Moneyline vs Point Spread Betting

The pointspread: It’s the grand champion of NFL betting. If a handicapper, oddsmaker, or public bettor is talking about the number, chances are they’re referring to the spread.

The spread dominates NFL betting discourse, but keep in mind sportsbooks also offer moneylines on all the games, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes betting the moneyline is the way to go when wagering the NFL.

Let’s say, for instance, that the New England Patriots are 3-point favorites against the spread for their game on Sunday against the New York Jets. If you bet the Patriots, and they cover the spread, the return is set in the -110 range. That means you had to bet $110 to win $100, and the same would be true if you sided with the Jets (-110) as 3-point underdogs.

In games like this one where there’s a short underdog, betting the moneyline is often a smarter strategy. For the same Pats-Jets affair, oddsmakers have New England as -180 faves on the moneyline, and New York as +150 underdogs.

Why not bet the Jets? If New York wins outright you’ll win $150 instead of $100. There’s value in the Jets at that price, and there’s certainly a better return. Besides, very few NFL games are decided by three points or less. If you like New York in that spot, it’s in your interest to bet it against the moneyline.

“By betting small moneyline underdogs instead of taking the same bets against the spread, you need to win a smaller percentage of games to break even, because the return on investment is higher,” says NFL analyst Mike Pickett.

“With so much parity in the NFL, wagering small underdogs against the moneyline – as opposed to the spread – is definitely worth a look on a week by week and game by game basis.”  

Winning more NFL sports bets is a marathon, not a sprint. And it takes training to avoid the pitfalls that can damage your bankroll.