How Does NFL Betting Work

There are so many teams, players, and most importantly – fans in the NFL that the sport seems like one of the big giants in the world of sports betting. That is not far from the truth, as the upside of the NFL’s popularity comes in the form of a rich betting offer.

Nowadays, you can find tons of world-class operators that offer you the chance to place any type of bet at NFL games, all with the most competitive odds in the market.

With that in mind, there are plenty of aspects you need to be aware of before you start placing real-money wagers.

That is where we at come in. With this guide, we will help you understand the basics of NFL betting, including types and some betting tips and strategies to enhance your potential winnings. Let’s take a closer look at all the essentials of NFL betting.

Brief History of American Football & NFL

The NFL stands for National Football League, and it is a major football organization in the United States of America. We can trace its roots back to 1920, when the sport was founded in Canton, Ohio.

Its first name was the American Professional Football Association, with Jim Thorpe acting as its first president. He was one of the most successful American athletes, and he was also a player in the league. The name NFL was introduced just a couple of years later, in 1922.

In the beginning, teams from the following states participated in the league:

  • 5 teams from Ohio
  • 4 teams from Illinois
  • 2 teams from Indiana
  • 2 teams from New York
  • 1 team from Michigan

Out of these teams from the beginning, there are just two that remain to this day – The Cardinals and the Decatur Staleys (today’s Chicago Bears).

Since the introduction of the NFL in 1920, the league has survived many years of instability and competition from other organizations. Some would say that those insecurities and threats made the NFL what it is today, and it is hard to argue against that claim.

Arguably the most serious and threatening challenge came in 1960 from the American Football League.

However, competition fears were eased in the 1966 when these two enterprises merged. With that merger, 24  teams were introduced. Since then, the NFL has expanded four more times, eventually settling for 32 teams.

The Super Bowl

We have all heard of the Super Bowl, but not everyone knows its origin and what exactly it represents. Explaining the Super Bowl is relatively easy – it is the final game of the NFL that determines which team gets crowned league champion.

Even if you knew this, you might be surprised to hear that the Super Bowl traces back to 1966, when it replaced the NFL Championship Game. The merger agreement between the NFL and the AFL created the Super Bowl in 1966, and ever since, it has been played each season.

In the beginning, the Super Bowl was known as the ALF-NFL World Championship Game until 1969, when it got its current format.

American Football Rules

You cannot start wagering on the NFL if you don’t know its basic rules. Learning the rules is the first step in making informed decisions about your bets, so we can quickly go through the basics. We can divide the NFL rules into the following categories.

Rules About the Game

First off, we have the general NFL rules about all games:

  • Two teams compete in a game, each having 11 players
  • These teams compete during four 15-minute quarters
  • There are three time-outs in each half for both teams
  • The half-time break is 12 minutes
  • Teams need to move the ball into the opponent’s end zone. They can do so by running with the ball until a tackle comes, or they can pass the ball to a teammate towards the end zone
  • Teams have a maximum of 55 players on their roster, while only 48 of them can be active
  • The key player is called the quarterback. He is in charge of dictating the play of the game.

Downs Rules

Moving on, we have Downs in American Football, which can usually confuse newbies in the sport. However, they are fairly simple, and the basics are as follows:

  • The football team that has possession has to move the ball forward at least 10 yards. For that reason, the pitch has marked lines
  • Teams have four chances, which are called Downs, to achieve those 10 yards. If they succeed, the count resets, and they get another four Downs
  • If the team in possession fails to achieve this, then the other team gets their turn with the same rules

Scoring Rules

The aim of American Football is relatively similar to any other sport – teams need to outscore their opponent, and the scoring rules go as follows:

  • Touchdown – it gets teams 6 points. A touchdown is when a team manages to cross the goal line of the opponent with the ball or collects the ball in the end zone
  • Field Goal – gets teams 3 points. Usually, teams try this on the fourth down. It is important that the kicker is close to the end zone so players can kick the ball through the posts
  • Extra point – it can be 1 or 2 points, and teams get it after kicking the ball through the uprights after they have a touchdown. Teams will get two points if they take the ball into the end zone again.
  • Safety – 2 points. The defensive team can get 2 points if they manage to tackle the opposition with the ball in the end zone.

