The National Football League is the most popular sport for betting in the world.
Billions of dollars change hands on a week-in, week-out basis, and that number has only grown since online sports betting became legal in the United States in 2018.
The NFL is the perfect betting sport too since it is predictable but hard to game. Plus, upsets happen every week, which means favorite-laden, multi-leg parlays are hard to pull off.
If you love football, and are in a state where online sports betting is legal, you’ll definitely want to get in on the action. Plus, we’re here to help if you’re intimidated or uncertain about how to start.
What Are NFL Moneyline Odds & How Do They Work?
Betting the moneyline, simply, means betting on which team will win each game outright. The team can win by one point or by 37, as margin of victory does not matter here.
Since NFL games can be predictable, especially when a matchup looks lopsided on paper, sportsbooks assign moneyline odds for each game. A favorite will typically have minus-odds and the underdog will be plus-money — though if the matchup seems particularly close, both teams might be assigned minus odds.
How to Read NFL Moneyline Odds
Deciphering NFL moneyline odds might look complicated but is really quite simple. The number for each team is in relation to a $100 bet, and a plus-money wager will net that amount in profit, and the minus-money amount is what a bettor would be required to win $100 in profit.
For instance, if the Kansas City Chiefs are hosting the New York Jets in a Week 6 game, and the Chiefs are 5-1 and the Jets are 2-4, the Chiefs might be assigned moneyline odds of -450 or shorter, with the Jets getting +300 moneyline odds or longer.
Betting the Jets to win at +300 would pay out $30 profit on a $10 bet if the Jets pulled off the upset. Betting the Chiefs at -450 would net $2.22 in profit on a $10 wager.
But if the Jets were 5-1 and the Chiefs were 3-3 and the matchup was in Kansas City, New York might be assigned -115 odds with the Chiefs getting -105.
The Jets would be the favorite in this instance, since their minus-number is farther from 100, and a $10 moneyline bet on them would pay out $8.70 in profit on a $10 bet if they won. A moneyline bet on the Chiefs would pay out at $9.52 in profit on a $10 bet if Kansas City won.
How American Odds Work
American odds, as referenced above, are typically plus and minus in relation to $100. The favorite is usually the team with minus-odds and the underdog typically has plus odds.
Profit on minus-money odds is determined by how much it would take to bet to win $100 in profit, meaning if you are betting $10 on a -200 wager, you would take in $5 in profit. A $100 bet at -200 would equal $50 in profit. Odds aren’t always so perfectly calculatable, but sportsbooks will always inform you of your payout before you select “place bet."
Calculating your profit on a plus money bet is easy, especially when betting in units of $10 or $100. For instance, a $10 bet at +140 will pay out $14 in profit plus the $10 stake. For a $100 bet, it will pay out at $140 plus the $100 stake. Every plus-money bet will pay out the stake times that amount.
How Decimal Odds Work
Decimal odds are the standard in online gambling in other countries besides the United States, including Canada, Australia and many parts of Europe. Decimal odds are essentially the same as plus- and minus-money odds but just presented differently.
Decimal odds are typically in relation to $1 instead of $100 in the case of plus or minus odds. For instance, if decimal odds have each team at $0.91 that is the same at -110, meaning bettors will win 91 cents profit on a $1 bet. If decimal odds have the favorite at $0.50 and the underdog at $1.50 that is the same as -200 and +150.
How Fractional Odds Work
Fractional odds, like 2/1, 5/2, 9/5, etc., are common in horse-racing circles but have also been used for futures odds bets. For instance, if the New England Patriots enter the season as the 2/1 favorite to win the Super Bowl, their plus/minus-money odds are +200. If Tom Brady is a 5/2 favorite to win the NFL MVP, that means his American odds are +250.
Converting fractional odds to American odds is pretty easy since you can divide the fraction either by or in relation to 100 to get the odds. If an award winner or Super Bowl favorite have 2/5 odds, it means that they are 2/5, or 0.4. You then 100 by 0.4 to get the odds, -250.
For plus-money favorites, converting to fractions is easy too. You divide fraction then multiply by 100, meaning a 9/5 favorite’s American-style odds are +180.
What to Look for When Placing an NFL Moneyline Bet
Look for value when betting moneylines for football. Sportsbooks have odds and lines for NFL betting down to a science, but there will be opportunities to take advantage of market inefficiencies. For instance, if you see moneyline odds that don’t seem to make any sense, be sure to dig into why the odds are the way they are, and if they still don’t make sense then be sure to pounce and take advantage.
For example, if you see the Los Angeles Rams are a plus-money underdog at home against the Dallas Cowboys, and you feel that doesn’t make sense, take the Rams ML to win, especially if there are no high-impact injuries on either side.
