The game of football is deceptively simple, and so is NFL betting. You have your single-game bets, you multi-game bets, and your prop bets. Single-game bets include the moneyline, the point spread, and the total. Multi-game bets include parlays and teasers. And prop bets pretty much come down to betting on statistics. CashBet sportsbook provides a rundown of these concepts below.
Let’s use as an example the following betting lines from a previous season:
- DETROIT LIONS +4 (-110) +170 O 47 (-110)
- GREEN BAY PACKERS -4 (-110) -200 U 47 (-110)
Betting on the moneyline entails placing a wager on a team winning the game ‘straight-up’ or ‘outright’. Those two words simply mean that the team you bet on only has to win the game regardless of the score. The moneyline in this case would be Packers -200, Lions +170. Green Bay was the favorite team as signaled by the minus sign. Detroit was the underdog as signaled by the plus sign. The difference is that you risk more to earn less when you bet on the favorite, and risk less to win more when betting on the underdog.
Since the favorite is more likely to win, sportsbooks such as CashBet attempt to make betting on the underdog more attractive. In this case, you would wager $100 to win $170 on the Lions, ending up with $270 should the Lions win. Conversely, you would wager $200 to win $100 on the Packers, winding up with $300 should they win.
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NFL games are seldom evenly matched. Thus, online sportsbooks like CashBet ‘handicap’ the favorite. In the example above the handicap is four points, meaning that the Packers has to ‘cover the spread’; that is to say, win by more than four points. Unlike moneyline betting, the score matters when betting against the spread. Winning is not enough; if Green Bay wins by fewer than three points, they’d get the straight-up win (SU) but not the against-the-spread win (ATS). In such a case, people who place a point spread bet on the Lions would win. As they would also if Detroit actually won the game, an occurrence known as an ‘upset’. In the example above the total is.
Now, if the Packers won by exactly four points, that’s called a ‘push’, which means no one wins and you get the money you wagered back. Half-point spreads are essential in order to avoid a push. For instance, in the above example, if the spread were 4.5 points instead of 4, there could be no push. The Packers could win either by more than 4.5 points or by fewer, but obviously not by 4.5. In summary, the favorite has to win by more points than the spread. On the other hand, the underdog has to lose by fewer points than the spread, or win outright by any amount of points.
The total refers to the combined number points scored by the two teams in a single game. The total in the cited example is 47 points. You can be on the teams going over or under the total. In this case a bet on the over would win if the Packers and the Lions scored more than 47 points between the two, and lose if they score fewer than 47 points. A bet on the under would win if both teams’ total score falls below 47 points, and lose if the combined score is higher than 47 points. If Green Bay and Detroit score exactly 47 points between the two, then we have a push. Therefore, half-points apply here as well.
Parlay bets can include a combination of moneyline, point spread, or totals bets from one or several games every week. However, the majority of sportsbooks do not allow you betting on the moneyline and on the spread in a single same game. Some sportsbooks allow unlimited events in a parlay, and others have limits. When putting together a parlay bet, your potential payout increases, but all the evens in the parlay must win. There is less risk for more winnings. But even if just one event loses, the whole parlay loses.
A teaser is a parlay where all the bets are against the spread or the total. The bettor can add or subtract a given number of points to or from the spread, but the cost is a decreased payout. As with a regular parlay, all events must be winners.
Examples of prop bets include: What will be the first scoring play? Which will be the highest scoring quarter? Will the team that scores first win the game? Will the team that scores last win the game? How many total touchdowns will be scored? Will either team score three consecutive times? Which team will turn the ball over first? Total passing yards by a QB, Total rushing yards by a running back, total receiving yards by a receiver.
Examples of future bets include who will win the Super Bowl, or who will win a particular award (MVP, rookie of the year, etc.).