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As mainstream media begins to focus more on sports betting, you might hear something like, “The Eagles are 3.5-point favorites against the Cowboys this weekend.” An NFL point spread calculator can help sports bettors place a wager on this game. 

It would be reasonable from this example, then, to assume that your only options are to bet on the Eagles minus 3.5 points or the Cowboys plus 3.5. However, many popular online sports betting sites will allow you to change the spread by buying/selling points or looking at alternate lines. After claiming the top NFL sportsbook promos, the next step is to figure out your wagers.

The purpose of this NFL Spread Calculator is to help you decide when those types of bets might make sense for you.

What Is An NFL Spread Calculator?

Sometimes, you may think about placing a bet and wishing that the spread was just slightly different. Take our example above, where the Eagles were -3.5 at -110 odds. Say you do think the Eagles will win, but you are worried that they might only win by 3. One option is to bet on the Eagles moneyline, but that is -170 so your $100 bet would only pay $58. 

A better option may be to buy a half point to bring that line down to 3 points. Your favorite sports betting site will let you do this, but it will cost you. To move the line ½ point, they want to change the odds from -110 to -120. If you need help deciding whether that is a worthwhile investment, the NFL Spread Calculator can help.

The NFL spread calculator uses data from over a decade’s worth of NFL game odds to calculate the probability of an alternate spread bet winning. Based on this probability, it will also tell you what the fair line should be. You can then compare these numbers to those offered by your favorite sports betting site to determine if the bet you want to make is favorable.

How To Use the NFL Spread Calculator

There are only two inputs to the NFL spread calculator: the Fair Spread and the Alternate Spread that you are considering. You input these values and push the calculate button. The NFL Spread Calculator will use historical probabilities to determine the probability that your Alternate Spread bet will be a winner. 

In the case of our example, we find out that a team that is a -3.5 favorite will cover a 3-point 54.84% of the time and that the fair line for that would be -121.44. That means that the -120 we found on our favorite sports betting site is a good deal, and we decided to make the bet.

What Is A Point Spread?

The simplest form of sports betting is probably the moneyline bet, where the outcome of the wager is based solely on whether your chosen team wins or loses. Because some teams are better than others, moneyline bets will have odds based on the perceived probability that a team will win. A big underdog who is considered very unlikely to win will pay a lot more than a team who is considered a heavy favorite.

Betting the moneyline on big underdogs might be exciting when you hit a nice payout, but those payouts are fairly infrequent. On the other hand, betting favorites generally returns more wins, but those wins tend to be much smaller.

To find a balance between these outcomes, bookmakers offer bets against something called a point spread. The spread is the great equalizer and turns just about every game into a 50/50 proposition. 

How Does A Point Spread Work?

Returning to our original example, if the Eagles are 3.5-point favorites against the Cowboys, then a spread bet on the Eagles would win if the Eagles win by more than 3.5 points. So if the Eagles win by 4 or more, then a spread bet on the Eagles would win, and if the Eagles win by 3 points or less or the Cowboys win, then that bet would lose. Conversely, a bet on the Cowboys +3.5 would pay if they win the game or lose the game by 3 points or less.

Generally speaking, the odds for a spread bet are set at -110. That means that you have to bet $110 to win $100. Since you can pick either side of the spread to bet on, you have a 50% chance of winning. Since the bookmakers are collecting $110 on each losing bet and only paying out $100 on each winning bet, they tend to make money in the long run. The extra $10 that you lose on your losing bets is called the vig.

The bookmakers do their best to set the spread at the number that they think will generate an equal amount of action on both sides, and if they are successful, the vig guarantees their profit. 

For more NFL betting tools, check out our NFL Prop Bets Calculator and our Super Bowl Odds & Betting Guide

NFL Point Spread Calculator FAQ

Where can I find alternate NFL spreads

Most popular sports betting sites will offer alternate point spreads on NFL games. On some sites they will be labeled as “Alternate Spreads” while other sites may refer to them as buying or selling points.

Why do I need an NFL Spread Calculator?

An NFL Spread Calculator will help you to determine whether it is a good idea to buy or sell points for a given game.

Can an NFL Prop bet calculator help me win?

Not exactly. The NFL Spread Calculator shows you the probability that a team will cover an alternate point spread based on a historical database of NFL games. If you take the time to shop for undervalued lines, you can find some good values. Of course, the calculator is based on average historical performances. You should always make sure to consider specific factors

About the Author
Emma Carlin

Emma Carlin

Senior Writer
Based in Washington, D.C, Emma Carlin is a senior writer at Gaming Today. She has spent most of her career in public relations, writing and producing content for professional teams and athletes. In her downtime, you can find Carlin at D.C. United or Washington Capitals games.

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