The Super Bowl gathered nearly 100 million football fans on February 8, 2021, when Tampa Bay Buccaneers won against Kansas City Chiefs. Before the finale was over, almost the same number of people were betting on who would be victorious and what the exact results would be. Legal online sports betting is booming, and if you’re looking to get some money out of your favorite pastime, now is the perfect time to start. By the time you’re done reading our guide, you’ll know everything you need to know on how to bet on football to start making some cash.

As soon as you dive into betting, you’ll most likely encounter the three most popular kinds of football bets. Whether you’re making a straight bet or just looking at the sportsbook data, you’ll notice how often football spreads, moneyline, and totals are mentioned. We’ll begin with these types of wager and take it from here.

Against the Spread

Football matches can be pretty unpredictable, and one way to balance out the odds between two playing teams is to use the so-called spread. Suppose two NFL teams were about to face each other, and the odds are uneven. In that case, the sportsbook would use the spread as one of the types of football bets to even the odds and make the match more interesting. This is the most popular form of wagering on football.

Bettors often use expressions such as “point spread” in the NFL, “covering the spread,” or “betting against the spread.” All of them refer to the same thing: to provide a fair playing ground, a sportsbook will use a 50/50 wagering suggestion or a handicap. The team deemed the favorite has to win by a specified number of points or more, while the underdog team must not lose more than that number. The spread is used to promote equal betting, favoring the underdog. Here’s an example of how to bet on point spreads in football that you might get from the popular online casinos:

how to bet on football - example bet 1

The spread is defined in the second column here, preceded by the team’s name. The Kansas City Chiefs are favorites in this case since they have negative points assigned. This means they would have to win the match by at least 11 points for you to win your bet. You may also take a different angle and remove the negative points from the total points gained during the match. If you’re still in the plus, you’ve won the bet.

The Houston Texans, on the other hand, are the underdog here, so they get positive points. As we’ve mentioned, in American football betting, sportsbooks give points to the underdog to even the odds. Hence, if the Houston Texans don’t lose by more than ten points, you can cash out that bet.

Since the scores in NFL matches are worth two, three, six, or seven points, the spread will use a similar scoring system. The difference with the spread is that the home team gets a three-point advantage. So, if a team you’ve bet on has a five-point advantage on the home field, the same team would have a two-point advantage playing elsewhere.

When you bet on football matches, you’ll often see a spread with half-points. For example, the Arizona Cardinals might get the spread of +8.5 as underdogs, as shown below:

how to bet on football - example bet 2

The half-point is added in case of a tie or a push, and it’s called a hook. Hooks prevent ties from happening.

Generally, the NFL point spreads go from pick’em to 15 points, rarely higher than that. High-scoring bets are very risky since an underdog might get an insignificant score late in the game, causing a “backdoor cover” and managing to cover the spread. This happens when one team is significantly better.

Knowing the spread is essential in familiarizing yourself with how to bet on football. New weekly spreads are available every Sunday evening, after most of the previous week’s games have played out. Expect to see more spread bets as more lawmakers reach an agreement on legalizing sports wagering.

Follow the Moneyline

Moneyline is the simplest type of bet, as you only need to pick the winner of a match. The NFL betting odds here represent the sportsbook’s estimation of a team winning and how much you may earn:

how to bet on football - example bet 2

In this table, the moneyline is placed right after the spread. The favorite team gets negative points in the moneyline, representing how much you’ll have to bet to get $100.

Moneyline is not the most lucrative type of bet, but it is the best way to bet on football if you’re backing underdogs. Betting on favorites in this case would get you a below-average payout. The San Francisco 49ers are favorites here, so they get -390 points. That means you’d have to bet $390 on the San Francisco 49ers to get a $100 profit.

On the other hand, the Arizona Cardinals are the underdog. They get +310 points for moneyline bets, meaning you’ll get $310 if you put a $100 bet on them. In other words, you’ll get a bigger payout if you place a moneyline bet on the underdog.

Gather the Totals

Like moneylines, totals are simple when understanding football bets: you’re betting on the total number of points scored on a match by both participating teams. Another often-used term for totals is “over/under betting.” The numbers seen in totals are the sportsbook’s predictions on the final result of the match. These numbers can go from 30 to 60, depending on many variables: the teams’ particular strengths and weaknesses, whether the opposing teams are division rivals too, and even weather conditions during the match.

The odds are identical for betting over or under. Note that the sportsbook’s prediction of totals may change during the week. Next to the totals, you’ll see either “O” or “U” when you’re betting on football games. The first letter is for “over,” which means you’ll have a winning bet if the total score of the match is higher than the one predicted by the sportsbook. “U” is for “under” and means you’ll get a payout if the total is lower than the prediction.

Back to the case with the Houston Texans, you’ll see the totals in the last column. The prediction for this match is 54 points, favoring the Houston Texans if the total score surpasses that number. For the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s under 54. You get to choose if you’ll bet over or under this total. You might see half-points or hooks in the totals’ sports betting in football, which are again used to prevent ties.

Vig the Odds

If you have a 50% chance of winning a totals bet or a point spread in the Super Bowl, it would only be fair that the wager corresponds to the stake. But sportsbooks have to profit too, and they do so by using the “vig.”

Vig or vigorish is a cut sportsbooks impose for taking your bet, but they only take it if you lose. The odds for vigs are usually -110 or 10/11 if calculated in fractional odds. To put it plainly, you need to bet $110 to have a chance at winning $100. In case your bet loses, the extra $10 goes to the sportsbook.

