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American Football Betting Guide

Struggling to understand how American Football works? Or maybe you want to brush up on your existing knowledge? Whether you're looking to understand the game or learn some tips, with our guide you'll find:

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The History of American Football

Date What Happened
1920-1923 Looking at the history of American Football between 1920 and 1923, there wasn't a playoff system in place. Back in those days the NFL determined the championship team by holding a vote between the major team owners at the annual owners' meeting.
1924 Following this, the system was adapted in 1924 so that the championship title was decided by the team with the best winning percentage over the course of the season.
1932 The system continued until 1932 until a tie threw a spanner into the works. Suddenly the need for a playoff game was evident as the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans both had a winning percentage of .857. In order to fairly determine that year's champion the league decided to hold a final game between the two - the Bears won 9-0.
1933 Though this first championship determining game was not officially called a 'championship game', it did create a buzz in the football world and in 1933, the first official NFL Championship Game was created. This would change online gambling, American Football and our take on the game forever.
1960s Along with this innovation came the need to determine the winners in the case of a tie and, thus, the playoffs were born! This format continued through to the 1960s with impromptu playoff games being held when necessary.
1970 It wasn't until the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that the playoffs finally began to resemble their current form.

The current playoff system is divided up into three rounds:

  1. The Wild Card round starts in the second week of January and pits the two Wild Card teams from each conference against the third and fourth seeded divisional winners. The first and second seeded teams get this week off. The two winning teams advance to the next round.

  2. The Divisional round is held the following week and sees the top seeded teams playing against the Wild Card round winners with the top seeded teams getting the home field advantage. The winners advance to the Conference Championships.

  3. The Conference Championships determine the winning team for each conference. With the field narrowed down to four teams (two from each conference), the winners of these two games are declared the NFC Conference Champion and the AFC Conference Champion. These two winning teams will go on to face one another in the Super Bowl for the chance to claim the national title and hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

NFL Playoffs Betting

  • When it comes to online gambling, NFL Playoff betting is one of the largest markets in the world. In fact, when it comes to American Football betting in general, postseason wagers are usually the most popular and the ones online gambling fans often focus on each year.

  • When you look at gambling online, NFL Playoffs betting has a symbolic relationship with the betting industry; the sport needs gambling and gambling needs the sport.

  • Betting on NFL Playoffs in the postseason is a great way to add a little extra excitement to a sport that is already filled with feverish enthusiasm.

  • Before you rush off to a top NFL Playoffs betting portal, you need to know what you're doing. So here are a few tips for improving your American Football betting EV (expected value).

American Football & NFL Bets

In the world of online gambling, American Football has two main betting styles; points spread betting and moneyline betting. The one you choose will be a matter of personal preference, so to help you decide here's an overview of each option.

Points Spread

When it comes to betting on American Football this system is the most popular, especially for NFL games. Also known as betting the 'line' or the 'spread', this method basically involves the sportsbooks setting a betting line. This is determined by how many points the bookmakers believe the game will be decided by.

  • For example, the line or 'points spread' on two of the top American Football teams such as the Chargers and the Jets could be set at -7 in favour of the Chargers.

  • If you were looking to partake in some American Football online gambling and saw this line, it would basically mean that the sportsbook believes the Chargers will win at home by roughly seven points.

  • If you accepted these odds and decided to bet on the Chargers at -7, then you would need them to win by more than 7 points in order to receive a return on your investment.

  • It's also important to note that if the Chargers won by exactly 7 points it would be known as a push and your wager would be returned.

  • If you took the other side of this American Football bet (the Jets would be listed as +7), it would mean that you'd need the team to get within 6 points of the Chargers in order to bank a win. Additionally, as with the previous bet, if the Jets got within 7 points of the chargers it would be a push.

Many fans like betting on the spread because it keeps the game interesting no matter what the result may be. Your team could be up by 20 points and have the game in the bag, but you will still be on the edge of your seat because you need another field goal to cover the spread.


Moneyline betting is also popular with American Football fans because it's simple. Instead of needing certain point conditions, this bet simply requires you to decide which team you believe will win the game.

When you're gambling online, American Football sportsbooks will set odds before the game based on a team's chances of winning. For example, the moneyline on a game may be as follows:

San Diego Chargers -200 | 1.50 | 1/2 New York Jets +170 | 2.50 | 3/2

  • The odds above are displayed in American, Decimal and European formats but they all mean the same thing. If you were to place $100 on the Chargers in this game and they won, you would collect a total of $150.

  • If the above example doesn't make much sense to you, make sure you check out our betting odds calculator to get a better idea of what the numbers mean.

American Football Betting Tips

Now we've given you an insight into online gambling, American Football and how they mesh together, here are ideas on how to improve your EV. When you join any of our top American Football betting sites, we know you'll be in safe hands. However, to ensure you're clued up enough to make some real money we think you should also pay attention to our following tips.

Who's in Form?

All NFL teams, in fact all sports teams, go through patches of good and bad form.

