If you live in the United States, you probably know just how popular football betting is, whether it is on college or professional games. When the Super Bowl comes around, the majority of the country has at least some money riding on the game in one way or another. Betting on a football game is actually very simple to do, even though there are many different types of bets and ways to gamble on the games.
If there is one word of caution, it is that betting on football for profit tends to be very difficult. Because of the large volume of betting action on games, it is that much easier for sportsbooks to set very accurate lines. When doing so, be sure to pick your wagers carefully and don’t bet on everything you possibly can.
For the most part, there are two areas that see just about all of the betting action in football, NCAAF (college football) and NFL (professional football). While there is also betting available on leagues in Canada and overseas, these are much less popular than top level college and professional games, with its cousin, rugby, being more popular overseas. With that said, if you are betting on games in CFL, Arena, or other similar leagues, it will be that much easier for you to establish an actual profitable edge. The NFL is particularly notorious for how accurate the spreads and lines tend to be.
Types of Football Bets
Football is most similar to basketball betting and baseball betting when it comes to the bets available, lines, and general numbers. The three main bets are moneyline, point spread, and point totals (over/under). Each of these bet types are very easy to understand and will generally be available for every game, with the exception of moneyline, which sometimes is not offered when a team is a very, very large favorite to win.
Moneyline Football Bets
A moneyline bet in football is when you are simply betting on one team to win straight up. To compensate for one team being better than the other, each side will have particular odds assigned. The team with a (+) in front of their odds is the underdog, and the team with a (-) will be the favorite. Using these, Team A -200 vs Team B +210 would mean that Team A is a sizable favorite. You would need to wager $200 on Team A in order to net a win of $100 profit. Conversely, a wager of $100 on Team B would pay $210 profit. Risk and reward is all that matters with a moneyline bet, because while you can bet on huge favorites in football, often times they will pay relatively low percentage returns.
Point Spread Football Bets
Point spreads in football are where things tend to get a bit more tricky. A point spread can easily go from good to bad with just a half point movement. This is different than other sports where a half point would not generally mean a whole lot. The reason for this is apparent to any football fan. Many football games are won by a few different numbers of points…3, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14 and so on. This happens because field goals are 3 points, extra points are 1 point, and touchdowns are 6 points. Since these are the primary way that points are scored, these intervals of points are the most frequent results in any given game.
If you are looking to bet on Dallas as a 7 point favorite, but you go to the sportsbook and see that they are now -7.5, this should give you considerable pause. While the line may seem awfully close to what it originally was, that less than a full point difference can easily be the difference between a winning and losing wager. These examples get even more extreme when a line moves 1, 2, and even 3 points. When player injuries or lineup changes are reported, it is fairly common for the lines to move this many points. Always look at the original line, see what changes may have occurred in terms of lineups or matchups, and then compare the point spread to the odds currently being offered.
Most football moneyline bets are offered at -110 odds. This goes for both the favorite or the underdog. If a sportsbook wants extra action on one side, the line may be -105 (5 points less vigorish), where if it wants less action on one side, the line may be at -115. Always make sure you look at what price you are getting in addition to how many points.
Total Points (Over/Under) Football Bets
Betting on point totals in football is the same as betting over/unders in any sport. If the total is 58, it means that, the two teams combined must score over 58 points to win an “over” bet. Conversely, a bet on the under would win if the final score was 21-14 (35 total), for example. Weather conditions and player matchups are the most relevant factors in point total bets, and as is the case with point spreads, the unique scoring numbers used in football will play a major role in totals.
When to Bet Football Games
As mentioned earlier, beating football sports betting is very difficult to do. With that said, there are certain times and circumstance where winning bets can be easier than others. In the NFL, betting on games early in the season will offer you a much better chance of finding an edge than it will betting on games later on. The reason for this is because the sportsbooks and general public alike have not seen teams play a significant number of minutes when a season first starts.
Betting Early in the Season
You can take advantage of this by betting on teams who you think will either over or under achieve against public expectations. Offseason roster moves, rookies, and coaching changes will all influence early season results and will give you a chance to bet on games with an actual advantage. This will be challenging to sustain, and your bets should generally reduce in frequency as the season goes on, whether it is in college or professional games.
Betting Playoffs and Championship Games
Other than early in the season, another good time to bet on football is in playoffs or championship games. This is when the public betting action is at its peak, so you will be able to bet against the “squares” who don’t have true insight and are betting either on their favorite teams or whoever happens to have the best record. Fading the public is more popular in football betting than it is in any other sport.
Football Futures and Prop Bets
Super Bowl futures are a bigger attraction than futures bets in any other sports. A lot of people wager on who will win the World Series or NBA Finals, but those numbers pale in comparison to how many are betting on their favorite teams, underdogs, or huge favorites to win the Super Bowl. The attraction is easy to see, betting on a football futures wager gives you the chance to root for something all season long. In addition to the winner of the Super Bowl, you can also bet on who will win divisions, conferences, and even who will be MVP.
Prop bets are most prevalent on individual games, again seeing the most action during the Super Bowl. Crazy prop bets like the length of the National Anthem, who will win the coin toss and so on can be bet on for the SB, but a regular game will offer more “normal” wagers, like the over/under on total receiving or passing yards for players. In recent years, may sharp sports bettors have been able to make the most money by wagering on these individual player props due to their lack of accuracy and betting volume.
Betting Football Online
Online football betting will give you many more options than you would find in a brick and mortar casino, even if you happen to live in or near Las Vegas. The major problem for most football enthusiasts is that they have nowhere to actually place a bet. The lack of casinos that offer sportsbooks in the United States forces bettors to either bet online or to trek to Nevada itself. With this travel not being practical, online football betting leads the way in convenience.
For U.S. sports bettors, Bovada is the top choice when it comes to online bookmakers. You will be able to easily deposit and withdrawals are processed quickly and securely. Check out our full list of U.S. sportsbooks for other current options and be sure to take advantage of bonuses offered to new players.