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How to Read NFL Odds

Reading NFL odds can be a little daunting but our live odds table is designed to keep things simple for all bettors. By using our table, you'll be able to easily read odds for all matchups this season and compare NFL betting lines across the world's leading sportsbooks.

Understanding betting lines and knowing how to use them to your advantage, coupled with our NFL picks, is a recipe for football betting success. Below are our four basic steps to learning how to read NFL odds.

1. Betting line basic information

Before diving into the mechanics behind an NFL betting line, you first need to know what information you're being presented with. In our NFL odds table, we display the following:

  • Team Names
  • Date & Time of game
  • Point Spread
  • Money line

The intense NFL schedule means our table will be showing up to 18 matchups each week, so we've only included the most important information, giving you the clearest view at any time. For even less noise when reading the latest lines, you can filter to see only point spreads, totals, and money lines.

Vegas odds are the most common preference for North American bettors and are used in all NFL betting lines. To help you understand the information displayed, here's an example using a simple moneyline from last season's matchup between Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers:

CHICAGO BEARS +310

GREEN BAY PACKERS -380

In this 2020 game, the Packers were listed at -380, which positioned them as a heavy favorite; the Bears however were at +310, a concrete underdog in the tie.

The plus and minus signs indicate which team the sportsbook favors in any game, directly impacting how you wager. Simply put, a plus sign signals how much you'd win with a $100 bet. For this example, if you bet $100 on Chicago Bears, you'd win $310 profit, as well as your stake.

There's a different rule of thumb for the minus sign; the number following the minus is the amount you'd need to wager to win $100. Last season, a $380 bet on the Green Bay Packers would have returned $100, plus your stake.

By understanding how NFL odds work, you'll be able to evaluate risk instantly. There is greater risk betting on the Bears, as they're not favored to win, but you have to risk more money to get an equal payout on a Packers bet.

2. Getting to grips with the juice

Sportsbooks will make money off almost every NFL bet you make this season, whether it's a point spread, moneyline, or another bet type. This cut they take is called the juice, vig, or more traditionally the house edge. How they take their cut is worked out mainly from the implied probability, which is a percentage you can derive from each set of odds.

Using the same example of Chicago vs Green Bay, the implied probability for the Bears to win was 24%, while the Packers had a 79% chance of winning. This totals at 103%, meaning the extra 3% is the juice taken by the sportsbook. If you're looking to make a bet on the NFL, check out our odds calculator where you can calculate and convert odds and probability at the click of a button.

CHICAGO BEARS +7.5 -110

GREEN BAY PACKERS -7.5 -110

NFL spread betting will also see the juice presented on the betting line. When filtered to Point Spread on our odds table, you'll see the spread displayed next to the teams, with an additional figure also listed. For football betting, you'll almost always see -110, with North American sportsbooks adding a typical 10% tax on spread betting. This means for each spread you bet on, you'd have to risk or bet $11 to make 10. While a sportsbook would only make a single dollar off a $10 bet, thousands of different-sized bets made each day make it extremely profitable.

3. Staying on top of line movement

For Sunday games, NFL betting lines can be listed as early as the previous Sunday and fully populated with odds by Monday or Tuesday. Between the opening lines being published to kick-off, a lot changes.

The opening lines are an indication of the outcome the sportsbook predicts, but this is before any influence from bettors, so doesn't necessarily indicate the most accurate assumption. As the game draws nearer, the line sharpens with new information on team news, injuries, or press conferences. While the sportsbook will see the news at the same time as everyone else, they'll always look to move the line before bettors act on the information.

For any NFL game, the betting line closes as soon as the game kicks off and it's these odds that are the most accurate reflection of the probable outcome. At kick-off, both the bettor and the sportsbook have all the information available to them, including line-ups, pre-game interviews, and the weekend line itself.

4. Be sure to do your line shopping

Choosing where to place your bets can be a tricky decision, especially when you consider the best bonuses, market options, and competitive odds. Luckily for you, we only recommend the very best NFL betting sites which have been thoroughly reviewed by expert bettors.

Using our odds table, you can compare odds across three of the leading books in North America. Line movement isn't replicated across all books, so to get the best value it's important to stay up to date with the lines and do some line shopping.

As mentioned above, line movement is an indication of new information which might affect the probable outcome of a game. So the more you're keeping tabs on everything, the more likely you are to get in while the value is there.

NFL Against the Spread

Betting the spread during the NFL season is second nature to bettors and is by far the most popular market. It's essentially choosing which team is going to win, but with a handicap in place to level out favorites and underdogs.

The handicap we're referring to is called a point spread, which will be in favor of the underdog, but you can bet against the favorite also. When reading a point spread for any football game, you'll see the team's name followed by the spread; this isn't linked to your wager calculation. Instead, this is the point difference that will decide the outcome of your bet.

How spread betting works

Using the same Bears vs Packers example, you can see that the spread here is 7.5 points. As the favorites, if you bet on the Packers and they won by 7 points, you would lose the bet. However, a Green Bay victory by 8 points or more would see them cover the spread and you would win your bet.

CHICAGO BEARS +7.5 -110

GREEN BAY PACKERS -7.5 -110

The same principle applies if you want to bet on the Bears. If they're down 10 points and get a last-minute field goal, they would still lose the game but your bet against the spread would be a winner.

There is one more outcome though which isn't reflected in this example game. Let's say the New England Patriots are playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the point spread for the Bucs is +4. If you bet the spread and the game finishes 17-13 to the Bucs, the exact spread would have been met and your bet will be a push, returning your stake.

Is spread betting profitable?

