NFL Betting Guide: How to Read & Understand NFL Betting Odds

When it comes to betting on sports, you would be hard-pressed to find a more popular option in your sportsbook than the National Football League. The Super Bowl is the biggest one-day event on the annual betting calendar and players will scramble to get their wagers in at the last second every Sunday morning. That means you should probably know the basics of NFL betting and this should get you started down the right path.

Moneyline betting is the simplest form of wagering on the NFL odds, as all you are doing is betting on the outcome of the game. That's it. You could have two teams lining up, let's say, the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills. New England could have odds of -350. The negative sign in front of the odds shows they are the favorites and indicates the amount of money you bet to win $100. Buffalo could have odds of +275 and the positive sign shows that they are the underdog. When there’s a plus sign, that’s the amount of money you win if you bet $100. So you would have to bet $350 to win $100 on the Patriots, who are perceived to be the better team, while $100 would get you $275 on the Bills. All you need to worry about is who wins.

Of course, you can bet whatever amount you want but this just gives you an idea of the odds and how much you’ll win betting each side.


Spread betting adds another wrinkle into the mix as you have to consider the margin of victory in a matchup. Sticking with New England and Buffalo, you could see New England at -3, and this means they would have to win by more than three points in order to cover their end of the bet. On the other hand, Buffalo would be +3, which means they could lose by less than three points or win the game outright, and cover their end of the wager. If the margin of victory lands right on the spread number, which is called a push, neither side wins the bet. You’ll often see half-numbers used, such as 3.5, so that ties are avoided.


Total betting is when you wager on the amount of points that will be scored in a game. The sportsbook will set the total, and you have to decide whether the actual total will be over or under the sportsbook total. New England and Buffalo could have a total of 43, and you pick the over or the under and again, if the actual total lands right on that number, there is a push and you just get your money back. There are a number of factors to consider here, such as the weather, injuries to a major player on either side of the ball, etc., but it should go without saying that you should do all your research anyway, no matter what type of betting you are doing.


Futures are more of a long-term bet, such as who will win the Super Bowl (the odds for which will come the day after the most recent Super Bowl). You will have a list of options, all usually having a positive sign in front of their odds, so you could see New England at +400 to win. This would mean a $100 would earn you +400 if they were to win, and these odds can change throughout the season. You can also consider options like the Most Valuable Player award to be a futures wager in terms of NFL betting.