Explaining Different Types of NFL Football Bets for Beginners

By in NFL on
7 Minute Read
NFL Bets

Football fans, it’s time to celebrate: the NFL is back. Football is one of the most popular sports to gamble on in the United States due to the league’s overwhelming popularity, even amongst the most casual sports fans. Luckily for aspiring football bettors, football can also be one of the most profitable sports to bet on, if done effectively.

Despite its relative simplicity, betting on football is challenging for new people to the gambling world. If you want to jump into gambling and decide to start with football, that’s a wise decision, but you need to prepare. Here are 6 different types of football bets and how to determine when you should bet on them.

1 ‒ Betting the Spread

Sports gamblers love betting on the spread in football, and for a good reason. When you bet on the spread, you’re not betting on one team to win or lose, but a team’s chances to cover it. Professional oddsmakers will basically give points to the underdog and take points away from the favorite to put them on an even playing field.

For Example:

In the first week of NFL actions, most books have the Patriots, who are favored, listed at (-6.5) against the Dolphins, who are listed at (+6.5). That means that the Patriots must win by 7 points or more to win the bet while the Dolphins need to either win the game or lose by less than 7 points. In other words, the Patriots are favored by a touchdown.

If you feel confident that the Patriots will win by a touchdown or more, you will take the Pats. But, if you think 6.5 points is too many, and you expect the Dolphins to cover, you should consider taking Miami. Betting on the spread is a great starting point for beginners because spreads offer similar odds for both the underdog and favorite as oddsmakers either give points to the worse team or take points from the better team.

2 ‒ Moneyline Bets

Like virtually every other popular sport, sportsbook and sports betting websites also offer gamblers the opportunity to bet on the moneyline. When you place a bet on the moneyline, you’re merely betting on a team to win the game outright.

Going back to the previous example…

The Patriots are listed at -300, and the Dolphins are listed around +250. That means a gambler must bet $300 on the Patriots moneyline to win $100. But, if you were to take that $100 and place it on the Dolphins, you would win $250. Sounds great, right? Well, the Dolphins are serious underdogs in this matchup, and the likelihood of them winning this game outright is slim.

A big decision you’ll have to make is deciding whether you prefer to bet on the spread or moneyline. This decision is challenging because you must determine what type of bet has more value. If your unit size is $100, you could stand to win $250 if you bet on Dolphins outright, whereas you’d win around less than $100 if you bet on the Dolphins to cover the spread. The likelihood of Miami covering is far greater than their odds of beating the Patriots and making your moneyline bet a winner.

3 ‒ Over-Unders

Betting the over in football is one of the most exciting sports betting types, and a favorite sports bet among newer football gamblers. The logic behind betting the over versus the under is that games with more points are typically more exciting, and we live in the age where a run of the mill quarterback can put up 3000 yards through the air. That translates to a lot of points being scored in a given football season.

Over Under Bet

The over-under is set by handicappers who predict the number of points teams in a given matchup should score. These over-unders are thoroughly researched and based on a variety of factors. If two high powered offenses are scheduled to play on Sunday, the over-under could easily surpass 60 points.

While it’s certainly more enjoyable to bet the over versus betting the under, sometimes it makes sense to take the under. Deciding which side to bet requires you to take a look at how each team is trending, weather implications, injury reports, and other factors that could influence how many points are scored. Typically the over and under are listed with comparable odds. But sometimes there is more value in taking one over the other, especially depending on how the public is betting.

4 ‒ Parlays

Parlay BetFootball parlays are simply the combining of several bets into one bet. By combining these bets, you decrease the odds to win but increase the amount of money you can potentially win. Typically, parlays range from 2 to 10 legs of the parlay, and each one must win for the parlay to win.

Parlays are entertaining to bet on but rarely hit due to the unpredictable nature of sports betting. The bets that make up a parlay can range from spreads, moneylines, over-under, and even prop bets.

Typically I bet a small amount of money on 1 or 2 parlays a week, expecting both to lose.

Newer gamblers should consider avoiding betting heavily on parlays until they have a solid base of information to base their decisions on. Even once you are comfortable with betting on the NFL, parlays should be limited.

5 ‒ Props

Like parlays, prop bets are also an entertaining side bet that can add fun to your viewing experience. When it comes to prop betting, gamblers can wager on several different outcomes every week. These are wildly popular around the Super Bowl when gamblers commonly bet on the National Anthem’s length or the coin flip result.

While these bets are relatively straight forward, other types of bets more geared towards the on-the-field product exist. Gamblers can wager on a particular player’s number of passing yards, receiving yards, total touchdowns, and other statistical performances. These make for great additions to a parlay, especially if you’re betting a low value.

It would be best if you didn’t devote a large portion of your bankroll to prop bets as they can be harder to predict accurately. Even the best players in the league have a terrible day on the field, and you can quickly lose money because of a bad performance.

6 ‒ Futures

One of the best things going for people who like betting on football is how predictable a season’s results can be. Before Tom Brady took his talents to Tampa Bay, betting on the Patriots to make the Super Bowl was a sharp bet. Future bets are simply bets you can make on the future outcomes in the NFL.

Coming into a standard season, most avid and intelligent football fans have a good idea of which teams will be left standing when it comes to the playoffs. When betting on futures, gamblers can make their picks for teams to win their division, advance to the championship game, and even make it to the Super Bowl.

Other types of futures also exist, such as picking regular season awards like the Most Valuable Player. Futures are a great type of bet to make for small value, longshot bets. If you think you have some intel about a player’s performance and he’s flying under the radar, it might be a smart move to place a future on him to win the MVP. Like the two previous types of bets I’ve discussed, it’s always wise not to bet them too heavily as you never know when a player will sustain an injury or a team will underperform.


With the season currently underway, there is no better time to place bets on NFL football games. New gamblers who aren’t familiar with how to correctly bet on football take solace in the fact that it’s one of the easier sports to make money. Having said that, making money on sports betting will require you to consult multiple sources and be an enthusiastic fan of the NFL.

To start, consider betting on the spread or moneyline. When deciding which one to go with, always be on the lookout for the bet with the best value. While most football fans love betting the over, make sure it’s the smartest bet and consider factors that could impact the number of points scored.

You might fall in love with the idea of betting on parlays, props, and futures, but football is a team sport, and it’s always easier to bet on a team’s performance rather than one particular player. There’s nothing wrong with betting on a few parlays or props, but make sure to limit yourself to save your bankroll for bets that offer a higher return on your investment.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

View all posts by Michael Stevens
Email the author at: [email protected]