NFL Spread Betting

Football is the most popular sport to bet on in North America, bringing in hundreds of thousands of new bettors to online sportsbooks each NFL and NCAA football season. There are many different ways to bet on football games, but the most popular by far is betting against the spread. Below I will explain exactly how football spread betting works, for those who are unfamiliar with it.

When betting the spread in football you will have only two choices - betting on the underdog or betting on the favorite, but it is a little more complicated than simply picking which team you think will win the game. The oddsmakers will set a "spread" on the favored team, which will represent a point value. In order for the favored team to win the bet they must win by more points then set spread, which is referred to as "covering the spread". For an underdog to win the bet they must either lose by less points then the spread or win the game. It is sort of a tricky concept to understand for first time football bettors so I will give you an example below.

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This is how a spread may be laid out in a sportsbook:

New Orleans Saints +6.5
@ Indianapolis Colts -6.5

In this example the Colts are the favored team. The negative (-) sign in front of the number represents that they are favored, and the number represents the amount of points they are favored by. In order for you to win a bet on the spread places on the Colts they would have to win by more than 6.5 points (which is really 7 points or more).

The New Orleans Saints are the underdogs in this game, which is shown by the positive (+) sign in front of the spread number beside them. The Saints are 6.5 point underdogs, meaning if you placed a bet on them they would have to either lose by 6.5 points or less (6 or fewer points) or win the game outright.

The sportsbooks often set the spread in between two whole numbers so that there is a clear winner and loser for all bets. With that said, it is not rare to see the spread set at a whole number. If the spread was set at 3 points and the game ended with one team winning by exactly 3 points this would be called a "push", where all bets are refunded.

All football spread bets are set with odds, of course. The most common odds you will see on the spread is -110 on each side, but it is not always a given. If there are no odds listed you are allowed to assume that the odds are set at an even -110 on each side.

When betting the spread in football you must also realize that it can change at any time. Sportsbooks adjust the spread according to the amount of bets they are receiving on each side of the spread, as they try to avoid taking big losses on one outcome. For example, if the spread was set at 10.5 and all of the action was coming in on the underdog, the sportsbook may slowly adjust the spread down to 9 or 8.5. Usually the spreads are released up to a week in advance of the game, and it is not rare to see it moved one way or the other before kickoff.

There you have it, pretty much everything you would need to know about football spread betting to get started. Take your newly learned knowledge and get in on the NFL betting action by betting on some football games!

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