Chris Jones (KC)
With the introduction of online betting, wagering on NFL games has only grown in popularity. Football betting with apps or on the web makes putting down stakes easier than ever, adding to the anticipation of watching your favorite team play.
The DraftKings Sportsbook app makes placing a bet on a football game super easy. The platform provides you with a virtual bet slip; you just add the games you want to place a wager on. Once you make a betting pick, the platform shows you all the types of bets you can make for your selections, the odds, and betting spreads for NFL games. Once you've made your picks and put down an amount to stake, a handy "Place Bets" button lets you finalize your wager.
With sports betting on NFL games, people typically bet on the results of upcoming games—namely, who will win and who will lose. But you can make wagers on outcomes beyond the winner and the loser, such as the number of total rushing yards or which team will get the most sacks. While we share the basics here, check out our guide on how to bet on football for a more in-depth explanation.
When betting on NFL games, moneylines, totals (over/under), and spreads are the most popular methods for laying a wager on a football game.
A spread looks similar to this:
The negative number in the spread column shows the number of points the indicated team has to win for a wager to pay out. In this example, New England has to win by 15 points to win a bet placed on them. For the opposing team—in this case Kansas City—a bet on them pays out if they lose by fewer than 15 points or win the game. The decimal is there to ensure no push occurs on a bet. If the spread were to read -15/+15, a win by New England by fifteen points would force a betting tie, and the bookmaker would have to refund all bets.
The moneyline indicates the bet payout. In the case of New England, the negative number indicates how much you'd need to stake in order to win $100. The positive amount shows how much you'd win after placing a $100 bet on that team to win. If you were to bet on New England, you'd have to bet $120 to win $100. You'd also win back your initial $120 stake for a total of $220.
If you want to bet on Kansas City, you'd need to put up a bet of $100. If they're victorious—or lose by fewer points than the spread—you'd win $150. You'd also get back your initial $100 stake, for a total of $250, back into your pocket.
For smaller bets, the moneyline scales easily. You'd stake $12 on New England to win $10 and place $10 on KC to win $15.
NFL line betting—also called moneyline betting—simply takes the spread out of the picture. In this case, the bookmakers adjust the payout to account for the lack of point spread. A moneyline sheet might look similar to this:
|New England @ Kansas City||New England||-200/+200|
The moneyline column works the same as with spread betting. In this case, you'd have to bet $200 to win $100 when betting on New England. The stake would be $100 to win $200 if you choose Kansas City to win.
Totals—or over/under—betting is probably the simplest way to place a wager. The oddsmaker puts up a total score, and you lay down the stakes as to whether the total number of points scored by both sides during the game will be more or less than the posted score.
You aren't just limited to betting on the outcome of a game. There are numerous results you can lay down a wager on. NFL betting trends include prop wagers—also known as side bets. These side bets include who'll be the MVP of a particular matchup, how many points a specific player will score, which team will rush for the most yards, and a slew of other incidental wagers you can place to make the game even more exciting.
Once the game has kicked off, you can place several bets in real time. Many bookmakers will allow you to bet on specific quarters, halves, or individual drives while the game progresses. Many side bets you can place before the game are available during game play, but the odds will shift continuously as the game progresses.
Keep in mind that once you lay down a live bet, you're locked into the odds as they were at the time of your wager. Increasing or decreasing odds won't affect the payout of a bet that you've already made.
Futures betting looks beyond the outcome of the most current game. Common futures bets include which two teams will make it to the Superbowl, the season's scoring stats for a player or a team, and even which team will win the championship game that year.
Once you place a futures wager, you're locked into the odds applicable when you made the bet. Percentages for betting on NFL games shift from week-to-week, as teams win or lose—increasing or reducing their odds throughout the season. The fluctuating numbers make futures betting interesting for anyone who's placed a bet, especially when you bet on a long shot at the beginning of the season and their performance throughout the year improves their chances of winning your bet.
The NFL was established in Canton, Ohio in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (AFPA). The organization changed its name to the National Football League in 1922. Today, we simply refer to it as the NFL. As a new organization—with only 18 teams at the time—the league underwent a period of adjustment and selected the annual champion based on the team that performed the best that year. It continued this way until the league adopted formal rules establishing annual championship games in 1933.
In 1950, the NFL absorbed its competitor league, the All-America Football Conference. They expanded further in 1960 when the NFL merged with the American Football League and expanded to 32 teams that year.
In 1960, the NFL dubbed the championship game "The Superbowl," and it became the most anticipated sporting event in the United States and the most watched annual event on television.
With football's rise in popularity, it stood to reason that betting would also become more prevalent. Sports betting outside of horseracing was illegal all across the U.S. until Nevada legalized gambling in 1931—with the strictest of regulations and a substantial gaming tax. In 1970, Congress reduced the gaming tax from 10% to 2%, and more states began to legalize sports betting. Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 1992 to prevent betting on sports, except in select states. The Supreme Court overturned the act in 2018, which allowed any state to legalize the practice that wished to do so.
Bookmakers begin setting odds and opening betting for the upcoming season a few weeks before the first NFL game kickoff, usually on the first Monday of September. This is an ideal time to look at futures betting since you can place bets on any scheduled game. As the season progresses, odds for upcoming games will fluctuate, adding to the anticipation throughout weekly play.
The NFL draft is held over three days during the spring every year. Player selection always begins on a Thursday, and the final pick takes place that Saturday. The league only holds the first round on Thursday, which is the time coaches select the most promising players. The draft performs all subsequent selection rounds over the next two days.
Draft odds become available as soon as the first player registers for the draft, and odds update for each new player who registers. As one player becomes the favorite, another player's odds will become longer. By the fall of the year preceding the draft, bookmakers have a number of names available to bet on, along with the chances of being selected in the first round. You can even place bets on which player will be selected first overall.
You can bet on preseason exhibition games just as easily as regular season games. Sportsbooks will post the odds a few weeks before the preseason game, and you can place moneyline bets, spread wagers, or totals just as you would a regular game.
The NFL is made up of 32 teams, split into two conferences—the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference). Each conference splits into four divisions, which are divided by region—north, south, east, and west.
Seven teams from each conference play single-elimination Playoff games. Games continue until each conference has one NFL Playoff champion who makes it to the Superbowl.
The Super Bowl is hands-down the biggest NFL betting event of the year—every year. The Super Bowl determines the NFL grand champion of the year, and every member of each participating team receives a designer-crafted ring—unique to that year's competition—to signify their participation.