We generally don’t recommend placing a moneyline bet that is -150 or shorter, unless you’re taking it to fulfill a bet and get or as a parlay leg. The value simply doesn’t justify the amount of money you’ll win back. A $10 wager at -170 will fetch $5.88 in profit, which frankly isn’t enough of a return to warrant the amount you put out.
NFL games can be a crapshoot, and heavy favorites can be -300 odds or shorter, which means if there’s a short-odds favorite you really want to bet, or if your favorite team is a heavy favorite, we recommend trying to bet them live if/when the in-game odds improve.
The best advice is to trust your gut and make the bets you love. You’ll never regret losing a bet you loves, especially if you’re betting responsibly.
Best Sportsbooks to Place NFL Moneyline Bets
Here is a look at some of our favorite sites and apps to bet on football.
BetMGM is one of the absolute best online sportsbooks on the market, with an elite user interface, limitless prop options and availability in more than a dozen states in the US. NFL bettors will have thousands of available markets to wager on each week, including a vast array of props, plus futures.
Because of its partnership with the NFL, BetMGM has a robust number of futures bets as well, including rookie-of-the-year betting as well as odds for Super Bowl, conference and division winners. BetMGM has a great rewards program where users can turn points into dining and hotel credits at MGM properties nationwide.
The Caesars Online Sportsbook is another excellent option for NFL bets since Caesars has a partnership with the league with dozens of bets, including props, for each game every week.
They also have an elite VIP program, Caesars Rewards, where bettors receive points and can earn status that gets them priority service at Caesars properties around the country.
The BetRivers Online Sportsbook is one of the best options for NFL wagering, especially new and novice bettors. BetRivers provides users with a helpful glossary of terms that explain things like moneyline odds and spreads then gives bettors a load of tips and trends so they can make the most informed bets.
Plus, BetRivers has one of the best welcome bonuses in online gaming, where new signups get a chance to stack their bankroll with bet credits.
DraftKings is one of the leaders in sports betting, which makes it one of the best options for NFL betting. They give bettors loads of great NFL betting options and makes same-game parlay betting a cinch as users need to just toggle an icon before getting a slew of props to combine for the NFL game you want to target.
You’ll also find boosts like parlay insurance and extra profit for NFL betting that mitigates some of the risk and enables users to win even more.
FanDuel is the No. 1 sports betting website/app in the United States thanks to its incredible innovation.
They were the first to let users dream up their own same-game parlays, a practice that has since become the standard among online sportsbooks. FanDuel now also lets users combine multiple markets from multiple games, a practice known as Same-Game Parlay+, that was created with NFL Sundays in mind.
FanDuel is constantly updating its offers and practices and presently is the only sportsbook to let users deposit via Venmo, which means it will undoubtedly continue to change the online sports betting game in the years ahead.
How to Pick NFL Moneyline Betting Sites
If you’re struggling with how to choose a preferred betting site, there is a lot of criteria. Here are some we consider:
- Odds: The best odds lead to the best payouts. Sometimes betting on sports is that simple.
- Boosts: Similar to above. Sportsbooks will sometimes boost odds to make them more favorable to sports bettors — like if the Chiefs were -450 on one sportsbook but boosted to -200 at another — as a way to differentiate themselves to the competition. Taking the Chiefs at -200 would net a $5 profit on a $10 bet instead of $2.22, which is more than double.
- Welcome Bonus: Betting on the NFL is great. Betting on the NFL with a bonus offer, like a risk-free bet or first-deposit match, is even better. This gives you bet credits that can get you off to a good start in your sports wagering venture.
Why Should I Bet NFL Moneylines?
Wagering moneylines for your NFL best bets is a great option for the following reasons:
- Ease: Betting moneylines is easy! You simply pick which team you feel will win the game, enter the amount you wish to wager and you’re off.
- Good For Picking ‘Dogs: Underdog bets in the NFL can provide huge payouts, especially late in the season where upstart teams will still play hard and shock teams they should lose to.
- Fun For Fans: Betting your favorite team to cover the spread means you could lose even if your team wins. If you put up money on your preferred team to win, you earn money when they win as well, making a victory extra-sweet.
Why Shouldn’t I Bet NFL Moneylines?
There are reasons not to place moneyline bets on NFL games. Here’s a look at a few:
- Limited ROI: A moneyline bet, like the first one between the 5-1 Chiefs and 2-4 Jets, can extremely limited return on your initial wager. Winning $2.22 on a $10 isn’t a sustainable way to build a bankroll, especially betting on the NFL where there are multiple upsets every week. Betting a +300 underdog, or longer, is also not a good way to wager because it’s difficult to win at those long odds.
- More Lucrative Options: There sometimes are better ways to cash in on more favorable odds. Prop wagers can be lucrative, especially player props. Betting an underdog against the spread is smart when the spread is two touchdowns or more.
NFL Moneyline Betting for Beginners
We hope this has been a comprehensive article about NFL betting designed at cutting through some of the confusion for prospective football gamblers. We answered frequently asked questions about moneylines, spreads, totals and much more.
