Even if you have the urge to place a bet on the NFL, a little hesitation is understandable if you’re not familiar with how it works. Whether you’re new to betting or new to the entire game of American Football, a little guidance wouldn’t go amiss, right? Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of NFL betting.

Point Spreads

Also known as lines, spreads or sides, point spreads are the commonest type of NFL bet. The point spread is ascertained by awarding points to the favourite and the underdog in any given game. Bookies give a negative number (-) to the favourite and a positive (+) to the underdog.

If, say, the Cleveland Browns were favoured by +15 points at home against underdogs the Tennessee Titans with a -15 rating, and you bet on the spread for the Browns, they would have to win by 16 points or more for your bet to succeed. Point spreads can be listed as whole numbers or in half-point increments.

Usually, you will need to add 10% to the amount you want to win on your wager in order to allow for the house edge. This percentage is sometimes called ‘juice’ and is a common search term for seasoned NFL betting fans looking to optimize their spread.

Money Lines

A moneyline wager does away with the intricacies of point spread betting. It’s a straightforward, whos-gonna-win affair, where betting on the underdog will pay you more money, but betting on the favourite requires a higher wager to garner a decent return. A sample moneyline looks like this:

-Denver Broncos +270

-New England Patriots -330

…but the point spread does not factor into the result. Based on the example above, you would need to put $330 on the Patriots if you want to win $100.


Totals are the second most popular form of NFL betting after spread betting. They also happen to be comparatively easy to grasp. A linesmaker determines a total number of points likely to be scored in a game. Bettors place a wager on whether they think the final score will exceed (or be less than) that number.


A parlay refers to two or more plays grouped together with a view to yielding a higher payout. Parlays are popular because the payout is massively increased if all your bets work out. Of course, the flipside is that even if you only lose one game in the bundle, you lose the entire parlay. Even if you win five out of six wagers, that final game blows the whole deal. Take a look at Betfair’s ‘Power Parlays’ to see an example of how parlays work: https://www.betfair.com/sport/american-football


Teasers are closely related to parlays; you ‘buy’ additional points on a point spread in order to maximize the potential overall win. For your teaser to work out, you have to win every single bet. The NFL typically allows 6,7 and 10 point teasers on almost every combination of teams.


Prop bets refer to player performance and individual game incidents. It can be anything the bookie decides, from passing yards for a certain player to what side the coin will fall on at the top of the game. A good option for the casual American Football fan who doesn’t necessarily grasp the ins and outs of the game, and wants to avoid overly tactical betting.


This type of bet is placed on future events such as who will win the division or the SuperBowl. Let’s say the Baltimore Ravens are on at 12/1 (or +1200) to win the championship. If you place a $100 bet and they win, you’ll make $1200.

Halftimes & Quarters

You can also bet on the point spread for the first half, second half, or individual quarters of a game. These wagers work in much the same way as full game spread bets, but are adjusted for a smaller portion of a game.

Season Win Totals

Totals are bets over or under a certain number of wins for any given team. These bets are usually only available at the start of the season and are starting to emerge for 2014/15, but occasionally bookies will offer win totals at the midway point. Click the Betfair link earlier in the article to find out what Betfair’s American Football win totals are for next season.