11.03.2021

Best Way To Bet On Football

Football Outsiders’ offensive/defensive efficiency ratings are a good way to quickly compare how teams’ offenses and defenses stack up against each other. If one team seems more equipped to take advantage of a specific matchup, it can usually uncover some hidden value on that team. Conversely, if you’re planning to bet on a public team, jumping on an early line is likely the best decision. Diversify Your NFL Bets. There is success to be had betting on the moneyline, the spread, and game totals. But to maximize your success, it’s crucial to know all the alternative bets you can make. Teasers and pleasers are two of the more advanced wagers that can be used when betting on football. Many bettors avoid them for this very reason. They’re good wagers to understand though, as they can be profitable if you know how to use them effectively. Teasers are particularly beneficial.

There are several different types of football wager you can place,
and two of them are significantly more popular than the others.
The most popular of all is the point spread wager, followed by
the totals wager. In this article, we’re focusing on the point
spread.

Before you continue reading, if you’re interested, we have put together a short video to help you better understand point spreads.

If you have any interest at all in betting on football, then you
really should know how to bet the point spread effectively. It’s not
necessarily the “best” type of wager in terms of the potential for
winning money, but it’s relatively simple and does present some
profitable opportunities if you know what you’re doing.

On this page we teach you the basics of betting football point spreads. We explain how they work, and why
they’re so popular. We also explain the challenges involved in making money from them. Finally, we offer
some tips and strategy advice for placing wagers of this type.

Football Point Spreads: How They Work

The theory with point spreads is that a wager on either team to win a football game is as close to a 505/50
shot as possible. You’re not actually betting on which team will win the game, you’re betting on which team
will “cover the spread”. The favorite has to win by at least a certain number of points for a wager on them to
be successful, and the underdog has to lose by less than the same number of points for a wager on them to
be successful.

Another way to view it is that, for the purposes of the betting, the favorite has points deducted from their
score and the underdog has points added to their final score. The number of points varies, depending on the
gap in quality between two teams. If one team is much stronger than the other, the number of points can be
quite high (a big spread). If the two teams are more evenly matched, the number of points is low (a small
spread).

Here’s an example of a point spread that a bookmaker or betting site might offer for a football game
between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Bronco.

Broncos -6
-110

The +6 for the Steelers means that they’ll have six points effectively added to their score. They’re the
underdog here. The -6 for the Broncos means that they’ll have six points effectively deducted from their
score, as they’re the favorite. You can choose to bet on the Steelers with their points advantage, or on the
Broncos with their points deduction. The following outcomes are possible.

  • A wager on the Steelers pays out if they win the game, or lose by less than six points
  • A wager on the Steelers loses if they lose by more than six points
  • A wager on the Broncos pays out if the win the game by more than six points
  • A wager on the Broncos loses if they lose the game, or win by less than six points
  • All wagers would push (stake gets returned) if the Broncos win by exactly six points

That, in essence, is all there is to betting football point spreads. All successful wagers are paid out at the
relevant odds, which are typically -110. The odds can vary, but they’re almost always fairly close to even
money. One further thing we should mention is that spreads will often include half a point. So, for example,
you might see a team at +6.5. This makes a push impossible.

Why Football Point Spreads Are Popular

It’s difficult to say for sure why point spreads are so popular, but there are probably a number of reasons. We
suspect that the following are the most relevant for the majority of bettors.

  1. Betting on even money propositions is appealing
  2. Point spreads are very simple
  3. Point spreads make betting on “lopsided” games more interesting
  4. The perception is that it’s easy to make money from point spreads

The first reason listed here applies primarily to recreational bettors. Those who are serious about their
betting don’t really care what the odds are per se, they are primarily concerned with whether value exists or
not. And value can exist in both heavy favorites and complete outsiders in the right circumstances. For those
that bet just for fun, though, the concept of value is largely an irrelevance. They just want to know that they
have a fair chance of winning their wagers, and that’s exactly what point spreads offer. Even if you just picked
teams at random you could expect to win close to 50% of your wagers over the long run.

The second reason is also an appealing one for recreational bettors. Although most of them do want to win
money, of course, they’re not generally bothered about having to think too much about their betting. It’s all
about the fun, and so wagers that are nice and simple are ideal for them. Point spreads are an easy way to
throw a few bucks on a game, without having to put in a great deal of effort.

Making lopsided games more interesting is a clear advantage of the point spread, to all types of bettors.
Without this type of wager, there would rarely be much fun or value in betting on games where there is a
very clear favorite. Backing the favorite would offer very low odds, to the extent that it probably wouldn’t be
worth it, and the underdog would be so unlikely to win that there’d be no point in backing them either.

