Betting on football is one of the most popular North American pastimes. Every Sunday, football fans pile into stadiums and sports bars to watch the games and try to make some money on the lines. If you’re new to NFL betting,  a guide to understanding game lines are a great starting point.


Point Spreads

Point spread betting is the most popular way to bet on the NFL. Point spreads are a margin of victory that a team must win by in order for a bet to pay out. Oddsmakers set the number of points, and you decide which team will “cover the spread.” Let’s look at an example.

Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots -2.5

In this case, New England (-2.5) needs to win by three or more points for a Patriots bet to pay out. Alternatively, you could bet Green Bay at +2.5, in which case, they can lose by 1 or 2 points, or win the game outright – in either of these scenarios, you’d win your bet.



With moneylines, you pick which team will win the NFL game straight up. If you’re confident that a team will win, but unsure if they can cover the spread, betting on the moneyline is the better strategy.

For Week 1 in the 2017-18 NFL season, the New England Patriots are -550 to beat the Kansas City Chiefs (+375) in Foxborough. You’d have to put down $550 to win $100 on the Patriots, and $100 to win $375 on the Chiefs.

When you’re betting a favourite on the moneyline, it costs more than the standard line of -110 for spreads because your odds of winning are higher. But with underdogs, the opposite is true, so predicting an upset on the moneyline can result in a big payout.



Totals are the combined score of the two teams playing in a matchup. For example, if the New England Patriots are facing the Green Bay Packers, oddsmakers could set a total of 55.5. As a bettor, you decide whether the combined final score will go over 55.5 or under 55.5.

Totals are a great way to bet on NFL games when you’re not sure who will win but can envision a style of play. Two teams with bad defenses are more likely to push a game over the total, while inclement weather and bad wind could lead to a lower-scoring affair.