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How to Bet on Football

America's most popular sport is also the most popular one in betting. So, if you're new to sports betting or just need a little refresher, check out our "How to Bet on Football" betting guide.
Mon, September 18, 9:21 AM EDT | 5 min read

Ready to learn how to bet on football? You've come to the right place. Sports betting can seem daunting at first, especially when you have new ideas and terminology to contend with. However, it isn't difficult once you understand the basics. The good news is, we're here to help break down the complexities of football betting in a simple manner. Read on to discover all the different bets you can make and the lingo you need to get started, so you can learn how to bet on football games like a real professional.

If you're more of a visual learner, check out our football betting guide below, brought to you by OddsChecker ambassador Jamie Kelton.

Understanding the Terminology

We get it, terminology can be tough. But if you want to learn how to bet on football and win, you'll need to get the hang of it. Luckily, there are only a few terms you need to master in order to begin. Outlined below, you'll find some of the more common words and phrases used by bettors and a detailed explanation of what they mean.

Betting Against the Spread

You'll often hear sports fans refer to "betting against the spread". But what exactly is a spread, and why would you bet against it? Let's start with the basics. A point spread is a margin of points that your chosen team must win or lose by for you to win your bet.

Since football teams' abilities aren't perfectly matched, sportsbooks create the spread as a handicap to even out the betting lines. At the end of the game, they add or remove points depending on the spread numbers. Here's an example of what the lines might look like in an NFL game when the Miami Dolphins are playing the New Orleans Saints:

NFL Spread Table Guide

The Dolphins are the favorite to win the game here, as evidenced by the (-) symbol before the spread. The odds of -14.5 indicate that they'll have 14.5 points taken from their score at the end of the game. On the other hand, the Saints are the underdog, and we can see from the (+) symbol that they will have 14.5 points added to their score.

If you were to bet on the Dolphins, they would have to win by 15 points or more for you to win your bet. If you were to bet on the Saints, they would have to either win outright or lose by no more than 15 points. As you can see, the spread creates a level playing field and encourages bettors to wager on both teams rather than just the favorite.

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If you want to know how to bet on football, you'll need to familiarize yourself with Moneyline betting. A bet made on the Moneyline simply means betting on which team will win the game. This tried-and-true method is probably the simplest, but it certainly gets the job done. Here's an example of what the odds will look like for a Moneyline bet on an NFL game where the Tennessee Titans are playing the Baltimore Ravens:

NFL Moneylines - Football Betting Guides

As you can see by the (-) symbol next to their odds, the Ravens are the favorite in this example. With Moneyline betting, the odds number for the favorite indicates the amount of money you'd have to bet to win $100. In this case, you'd have to bet $200 to win $100. The Titans are the underdog here. The odds number for the underdog always signifies the money you would win if you bet $100. In this case, placing a $100 bet on them would net you $165.

The odds aren't even because each team's ability is different - so, setting the odds up like this draws in bettors to both sides of the equation. If you want to check out some more lines, head over to the NFL Odds section to see the best odds in the business here at OddsChecker.

Over/Under Betting

Over/Under betting is a term you'll often hear when learning how to bet on football games. Also known as a totals bet, participants don't wager on a winner or loser. Instead, they're betting on the total number of points scored throughout the game. Here's an example from the NFL where the Kansas City Chiefs play the Green Bay Packers:

NFL Total Table - Football Betting Guides

You can either bet that the total number of points scored will be more than 45.5 or less than 45.5. If you bet on over and the total points scored is 46 or higher, you win your bet. But if you bet on under and the total points scored is 46 or higher, you would lose. If you want to explore more odds examples for Over/Under betting, consider checking out other sports as well. You can head to the NFL Odds section to familiarize yourself with new territory.

Parlay Bets

If you want to know how to bet on football and win, parlay betting should be in your repertoire. Parlays are multiple bets made under the same wager umbrella. They can be Moneyline bets, point spread bets, totals bets, or other types of wagers. Each separate bet is known as a leg, and each leg must resolve in your favor for you to win the whole parlay.

Prop Bets

Prop bets are a great avenue if you want to learn how to bet on football games the fun way. These bets don't always depend on the game's outcome. Instead, they rely heavily on individual stats and sometimes simple happenstance. You can make prop bets on pretty much anything, from which team will score first to which celebrities will attend a game.

Prop bets are most commonly made during the Super Bowl, but you can make them at any time of the year. If you want to get started making some prop bets today, it's a good idea to explore different sportsbooks to see what they have to offer. Head over to the Free Bets section to discover the deals available at a wide variety of betting providers, so that you can choose the best one for your needs.


When learning how to bet on football, futures betting can be an exciting option. As the name implies, a futures bet is made on an event that hasn't happened yet. Futures wagers cover honors bestowed on deserving football stars, like who will win MVP and other titles. They can also include things like the total wins a team will accomplish throughout the entire season, or which quarterback will throw the most yards in a season.

Though futures betting is popular all year round, it is most prevalent before the Super Bowl. In fact, people begin betting on Super Bowl futures as soon as the current Super Bowl ends. If you want to get in on the action for the biggest game of next year, head over to the Super Bowl odds section to see what's available to you.

What are Football Parlays and How to Use Them

Learning how to bet on football parlays is paramount to your sports betting success. As stated before in the parlay section, this kind of wager involves making multiple predictions. To win the wager, each prediction you make must be correct.

Football is an excellent sport for parlay bets because there are so many possible predictions - individual player props, Moneylines, Over/Unders, and other options mean you have a wide variety of potential wagers to choose from.

So, how can you use parlays to your advantage? The main draw of them is that if each leg of your wager wins, you stand to win much more money than if you bet on each leg separately. The payoff depends on how many teams you bet on, and you can expect the odds to increase along these lines:

NFL Parlay Table - Football Betting Guides

Sometimes, sportsbooks will let you bet on even more teams. This increases your potential for profit exponentially, but remember that accumulators come with some inherent risk involved - if you lose even one leg, your whole bet loses. To minimize the risk, follow these tips:

  • Pick the Right Bookmaker: Choose a sportsbook that offers parlay insurance, which can help you out if your parlay loses by just one leg.
  • Know the Conditions: Study game-day conditions for each selection like weather, player lineups, and injuries. Also, consider a team's history and statistics to get a more comprehensive picture of the likely outcome.
  • Take Some Advice: Study OddsChecker's professional Picks and predictions before placing your bet, so you can see what our experts have to say about how the game might go.

Now that you've learned how to bet on football accumulators, Moneylines, props, totals, futures, and against the points spread, you're ready to get started. You'll blend in effortlessly at any sportsbook now that you understand how to bet on football, so why not get started wagering today? After all, the odds might just be in your favor.


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