When the ruling came down in 2018 that sports betting could now be rolled out in the United States, the National Football League (NFL) was always going to be a major player.
A 17-game regular season (new for 2021 thanks to the updated Collective Bargaining Agreement) followed by the post-season and Super Bowl means the NFL has a stack of major games to bet on between September and February.
Games take place on a Sunday, with kick-off times from 1300 ET and 2020 ET (Fox, CBS, NBC). Monday Night Football’s marquee matchup kicks off at 2015 ET on ESPN.
The NFL now also plays one game on Thursday Night Football (Fox, Amazon, NFL Network), and that kicks off at 2020 ET.
If proof were needed that the league is indeed now all in on sports betting, it came on April 15, 2021. The inking of the NFL’s first major betting partnerships with FanDuel, DraftKings and Caesars was big news. Expect some exciting new free-to-play games as well as the normal contra marketing between the new partners.
Is betting on the NFL legal?
NFL betting is now legal in plenty of US states after the 2018 decision by the Supreme Court to strike down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (P.A.S.P.A). P.A.S.P.A had stopped states outside Nevada gambling on a single game.
Your NFL betting options depend on where you live. For the very latest legal status, which is changing all the time, check out our state-by-state guides.
Each state passes down its own rules on sports betting – some states allow land-based sportsbooks only while some (notably New Jersey) allow online and mobile options too.
Some states have not made any decisions yet, but that will change. You can almost place your Super Bowl bets on it.
NFL lines are posted each week ahead of the forthcoming slate of games. They include all major bets you can place on an NFL matchup:
- Money line
- Point spread
NFL money line
A money line is the simplest bet in NFL football – it gives the odds on a team just to win the game, nothing more, nothing less. The margin of victory doesn’t matter. How much you win depends on the odds, and how many dollars you bet.
Example: New England (-200) is playing Seattle (+150)
- You bet $200 on New England and they win, your profit is $100.
- You bet $100 on Seattle and they win, your profit is $150.
Money lines can change in the days and hours leading up to the game. Injuries to key players and even the weather can move the line. If a franchise QB goes down on the eve of the game, it WILL change things up.
NFL point spread
The point spread is the predicted supremacy of the favorite over the underdog.
Example: New England is playing Seattle and New England is -7, Seattle is +7.
- You bet New England, they have to win by seven points or more for you to win.
- You bet Seattle, they can’t lose by more than seven points for you to win.
The odds on point spreads are normally -110 (sometimes there are slight differences). So you w bet $110 to make a profit of $100.
Just like money lines, point spreads can change once they’ve been set. Again based on a number of factors, including key injuries and weather.
NFL betting over/under
The over/under in NFL betting is a bet on the total number of points in a game.
If you bet the over, you need more points than the over/under line. If you bet the under, you need less than the line.
Example: New England is playing Seattle and the over/under is 42.5 points.
- You bet the over, you need 43 points or more to win.
- You bet the under, you need 42 points or less to win.
Just like point spreads, the odds for over/under bets are normally -110. Bet $110 to make $100 profit.
Over/under lines can fluctuate leading up to games based on the health of key players. And again the weather. If it’s below freezing and the field is under snow, don’t expect a points fest…
NFL prop bets
Prop bets (proposition bets) are side wagers not linked to the result of the game. They’re already super popular and that popularity will only grow, A really fun way to bet on the NFL..
You can bet player props – example on whether Tom Brady passes for more than 300 yards, or how many field goals a team makes. Or on a player to score the game’s first TD, or to score a TD at any time.
There is a smorgasbord of options for NFL props, you can even bet on which team wins the coin toss in the Super Bowl. Prop bets for the Super Bowl always create lots of interest, particularly for more casual bettors.
In some states you can also bet on events outside games such as the annual NFL Draft, which normally takes place in late April.
NFL public betting
Public betting tells you which bets are most popular – normally showed in two ways:
1 Percentage of bets placed: How many bets have been placed on each team.
2 Percentage of money wagered: How much money has been bet on each team. This is a good way to figure out where the sharps and the high rollers are putting down their dollars.
If you’re a rookie NFL gambler, and not sure who to bet on, public betting is a pretty good hint.
Futures bets, as the name suggest, mean you can wager on something happening way in the future.
You can bet on who will win the Super Bowl several months out, or who will win the AFC and NFC titles. There are also markets for division winners.
A parlay is where you make multiple picks in the same bet. You might pick 5 teams to win over any given NFL weekend. For you to collect, they all have to win.
The upside of a parlay is you are multiplying the odds and can win huge if all your picks come in. The downside – more picks need to come so it’s harder.
We offer NFL parlay picks for every Sunday of the regular season – check them out every weekend.
NFL picks are selections by experts from news outlets, websites and TV networks each week.
Sometimes experts will give picks on the money line, but usually they pick against the spread (ATS). Picking a team to win against the point spread.
When you look at NFL teams’ records, you will often see the stat ‘ATS’ mentioned. This is how often a team has beat the sportsbook point spread this NFL season.
You can often see how well an expert has picked ‘against the spread’ for the season. A good way to work out whether you should follow their advice!
Does overtime count in NFL bets?
All bets on the outcome of an NFL game (point spread, money line or over/under) do count overtime scoring.
For bets which are purely about the fourth quarter though, overtime scoring does not count.
Always check out individual sportsbook rules before you place your bets.
Best NFL betting: Which sportsbooks should I bet with?
You can bet online with sportsbooks in states where online sports betting is now legal.
Our online bookmaker reviews are a great way of picking out the best NFL betting sites to wager with.
Online bookmakers carry stellar sign-up offers for new customers. You can snag fantastic bonuses for opening an account, depositing money and starting to bet.
Remember, these sportsbooks are desperate for your custom, so shop around. You can open accounts with multiple operators so you can get the best sign-up offers and then shop for the best available odds.