How To Bet NFL

How to Bet on Football: NFL Betting Guide for 2024-2025

When it comes to sports betting, the National Football League is king. From preseason to the Super Bowl, the NFL delivers a constant barrage of nail-biting action and storylines intriguing enough to make Hollywood writers tip their cap. Part of what makes NFL betting so appealing is the variety of options bettors have, and below you’ll find a detailed rundown of different types of NFL bets and strategies to consider before placing wagers on gridiron action.

How to Bet on the NFL

Whether you’re looking to place your first NFL bet or you were wagering before instant replay and 2-point conversions existed, this guide has you covered. For beginners, there’s a breakdown of the different types of bets (moneyline, parlays, point spreads, etc.) and for the more seasoned bettor, there’s a strategy section with some betting wisdom to keep in mind throughout the season. Consider bookmarking this page and revisiting it as the NFL season unfolds.


A moneyline bet is simply a wager on which team will win a game. Sportsbooks determine the moneyline odds prior to kickoff and a bet on an underdog (the team less likely to win) pays more than a bet on the favorite (the team expected to win). If the team a bettor predicts to win the game is victorious, the margin of victory is insignificant. For instance, if you bet the Chiefs moneyline vs. the Chargers, the bet will pay the same whether the Chiefs win by 1 point or 21 points.


Point spread bets are very popular among NFL bettors partially because they theoretically level the playing field and have the ability to make matchups between a good team and a bad team more entertaining. Using Week 1 for instance, the Cincinnati Bengals are 9.5-point favorites over the New England Patriots. If a bettor is backing the underdog Patriots +9.5, it means they’ll win their bet if the Patriots win the game or lose by 1-9 points. If the Patriots lose by 10 or more points, then Bengals point spread bettors win. Points spreads around the key numbers of 3 and 7 are worth keeping an eye on because statistically, those are the two margins of victory that are most common in NFL games.

Totals (Over/Under)

A bettor with action on the total AKA over/under is betting the total points scored in the game will either go over or under a number set by the oddsmakers. For instance, in a hypothetical contest between the Raiders and Chargers, sportsbooks may set the total at 47.5. If the final score is 28-20 (48 total points) then over bettors win, while a final score of 23-10 (33 total points) would cash bets for under bettors. A bettor with action on the total isn’t concerned with who wins the game, but instead is either rooting for points (over bettor) or rooting for defense (under bettor). The following are key numbers to be aware of when betting NFL totals: 40, 41, 44, 47, and 51.

Player and Team Props

“Prop bets" are short for “proposition bets" and involve specific scenarios within a game. For instance, a player prop like “Will Brock Purdy have over/under 265.5 passing yards?” Or a game prop like, “Will the game go to overtime? (Yes/No).” The Super Bowl is known for having an expanded selection of player props, but there’s still a wide variety of options for regular season games as well. Player props are a very entertaining form of betting and allow bettors to focus in on individual matchups. For instance, if a star WR is going up against a backup CB a bettor could bet the over on the receivers’ yardage total.


“Futures bets” refer to a type of bet where the outcome is decided in the future rather than the next game. For instance, bets on which team will win the Super Bowl or a particular NFL division. Season win totals are another example. For instance, will the Chicago Bears win over or under 8.5 games this season? A lot of futures bets are still available during the regular season and the odds change each week depending on the outcome of the recent games. For instance, the 49ers may be +700 to win the Super Bowl prior to the season but if they start the season 0-4 with several injuries, that line may adjust to +1800 by the time Week 5 rolls around.


Betting on season-long awards like “MVP,” “Offensive/Defensive Rookie of the Year,” or “Coach of the Year” is a lot of fun because it allows bettors to stretch their wager out over the course of the season. For instance, a bettor who wagers on Patrick Mahomes to win MVP will be rooting for the Chiefs’ QB in all 17 games and may even enjoy rooting against the other star QBs he’s competing with in the market. Sportsbooks assign odds for various players in an awards market and they fluctuate throughout the season depending on how that player performs. Keep in mind that an injury can derail a player’s awards chances quickly - just ask Aaron Rodgers MVP bettors last season.

Advanced NFL Betting Options

The bet types above are appropriate for newcomers, but the betting options below have some complexity to them and aren’t recommended until bettors have a solid grasp of the basics. A bettor finding themselves consistently losing money on simple moneyline and point spread bets, shouldn’t expect their results to improve while live betting or betting parlays because these bets essentially have an added degree of difficulty.


Parlays allow bettors to combine multiple outcomes (AKA “legs”) together to form a single wager with a larger payout. The catch is that the entire bet loses if any one leg of the parlay loses. For instance, a $100 3-leg parlay might include the 49ers -5.5 point spread (-110) with the over in the Chargers-Raiders game (-110), and the Panthers moneyline (+170). If all three outcomes occur, the bet wins $884.05, but if any of the three outcomes loses, the bet loses no matter what. The downside to parlays is they’re a lot harder to win and the advantage to them is that they pay handsomely.

