Learn How to Bet on Football
NFL Betting Guide: Tips, Terms, and Sportsbooks
Introduction to Football Betting
There's no question that the NFL rules sports in the United States. The biggest sport in North America, too, continues to grow across the globe, with games being played in London and Mexico over the last few seasons, and games slated for Munich, Germany in 2022.
Football can be a complicated sport to understand, especially with all the penalties and rules that put big plays in jeopardy.
But what's even more important than knowing how the game works? How to bet on it. Use the information below to get a grasp of the game and how to effectively bet on football.
NFL Betting 101: The Football Betting Basics
There are three different answers you may want when trying to figure out how to bet on football:
- “I see Eagles -180 and Commanders +160. What on earth does that mean?
- “I know how to bet and what all those numbers mean, but I don’t know where to bet.”
- “I know how to bet, but I want to sharpen my handicapping skills and become a more profitable football bettor.”
Let’s start with the basics.
How Do Moneyline Odds Work?
A popular bet in football is the moneyline, which requires you to pick the winner of the game. But it’s not a 50-50 proposition in most cases – you won’t get paid the same for taking the Chiefs to beat the Browns in Kansas City as you would for taking the Chiefs to beat the Bills in Buffalo, given the ability of each team.
So each team is assigned moneyline odds by the sportsbook based on their ability, and bettors have to pay a corresponding price. Here’s how they work:
- Rams -300
- Giants +250
American odds like these are centered around $100. So if you bet $300 on the Rams at -300, you’d win $100 if Los Angeles wins. If you bet $100 on the Giants at +250 and they win, you’d win $250.
You don’t have to bet $100, of course. If you bet $3 on Los Angeles, you’d win $1. Bet $1 on the Giants, win $2.50.
Are There Point Spreads in Football?
In football and basketball, the most popular betting option is the point spread – it’s a bet on the margin of victory in that game.
Let’s use that same example from above.
- Rams -13.5 (-110)
- Giants +13.5 (-110)
Because Los Angeles is so much better than New York, sportsbooks are saying it’s about a 50-50 chance that they win by 14 points or more.
What About Over/Unders?
Another popular betting option in football is wagering on the total (aka the over/under).
You’re betting on the total points scored by both teams going over or under the number set by sportsbooks.
With NFL scoring on the rise over the last two decades, most totals in 2022 are set at over 41 points, with each team expected to average out scoring at least 20 points points every game.
The Rams-Bengals Super Bowl total on Feb. 13, 2022 was 48. Los Angeles won 23-20. That means anyone who took the under cashed their bet because only 43 points were scored.
But depending on the teams and situation, you may have to risk a different amount on the over or under.
Rams vs. Bengals
- Total: 48
- Over odds: -115
- Under odds: -105
Like the moneyline example above, you have to pay more for betting the over than the under. Sportsbooks and bettors have determined the game going over 48 is more likely than it going under.
For every $1.15 risked, you’d win $1. For every $1.05 risked on the under, you’d win $1.
Jets vs. Patriots
- Total: 48
- Over odds: -105
- Under odds: -115
Sportsbooks believe it’s more likely the game goes under than over, so you have to pay a bit more to take the under.
Totals are not just limited to the full game. You can bet the first quarter over/under, alternate totals, and more.
NFL Betting Tips
With the shortest season of all professional sports, there's little room for error when it comes to NFL betting. Here are some tips to help get you started if you are a beginner, or to take your betting to the next level.
Betting on the Big Game has become an American pastime over the past few season with total bets reaching up to $8 billion for the 2022 contest. Our experts break down to bet the Super Bowl.
For additional information, you can explore the articles below.
Best Sportsbooks for Football Betting
Different sportsbooks provide different odds when it comes to games lines, player props, futures and more. Take a look at our options and picks on where to go for your different NFL bets to find those best odds, so you can make the most profit.
NFL Futures Betting Odds
Futures betting lets you select champions, awards and more across different parts of NFL ahead of time, meaning you'll get huge odds and the potential to win big at a smaller risk margin. Futures can be bet on at nearly any point in a season, but you'll find the best odds during the preseason -- which also makes predicting things like who will win the Super Bowl or be named an MVP even more fun when you make the call before the season's even started.
NFL Team Odds
The NFL continues to be the biggest sports league in the United States, with staggering fan bases and high viewership ratings every year producing big numbers. Football dominates Sunday's from September to January and now has an extra week of play bringing in more eyes and more revenue. The Super Bowl is the most watched TV broadcast year in and year out. It really seems like football will continue to be a moving force to be reckoned with and has no stop in sight.
There are 32 teams across two conferences and eight divisions, so the battle to raise the Lombardi Trophy isn't any easy one -- especially in such a physical sport. See all the divisions and team odds here as we gear up for the next season.
