OddsShark Top Sportsbooks
*Terms and Conditions apply to all bonus offers on this website. Visit operator for details.

How to Bet on NFL

Placing a bet on an NFL game may be one of the biggest enjoyments for sports bettors with a game that can lead to outcomes that even online sportsbooks can’t anticipate.

Whether you are a casual fan looking for a little action on some NFL games or a diehard fan ready to make a serious investment, NFL betting can be a very fun and lucrative endeavor.

Here are the basic betting options available to bettors:


A moneyline wager is when a bettor picks which team will win the game and is considered a  “black and white” bet with only one outcome. Because there are skill discrepancies between the two teams, betting the team more likely to win will come at a premium.

For example, if the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the New England Patriots, the Steelers might be considered a +140 (bet $100 to win $140) underdog against the Patriots at -160 (bet $160 to win $100). Pittsburgh would pay more than New England to win outright as this would be an upset.

Point Spread

A point spread in sports is a figure set by oddsmakers to provide an advantage or disadvantage based on the margin of victory or defeat for a given team. The “favorite” team (labeled with a “-” sign) would be at the disadvantage as they would need to win the game by a set number of points while the “underdog” team (labeled with a “+” sign) would be given an advantage to not lose the game by a set number of points.

In the example above, the Steelers would be a +3.5 underdog against the Patriots as -3.5 favorites. Bettors who take the Patriots would need them to win by four or more points to cover the spread, while bettors who take the Steelers would need them to win outright or only lose by three points or less.

Spreads and moneylines vary depending on the discrepancy between the two teams. Against the New York Jets at home, New England might be a -16.5 favorite and need to win by 17 points to cover the spread whereas the Jets would need to win outright or only lose by 16 points or less.


The “Total” in any given sporting event is a combined final score of both teams. The total for these games is an amount that is set by oddsmakers based on how they envision a game will unfold from a scoring perspective. As a bettor, you would need to select if the final score will be OVER the set total or UNDER the set total.

Typically, when a bettor plans to wager on an OVER or an UNDER for a game’s total, there are a lot of variables to consider.

Offensive and defensive trends for a given team need to be considered along with injuries, the history of matchups between the teams and environment – these are just some of the factors that must be taken into account before selecting which way the game will finish.

For example, let’s take an Eagles vs Cowboys matchup with the total set at 48.5 points. As a bettor, you would select if the game’s final score will be OVER 48.5 points or UNDER 48.5 points. So, if the game ended 27-20, that would combine to 47 points, meaning the game went UNDER.

The betting line for both the OVER and UNDER is typically at -110 but can be shifted by sportsbooks to smaller or greater odds depending on the factors listed above.


NFL prop bets are games within the game that many bettors play solely for fun and typically don’t have much bearing on the actual outcome of the game. Props on individual performances like passing yards, rushing yards and receiving yards are some of the examples of a prop bet, ranging to “will Tom Brady kneel during the national anthem?” NFL fans that do well in projecting how players will do can take advantage of these props.


One popular betting strategy is to bet on parlays. A parlay is when you make multiple picks like a moneyline, spread or total in separate games with each play needing to hit for your bet to succeed.

A correlated parlay is when a bettor selects two events to occur within the same game. For example, let’s say a bettor likes the offensively challenged Cleveland Browns to “cover the spread” at +10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It might be worth it for that bettor to parlay the Browns +10 with the UNDER on a total 45 points in the game because it is far more likely that the Browns keep it close with a big day on defense than it is that they keep the Steelers offense in check.

Finding a Suitable Sportsbook

Every sportsbook offers lines on every NFL game, and most of these lines are fairly similar across different sportsbooks. There are slight differences, however, including when lines are released, how quickly they move, and what prop bets are available. Evaluate these factors as well as others such as interface and bonuses when making the right decision for you.