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How to bet on NFL games: Comprehensive guide to wagering on pro football | Sporting News

Sports fans bet more on the NFL than any other sport. Here’s how you can get in on the NFL betting action in time for the Super Bowl between the 49ers and Chiefs.

Below, we explain how to bet on the NFL online, find the best NFL game lines and futures odds, and make bets with the best NFL betting sites.

Top online sportsbooks for NFL betting

 

How to open an account and bet on the NFL online

Betting on the NFL online is a simple three-step process for anyone of legal age inside a legal sports betting state. All you need to do is:

  1. Sign up for an account with a legal online sportsbook.
  2. Make a deposit.
  3. Fill out a bet slip.

How to sign up for an NFL betting account

You can’t make NFL bets with a top sports betting site until you sign up for an account. The good news is that it’s fast and easy to do. Just follow these five steps:

  1. Click any of the links on this page to visit a legal online sportsbook.
  2. Fill out the registration forms with your personal and account information, including your name, email, date of birth, and last four digits of your SSN.
  3. Enter the exclusive promo code listed above in the space provided to ensure you get the best football betting bonus available.
  4. Check the boxes accepting the terms and conditions and submit the registration forms.
  5. Allow the online sportsbook to verify your age, identity, and location.

How to make a deposit

Most betting sites offer sportsbook bonuses and promotions to get you started, but if you need funds to bet with, you can choose from various deposit methods.

These often include credit and debit cards, online payment processors like PayPal, and cash at retail locations, including affiliated casinos, racetracks, and sportsbooks. Follow these steps to make a deposit online:

  1. Click the ‘Cashier’ tab on the sportsbook homepage or app.
  2. Choose the most convenient method of deposit.
  3. Enter the amount you want to deposit and follow the prompts.
  4. Confirm the deposit and the funds should be available almost immediately.

How to fill out a bet slip

Filling out a bet slip is the final step.

  1. Log into your account.
  2. Browse through this week’s NFL betting lines and odds.
  3. Click on a bet.
  4. Check the bet information and odds on the instantly created bet slip.
  5. Add more individual bets or create parlays.
  6. Enter the amount you want to bet on each bet or parlay.
  7. Check the potential payout.
  8. Click the ‘Place Bet’ tab to confirm your bet.

How to bet on NFL games 

Before you can bet smartly on Sundays, you need a plan. That means researching this week’s NFL matchups, shopping for the best NFL lines, and digging around for the NFL betting markets with the softest odds.

It all starts with a fundamental understanding of NFL odds and how they’re set.

For every NFL game, oddsmakers label one team the favorite and the other the underdog. In theory, the favorite is deemed more likely to win and attract public betting.

Oddsmakers set NFL spreads, moneylines, and totals with that in mind. NFL lines and odds are designed to attract equal betting to each side. That way, the sportsbook can realize the profit built into the odds without worrying about the bet’s actual outcome.

For example, here’s a look at the game lines and odds for the 2023-24 NFL season opener (the same concepts can be applied to Super Bowl betting).

  Spread Moneyline Total (Over/Under)
Kansas City Chiefs -6.5 (-110) -325 Over 54 (-110)
Detroit Lions +6.5 (-110) +250 Under 54 (-100)

NFL point spread betting

Oddsmakers set a point spread for NFL games that even the betting odds.

The points are deducted from the favorite or added to the underdog to determine which side wins the bet. The spread removes the financial risk associated with betting on the moneyline favorite and gives bets on the underdog a better chance to win.

That’s why both sides of a spread bet usually pay the same odds.

The point spread can also be considered a projected winning margin for the favorite and a projected losing margin for the underdog. Favorites cover when they win by more than the spread. Underdogs cover when they lose by less than the spread (or win outright).

In the example above, a bet on the Detroit Lions at +6.5 (-110) cashes if they win the game outright or lose by six or fewer points. The +6.5 points lower the odds from the +250 moneyline to -110.

That means a $110 wager earns a $100 in profit if the Lions cover. If you bet the Lions moneyline without taking the points, you’d profit $250 for every $100 you bet, but that’s a much harder bet to win.

Conversely, a bet on the Kansas City Chiefs at -6.5 (-110) cashes if they win the game by seven or more. Laying the points moves the odds from the -325 moneyline to -110.

That means a $110 bet earns a $100 profit if the Chiefs cover. Betting the Chiefs moneyline without laying the points, you’d have to risk $325 to earn that same $100 profit.

NFL moneyline betting

All you have to do with a moneyline bet is pick the winner. The final score doesn’t matter. There’s no handicap for either side. You pick either the favorite or the underdog; if they win, you win.