AFC East Division Betting
The AFC East was run by Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for a solid two decades. 18 division championships eventually led to nine trips to the Super Bowl and six Lombardi Trophies in Robert Kraft's office. But with Brady gone, there's a new king of the east in the Buffalo Bills. Led by young stud QB Josh Allen, the Bills look ready to contend across the league for the next decade and beyond. The Patriots are still around, while the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have a lot more to prove before we can take them seriously. But no matter what, this has always been a fun division to watch.
|AFC East Teams|
AFC North Division Betting
The AFC North has has its fair share of turnover during the last two decades. From Big Ben's Pittsburgh Steelers winning two Super Bowls, to Joe Flacco leading the Baltimore Ravens to a Lombardi Trophy and now Joe Burrow falling just one drive short of doing the same for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021. While the North has the history, the present seems very promising. Burrow in Cincy, Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, Deshaun Watson and Co. arriving in Cleveland this offseason and Pittsburgh set to draft their next franchise quarterback. It'll be tougher than ever to truly become the Kings of the AFC North.
|AFC North Teams
AFC South Division Betting
The AFC South has suffered mostly hard times without Peyton Manning as a Colt. Indianapolis had some playoff appearances with Andrew Luck under center, but those days are over too. Since then, the Houston Texans and now the Tennessee Titans have represented the South in playoff runs, but neither have done enough to even make it to the Super Bowl. Then you've got the Jacksonville Jaguars... There's not much else to say about them besides for the one season they were a drive away from an AFC championship. A lot of work needs to be done across the board in this division to turn things around.
|AFC South Teams
AFC West Division Betting
Arguably the most talented division in all of football, the AFC West has become an absolute force. The Kansas City Chiefs have spoken for themselves over the last four years, making it to four straight AFC Championship games, two Super Bowl appearances and one ring. The Los Angeles Chargers have one of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Justin Herbert and a talented roster across the board. The Denver Broncos finally got their quarterback in Russell Wilson to compliment what is otherwise a great group on both sides of the ball. And the Oakland Raiders added two stars in Chandler Jones and Davante Adams to a team that already made the playoffs last season. Buckle up for what should be a stellar 2022 in the AFC West.
|AFC West Teams
NFC East Division Betting
The NFC East is both one of the more successful divisions and one of the most disappointing. The Dallas Cowboys ruled the mid-90s and picked up two more Super Bowls in the 70s to collect five in total so far. They've had talented roster after talent roster since then, but have sputtered out during recent playoff appearances. The New York Giants are tied for the worst record in the last five seasons, but are still remembered for two shocking Super Bowl runs led by Eli Manning. The Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl in 2018, but have since fallen back down to earth. And the now Washington Commanders have put together some solid seasons, but haven't made it past the wild card game since 2005. What will they have in store for us this season?
|NFC East Teams
NFC North Division Betting
When you think of the NFC North, you think of the gritty history and rivalries between all four teams. The Green Bay Packers have has the most success as of late with Aaron Rodgers under center, but the winners of three Super Bowls have always had to battle with the rest of the pack as well. The Chicago Bears ruled football before the merger and have a Super Bowl to their name since then. The Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings don't have any rings yet, but they're as much a staple in the league as the other two winning franchises in the division.
|NFC North Teams
NFC South Division Betting
The NFC South lucked out when Tom Brady decided to come out of retirement and return for one more year, because otherwise, it would be the division with the most question marks in the league. With Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should just right back into Super Bowl contention. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons said good bye to Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston is returning for the New Orleans Saints from injury and the Carolina Panthers looked primed to make a trade for a new QB at any moment. What will we see next out of the South?
|NFC South Teams
NFC West Division Betting
The NFC West was the division of the year in 2021, with the Los Angeles Rams winning the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers falling to their in-state rivals in the NFC Championship and the Arizona Cardinals going through a roller coaster of a season before losing in the wild card round. The Seattle Seahawks are looking at a rebuild now that Russell Wilson's departure completed the transition process from the 2013 Super Bowl winning team. What's to come out of this extremely competitive division next season?
|NFC West Teams
NFL Betting Tools & Utility
Figuring out the correct wager you want to place on a straight bet can be tough based on the odds, and gets even harder when you want to create one of your favorite 10-leg parlays. The Action Network's got you covered with out betting calculator that will do the math for you!
With football's scoring coming in increments of 1,2,3 and 6, figuring out spreads to bet on can be tough. Check out our standings for NFL teams records against the spread to see which teams look like the best options to place bets on.
It's always a good idea to check out what the public consensus is on a particular game you're thinking of betting on. The Action Network has you covered here as well. Side with the public or fade them to get an edge. Win or lose, make your choice.
Sometimes, having experts share their insights on a game can help you take a side in a game you're undecided on. The Action Network has a panel of experts that share their takes and picks on every game being played on the field each day. Take a look at their records and history, and see who you'd like to follow or fade as the season moves forward.
You want to get the best bang for your buck when betting on a game, but it's tough to tap through each sportsbook on your phone to find the best line. The Action Network's Odds page will show you all the lines available for the biggest sportsbooks out there, as well as the two best options on each side of a game.
Injuries are a part of any sport, and besides for the implications they have on the field, they can also effect betting lines and how you should wager on a game. Keeping track of injuries every day can be tough, so check out The Action Network's Injury Report each day to make sure you don't suffer a bad beat that could've been avoided.