The best way to learn about betting football moneylines is to try it. Sign up to an online sportsbook, make a deposit and peruse the odds. Find the game you like and place a small moneyline bet and see how it goes. If you win and are starting to feel a bit more daring, maybe you’ll bet a team to cover the spread next. If you lose, maybe try again with another small, easy moneyline bet.
Once you get the hang of moneyline betting you can get more daring with parlays and props and teasers and round robins and all the other great things betting on football has to offer. But betting on one team to win a football game is the simplest form of wagering on sports.
Most importantly, have fun. Betting, like pizza or NFL RedZone, is just another way to make watching football on Sundays that much more exciting.
Additional Types of NFL Bets Available
There are more betting options besides moneylines. Here’s a look at some of the most popular betting choices for NFL gamblers.
Spread betting is popular in the NFL since, as mentioned above, games can feature lopsided teams, and betting on or against the spread is a better way to get superior odds. Each game will be assigned a spread — if all things are equal the home team will typically give or lay three points, making it a three-point favorite — and the favorite must win by at least the point spread to cover.
Lopsided NFL games could feature double-digit favorites, meaning teams favored to win by 10 or more points. Most NFL spreads won’t exceed 14, however rarely there are matchups between teams where the spread can be 18, 19 or even 20 points. Spread-covering odds typically are -110, which is often far superior to the -150 or shorter odds that moneyline favorites usually are.
Spread betting is also a great way to bet on an underdog that you don’t believe can necessarily win. For instance, if I’m a Detroit Lions fan and I want to cash in on my team’s game against the Green Bay Packers but am unsure if Detroit can win at Lambeau Field, I can take the Lions +10 and win if my team loses by fewer than 10 points.
If the spread is a round number, and the favorite wins by that exact amount the bet is a push, meaning it is voided and your initial stake is returned.
NFL Over/Under Betting (Totals)
Betting on totals, or Over/Under, means wagering whether the total number of points will surpass the number listed. Most Over/Unders for NFL games are in the 40s, though in games between teams with high-octane offenses the totals can surpass 50.
Betting on totals in NFL games is a great way to bet when you aren’t sure who will win but believe there will either be a lot or not that many points. over/under odds are typically between +100 and -120.
If the Kansas City Chiefs are playing the Buffalo Bills, and the over/under is set for 51.5, there must be at least 52 points for the over to hit. If there are fewer than 52, that means the under hits. If the Chicago Bears are playing the New York Giants, the over/under might be 42. If that is the final total then the bet is a push and your initial stake is returned.
NFL Prop Betting
Prop bets, especially player props, are a big part of what makes NFL betting fun. Betting on quarterbacks to surpass a passing-yards prop is a lot of fun if you think a quarterback will have a huge day through the air or choosing a receiver to surpass his yards prop is great if you think he’s going to go off.
For instance if you think Kyler Murray has a favorable matchup in his matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, you can choose him to surpass his passing prop or his rushing prop total. If you believe Cooper Kupp will be held in check by the Seattle Seahawks, take the under in his receiving yard prop.
Prop betting is especially popular for the Super Bowl, since sportsbooks assign odds to props for almost every player — and even some silly game-related props like which color of Gatorade the winning coach will be doused with. But there are still dozens of game-related props created for teams for regular-season games each week.
NFL Futures Betting
Futures betting usually relate to season awards or the division, conference or Super Bowl championship. Players get assigned odds to win the NFL MVP or to finish as the NFL’s leading passer, rusher or receiver in terms of yards.
Futures are usually most popular for users to place their money on a team to win the Super Bowl. But bettors could also wager on a team to make the playoffs, either yes or no, or to win its respective division. For instance, a Dallas Cowboys fan may want to wager on his/her favorite team to win the NFC East at +150 instead of trusting them to win the Super Bowl at +900 or NFC at +500.
NFL Parlay Betting
Parlay betting, or combining multiple markets with longer odds in hopes that they all hit, is perhaps the most popular way to bet on the NFL. There are two types of NFL parlay bets: multi-game parlays and same-game parlays.
Multi-game parlays are when a bettor combines two-or-more teams to win their game. If you believe the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers will win, but each is a heavy favorite, you can parlay them both to win to more lucrative odds.
Same-game parlays are when bettors combine multiple markets from the same game. For instance, a bettor can combine the Green Bay Packers to win, the over to hit and Aaron Rodgers to surpass his passing-yards prop at longer odds than taking each of those options separately.
Tip for parlay bettors: Sportsbooks will usually let bettors tease down over/unders for points and prop bets as part of a parlay. For instance, if in the above same-game parlay you want to bet the Packers to win and tease down the over/under to 44.5 points and for Rodgers to surpass 225 passing yards instead of 277.5, do that since the odds will still be good and the wager will be more likely to hit.