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Moneyline vs Point Spread Betting

The point spread is the key unit of measurement between two teams or “sides” when it comes to NFL betting. The spread is what oddsmakers use to define how much better one team is perceived to be than another in an effort to get equal action on both sides.

If a handicapper or bettor is talking about trying to get the best of the number, they are more than likely referring to the spread and their timing ability with the betting market.

Timing is Everything with Point Spreads

There is obviously a right and wrong time to wager on favorites based on the spread, and the same thing can be said relating to underdogs. While the spread dominates NFL betting discourse and can vary greatly depending on when you bet, there are other wagering options to consider like taking the moneyline on a team instead.

Moneylines on dogs Offer great Value

Most sportsbooks offer moneylines on all NFL games, and that’s a good thing for those bettors who do not want to worry about the spread at all. Sometimes betting the moneyline is the way to go when wagering on team sports like football because all you need to be concerned with is whether you are backing the winning side.

For example, let’s say the Pittsburgh Steelers are 3-point favorites against the spread for their road game against the Cincinnati Bengals. If you bet the Steelers, 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 Bengals (-110) as 3-point underdogs.

Small underDogs That Cover Often Win

In games like this one where there is a short underdog involved, betting the moneyline is often a smarter strategy. For the same Steelers-Bengals matchup, oddsmakers have Pittsburgh as a -180 favorite on the moneyline and Cincinnati as a +150 home underdog.

If you like the Bengals as a 3-point underdog, then why not bet them to win straight up on the moneyline? If Cincinnati does wins outright, you will win $150 instead of $100. There is great value in the Bengals at that price, betting them as home underdogs if you believe they will stay within three points anyway, and there is certainly a better return.

Keep in mind, very few NFL games are decided by three points or less, so if you like Cincinnati in that spot, bet 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 OddsShark.com 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.”

The key to winning when betting on NFL games is realizing the season is a marathon, not a sprint. And maximizing value in opting to take the moneyline vs the spread in certain situations will help you build your bankroll and turn a profit over the long run.