Of course, the odds are different for the favorite and underdog. When you bet on a favorite, the moneyline represents the amount you’d need to risk to win $100.

Betting the Chiefs -325 here means risking $325 to win $100 in profit. The risk is more than triple the reward, which means the Chiefs are a heavy favorite.

When you bet on an underdog favorite, the moneyline represents the amount you can win by betting $100. Betting the Lions +250 here means winning $250 in profit for every $100 you bet.

The profit alone is more than double your bet, which means the Lions are big underdogs.

NFL totals betting (over/unders)

Betting on totals (over/unders) is about picking whether the total combined score in a game will be over or under a line set by oddsmakers. Oddsmakers set the lines with nearly even odds on both sides.

In the example above, a bet on Over 54 (-110) requires a $110 risk to win a $100 profit that only pays off if the teams score 55 points or more.

Taking the Under 54 (-110) requires the same $110 risk to win a $100 profit, but it only pays off if the teams score 53 points or fewer. If the teams combine to score exactly 54, both bets push. Totals are also available for quarters, halves, and each team.

NFL prop betting

NFL prop betting reaches beyond standard game-line betting. Licensed online sportsbooks offer a menu full of NFL player, game, and team props, mostly surrounding statistical milestones.

Most NFL props are either over/under props (which ask you to bet against lines set by sportsbooks at odds close to even) or yes/no props (which ask you to bet on yes or no questions based on probability).

You can also expect to find a massively expanded menu of Super Bowl prop bets for the Big Game.

NFL player props

Most NFL player props surround the statistical achievements of a particular player in a game.

  • Touchdown scorer (First/last, anytime)
  • Yards (passing/rushing/receiving)
  • Pass attempts, completions, receptions

NFL game and team props

Another key style of NFL prop surrounds the statistical achievements of a team or the likelihood of an in-game occurrence.

  • Alternate spreads and totals
  • Total field goals/touchdowns
  • Safety, kick/punt return TDs
  • Winning margin
  • Team totals
  • ‘First to’ betting

See more: What is a prop bet?

How to make NFL parlays

Parlay betting lets you combine two or more of the game line or prop bets above into one. You’ll get paid at better odds than you would on the bets individually, but you have to win them all.

Correlated parlays that combine bets from the same NFL game into a parlay are known as same-game NFL parlays. Once again, you’ll get paid better odds than you would on the bets individually, but the correlated nature of the bets means same-game NFL parlays pay less than traditional multi-game parlays.

The NFL schedule, chock-full of games every Sunday, lends itself to parlay betting. But while NFL fans are often lured in by the big potential payday on multi-leg NFL parlays, these bets are extremely hard to win.

Take three typical NFL point spread bets, put them together in a parlay, and you’ll get better odds.

Say, the Chiefs -6.5, the Panthers +3.5, and the Bengals -2.5 each pay -110 individually. However, the three-leg parlay pays +596.

A $10 bet would get you a $59.57 profit. You would earn only a $27 profit when betting $10 on each game individually, and you’d be risking $30 total. But the difference is you wouldn’t have to win every bet. Parlays are all or nothing.

Bet on the NFL live in-game

Live NFL betting occurs on games that have already started. The best sports betting apps give you access to live lines and odds that change with the action on the field.

Moneylines, spreads, totals, and props are available from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.

NFL futures betting

NFL futures bets hinge on the season-long prospects of teams and players. Pick a team or player to achieve a certain goal, then book the bet at the currently posted odds.

The odds change throughout the year based on a team or player’s chances of accomplishing this achievement, but you’re locked in at the odds as posted when you bet.

Popular NFL futures include:

    How to bet on the NFL FAQ

    Can I legally bet on NFL games online?

    Sign up for an account with a legal online sportsbook, and if you’re inside the state where that sportsbook is licensed, you can legally place bets on the NFL.

    See above for a fundamental understanding of basic NFL game lines, how NFL lines and odds are set, and the nuts and bolts of betting on the NFL online.

    Is it legal to bet on NFL games in every state?

    No, only states with licensed online sportsbooks can legally offer NFL betting. Plus, you need to be inside state lines to place bets. That means you’ll have to travel to a legal jurisdiction if you’re in a state that doesn’t allow online sportsbooks.

    What’s the best NFL betting site?

    Our list of the top NFL betting sites (at the top of this page) should give you a good headstart. We recommend signing up for multiple online sportsbooks, taking advantage of their welcome bonuses, and determining the best site for NFL betting based on your criteria. See here for a list of the best new betting sites in legal betting sites.

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