How to Bet on NFL Games: Betting Tips, Advice & Strategy

GamingToday.com is an independent sports news and information service. GamingToday.com has partnerships with some of the top legal and licensed sportsbook companies in the US. When you claim a bonus offer or promotion through a link on this site, Gaming Today may receive referral compensation from the sportsbook company. Although the relationships we have with sportsbook companies may influence the order in which we place companies on the site, all reviews, recommendations, and opinions are wholly our own. They are the recommendations from our authors and contributors who are avid sports fans themselves.

For more information, please read How We Rank Sportsbooks, Privacy Policy, or Contact Us with any concerns you may have.

Gaming Today is licensed and regulated to operate in AZ, CO, CT, IN, KS, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, and VA.

You’re an NFL fan. No–calling you a “fan” doesn’t do your love of the game justice. Being the mega-fan you are, you can’t wait to bet on NFL games. There’s just one problem: you’re not sure how to do it.

Whether you need to know the basics behind betting on NFL games or need help navigating the various sportsbooks operating in your state, our ‘How to Bet on NFL Games’ guide can help. 

Once you’re well-versed in how to bet on NFL games, check out the best sports betting bonus offers available in your state.

What Types of Bets Can You Make on An NFL Game?

There are three basic types of bets you can make on an NFL game:

  • Point Spread: The forecasted margin of victory for a game. If a team is the favorite, the spread will have a (-) in front of it; for underdogs, it will have a (+). If you bet on the favorite, the team will need to win by more than the spread. Bet on the underdog: if they lose by less than the spread or win, so do you.
  • Moneyline: If you want to bet on the winner of a game, you take the moneyline. As with point spreads, underdogs will be preceded by a (-); favorites will have a (+).
  • Total: Often referred to as the Over/Under, it’s a wager on the total points scored in a game between both teams

These numbers are all part of the betting line for the game. However, they’re not the only bets you can make on an NFL game (more on those later).

What’s a Betting Line?

Betting lines contain the odds for a specific game. Let’s take a look at the betting line for Super Bowl 56 (via BetMGM):

TeamPoint SpreadMoneylineTotal (O/U)
Los Angeles Rams-4 (-110)-20048.5 (-110)
Cincinnati Bengals+4 (-110)+16548.5 (-110)

As we all know, the Los Angeles Rams won Super Bowl 56, 23-20. So, since the spread was -4, the Rams were the favorites in the game. Bettors that took the Rams and bet ATS (against the spread) had to deduct four points from LA’s final score. Since it came out to 19 and the Cincinnati Bengals scored 20, those bets were losers.

However, those who bet on Cincinnati ATS were able to add four points to the Bengals total. Since that gave Cincinnati 24 points, bets on the Bengals ATS were winners. With a final of 23-20, the total for the game was 43 points, less than the number listed at BetMGM (48.5). Bets on the under were winners.

How Can You Tell How Much Money You Can Win?

The numbers in the parenthesis indicate the odds for that wager. For odds listed with a (-), bettors would have to bet that number to win $100. So, people that took the Bengals ATS had to bet $110 to win $100. Anyone that bet the Rams via the moneyline had to bet $200 to win $100.

Bettors that took the under would have had to bet $110 to win $100, too ($210 payout: your $110 stake and $100 in winnings).

Odds listed with a (+), a $100 bet wins that number. For example, had the Bengals won outright, $100 bets via the Cincinnati moneyline (+165) would have won $165. Your sportsbook would credit your account with $265 ($100 for your stake, and $165 for your winnings). 

Additional Ways You Can Bet on NFL Games

The point spread, total, and moneyline aren’t the only ways you can bet on NFL games:

Prop Bets (player and game)

A prop bet (proposition bet) is a bet on something not tied to the final score or game’s outcome. Common examples include any time touchdown scorer, first TD scorer, last TD scorer, rushing, receiving, passing yards for specific players, the result of a team’s first drive, total touchdowns a team will score, etc.

It’s not uncommon for sportsbooks to list over 100 for every game. For the Super Bowl, sportsbooks will also carry prop bets on things like the coin flip, length of the national anthem, whether the halftime act will feature certain songs, the color of Gatorade dumped on the winning coach, etc.

Parlays

Parlays allow bettors to combine several individual bets (called legs) from various games into one wager. If you win each leg, you win your parlay. But if you lose one, then you lose the bet. Parlays have exponentially more risk than standard bets, but the potential payout will be exponentially bigger.

For more on parlays, review the following articles:

Same-Game Parlays

In a same-game parlay, each leg consists of a bet related to the same game. The following is an example of a same-game parlay for the Week 2 Monday Night Football game between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills at DraftKings:

  • Derrick Henry: anytime touchdown scorer, -105
  • Josh Allen: over 279.5 passing yards, +125
  • Derrick Henry: rushing yards over 90+, +100
  • Stefon Diggs: receiving yards over 99.5, +215
  • Parlay Odds: +900

A $100 wager would result in a $1,000 payout (your $100 stake and $900 in winnings).

Teasers

Teasers are a type of parlay bet that allows you to combine bets from two or more games into a single wager. What makes them different from a parlay? You get to adjust the point spread making it easier to win but with a lower payout.

For more on teasers, the following links are to articles that’ll help:

Futures

A futures bet is a wager on something that’ll happen or get decided in the future (i.e., Super Bowl 57 winner, division championships, NFL MVP, and other awards, etc.). Odds will appear as three-digit numbers (+250, +450, -110, -200, etc.) usually listed with a (+), but they can have a (-).  These (-) odds typically indicate that option is the betting favorite.