By learning all these American Football rules, you have the necessary tools to start wagering on one of the most popular sports in the world. However, learning just the rules is not enough, as there are plenty of other aspects that we will cover below that can help you with your bets.

American Football & NFL in the USA

The NFL is one of the most popular sports in the USA, and there are several reasons for that. Televised NFL games in the country attract millions of people each week. There are some surveys in the USA that show that more than 37 percent of all Americans are active NFL fans, which is simply astonishing.

So, it is safe to assume that Americans have a personal connection with the NFL. Even in high school, Americans attend NFL games, and there are schools that have top-tier football programs.

Another factor that adds to the NFL’s popularity is that, unlike other sports in the world, each team in the NFL has an equal chance of winning the Super Bowl. This is surely an aspect that has caused American Football to grow in popularity in each corner of the USA, from New York to Los Angeles.

Furthermore, we have league parity, which is a very important aspect of the NFL. This parity states that there is an equal revenue share among teams, and that there is a salary cap.

With all this in mind, we can confidently say that all other sports in the world can take note of the current NFL business model. Revenue sharing and salary caps have done wonders for American Football, and it seems like its popularity will grow even more in the coming years.

Top American Footballers

There are always debates over who is the best American Footballer of all time. Fans of the sport will tell you that there is nothing quite like debating these matters with your friends, with discussions often turning a bit frosty.

One simple question seems to dominate all NFL discussions – who is the best NFL player of all time? It is difficult to determine just one player, so we have come up with a list of the best to ever participate in the sport. Let’s take a closer look.

Barry Sanders

We begin this list with Barry Sanders, a football player who seems to have won it all apart from the most important thing – a championship.

Even without that, Sanders is always in any discussion about the best NFL players of all time, and that speaks volumes about the man. Some would argue that he is arguably the best running back of all time, and it is hard to argue against that.

Sanders retired in 1999, and he left the league with an NFL All-Pro award and having managed to make the Pro Bowl in all 10 seasons he was active.

Walter Payton

Walter Payton was also known as “Sweetness”. He was also considered one of the best running backs in NFL history, as he managed to rush for over 1,200 yards in 10 of the 13 seasons he was active.

He played for the Chicago Bears, and he won the MVP award in 1977, as well as the Super Bowl in 1985. Payton got the NFL All-Pro award eight times, but he sadly died in 1999, at just 45 years.

Deion Sanders

Some say that Deion Sanders is the greatest defensive back of all time, as he played the game at an incredible level. To be even more impressive, Sanders also played baseball full-time for seven years in parallel with the NFL.

Sanders is a winner of back-to-back Super Bowl games with two different teams. He retired from the NFL for three years, but he later returned for two seasons in 2004 and 2005.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning was the number 1 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. He is also a two-time Super Bowl winner, and he managed to win five MVP awards.

Manning is also known as the people’s champion, and there are very few NFL players who can compete with him in that regard.

Ray Lewis

There are very few players who are as consistent as Ray Lewis. He was a dominant figure on the defensive side of the ball, and he was world-class in all 17 seasons for the Baltimore Ravens.

He won the Super Bowl in 2000 and 2012, with the latter being Lewis’ last-ever game in the NFL. He faced some serious off-field allegations in 2000, but he overcame them and became one of the best NFL players of all time.

Joe Montana

Joe Montana was arguably the greatest quarterback in history until Tom Brady showed up. Montana simply had the determination to succeed, even though he was not as tall, fast, or strong as some other players.

His determination saw him win four Super Bowls, which speaks volumes about how good the player actually was.

Jim Brown

Up next, we have Jim Brown. He is the only player in American Football history to make more than 100 rushing yards per game for his entire career, which is just stunning.

He managed to win four MVP awards in just nine years, before retiring in 1966. After retiring, he went on to have a very successful movie career. Speak about versatility, huh?

Lawrence Taylor

Lawrence Taylor is considered one of the best defensive players in the entire history of the NFL. He managed to win the Super Bowl two times, get the Defensive Player of the Year award three times, and win the MVP award once.

Taylor was so dominant that he managed to change the way people perceived and played American Football. His influence is unmatched, so his place on this list is more than deserved.

Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice comes in second place on our list of the best NFL players of all time. He is arguably the best wide receiver in all of American Football history. Rice won three Super Bowls in his career, and he holds multiple NFL records, such as receiving yards, receptions, touchdown receptions and so on.