The final reason mentioned here is actually not a good reason to bet football point spreads at all. Many
people do believe it’s a relatively easy way to make money, but the reality is that it is not. We’ll now explain
why.

The Challenge of Football Point Spreads

Seeing as we’ve said that you have a roughly 50% chance of winning a point spread wager even if picking a
team at random, you could be forgiven for thinking that with even a little bit of knowledge you should be able
to make money from this type of wager. You may well be able to, but it’s certainly not easy. There are two
main reasons for this.

  1. Bookmakers charge vig
  2. Bookmakers are very good at what they do

If you’re not familiar with vig, please read our article on how bookmakers make money. Very briefly though,
vig is basically a commission that bookmakers charge. It’s effectively built into the odds, which is why point
spread wagers typically are at odds of around -110. You’ve got to risk $110 to win $100, which means you
have to win more than half of your wagers just to break even.

And winning more than your half of your wagers is tough, because the bookmakers are generally very
accurate when setting their lines. The spreads they publish are consistently very close to reflecting what
actually happens in games. This makes it very difficult to regularly predict which team is going to cover the
spread in a game.It’s certainly rare that you’ll see games where the outcome is obvious enough that you can
genuinely state with real confidence that one or the other team is going to cover.

Tips & Strategy Advice

There is an argument to say that there is little strategy involved in betting football point spreads these days.
This is primarily because of what we’ve outlined above, in that the lines are set so tightly by bookmakers that
football point spreads are basically coin flips. However, our view is that they can be profitable with the right
approach.

For one thing, bookmakers are not infallible. Although they’re very good at what they do, they still get it
wrong from time to time. And, even when they don’t, it’s still possible to get a high enough win percentage to
effectively “beat the vig”. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

We round off this article with some tips and strategy advice that may help you to get better results when
betting football point spreads.

Learn how to handicap football games

This advice applies to virtually any form of football betting really. If you’re going to make money, then you
need to need to understand what’s involved in handicapping football games.A lot of bettors don’t bother to
learn about handicapping, often simply because they believe it’s really complicated. It’s not. There are some
complicated aspects to it, yes, but the fundamental concept is relatively straightforward.

In fact, there’s a very good chance that you’re already handicapping games without even realizing it.
Handicapping doesn’t have to involve using amazingly advanced scientific systems, it can be as simple as
taking into account a few factors that are likely to affect the outcome of a game and then working out where
the value lies. There’s obviously a bit more to it than that, but that’s basically what it’s about.

Recommended Reading

Please take the time to read our article explaining how to handicap football. We can almost guarantee
that it will teach you at least some aspects of football betting that you’re not aware of.

Ignore a team’s ATS record

Statistics can be very valuable when betting football spreads. There are certain statistics in particular that
canreally help you compare two teams and make informed judgements about how they are likely to perform
against each other. However, there are other stats that are relatively useless. This doesn’t stop some bettors
relying on them though.

One such stat is a team’s ATS (against the spread) record. This basically refers to a team’s performance
against the lines set by the bookmakers, rather than their actual results. Let’s look at some hypothetical data
to explain this further. Here’s a team’s results of the first six games of the regular season, along with their
spread for each of those games.

Game NumberWin/Loss MarginSpread
1Lost by 1 point-3
2Won by 5 points-6
3Won by 12 points-7
4Won by 3 points-3
5Lost by 3 points-3
6Won by 3 points-4

In the first game, the team was -3 on the spread, so technically “should” have won by three points. It lost, so
it failed to cover the spread. It won the next game, but only by five points when it was -6 on the spread. So,
again, it failed to cover the spread. In the following game it won by 12 when -7 on the spread, so it did cover
the spread here. In the following three games it failed to cover the spread again, despite winning two of them.

Now, a lot of bettors would read a lot into this. The team has only covered the spread once in six games,
despite a record of 4-2 on the field. The seemingly obvious conclusion here is that backing this team on the
spread is a bad idea. This is not necessarily true though, for one simple reason.

That’s right. The ATS data for a team is one of those instances where the numbers really do lie. The fact that
a team has been failing to cover the spread for the majority of its games means absolutely nothing in terms
of how likely it is cover to the spread in the future.

You’ll hear advice contrary to this, but please ignore it. Relying on ATS data to make future predictions is a
big mistake.

Don’t bet on every game

There is pretty much a 0% chance that you’ll be able to maintain a good win rate if you bet the spreads on
every single football game. Being selective is absolutely vital if you want to win consistently. The more games
you bet on, the harder you’ll find it to maintain a high enough win percentage. And your win percentage is
everything when it comes to betting football spreads. As we’ve already stated, you’ll mostly be betting at
around -110 and will need to win above 50% of your picks just to overcome the vig.