Betting against the spread for NFL games is much more profitable than moneyline betting, but more risk is attached to your wager. If you bet $110 on the Packers to win outright at -380, a winning bet would return $28.60 profit. However, betting the Packers to cover the spread with a $110 stake would give you winnings of $100. As a bettor, it's up to you whether you agree with the book's spread, and if you do, that market is the most profitable.

The best value bets you can make are for an underdog at home with a wide spread. However, don't get too hung up on home advantage, as home dogs only cover the spread 48.62% of the time, while underdogs on the road come in at 53.72%.

NFL Over Under

Over/Under totals are set by oddsmakers as their projection for the total points in an NFL game. If the total is set at 45 points, the line will display +45 or -45, possibly accompanied by O or U, which represents over or under.

If you bet the under and less than 45 total points are scored, you win your bet. If more than 45 points are scored, you lose. If there are exactly 45 points scored, your bet will push and your stake will be returned.

How the O/U changes before a game

Much like betting against the spread, information that is released during game week like a weather report, injuries, and other team news can impact the book's total. If the Bucs were the home favorites against the traveling Falcons, with the o/u set high at 52, and then Tom Brady pulls out of the game with an injury, a few things would likely happen:

  • Fewer points would be scored.
  • Betting action would favor the under.
  • The sportsbook may regulate the juice from under -110 to under -120.
  • The sportsbook may also move the total from 52 down a few points.

Books adjusting the juice and totals following heavy betting action on one side of the line isn't uncommon. The idea of their total is to encourage equal bets on each side, with the juice giving them tidy profits. However, if they believe bettors have an edge on a particular line, they will make changes.

How to bet NFL Over/Under

Betting on the over/under is a popular alternative to a tight point spread, but be aware that closely contested matchups usually don't mean high scores.

When betting the total, naturally you should analyze each team's style against their opponent's defensive record and vice versa. Here are two very simple examples of how you might decide on whether to bet the over or under:

Betting the under

It's week 11 of the 2021 NFL season and the 2020 Super Bowl finalists San Fransisco are hosting the LA Rams. Last season the 49ers were the best running team across both conferences, but the Rams boasted the best run defense. While oddsmakers might use this information to push a lower total, and form at this stage of the season might indicate a different result, you'd be in good company betting the under

Betting the over

In one of the AFC's interconference games on week 7, the Chiefs are at the Nissan Stadium to take on the Titans. The Super Bowl LIV champions and last year's runners up topped the stats for passing yards last year, with Patrick Mahomes cementing himself as one of, if not the best, quarterbacks in the NFL. The Titans however were in the bottom five for defense against the pass in 2020/21. Despite being the road team, the Chiefs will be favorites for this tie and research would suggest a high-scoring game. Bet the over.

NFL Moneyline Betting

Moneyline betting is the simplest market to understand for beginner NFL bettors. Forget winning margins, total points, or anything else that happens during the action, it's all about who takes home the win.

On a moneyline, the favorite will be indicated by a minus sign and the underdog with a plus sign. The figure next to the favorite will be the amount you have to bet to win $100, while the underdog figure shows what you'd win from a $100 wager. You can refresh yourself on reading moneyline bets in our how to read odds section above, but here's a breakdown of using implied probability with moneyline bets.

Use implied probability

As with any other sport, betting on football isn't a sure thing and losing bets is inevitable. Using implied probability is a great way to gauge value in moneyline betting over a period of time, especially when betting on the favorite.

For example, if you bet on a -400 favorite, the implied probability for that team to win is 80%. If you bet on these odds 10 times in a row, you'd need to win eight of those bets to break even. Here's the breakdown based on a $400 stake for simplicity:

Total stake: $4000

Total profit for 10 wins: $1000

Total profit for 9 wins: $600

Total profit for 8 wins: $200

Total profit for 7 wins: -$200

This is the easiest way to calculate the greater risk attached to betting on a favorite. Essentially it's up to you to decide if you agree with the odds provided by the book, and then if you're willing to wager more to see bigger profits.

More value in point spread

Based on that, it's no real surprise that NFL fans choose to bet the spread instead of the moneyline. If you bet on 10 favorites against the spread at the fixed odds of -110, you're risking $290 less in each instance, with a bigger payout as well.

FAQs

Where can I find NFL picks against the spread?

You can find NFL picks against the spread on our dedicated NFL picks page which will list picks and predictions for every week of the season.

How often does an underdog cover the spread?

On average, home underdogs cover the spread 48.62% of the time and road underdogs cover it 53.72%.

Is it better to bet the over or under?

There is no evidence to suggest whether betting the over or under is more profitable. Instead, you should look at each game separately to make the most educated bet.

What are the odds for the NFL games this weekend?

To see the latest odds for the NFL games this weekend head to our odds table at the top of the page. For more information on upcoming matchups, you can see all games for this season on our NFL schedule.

How accurate are NFL odds?

NFL oddsmakers will never be 100% accurate as predictions and lines are made from research and information. Moneyline odds are usually a closer reflection of the outcome, as it's a choice between two teams. However, there is more room for difference with spread betting or totals.

How are NFL odds determined?

How are NFL odds determined?

What NFL betting odds do I pick?

American odds are the most common when betting on the NFL. If you're more familiar with European or decimal odds, use our odds calculator to work out your profit.

How do NFL odds change?

During the week leading up to a game, NFL betting lines and odds will change as the market becomes active. Injuries and team news will be announced in press conferences which will trigger action on different sides of the lines, giving the oddsmakers no choice but to adjust them.

What is a betting line?

A betting line is a set of odds produced by sportsbooks to predict the outcome of a sporting event. The simplest betting line to understand is the moneyline, where the books will try to predict which team will win.

What are NFL Vegas odds?

NFL Vegas odds aren't any different from reading American odds, with the plus and minus signs indicating the favorite and underdog.