What does + 5.5 mean in NFL betting?

Image by Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

The most popular form of NFL betting is by the spread. When looking at the spread for an NFL game, each team in the game will have a plus or minus. The team with a + is the underdog, so they are receiving points. The team with a – number is the favorite, so they are giving up points.

If you are betting on the favorite (-), they have to win by more points that the spread indicates. On the other hand, if you bet on the underdog (+), they only have to get within the spread for your bet to win.

For example, let's say the Dallas Cowboys (+5.5) are playing the New England Patriots (-5.5). If you bet on the Cowboys, they don't have to win, they just have to lose by 5 points or less. If you bet on the Patriots, they have to win by at least 6 points.

How do you read the odds on a spread?

For spread betting, the odds are always close to even. The spread is set differently for each game, which depends on odds makers and advanced algorithms.

The odds on each spread will be around -110. It could move slightly if one team is receiving more wagers than the other.

How do spread bets pay out?

Since the odds are similar on both sides, you will come close to doubling your money regardless of who you bet on. Unlike betting on moneylines, the underdog and favorite will pay out close to the same, if not exactly the same.

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