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Bet Online

Successful point spread betting is a marathon, not a sprint.

Trying to win a ton of bets each and every week is a recipe for failure. You need to be patient and wait for
the right opportunities. Unless you are an absolute genius (in which case you don’t need our help anyway),
at best you’ll find just a handful of games where there’s a good reason to bet the spread. There will likely be
some weeks where there are no good spots at all, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with saving your
money and waiting for better opportunities.

There are certain types of games that you should generally try to avoid too. These are as follows.

  • Games between very closely matched opponents
  • Games involving “hyped” teams or especially popular teams
  • Games with double digit spreads (i.e. a spread of 10 or more)

Please note that we’re not saying you should NEVER bet the spread in games falling into the above
categories. Just be cautious of them. Games between very closely matched opponents are notoriously difficult
to predict, and games involving hyped or popular teams often have very misleading lines. Games with
double digit spreads are risky because there’s always a chance that the favorite will coast through a game
once they’ve all but secured the win. They may be easily capable of winning by ten or more points, but that
doesn’t mean they’re going to give it their all to do so.

Think outside the NFL

Many bettors focus solely on the NFL, and this is basically making things a lot harder than they need to be.
Finding value on NFL games is very difficult, due to the tight lines mentioned earlier, and when there is value
it doesn’t tend to last very long. This is because there are so many people looking for the right spots. As soon
as a bookmaker or betting publishes an attractive line, sharp bettors will be on it almost immediately. The
line will then be moved accordingly, and the value will disappear.

There is regularly more value to be had in college football and even the Canadian Football League, as the
bookmakers are not generally quite as expert on those games. This means there’s more opportunities to
find good spots. The fact that there are less people betting also means that those good spots don’t tend to
disappear quite so quickly.

Please note that we’re not saying it’s easy to win money betting on college football and the CFL. We’re just
saying that there’s certainly an argument that it’s not as hard as the NFL. You’ll need to make sure you know
as much as possible about the relevant teams and players though. That’s where you can potentially gain an
edge over the bookmakers.

Best

Consider betting teasers

Way

Many bettors focus solely on the NFL, and this is basically making things a lot harder than they need to be.
Finding value on NFL games is very difficult, due to the tight lines mentioned earlier, and when there is value
it doesn’t tend to last very long. This is because there are so many people looking for the right spots. As soon
as a bookmaker or betting publishes an attractive line, sharp bettors will be on it almost immediately. The
line will then be moved accordingly, and the value will disappear.

There is regularly more value to be had in college football and even the Canadian Football League, as the
bookmakers are not generally quite as expert on those games. This means there’s more opportunities to
find good spots. The fact that there are less people betting also means that those good spots don’t tend to
disappear quite so quickly.

Further Information

You can find more detailed strategy advice for this type of wager in our articles on NFL teasers and college
football teasers.

Shop around

Many bettors focus solely on the NFL, and this is basically making things a lot harder than they need to be.
Finding value on NFL games is very difficult, due to the tight lines mentioned earlier, and when there is value
it doesn’t tend to last very long. This is because there are so many people looking for the right spots. As soon
as a bookmaker or betting publishes an attractive line, sharp bettors will be on it almost immediately. The
line will then be moved accordingly, and the value will disappear.

There is regularly more value to be had in college football and even the Canadian Football League, as the
bookmakers are not generally quite as expert on those games. This means there’s more opportunities to
find good spots. The fact that there are less people betting also means that those good spots don’t tend to
disappear quite so quickly.

Best Way To Bet On Soccer

A lot of people who bet on football do so because it’s relatively easy to do so. There are some very simple wagers that can be placed, and you don’t need to be a betting expert in order to enjoy putting a few bucks on the games each week.

The most popular wagers are point spreads and totals, and we go into great detail about those two on the following page.

Many football bettors only ever place point spread and totals wagers. This isn’t a terrible idea because of their simplicity coupled with the fact that it’s possible to win a reasonable percentage of them without being especially skilled.

Bodog Sportsbook

If you know what you’re doing, it’s possible to make consistent profits.

However, successful football betting is all about finding the best opportunities to gain an edge over the bookmakers. That’s much easier to do when using a wide range of different wagers.

We strongly recommend that you learn about all the different types of wagers you can use when betting on football. That’s actually the purpose of this page, as we’ve explained each of the following wagers in detail.

How To Bet Nfl

  • Moneylines
  • Futures
  • Props
  • Parlay
  • Teasers & Pleasers
  • If Bets & Reverse Bets