Tom Brady

There is no NFL list in the world that you can make without mentioning Tom Brady. His rise in the sport is impressive – from being a throwaway to arguably the best player in NFL history.

He has played in 10 Super Bowls – the most by any quarterback in NFL history. He managed to win seven of those, which is a record for any player. Brady’s career is so rich that he surely deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.

NFL Odds

When you go to any NFL betting site in the world and want to place a bet on the sport, you will see odds for every outcome. The vast majority of sports betting sites that accept players from the USA will show odds with a positive or negative sign before the number.

So, what exactly do those mean? The minus sign will indicate that a certain NFL team is a favorite to win the game, while the plus sign will show the odds for the underdog, the team that is less likely to win.

The odds of NFL games will show you the payout structure of the game. Of course, how much you win is based on the odds and your wager.

How Do I Calculate NFL Lines And Odds?

Now that you know how odds are displayed on NFL betting sites, it is time to take a glance at how you can calculate your potential winnings with them.

Even though it might seem complicated at first, the reality is far from it. As an example, if you see odds of -110, that shows the amount you need to wager to win $100. Of course, you can bet any amount, this is just a representation of how the odds work.

If you wager any other sum, you can just type in your bet on the sports betting site, and it will instantly calculate your potential winnings.

However, if you want to manually check the payout on your own, you can divide 100 by the odds number, and then multiply the result by the amount you bet. It is a process that doesn’t take more than a few seconds to complete.

Popular NFL Betting Types

With all of the above in mind, it is time to get to the fun part—the popular NFL betting types. Reputable NFL bookmakers in the world will spoil you with choices when it comes to your betting options.

There are too many of those to cover in just one article, so instead, we at have done some research to provide you with the most popular NFL betting types. Let’s see what we talk about in more detail.

Handicaps and Spreads

We begin with one of the most popular NFL markets – handicap or spreads betting. The logic behind this type of bet is very simple and is the same as any other sport.

With a handicap, an NFL team is given a point advantage, so the opposition will need to win by a bigger margin to overcome that point advantage. So, a simple win is not enough with a handicap bet; instead, you need to place a wager that a team will win by a larger number of points.

You will often find that handicap bets in the NFL are referred to as point spreads. It doesn’t matter how you pronounce this bet type, as at the end of the day, both variations represent the same thing.


Moving on, we can mention arguably the most popular and simplest bet type for NFL games – moneyline bets. This betting option is a great opportunity for newbies in the betting world to get started.

All you need to do is choose a team that you think will win the game, and that would be it. If the team you backed wins, then you get your payout, and vice versa.

Almost all NFL games have a clear favorite, with the other team known as the underdog. As you would expect, if you back a clear favorite to win the game, you won’t get as big returns. However, if you make a successful moneyline bet on the underdog, you can expect some handsome prizes to come your way.

Points Total

As the name of this bet type suggests, you need to guess the total number of points scored in a specific NFL game. There will always be an over/under limit that the bookie will introduce, and your job will be to guess in which category the game will end.

If the points total here is the exact number of the limit, that is called a push. It means that you will get your wager back and no winnings will be paid out.

NFL Futures

Moving on, as is the case with all other sports in the world, NFL betting sites allow you to place futures bets as well. As the name suggests, this is a bet type where you need to wait until a later date to see whether you have been successful.

You can place an NFL future bet on teams’ performances or on individual players, it all depends on you. However, a futures bet will ask for a bit of patience, but the rewards for getting it right can be very handsome, so patience can pay off big time.

A crucial element of a future bet is how healthy a player or an NFL team will be during the season or the duration of the bet itself.

The vast majority of future bets in the NFL are made before the season starts. Punters love to predict which team will win the Super Bowl, and you can usually find good odds for each team.

Game and Player Props

A prop bet in the NFL stands for a proposition bet. Different bookmakers that offer NFL betting will offer some very unique and interesting side bets that can include a specific game, a player, or some future bets connected to both players and NFL teams.

In short, prop bets are very fun, and it is easy to see why they are growing in popularity among the sports betting community.

Arguably the best place for you to start placing prop bets is the Super Bowl. As it is one of the biggest events in the world of sports, you can expect a flood of potential betting markets and outcomes that sometimes may not even have something to do with the game.

