Learning how NFL betting lines work may sound a little overwhelming, but it becomes easier when you understand how to read them. In football, it’s common for bookmakers to show by how many points one team is a favorite over another and how much you have to bet to win $100 or how much you will win if you bet $100. Are you thinking about how betting odds work? Click here to find out.

Although NFL betting lines work as in any other sport, the most used type of betting is the spread or handicap. You will easily identify the favorite team because their odds are marked with a negative sign (-), while the underdog will be marked with a positive sign (+).

Learning How to Read Betting Lines

Whenever you see a minus sign in front of a number, you will know how much you have to bet to win $100, and when you see a plus sign in front of a number, this tells you how much you earn win by betting $100.

For example:

  • Buffalo Bills (-150): bet $150 to win $100
  • Baltimore Ravens (+130): you earn $130 when betting $100

Now we can move on to understand a bit more about NFL predictions and take advantage of them to win. Always consider that the betting lines or odds are placed by NFL expert picks who evaluate the team’s performance to know which team is more likely to win and to define a favorite and an underdog.

But these NFL predictions can always have their mistakes. No matter how obvious a favorite is, many things can happen in a game and make the predictions fail. Wagering on the favorite always seems to be the safest bet, the profit is always lower. Betting outside the forecasts and being favored with an unexpected result can turn into a great profit.

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Learn How to Read the Different Types of Odds

It’s important to remember that the odds can be presented in American, fractional, or decimal formats. You read each differently and need to understand these concepts to know how much you will win for each bet.

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American Odds

As its name says, American odds are more used in America. They are expressed with a positive or negative symbol. For example, +400 is assigned to an underdog, and -150 is assigned to a favorite.

Decimal Odds

These odds, better known as European odds because they are used in that continent, are expressed in decimals. For example, 1.67 is the favorite, and 2.50 is the underdog. Both numbers, when multiplied by the amount of your bet, will give you, as a result, the amount of the total payment to receive.

Fractional Odds

To know your winnings with fractional odds, you must multiply the amount of your bet by the fraction’s numerator and then divide it by the denominator. For example, for a 3/2 odds, if you bet $100, you will win $150, and your total payout will be $250. Usually, the sportsbooks allow you to change the odds format to select the one you like the most.

Thinking about where to place your bets? Take a look at this article to find the best NFL betting sites in Canada.

how to read nfl betting lines

What Does +4.5 Mean in NFL?

Regarding handicap, if the odds of an NFL team are shown as +4.5, it means this team is the underdog by a 4.5 NFL point spread concerning the opponent, which will surely be displayed with a -4.5, and thus we know that it’s the favorite for this game. Sportsbooks use this spread to balance one team against the other through the spread bet or handicap bet.

For this bet to be a winning one, the following conditions need to be fulfilled:

  • If you bet on the underdog, this team must win the game or lose by less than 4 points.
  • When betting on the favorite, your team need to win by 5 points or more to cover the spread.

For example:

For a matchup between Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Betway marks Bengals as the favorite in week 5 NFL straight-up picks. The odds for the handicap bet are shown as follows:

  • Miami Dolphins (+4.5) -115
  • Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) -106

Through this type of betting, sportsbook places a spread to try to match the teams because one of them is clearly at a disadvantage. Then, the winning odds are as follows:

  • If you want to bet on the Bengals to win $100, you need to bet $106, and your final payout will be: 206$. (Bengals must win by more than 5 points)
  • To bet on the Dolphins and win $100, you need to bet $115, and your final payout will be $215 (Dolphins need to win or lose by less than 4 points)
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This type of betting is attractive because the spread between the favorite and the underdog is evened out, giving you chances of nice winnings with both of them.To start making handicap bets like an expert, we recommend you to read our article about the topic.

Deposits and Withdrawals:

and much more

What Does a +200 Moneyline Mean?

Moneyline bets are the easiest to understand and will help you if you’re just starting to bet on the NFL. In moneyline betting, you choose who you think will be the winner of the game, and the odds of the favorite team will be identified with the (-) symbol, while the underdog will have a (+) symbol.

When an NFL team has an odds of +200, it means that it is the underdog, and to win 100$, we must bet 200$ on this team.

For Example:

Let’s assume we have a match between the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. The favorite would be the Chiefs and the underdog the Buccaneers. Then, the moneyline odds would be shown as follows:

  • Kansas City Chiefs (-220)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+200)

Considering the odds of this moneyline, the chances of winning with each team would be as follows:

  • If you bet on the Chiefs, to win $100, you must bet $220, and your total payout will be $320
  • When betting on the Buccaneers, you win $200 by betting $100, and your final payout would be $300

The big difference between these two bets is that the favorite always pays less, and you will have to bet much more to win $100. The underdog usually pays much more, and betting against the odds can lead to an incredible return if the NFL predictions fail. In our complete article on moneyline, you will find more details.

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What Does +7 Mean in Sports Betting?

A spread of +7 is something you will often see in NFL betting because it’s due to a touchdown and a successful extra point, though there are other sports where it’s also likely to be seen.

If the sportsbook sets the spread at +7, this means for the wager to be a winner, the underdog must win the game or lose by less than seven points to cover the spread. For the bet on the favorite to win, the favorite must win by more than seven points.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Can You Bet on the NFL?

The choice of the betting market depends on each bettor and their expertise. Most common bets in the NFL are:

  • Winner of the game
  • Handicap or spread
  • Over/Under touchdowns
  • Touchdowns scorers
  • Total points
  • The first team to score
  • Last team to score
  • Double score

What Is the Over/Under in NFL?

Sportsbooks will set a total number of points at which a game is expected to end. This number is the sum of the points scored by both teams. For example, if a total of 44 points is set and one team scores 20 and the other team scores 22, the game’s total will end at 42, and the under bettor will win.

Can I Bet a Parlay in NFL?

Yes, you can make a NFL parlay bet, but remember that you must study the odds carefully because when you include more options in your bet, it’s more difficult to be successful. An example of an NFL parlay might look like this:

  • Detroit Lions to win (-200)
  • Over (46.5) (-140)