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A Beginner’s Guide to American Football Betting

American Football is the dominant sport in the US and steadily growing in popularity around the world. Most American football betting is on the NFL (National Football League), but many fans will also bet on collegiate sports. Across the professional and collegiate leagues, there are plenty of betting opportunities and a lot of excitement to be had.  

If you have never bet on American football before then you have come to the right place. In this guide, we will teach you all you need to know, such as what the different betting markets are and how to do your research.  

Popular American Football Betting Markets 

Today there are many different markets available on American football. This can be a bit confusing at first, as they go far beyond a simple bet on which team will win the game. However, the vast majority of betting markets are very straightforward and they will take you hardly any time to understand.  

American Football Spread Bets 

You will often hear about people placing American football spread bets, or betting the spread. The idea of spread betting is to reduce the disparity between two teams in terms of skill and expectations. No teams are ever perfectly matched, and that is why one team is always the favourite to win. However, bookmakers compensate for this by offering a “spread” or “line”, which is designed to equalise the teams.  

The “spread” is an indication of how many points a team is expected to win or lose by. If bookmakers didn’t offer this type of bet, then everyone would simply back the favourite all of the time. However, with a spread bet, punters have the chance to win even when backing an underdog.  

For example, team A may be assigned -5.5 and team B +5.5. The negative number represents the favourite, so team A are expected to win by at least 5.5 points. Therefore, the point of the bet becomes matching expectations rather than simply winning. If you were to bet on team A, then they have to win by more than 5.5 points for you to win, if they only win by 5 points then you would lose the bet. Conversely, if team B loses by 5 points you win, but if they lose by 6 points then you lose.  

It is important to remember that the line or spread is not set. Bookmakers will adjust it as people place bets. Therefore, it is worth keeping an eye on as you may find it moves to something more favourable.  

American Football Moneyline Bets 

Moneyline bets are another very popular form on American football betting. These are more straightforward than spread bets, as you are simply focused on picking a winner. Each team will be assigned odds, there will be a favourite and an underdog, and you simply bet on the team that you think is most likely to win. Of course, the odds are going to be more generous for the underdog, but occasionally you may think it is the right bet to place.  

American Football Over/Under Bets 

Over/Under bets are popular with those not looking to back a specific team, but still wanting to bet on the game as a whole. The most basic type of Over/Under bet is on the total number of points scored in a game. For example, you may see an Over/Under bet on 37.5 points, which means that you can bet on more than or less than 37.5 points being scored in total in the game. It is important to remember that it is in total, i.e. between the two teams. However, you will also find Over/Under bets on the individual teams, as well as on points scored within specific time periods. The concept of Over/Under bets is very straightforward and it presents you with many different betting opportunities.  

American Football Prop Bets 

Prop betting can be a huge amount of fun and present you with many different ways of looking at an American football game. They are bets that you place on specific events within a game, ranging from things that are based purely on luck to things that require some skill. For example, you may find prop bets on which team will win the coin toss, which will be the first to score, or the number of rushing touchdowns scored by a particular team.  

You will often find that there are a huge number of prop bets available for any given game, and it is definitely worth taking the time to look through them all. As noted, many of these bets will not require you to have any real knowledge and as such, they should be treated as pure gambling fun and not as part of a wider betting strategy.  

You may also be able to bet on a number of statistical markets, such as an individual player’s passing yards, rushing yards, or receiving yards. You can also bet on the longest field goal, the longest touchdown, the shortest touchdown, the total penalties, and the total turnovers. In short, there are very few aspects of a game that you cannot bet on. 

Future Bets on American Football  

A futures bet is not really a category of bet, rather it is a bet placed long before an event takes place. The most popular American football futures bet is on which team will win the Super Bowl. Depending on when you place the bets, the odds on offer can vary hugely. The odds will be far more generous when betting on a team before the start of a season compared to betting on a team after they have won two playoff games. Essentially, these bets are a way to keep a bit of action going throughout the season and can be a fun way to back your favourite team with long odds.  

What to Consider When Betting on American Football 

There is no way to guarantee that you will place a winning bet, American football, like any other sport, can produce some surprise results. However, you can do a lot to improve your chances and the most important thing to do is research the teams involved. 

Home Advantage 

In nearly every sport, playing in front of a home crowd gives a team a major boost and it can result in some stunning performances. When you research a team, try to ascertain how much of a boost they receive from playing at home. In particular, look if they tend to do better when faced with truly tough competition. Of course, while playing at home may give a team a boost, it may not be enough to overcome the top teams.  

Weather Conditions 

It is always worth looking at the weather forecast before betting on an American football game. If it is raining and there are strong winds, then it will have an impact on how much a team is able to throw the ball or kick field goals. Look into how well a team can run the ball in windy conditions. You should also look at the opposition defence as very often defence improves when the opposition is hampered. Rain and snow may also have an effect on the amount of turnovers in a game, as they can make it harder to grip the ball.  

Streaks & Previous Record Against 

If a team is on a particularly impressive winning streak, then there may be good odds that they will extend it. Similarly, a team that has been losing may find it within them to dig deep and avoid another defeat. Of course, in both situations, a team may put too much pressure on itself and fail to get a result.  

You should also be looking at the head to head record between two teams and if they have a historic rivalry. Teams with intense rivalries can often bring out the best in each other, and these games can be truly exciting. Of course, there can be no guarantees, but previous results should definitely be taken into account when placing bets.  

Individual Players 

While American football is a team sport, the individual players cannot be discounted. For example, if a player is returning to a team that he was traded from or left in free agency, then he may come back with a point to prove. Alternatively, if a team is starting a new quarterback, the player is sure to want to prove his worth, but his inexperience may be a big disadvantage.  

A well-known phenomenon in American football is the “sophomore slump”, in which a second-year quarterback, running back or other skill position may have had a fantastic first season but will then suffer in the second season and not perform as well as expected.  

A similar problem is sometimes seen in teams that have won the Super Bowl the previous season. They may feel that there is extra pressure on them or they may become overconfident and relax slightly, leading to poor performances.  

You should of course also be looking at team news. Are any players injured? Have there been reports of any friction in the team? All of these factors are hugely important and can make a big difference as to how a team performs on the day. 

Be sure to gather as much information as you possibly can before placing your bets, and with a bit of luck, you will soon be enjoying your first American football winnings.  

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