NFL Spread Betting

In the NFL the best team will win the majority of the games.  Spread betting is the most popular NFL betting option because spread betting handicaps the favorite team, which puts both teams on a more even playing field.  This allows wagers on favorites to cover the spread to payout much more than money lines and also allows wagers on underdogs to have an equal chance of winning.  NFL spread betting is very easy to understand and this page will explain it in detail.

In NFL spread betting the oddsmakers set a number of points that one team is favored by in the game.  This is also known as the games handicap.  For a wager on the favorite to payout the favored team must win the game by more points than the spread amount.  This is known as covering the spread.  For a wager on the underdog to win, the team must either win the game straight up or lose be fewer points than the spread.  This is known as beating the spread.  For example, if a team is favored by 7 points, then the favorite must win by 8 or more points to cover the spread and the underdog must either win, or lose by 6 or fewer points in order to beat the spread.

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NFL Spread Betting Example

  • Dallas Cowboys +10 (-110)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers -10 (-110)

In this example, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 10 point favorites over the Dallas Cowboys.  The (-) sign beside the spread amount indicates the favorite because they are essentially having 10 points taken away from them, while the (+) sign indicates the underdog because they are basically having 10 points added to their score.

In this example a wager on the Bucs will payout if they win by more than 10 points, while a wager on the Cowboys will payout if they lose by fewer than 10 points or if they pull of the big upset and win the game outright. If the Bucs win by exactly 10 points then the spread bets would push and wagers would be returned.

Other NFL Spread Betting Information

The most common odds associated with each side of a spread bet are (-110), which means that a $110 bet would win $100.  That being said it is possible for the odds to vary slightly if the spread doesn’t perfectly handicap a game.  Here is an example:

  • Green Bay Packers -3 (-120)
  • Minnesota Vikings +3 (+100)

In this case the oddsmakers feel that it is more likely that the Packers will cover the 3 point spread than it is that the Vikings will beat it.  In this case a $120 wager on the Packers covering the spread wins $100, while a $100 wager on the Vikings beating the spread also pays out $100.

In the two examples given in this article the spreads are whole numbers.  If the game finishes with the favorite winning by exactly the spread amount then the bet is pushed and the wager is refunded.  It is also possible for spreads to include half points (eg. 3.5, 7.5, etc), in which case it would not be possible for the bet to push.