A same-game parlay (SGP) essentially combines a parlay with prop betting and allows bettors to combine multiple outcomes within a game. For instance, a 2-leg parlay involving Kyler Murray throwing for over 260.5 yards and Marvin Harrison Jr. catching at least 1 TD pass.


Teasers are similar to parlays in that they require at least two legs and the bet loses if any one leg loses. However, teasers generally aren’t as lucrative as parlays, but what makes them unique is that they allow bettors to manipulate point spreads and totals in either direction. For instance, if the Lions are favored by four points over the Bears on Thanksgiving, a bettor could make the point spread Detroit +2 or Chicago +10 on a 6-point teaser depending on which side they wanted. Furthermore, an NFL total of 46.5 could be turned into an over 40.5 bet or an under 52.5 bet on a 6-point teaser. The most popular teasers are 6-point teasers, but some sportsbooks offer 6.5-point teasers, 7-point teasers, 10-point teasers, 12-point teasers, etc.

Pay close attention to each sportsbook’s house rules on teasers because they vary greatly from one shop to the next.

Live Betting

Live betting allows bettors to wager on games after kickoff which can create excellent hedging opportunities for those who already have action. However, there’s a dark side to live betting too. For instance, it gives bettors an opportunity to chase their losses, which can lead to irresponsible betting habits. Live betting often features odds with extra vigorish that are more in the sportsbook’s favor when compared to odds from before the game started, so leave this form of betting to veteran gamblers.  


Contests allow bettors to bet against a large group of gamblers instead of betting vs. the sportsbook. For instance, some contests are designed as “pick ‘em” competitions in which competitors predict NFL games each week vs. the spread. There are also NFL survivor pool contests where participants choose a team each week and advance if that team wins. Daily fantasy contests involve picking players on a roster to compete with other rosters to score points based on each player’s performance. In all of these examples, there are entry fees that are combined together to create a prize pool for top performers.

Quarter/Half Betting

If bettors are noticing trends related to teams getting off to a fast or slow start, betting first half or first quarter lines are also an option. Moneylines, points spreads and totals can be bet by quarter or half and every NFL game briefly offers an opportunity to bet 2nd half lines during halftime too. It’s also possible to bet 2nd quarter, 3rd quarter, and 4th quarter lines before a game starts, but those bets are less popular because they’re often more difficult to predict. Betting a game by quarter or half can make a wager more intense because each play has more weight on the outcome of a bet.

NFL Betting Tips & Strategies

Below you’ll find some strategies to consider before placing NFL bets this season. Whether you prefer to bet moneylines or teasers or anything in between, there are some helpful nuggets here for you to utilize.

Betting early

NFL lines are updated Sunday night after all the action and that’s when a lot of professional bettors make their move. Recreational bettors tend to bet closer to kickoff once the lines have been sharpened by bettors and adjusted by oddsmakers who have the advantage of seeing who sharp bettors are backing. Sure, betting early in the week comes with some risk (not having a full injury picture), but it’s also when the oddsmaker’s lines are the most vulnerable.

Line shopping

Any professional bettor with a soap box will tell you how important it is to shop around for the best number. If you’re relying on one sportsbook to place all of your bets, you’re at its mercy and won’t always get the best price. During the NFL season it’s common for a handful of sportsbooks to have a game with a 3.5-point spread, while other places offer it with a 3-point spread. Or, even if the total or point spread are the same at two different books, one sportsbook may offer the same bet with a price of -118 while another shop offers -110. A $1000 bet pays $909 at -110 odds and only pays $847 at -118 odds. Over time, these subtle differences impact a bankroll in a big way. Click here to see how different odds impact payouts.

Fading the Public

Betting against the public AKA “Fading the public” is a betting strategy that involves researching which side of a game most of the public is on and then betting the opposite side. The NFL is one of the best sports to fade the public because there’s a high volume of bets for each game and a lot of those bets are by less informed individuals. If the public won consistently long-term, then sportsbooks would be in trouble. Instead, the public loses consistently long-term so fading them is a legitimate strategy. Of course, the public wins all the time as well so this strategy isn’t foolproof and is best used in combination with research and consideration of other factors.

Watch Injuries Closely

Understanding the cadence of injury news throughout a given week is an important piece of NFL betting because bettors have the opportunity to bet a game after injury news is released and before oddsmakers have the opportunity to move the line. If you’re employing this “bet on injury news” strategy, it’s important to be aware of what the pre-injury prices are for the game you’re betting. For instance, if the Jaguars are -4.5 vs. Titans and you hear that Trevor Lawrence has been unexpectedly ruled out, don’t automatically bet the Titans without knowing if the line has moved or not. If the sportsbook already adjusted the line down to -2.5 on the news, then Titans +2.5 may not be a bargain and it’s certainly not as sweet of a deal as Titans +4.5. It’s becoming more difficult to catch oddsmakers sleeping on injury news, but if bettors set alerts on their phones and act quickly, there are opportunities throughout the season.