The following are a few examples of futures bets (odds via DraftKings):

  • Buffalo Bills to win the Super Bowl: +400
  • Miami Dolphins to win the AFC: +1400
  • LA Rams to win the NFC West: +100

How to Place a Bet on an NFL Game

Now that we’ve talked about the different types of bets, odds, and betting lines, let’s review the actual process of placing a bet online:

  • Review the different sportsbooks that operate in your state or read our sportsbooks reviews on some of the major players in the legal US sports betting industry. Pay special attention to the sports betting app welcome bonuses each offers; review the terms and conditions.
  • Decide on a sportsbook and download its app to your mobile device.
  • Register for a new account with that sportsbook.
  • Enter the promo code for the welcome bonus when directed to do so (if one is needed).
  • Make your first deposit.
  • Navigate to the page with the market(s) you are interested in.
  • Identify a game/market you wish to bet on and click on it.
  • Enter how much you wish to wager in the appropriate space.
  • Click ‘place bet.’

That is how to bet on NFL games online.

NFL Betting Tips and Strategies

The last section walks you through the process of placing a wager, but there’s more you should do/need to know about how to bet on football. The following is some NFL betting advice:

Do Your Homework

Betting is fun, but it’s more fun when you win, and you’ll have a better shot at picking winners if you know all there is to know about a game. So, before you bet, do your homework on the teams involved in the game. It may be a good idea not to bet on that game if you can’t. 

Do Not Make Emotional or Impaired Decisions

Don’t bet on a team because it’s your favorite or against one simply because you hate them. If you plan to drink a few adult beverages, wait until after placing your bets. Rational thought and drinking rarely go hand in hand.

Do Not Chase Losses

It’s going to happen. There will come a day when you lose a bet. As tempting as it may be to double down on the next one to compensate for the loss — don’t. If you do, you’re betting based on emotion and aren’t making a rational decision anymore. Stick to your budget.

Develop an NFL Betting Strategy Before You Start Betting

Have a plan; don’t wing it. Decide on how big of a bankroll you want and how you want to use it — and stick to that plan. Don’t get greedy and raise your stake because you’ve been winning or losing.

Be Wary of So-Called Experts

There are a lot of people online that will tell you how to bet for a price. They advertise themselves as successful, expert bettors. But they’re human — just like you — and lose games. If the pick you buy from them loses, they still make their money while you lost money twice (to the ‘expert’ and the sportsbook).

There’s No Such Thing as a Lock

Many ‘experts’ will try to sell you on their ‘locks’ and present particular wagers as ones that won’t lose. Avoid those guys like the plague. There’s no such thing as a lock. Too many variables are involved in a game you can’t account for. Making informed decisions is possible, but no bet is a ‘lock.’

Review Your Betting Slip Before Placing a Bet

Nothing is more upsetting than thinking you won big on a bet only to discover you lost because you accidentally clicked on the wrong thing. Remember when your grade school teachers would say you should review your work before turning it in? The same concept applies to betting. Make sure the bets are what you want.

Learn From Your Losses

Losing isn’t fun, but if you learn from your losses, you may make a different decision next time and win.

Be Smart With Parlays

Many advice columns will tell beginners to avoid parlays. You don’t need to avoid them; just be smart with them. 

The odds of hitting one aren’t in your favor. This is especially true when you add one more leg after seeing how much more you stand to win a five-leg parlay than a four-leg one. Don’t add that leg. 

Only go with bets you researched thoroughly and feel confident about. You may not win as much, but at least you’ll win.

Line Shopping

You want to win as much as possible when you bet, right? One of the best ways to go about doing so is line shopping. That entails checking multiple sportsbooks for the odds of a particular market and then betting with the sportsbook that gives you the chance to win the most money.

Fading The Public

When the public bets are heavy on one side of a game, sportsbooks will alter the odds in favor of the other team to encourage people to bet on them. So, by fading (betting against) the public, you can take advantage of the line movement that results from the public heavily favoring one team.

How to Bet on NFL Games FAQ

Is it legal to bet on NFL games online?

Yes, but only in states where online sports betting is legal. Sportsbooks will often have something that indicates which states it can operate in.

Can I bet with a sportsbook in one state even if I'm in a different one?

No. Sportsbooks use geolocation to locate where you are and make sure you are in-state before accepting your wager.

Who has the best NFL odds?

That question doesn’t have a definitive answer. It depends on the market you want to bet on. The betting lines are often similar from one sportsbook to the next. But it’s not unusual for one to have better odds on a particular market over another. So, the best sportsbook is the one that has the best odds for what you want to bet on.

What do the + and - on a point spread/moneyline mean?

If a point spread is listed with a (+), that team is the underdog and you’ll add the spread to their final score.

The one with a (–) is the favorite. The favorite will have to subtract the spread from their final score.

Does Caesars have odds on NFL games?

Yes, you can find odds for NFL games at Caesars Sportsbook.

About the Author
Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver

Writer and Contributor
Travis Pulver is a Senior Writer for Gaming Today and a lifelong football fan, something he says comes naturally having been born in the football-crazy state of Texas. Through the years, his love of sports has extended into baseball, basketball, golf, and rugby. Life currently finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.

Get connected with us on Social Media