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How do you read betting lines when wagering on NFL games?

Author: americangambler | Last Updated: May 7, 2019

First of all, betting odds are showing implied probabilities of an outcome of the game you bet on. It is important to understand the NFL betting lines as they represent your future return on investment (bet). There are 3 types of odds:

  • Decimal Odds (example: 2.5)
  • Fractional Odds (example: 150)
  • American Odds (example: 3/2)

American odds is the most popular type in the United States. American gamblers, especially those who used to bet in Vegas, know what minus and plus means in odds like -200 or +150.

To understand American betting odds and read NFL betting lines you need to imagine that you, let's say bet on your favourite team to win at odds – 200. It means you bet $200 to win $100. If you decide to support underdog (sometimes, it is a good idea), you would probably bet at odds +200, which means that you if you bet $100, you get $200 in case they win.

There are many betting odds calculators on the internet. You can convert deciminal odds into American odds or into chances to see the implied probabilities of various outcomes.

Soccer betting odds at betamerica

Soccer betting odds at betamerica

What is point spread?

Now, when you understand basics and can read betting odds, we move to common types of bets. Odds on NFL games are either the point spread, the most common bet, or the money line bet.

The point spread is determined by the strength and weakness of each team, and more to the point how the oddsmakers feel the money is going to be bet. Some teams, such as the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys have strong fan bases and generally support their teams with their wallets. Some times the point spreads could be inflated on those teams, because of their popular fan base. In order to bet against the point spread, if you bet the favorite that team must win by more points than the spread was.

For example if the Cowboys are favored by six points over the Redskins, they must win by seven, or more, for a bettor to win the bet. If they win by six, that’s considered a “push’’ and the bettor breaks even on the bet.

What is money line?

The money line are odds on the game. If you take the favorite you will be laying odds (risking more money than you would get back). If you take the underdog you will be getting he odds (winning more than you would bet). There is no point spread on the money line. Your team just has to win.

You can also read about over/under odds here and how to read betting odds (-115) when betting on soccer games here.