get in on the fun from your home or mobile phone, if you so choose. There are a number of viable sites that offer all sorts of football betting.
Bovada is perhaps one of the most recognizable brands in the sports betting industry as a whole. Bovada essentially sprung from the Bodog brand a few years back, and offers the same great reputation that Bodog did. They offer excellent deposit and frequent player bonuses, and offer countless ways to get in on the NFL action.
Just about any prop bet you can think of is available here. They also offer easy-to-use mobile betting, live in-play betting and futures betting. You can’t just bet however much you want to with Bovada, though. There are limits. Here are the maximum bets for each of the following NFL bets:
Most books will have similar limits. This isn’t exclusive to Bovada. A few other books that are popular among bettors based in the United States are TopBet, JustBet, Bookmaker and BetOnline. All of these sites offer varying bonuses, and all offer a wide array of NFL options.
The NFL may be the most popular sport in America, but other countries are starting to pay attention, as well. This means, of course, that bettors from around the world are also starting to get in on the action on a wide scale. The United Kingdom is setting new records for amounts bet on NFL games with each passing season.
Some of this is aided by the fact that the NFL has played games in the UK for the last decade or so. Those games, which most often take place at London’s Wembley Stadium or Twickenham, garner massive local interest compared to your standard NFL game that takes place in the States. UK bookmaker William Hill estimated that it has seen a spike of about 75 percent in betting on NFL games that take place within the borders of the UK.
The NFL obviously has a long way to go before it catches up to soccer in terms of betting interest on a worldwide scale, but progress is being made. Most major bookmakers outside of the USA also now offer many football betting options. Bet365, Paddy Power and BetFair are a few of the bigger names to look to if you’d like to bet on the NFL from outside the USA.
Betting on NFL regular season and playoff games is obviously hugely popular, but everything else pales in comparison to the league’s championship game, the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is consistently one of the most-watched television programs in the USA on an annual basis. Amazingly, of the 20 most-watched TV programs in the States all-time, 19 of them are Super Bowls.
The prop bet was essentially born thanks to the Super Bowl. Back in 1985, some sports books offered (in jest, mostly) odds on whether Chicago Bears defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry would score an offensive touchdown in Super Bowl XX. The odds got as high as 75-to-1, and Perry subsequently did go on to contribute a rushing touchdown in an eventual Chicago victory.
Since then, prop bets have become a staple of the Super Bowl and sports betting in general. Some regular season games will offer statistical props, but things can get particularly wild for the NFL’s biggest game. Some more popular Super Bowl prop bets include how long it will take the singer to sing the national anthem, whether the first points of the game will be scored via a safety, the results of the coin flip and whether President Donald Trump will be mentioned during the TV broadcast.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported that a whopping $4.7 billion was bet on 2017’s Super Bowl LI in the United States alone, and 97 percent of that occurred illegally. The number of total bets was up 11 percent from Super Bowl 50 in 2016.
The Super Bowl always takes place at a neutral site. The venue will rotate on a year-by-year basis, and no team has managed to make it to a Super Bowl scheduled to take place in their home stadium. Most games take place in warm weather cities or venues with controlled environments, which is ideal from a betting perspective.
In most cases, weather won’t play a major role in the way the Super Bowl is played. We have had rain on a few occasions, but more often than not the weather tends to cooperate. Paying attention to weather factors is obviously key when it comes to placing a bet on any sport, but inclement weather is hardly ever a concern for the Super Bowl despite taking place during the winter months.