How to Bet on the NFL
16 May 2019
American Football is becoming increasingly popular outside of the United States, meaning more and more people all over the world are betting on what was once a sport restricted to just America.
Here, we will give you a little insight into the NFL and a few tips on how to make the most betting on a sport you may or may not fully understand.
The National Football League is the highest professional level of American Football in the world, and consists of thirty-two teams split into two conferences.
These conferences are known as the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). These conferences are then split into four divisions, East, West, North, and South.
A regular season lasts for seventeen weeks, with each team playing sixteen matches and receiving a bye week. At the end of that season, six teams from each conference, the four divisional winners and two wildcards, qualify for the play-offs.
The play-offs consist of a wildcard round, with the two lowest seeded divisional winners drawn to play one of the wildcard teams from each conference. The winners of those matches then advance to take on one of the top two seeds in their conference, and the winners of those matches move on to the conference finals.
After the conference finals, there is one team left from the NFC and one team left from the AFC. These two teams are crowned conference champions and move on to face each other at the Super Bowl.
Betting on the NFL
With popularity of the NFL growing, bookmakers are increasing the number of available betting markets on the sport. But, for the purposes of this article we are going to stick with the three most popular:
The moneyline betting market is the same as a match result market in a sport such as football (soccer). This market involves the punter simply betting on who they think will win the match, including after any overtime played.
It doesn’t matter what the score is, how many points one team wins by, or who scores the winning touchdown. It’s simply a matter of betting on who will win.
The Over/Under market in the NFL may also be known as the Totals market and is a bet where punters bet over or under a set points total for a given match.
For example, the bookmaker may give you 50.5 points and odds for under that amount or over that amount. The punter then bets on over 50.5, in which case they need at least 51 points to be scored in total during a match, or they bet on under 50.5 and need the total points scored to be 50 or less.
A handicap betting in American Football is usually known as a Points Spread, although it works in the same way a handicap bet does in any other sport.
For example, a bookmaker will give you say – 6.5 on one team and + 6.5 on the other. The team with a – next to their name will usually be the favourites, and if you back them at – 6.5 you would need them to win by at least seven points to win the bet.
If you back the team on + 6.5, they could still lose the match and give you a winning bet as long as they lose by no more than six points.
Some punters will try to hedge their bets by backing the outsider to win in the moneyline market and also backing them in the handicap market, hoping for them to win or at least lose by fewer than their points spread.
Other NFL Markets
As well as the three main markets for each match, punters can bet on outright betting markets such as:
• Super Bowl Winners – Which team will get through their regular season as conference champions and then go on to win the Super Bowl
• Divisional Winners – Punters can bet on which team they think will win their division during the regular season
• Conference Winners – As well as being able to bet on which team will be divisional champions, punters can also bet on who they think will be Conference champions
• Draft Order – Punters can bet on which team will be awarded first pick in the draft due to their record. Teams can trade their first pick but the team awarded first pick will win in this betting market
• Season MVP – A betting market allowing punters the chance to bet on who they think will be MVP for the season
• Rookie of the Year – Punters can also bet on who they think will be rookie of the year. This market is usually split into two, with separate markets for offensive rookie and defensive rookie
How to Bet on the NFL
Research and Learn
We recommend an analytical approach and research when it comes to all forms of sports betting, but it is even more essential when betting on a sport you know nothing or little about.
Study statistics, get to the know the teams and players involved, understand the game as best as you can, and use whichever information you can to enable you to have as much knowledge as possible before you place a single bet.
You can never know too much about something, especially when you’re going to be betting your hard-earned cash on it. Research, learn, and then research some more.
Stick to the Popular Markets
Once you have done some research and you have learned enough to understand the sport, we would then advise you to stick to the popular betting markets as mentioned above. These are Moneyline, Handicap, and Over/Under.
You do not want to overcomplicate things for yourself straight away so stick to the obvious for the time being, until you gain more knowledge to take with you into different and more complicated betting markets.
Keep Betting Records
Another tip advised in all forms of sports betting is that you keep a record of your bets. Who you backed, how much, win or lose, and other vital information such as score, whether it was over or under the total points markets, etc.
Keeping records is the only way to learn more and improve, as well as identifying trends with winning or losing bets.
Stick to a Budget
Again, this is recommended for all betting but giving yourself a bankroll will allow you to place small bets and learn about the sport whilst doing so. If you win, your stake size will go up but remain the same percentage of your bankroll as you were previously staking.
Good money management is the key to success in all sports betting and will help you find your feet when betting on a new sport such as the NFL.
Assess Team Performances
Each week, you will need to assess every teams performance by using every piece of information available to you. Did they get advantage from playing at home? Did they have any key players missing? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Are just some of the questions you need to answer.
Study everything from a teams previous performance and eventually you will be able to use this information to make informed betting decisions and even find value bets where the outsider could provide you with a profitable betting win.