A Beginner’s Guide to Betting on the NFL

A Beginner’s Guide to Betting on the NFL

Up until quite recently, sports betting in the United States wasn't particularly straightforward. Thanks to the Supreme Court's decision to strike down PASPA in 2018, though, sports betting, particularly online sports betting, has been able to flourish throughout the country.

In the 5 years since that decision by the Supreme Court, there has been a sharp decline in overseas betting companies operating on the American market and a huge boom in domestic companies offering the very latest NFL odds, NBA moneylines and MLB parlays.

Don't entirely catch our drift when we say ‘moneyline'? Not too sure what a ‘parlay' is? Well, fear not, as we're here to help with our handy beginner's guide to betting on the NFL.

Find a safe and reliable provider

We've written hundreds of articles about gambling in all its forms, and the number one tip that recurs throughout is this – be careful who you wager with.

For every good and reliable sportsbook out there, you will find five more who are unreliable, untrustworthy and, at worst, downright fraudulent.

Whilst the government does a good job in ensuring that sports betting providers adhere to a strict set of guidelines, there are some that slip through the net.

So before you make your first deposit, be sure to do your research. Use a comparison site to rank the best sportsbooks for things like customer service, sign-up offers and ease of making withdrawals.

Once you've done that, have a read through customer reviews on Google and keep an eye out for red flags. Only then, once you're satisfied that the sportsbook you've selected is reliable and safe, should you register and make your first deposit.

Understand the odds

We've all sat there and watched in disbelief as something shocking has happened and said to our friends, “what are the odds of that happening?” If they responded “+1500” or “33/1” would you have any idea what they meant?

If not, it's time to sit down and take a little lesson in understanding and interpreting betting odds. Globally there are two main ways of representing odds, fractionally and decimally.

🔥 Hot tip! In the United States, though, the “American odds system” is used which differs from the UK or European betting system. In it, favourites and outsiders are represented with ‘+' and ‘-‘ odds.

Not following? Here's an example to help you understand:

  • Charlotte Amalie Storm Ducks -1000
  • Chattanooga Squirrels +1000

In this fictional matchup between two teams we've just made up off the top of our heads, there is a clear favourite. If you were to wager $10 on the Storm Ducks and they won, you would scoop a measly $1 in winnings.

Conversely, if you were to wager the same amount on the Squirrels and they somehow came out on top, you would bag yourself a cool $100.

So what's the key take-home lesson? Well, favourites are represented with ‘-‘ odds whilst outsiders are represented with ‘+'.

The subsequent number indicates the potential winnings from a $100 bet on the underdog, as well as the amount you'd need to stake to earn $100 on the favourite.

If this still seems perplexing, fear not! We've incorporated a video below that thoroughly explains the nuances of American odds.

Bust the jargon

The last thing that you need to know before checking out the NFL odds for real – we'll leave choosing your bet down to you – is the confusing jargon that is used.

Below we have listed some of the most commonly used terms and phrases that you might not know:

  • Moneyline: This is the most common term you will see and all it means is a straight-up bet where all you have to do is pick the winning side in a game.
  • Point spread: There are certain games where moneyline bets are just a little boring, the type of game where we see a footballing behemoth come up against a minnow. To keep things interesting in those encounters, sportsbooks came up with points spreads, which are essentially betting handicaps. An example would be betting on the Chiefs with a -10 spread, which would only be successful if the Chiefs ended up winning the game by 10 clear points.
  • Parlay: This is the term used to describe bets on multiple games, such a bet could see you backing the Chiefs, the Buccaneers and the Lions all to win in the same game week.
  • Futures: These are your long-term bets that look beyond simple matchups and can range from betting on the Detroit Lions to have a winning season to backing the Miami Dolphins to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy.


In summary, betting on the NFL has become increasingly accessible and popular, particularly in the wake of legislative changes in the United States. However, entering this arena requires a discerning approach.

It's crucial to choose a reliable sportsbook, understanding not just the odds but also the intricacies of different types of bets like moneylines, point spreads, and parlays.

Familiarity with these terms not only enhances your betting experience but also informs better decision-making.

Moreover, a keen eye on customer reviews and payment options will go a long way in ensuring a seamless experience. To make the most of your NFL betting journey, arm yourself with this foundational knowledge and always exercise caution.

⚠️ Remember, the world of sports betting is as unpredictable as the games themselves, and it's a game of chance more than skill. Keep these points in mind, and you're set for an engaging, if not always profitable, NFL betting experience.

If there are any commonly used NFL betting terms that we've missed out on, be sure to let us know!

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