Guide to Understanding NFL Betting Odds

When betting on the NFL, you will be presented with a series of markets and odds for the game of your choice. Depending on where you are based in the United States, you will have a selection of legal sportsbooks from which to choose. For example, did you know there are several legal Colorado sportsbooks?

They include BetRivers, BetMGM, DraftKings, William Hill, and PointsBet. Each of these are sure to offer a great range of NFL betting odds and they are usually presented as point spread bets, moneyline bets, and totals bets. These are the most popular NFL betting markets and they tend to be grouped together, appearing in a single line next to the names of the two teams involved in the game.

Beginning with the point spread, this is arguably the leading NFL betting market and where you will need to start when gaining an understanding of NFL betting odds. In basic terms, the point spread is used by the sportsbook to level the playing field when there is a favorite to win the game. So, when looking at the odds, the favored team has to win the game by a specified number of points, this is known as covering the spread. 

If the Indianapolis Colts odds were +5.5 (-110) and the New York Giants odds were -5.5 (+110), the team with the negative number next to their name is the favorite to win the game. In this example, the New York Giants are the favorites to win and if you bet on them to win against the spread, they must win by at least 6 points for the wager to be successful. The Colts are the underdogs for this game as they have a positive number next to their name. That means they do not have to win the game for your bet to be successful, as long as they do not lose the game by more than 5 points, your bet will be a winner.

Moving on and for newcomers the moneyline bet is considered the easiest to understand. When betting on this NFL market, you are simply choosing the team you think will win the game. Using the two teams in the example above, New York Giants have a -200 figure next to their name while the Indianapolis Colts have a +150 figure next to their name. So, to win $100 betting on the New York Giants, you would have to place a $200 wager, as they are the favorites. However, the plus number for the Colts indicates that for a $100, you stand to win $150 if successful. 

Finally, we come to the third set of NFL odds, the totals bet. This removes the need to predict which team will win the game and focuses on the total number of points scored overall in the game. Remaining with the two teams highlighted above, the sportsbook has set 51.5 as the total points. You can choose to bet over or under this number of points. You must ensure you click on either the O or U as the number is often the same but listed for both teams.

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