There are cases of bookies offering you the chance to bet on a team’s Gatorade or even how long the singer who performs the anthem will perform for.

On the other side, during the regular season, you will find prop bets that usually focus on different players’ in-game performances. You can also place a bet on when a team will score during the game, or how the first points will be scored, so you are well-covered with prop betting options.

As is the case with all other NFL bet types, before you place a prop bet on any event, you need to do your research and understand the odds.


Up next, we have parlay bets, which are also common among all reputable NFL betting sites. This is another very simple bet type that allows you to wager on two or more outcomes on one ticket.

Keep in mind that you need to get every part of the bet correct if you are to win the parlay wager. As there are several outcomes here, the payouts will also be much better. The more bets you have in your parlay wager, the better the payout can be.

It is not easy to predict all outcomes correctly, and you need a bit of luck to manage that, but if you do so, you can expect some good prizes, depending on the odds and your wager.


You can also minimize your risk when placing NFL wagers thanks to the teaser bets. They will let you shift the line a bit with your bet to give yourself a bigger margin for error. Keep in mind here that teaser bets are only available for parlays.

However, as you would imagine, your chances of winning the bet will increase here, but you will also see your odds decrease as a result.

Live Betting

An important bet type for experienced NFL punters is live betting. You don’t need to place wagers on an NFL game before it starts, you can do so after a ball is kicked.

Live bets are a very nice way for you to really get into the game and make more dynamic NFL bets as the match unfolds.

As the game goes on, betting markets and odds will adjust accordingly. So, it is very important for you to pay close attention to all happenings in the game if you want to increase your chances of making a successful live bet.

Whenever you decide to place a live bet on any NFL game, you need to consider the following factors:

  • How much time is left in the game
  • How much have the odds changed for a particular bet
  • How have the teams looked since the start of the game
  • Are there any injuries to key players from either NFL team
  • Did coaches change their strategies before the game

Single-Game NFL Bets

Finally, we can mention single-game NFL bets as another very popular bet type for the most experienced punters.

As you may have guessed from the name itself, single-game bets allow you to place wagers on one particular NFL game.

All of the above-mentioned team bets are available for single bets, so it is quite easy to get around the basics.

NFL Betting Tips

There are various things you need to consider when making any of the above-mentioned NFL bets. If you want to have any chance of being successful in the short and long term with your NFL bets, you need to be disciplined and do good research on aspects that can affect your bets.

Arguably the most important aspect of placing NFL bets is to study the upcoming match from all possible angles. This means that some of the aspects you need to consider are the following:

  • Player stats
  • Coach strategies
  • Where the game takes place
  • How is the weather on the day of the match
  • Team records during the season – both home and away
  • Records against the particular opponent
  • Research how efficient teams are in their passing game

These are just some of the things you need to keep in mind when wagering on NFL games. Another potentially valuable metric you can look for is passed yards per attempt. Teams that are better in this aspect are better offensively, and they have easier scoring rates.

Finally, apart from on-field aspects, you also need to be aware of off-field aspects. It is important not to get too emotional when placing wagers on NFL games. Emotional gamblers become easily enraged when things don’t go their way and consequently make poor decisions. Some of the bad decisions you can end up making are chasing losses or having vindictive feelings towards teams or players.

How To Bet On NFL

Now that you know all your betting markets, odds, as well as some basic NFL betting strategies, you are ready to start wagering on the sport. Or are you really? All that is left for you to do is learn the procedure on how to start betting on the NFL. Thankfully, you can rest assured that starting your betting adventure with the NFL is relatively simple, and it can be dissected into four simple steps.

Register at a Reliable NFL Bookie

The first and most obvious step you need to take when looking to start betting on the NFL is to find a reputable bookmaker. The footer of the bookie will have the necessary license information, and if it is licensed by a reputable regulator, you can proceed with registering an account. That is a procedure that shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes if you provide all the information correctly.

Make Your First Deposit and Claim the Welcome Bonus

NFL bookies always have minimum deposit requirements for all newly registered punters, and it is something you need to check in detail before you even register. Usually, you will be required to make a minimum deposit to claim the welcome bonus. Speaking of the bonus, it can be anything, depending on the bookie, but usually, you can expect a deposit match bonus of up to a percentage.