  • For example, the New England Patriots may be flagging near the bottom of the league but be on a four-game win streak.

  • In this scenario an American Football online gambling site might choose to ignore this fact and rank the Patriots as underdog against a better team.

  • However, given the Patriot's recent form, it could be the case that they are favorites to win or, at the very least, less of an underdog than the bookmakers believe.

  • American Football betting is about spotting mistakes in the market and this kind of scenario is an example of when the bookies' odds may be slightly off.

Valuing Value

The first skill you need to develop if you want to become a successful NFL tipster is spotting value. Different games offer different betting opportunities and it's your job to spot which wagers are most suitable for the match at hand.

  • For example, if you know the Washington Redskins are known for scoring a high number of touchdowns but also conceding a lot then you scour football bets and back them to score X+ touchdowns are giveaway X+ touchdowns.

  • Essentially you need to understand a team's strengths and weaknesses in order to find the most appropriate bets. Once you can start to match teams and bets then you'll find your success rate becomes a lot higher.

Watch Your Costs

When you're betting on any activity in the world of online gambling, American Football or otherwise, it's important to keep an eye on your finances. Bankroll management is one of the most important skills a gambler must develop and consists of two main facets: knowing your available amount of money and setting limits.

  • For example, if your bankroll is $500 then you should only be risking around $5 per bet. Sticking to around 10% of your bankroll on any single wager is the best way to prevent ruin (losing all your money) and give you a chance to make a healthy profit.

  • If you're looking to become a more successful sports bettor, make sure you learn to manage your money as well as spot value in the market.


Familiarize yourself with some of the basic American Football terminology - it's a great way to help you understand the game and what American Football fans are talking about!

Term Meaning
Field goal Worth three points; a kick that's usually attempted within 40 yards of the goalpost. The kick must go above the crossbar and between the uprights.
Fumble When a player loses or drops the ball while running with it or being tackled.
End zone The area at each end of the field; teams can score touchdowns in this area if they possess the ball.
Extra point Worth one or two points; for one point a player would have to kick the ball through the uprights after a touchdown. For two points the ball must be taken to the end zone again.
Huddle When the players group together on the field to discuss their strategies and call a play.
Kickoff Otherwise known as a free kick; they are used after every touchdown, field goal and at the first and third quarters of the game.
Line of scrimmage An imaginary line extending across the field that players can't cross until the next play has begun.
Linebacker A playing position; a linebacker is part of the defense team.
Quarterback A playing position; a quarterback is part of the offense team and lines up behind the offensive line.
Safety Worth two points; this is earned by the defense tackling an offensive player with the ball in his own end zone.
Touchback Occurs in the end zone; a play that results in the ball being placed on the 20-yard line and the offensive team starting from their 20-yard line.
Touchdown Worth six points; a touchdown is scored when a player in possession of the ball crosses the opposition's goal line or catches the ball in the end zone.

Best American Football Betting Sites

We've found the best American Football sites to bet on so that you don't have to take a risk with a dodgy platform. Using our industry experts, we've reviewed each suggestion and verified that it's a safe and secure play to play. So, if you're itching to get out and place some American Football bets make sure you follow the advice we've outlined in this article and join one of our recommended platforms today.


Is American football betting legal?

Yes, it's completely legal for players to bet on sports event at the biggest international online sports betting sites.

How do American football odds work?

There are two main types of odds in NFL betting, point spread odds and money line odds. The odds tell you how much you can win if your bet turns out to be a correct prediction.

If you want to learn how to understand the way odds are displayed, have a look at the guide above.

You can also read a detailed explanation of how the odds work in NFL bets by checking out our odds calculator page.

How do the betting lines work?

Points spread
This type of bet relates to a calculation that the sports betting site does that's based on who they think will win and by how many points they think the victory will come in at.

E.g. If the site thinks that the winner in a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos will be the Steelers and they think the Steelers will snatch the win with 10 points more than the Broncos, then site will display the odds as Denver Broncos –10.

When you bet on the Broncos in this situation, they'll have to win by over 10 points for you to collect any winnings.

Money line
In this type of bet all you have to do is pick who you reckon will win and the amount of points the team wins by doesn't affect whether you collect any winnings or not.

What about handicap betting?

Handicap betting is when you place bets relating to whether a team will exceed the 'virtual head start' that the betting site has given it, based on how unlikely a team is to win.

What games can I bet on?

You can bet on every single game in the NFL.

Can I use a betting system?

Yes, if you want to. Although a lot of the likelihood of winning cash on an NFL bet is down to luck, knowledge about past team performance and player health can help you to work out the probability of a particular outcome.

There are loads of different betting strategies and systems out there on the Internet but if you want to find one that'll definitely help you when you play, then check out our betting strategy page.

Can it be profitable?

Gambling on the NFL can make you plenty of cash if you place the right bets. The best way to make smart bets is to analyze what's happened in previous matches and then place your bets accordingly.