In short, sports betting in football comes at the price of the vig, also known as “juice.” Without it, you might get a $200 payout for your $100 bet. With the vig, however, you’ll get $190.

We’ve mentioned that the vig odds of -110 are the most common, but some sportsbooks set odds of -120 or higher. If enough bettors put their money on a specific spread, sportsbooks might raise the vig odds instead of the spread odds. That way, bettors will get a lower payout and sportsbooks a higher profit.

The number of people wondering how to place a bet on football is growing lately. As sports gambling is becoming more prominent and legal across the US, the issue with varying vig odds will have to be addressed in the future.

Have Fun With Props

NFL football is a complex game with plenty of positions and situations you can use for prop bets. Props are fun bets that can provide a steady stream of payouts, but they shouldn’t be taken seriously. They are tied to specific match statistics and predictions, such as which team will score first, how many touchdowns there will be, or how many yards a quarterback will cross.

Props are among the most popular forms of betting during the NFL Super Bowl or primetime games. But when learning how to bet on football, why are these bets considered just amusing distractions? Well, props have a lower maximum bet limit and less favorable odds compared to other forms of betting we’ve mentioned so far. Hence, your payouts will be more modest.

There are usually several props available per match. For a Super Bowl match, you’ll often see unusual NFL bets like the length of the national anthem. Bookmakers will offer over or under bets for props on particular statistics, precisely defining the odds and betting options.

What the Futures Bring

If you’re wondering how to gamble on football finals at the very beginning of a season, “futures” are the solution. With futures bets, you may place wagers on the performance of a particular player or team throughout a season. They must be made well in advance, from the start of the season or 24 hours after the final whistle in the Super Bowl.

Futures may include predictions on who will be the MVP, defensive player of the year, or National Football Conference champion. Bookmakers choose the favorites and add a “FIELD” option. If you bet on this option, you’re wagering that a favorite won’t be the predicted award winner.

If you’ve read our football betting guide carefully thus far, you must have noticed that, besides choosing favorites, over/under betting is also a form of futures bets.

Going Live

Live betting is considered one of the most exciting ways to bet on football. You can place a wager while the match is temporarily stopped. Moneyline, totals, and the spread have all live-betting versions.

You can wager on a first down, touchdown, gained and lost yards, or if an action about to happen will be a rush or a pass. Although bettors have limited time to wager, they may earn a lot with live betting if they’re familiar enough with the team’s or individual players’ strategies.

How To Bet on Several NFL Games Simultaneously

You can bet on several games at the same time with parlays, teasers, and pleasers bets. You may win big time with these bets, but they are not recommended for novices.

Nothing Parlayed, Nothing Gained

Parlays are bets covering two or more events, so you can place a single wager for several events instead of making separate ones. The trick is that you have to win all the events you’ve chosen for your parlay bet to be profitable.

These kinds of bets can include a mixture of point spread betting, moneyline, and totals related to a single or multiple games. Parlays can be a serious boon for those figuring out how to win money betting on football. Be aware, though, that not every sportsbook will offer an option to mix the spread and moneyline on a single match. Bookmakers can also limit the maximum number of events in the parlay sometimes. The limit might be removed in time as more states accept and allow online and retail sportsbooks.

Everybody Likes a Tease

A teaser bet or “teasing the spread” provides points that bettors may use on totals or spreads to change the points to their favor, although at the cost of diminished NFL game odds and payouts. Like parlays, teasers ought to include at least two events, and you have to win each one to win the bet.

How to bet on football with teasers? Bookmakers usually give six to 15 points that bettors use to alter the spread points. For NFL matches, six points are the standard teaser you use to add to the underdog or remove from the favorite.

If we take another look at this match, you can add six points to the Houston Texans to get a new +16 teased spread. Alternatively, you may subtract six points from the Kansas City Chiefs to get a -4 teased spread. You might be reducing your payout in the process, but you’re securing a better spread.

One more thing to be mindful of when using teaser bets is your bookmaker’s policy, especially when learning how to bet on football online. In case of a push, bookmakers may tally that push as a loss or remove an event with a push from the tease or parlay.

High-Risk Pleasers

Pleasers are similar to teasers. The main difference is that the spread or moneyline included works in the sportsbook’s favor. Pleasers are high-risk bets but offer more lucrative payouts. The odds depend on the number of points the bettor changes in the spread and the number of events. The odds will increase significantly as these factors increase.

Football Betting Explained

Having gained this knowledge, you should be prepared for the exciting world of online sports betting, which is steadily expanding throughout the US. The CFTC is even considering including sports gambling in the futures market.

The trick is to find the type of bet that will match your betting style and your knowledge of NFL teams and players.


How do you bet on football?

You can put a wager on a single game using the spread, moneyline, and totals. With parlays, teasers, and pleasers, you may place bets combining multiple events.

How do football spreads work?

The spread is one of several popular types of football bets. To win when spread betting, the favored team has to win the game by a certain number of points, while the underdog team must not lose more than a determined number of points.

What does a +7 spread mean?

It means that the favored team has to win by more than seven points for you to win the bet. If you bet on the underdog, you’ll win if that team either wins the match or loses less than seven points during the game.

What does a +200 moneyline mean?

As mentioned in our “How to bet on football” article, a +200 moneyline would result in a $200 payout if you place a $100 bet.