Start Betting on NFL

This is the step where you can browse through the bookmaker’s betting offer and see which NFL betting markets you have at your disposal. Once you find your preferred game, click on it and choose any of the above-mentioned bet types.

Withdraw Your Winnings

Hopefully, not long after you start betting on the NFL, you will secure your first winning combination. That is when it is time to withdraw your winnings if you have enough funds in your account. As is the case with deposits, NFL bookies have different minimum and maximum withdrawal rates that you need to know about before you request a payout.

Most Common NFL Betting Mistakes

In the section about tips and tricks when you bet on the NFL, we encouraged you to do certain things before you place a wager on any NFL game. On the other side of our NFL betting advice, here, we will cover some aspects that we feel you should avoid at all costs. Avoiding them will give you a better chance of gambling responsibly and potentially making a profit.

Not Knowing the Teams

Our starting point with NFL bets is always research. We mentioned it several times in this article, so you can imagine how important we think it is.

So, even though you need good portions of luck for any NFL bet to be successful, that doesn’t mean you should blindfold yourself and place bets for the sake of it. You need to know the state of the teams that go head-to-head and their history in games such as that.

Picking Favourites

Another common mistake that plenty of new NFL bettors make is that they always back the favorites to win.

As mentioned above, the NFL is arguably the most unpredictable sport in the world, as its structure means that there is always parity among teams. Sure, there are always slight favorites in all games, but you should never be encouraged just by that when you make your bets.

It is not uncommon in American Football for underdogs to win. Sometimes, you can predict such a win with good research, and sometimes, that team will just surprise everyone. Whatever the case may be, you need to know one thing: favorites almost always win, with the keyword here being “almost”.

Not Setting a Budget

Gambling addiction is much more common than you might think. It is also a very serious problem that can occur if you don’t pay close attention and lose control over your gambling habits.

There are plenty of ways you can keep track of your gambling activities, but one stands out and is always helpful – setting a budget.

You can choose to set a daily/weekly/monthly NFL betting budget and stick to it. Betting on the NFL should always be a good pastime activity and nothing more. By staying within your budget frame, you will ensure that you always have a fun wagering experience.

Picking the Wrong Bookmaker

Finally, we would like to emphasize another point that we already covered above – choosing a reputable bookmaker.

You need to know that you will always enjoy a safe betting experience, and bookies with a license and a valid SSL certificate will ensure just that.

Moreover, you need to pick the right bookmaker in terms of NFL betting markets and odds. There are some sports betting sites that focus much more on the NFL than others, and it is something that you need to take into consideration before you choose a site.

Is it Safe to Bet on NFL?

There is a far simpler answer to this question than it might suggest when you first read it. NFL betting is a safe experience as long as you know the platform you bet on is completely secure.

That is where the SSL certificate and the valid license the operator holds come into play once again. There are many people who are scared to leave personal and financial information on the internet, and rightly so.

That is why licensed operators exist in the betting world. Thanks to these licensees, there is a regulator in place who guarantees that your sensitive data will never fall into the wrong hands.

Moreover, these regulators ensure that your winnings are always paid out accordingly. Therefore, as long as you choose a safe operator, you have nothing to worry about.


How can I start betting on the NFL?

There is a very short procedure that you need to follow when betting on NFL games. First off, you need to find a reputable bookmaker and register an account there. After that, once you make your first deposit, you will be ready to start wagering on NFL games.

Which betting types do NFL bookies offer?

The NFL betting offer will vary from one operator to another, but there are some common betting markets you can expect. Reputable bookies will offer individual and team bets, such as moneyline bets, over/under bets, parlays, live betting, handicaps, and so on.

How can I win my NFL bets?

There is no strategy that will guarantee you victory with your NFL bets. However, by doing good research on teams, players, and off-field factors such as the weather, you will drastically increase your chances of landing a winning bet.

Who is the best NFL player of all time?

Different people will give you different answers to this question, and that is what we like about the NFL. From Tom Brady to Jerry Rice to Walter Payton, all of these names can be considered among the best to ever grace an American Football pitch.

What do NFL odds mean?

NFL odds work the same way as odds in other sports. They will represent the probability of certain events happening in an NFL game. As an example, odds with a negative sign will show the favorites in the NFL game, and vice versa, odds with a positive sign will show the underdog.