NFL Betting Terminology

NFL Betting Terminology

The NFL is the most popular sport in the US, with millions tuning in to watch every year. The Super Bowl has regularly attracted well over 100 million viewers across all broadcasts for the best part of two decades.

With such popularity comes a slew of punters who wager every week on the NFL. This has grown even more since sports betting has been made legal in more states over the last few years and is likely to grow beyond that.

For those that are new to betting on the NFL, it can seem like you're playing catch up and the markets and terminology can be hard to understand. Look no further, however, as here we'll explain all you need to know about betting on the NFL, including NFL player props.


The sportsbook is quite simply a company that accepts bets from sports punters. Also referred to as a bookie or a bookmaker.


Starting simple, the odds are the ratio between the amount staked by the bookies and the punter. American sportsbooks represent these odds with plus (+) and minus (-) numbers.

A plus represents how much you would win from a $100 wager whilst a minus indicates how much you would need to stake to win $100. For example, a $100 bet on +300 odds would win you $300 plus your stake.

Plus money

This is a term that you'll often hear from betting tipsters. Plus money refers to odds on a market in which the payout will be more than 100% of your initial investment.


The underdog is the team/player that is expected to lose in a game according to the odds. Also referred to as ‘dog’.


The favourite is the team/player who is expected to win the game according to the odds.


Future bets or ‘futures’ are bets placed on a particular event to take place by the end of the season. This could include Super Bowl winners, MVP winners, rookie of the year award winners, etc.

These are usually placed at the beginning of the season as punters receive improved odds.


The moneyline is a bet on a team to win an NFL game. For example, if you backed the Miami Dolphins moneyline against the New England Patriots earlier this season, then you would have won the bet.

Moneyline bets are straightforward but often offer low returns when backing favourites.

Point spread

The spread is a number set by the sportsbook that gives a virtual handicap or advantage to the favourite and underdog, respectively. For example, if the spread was set at 3.5, the favourites would start with -3.5 whilst the underdogs with +3.5.

This was the line set for the Dolphins @ Patriots game with the Patriots as favourites. If you backed them at -3.5, they would need to win by a minimum of four points.

The Dolphins, on the other hand, would need to lose by no more than three points or win the game outright. These bets are often handy as it's a great way to back favourites without giving in to the short odds of a moneyline bet.


The total is simply a bet on the total number of points scored between both teams to be over or under the line set by the sportsbook. For example, if the line was set at 40.5, then 41 points or more would need to be scored in the game for the over to come in.

Decimal points are often used in this market and the spread to prevent the case of a ‘push’ or tie. In that case, however, your stake is refunded by the sportsbook.


Props are bets related to a specific event(s) to take place in the game. For example, a player to score a touchdown, the number of receiving yards for a tight end or rushing yards for a running back.

The lines for these props are set individually by the sportsbook and can differ from bookie to bookie. Player props are often some of the most popular bets to make on the NFL.


Parlays are bets that include multiple legs in one single bet. Legs refer to the different markets that are backed within the bet. For example, you could back Dolphins moneyline, Eagles against the spread and Bucs/Bears total.

The odds on each individual market would stack to make one. The odds-on parlays are, of course, inflated more depending on the number of legs. For your bet to win, every leg must win.

Some sportsbooks even offer same-game parlays in which you can back multiple legs in one singular game. As fun as they are, be wary that the bet is harder to win with every leg you include, no matter how short the odds.

Players could be injured during the game or ejected; any number of events could take place that could affect your 10-leg parlay.

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