Be aware that 90 minutes before each game, teams must publicize who the active players are who will be in uniform. Two days before a game (i.e. Friday for a Sunday game) teams must release an injury report which lists players as “out,” “doubtful,” or “questionable.” If a player is listed as out, they won’t play. While technically “doubtful” is supposed to refer to a player who has a 25% chance to play, it’s a lot more rare than that. Players with a “questionable” tag are theoretically a 50/50 chance to play.  Practice reports noting “did not practice,” “full,” or “limited” practice participation are also available throughout the week to help bettors read the tea leaves.

Consider matchups

Instead of focusing on a team’s win-loss record or where their offense and defense ranks, consider how teams match up stylistically as you would examine a boxing or UFC fight. For instance, a QB who has decent overall numbers but struggles vs. man coverage might be expected to perform better vs. a team that plays a higher percentage of zone defense. Likewise, we can lower our expectations for an offense that’s struggling badly in the red zone and facing the league’s best red zone defense. A quarterback who thrives when defenses blitz might be happy to see a defensive coordinator like Brian Flores (Vikings) who relies heavily on blitzes.

The matchups of who is calling plays on offense and defense for each team is important as well. Some coordinators have impressive track records against other play callers and sometimes there’s a big experience difference between the play callers that can be exploited.

Note relevant trends

Be aware of trends, but don’t worship them. Throughout the NFL season you’ll hear a lot of trends that seemingly help predict the outcome of games, but the majority of them aren’t predictive and are frankly useless. Part of a bettor’s job is discerning whether a trend is relevant. Once you have a relevant trend, don’t bet a game blindly on the trend alone and instead consider it a useful datapoint.

By now you may have heard the Colts are 1-14-1 ATS in their last 16 Week 1 games. At first glance, this may seem like a reason to fade Indianapolis Week 1 vs. the Texans but stop and ask if what happened 10+ years ago is still relevant with a new QB, a new coach, and new play callers. If the Colts had the same head coach during those 16 years, I might take more stock in the trend, but as is, it’s not an actionable trend. However, there are relevant trends like how teams perform on the road, primetime unders, or how coaches perform after a bye week (hehem, Andy Reid).

Buying the hook

“The hook” is a half point on a point spread, so a spread of 3 points doesn’t have a hook, but a 3.5 point spread does. Bettors have the option to buy a 1/2 point on a point spread which can be useful to get through key numbers. Buying points isn’t recommended for “dead numbers” where games are less likely to land (for instance -5 to -5.5). Buying points is expensive (oddsmakers adjust the odds so the bet pays less) and thus shouldn’t be an everyday part of a betting routine, but it’s a helpful tactic to be aware of. The difference between a point spread of +3 and +3.5 can make the vigorish go from -110 to -135. If you feel like an oddsmaker is way off on their point spread or total, alternate point spreads or alternate totals offer a list of adjusted numbers (with adjusted odds of course) to choose from.

Teasing through key numbers

As mentioned above, there are key numbers to be aware of in NFL games because they’re the most common margin of victories or totals. Bettors can use these key numbers to their advantage when teasing NFL games so they can make the teased point spreads cross through two key numbers. For instance, bringing an underdog from +2.5 to +8.5 crosses through both 3 and 7. Similarly, teasing a favorite from -8 down to -2 crosses through 3 and 7 as well.

Other general teaser advice:

  • Don’t tease through zero
  • Teasing point spreads is more effective in games with lower totals
  • Teasing point spreads is more effective than teasing totals
  • Always shop around! Your four favorite sportsbooks may offer four different teaser prices

Beware of the back door

A “backdoor cover” is when an underdog is trailing late in a game by more than the point spread and ends up scoring meaningless points to cover the point spread. Backdoor covers are fairly common because opposing defenses tend to loosen up and allow passes underneath while protecting large leads. If a bettor wagers on the Titans +10.5 vs. the Chiefs and the Titans are trailing by 14 and score a touchdown on their final drive as time expires, that’d be considered a backdoor cover.

Always consider the backdoor cover before making a point spread bet. Teams with good receivers or a high-powered offense tend to do well with backdoor cover opportunities. When considering betting a 7-point favorite, in addition to asking yourself, “Is this team 7 points better” you might also ask, “Can I see a scenario where they’re leading by 13 points in the 4th quarter and allow a backdoor cover?”

Analyzing schedules for futures markets

Imagine you’re attracted to the Falcons and Jets in futures markets this year. By analyzing their schedules you can get a good idea of whether you should bet on their futures market now or later. For instance, the Jets have a soft start to their schedule (@SF, @TEN, NE, DEN) and it’s easy to imagine a scenario where they start 3-1. If the Jets start 3-1 and look good in the process, theoretically their Super Bowl odds will drop and not be as lucrative compared to their preseason odds. In other words, if you like the Jets, you might be better off betting them now. The Falcons on the other hand have their easiest games after Week 5 (@CAR, @DEN, @LV, @WSH, NYG, CAR) so if you’re able to wait and bet them after a hypothetical 1-2 start, you’d get better odds.

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