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How To Bet On NFL Games: Complete Guide

What is the National Football League (NFL)?

The NFL has been the flag bearer for American Football since its inception in 1920. It began as only ten teams, but it has grown for over 100 years to become the 32 team juggernaut the fans know today.

The 32 franchises are separated into two conferences - the AFC and the NFC - both of which have been in place since 1970. Each conference contains four divisions, the East, West, North and South. Teams are usually placed into the same division due to geographical location.

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These four divisions within the conferences contain four teams. These teams play each other twice a year as part of the 17-game regular season with the best teams continuing to the playoffs, concluding with the NFL Finals.

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NFL Game Rules

Now, NFL betting can be confusing if you are unaware of the rules. So, let’s break down how American Football works. We will start with the scoring system, and most scoring in the NFL comes in the form of a touchdown.

A touchdown is whenever a player catches, or runs the ball into the endzone. Running the ball into the endzone is referred to as a rushing touchdown and catching the ball in the endzone is known as a receiving touchdown. All variants of touchdown are worth six points.

Post-touchdown, the kicker will attempt to score a PAT (point after touchdown), which is valued at one point. The kicker also enters the field to attempt a field goal. This occurs when a team is unable to gain ten-yards in three attempts - a field goal is worth three points.

Let’s look at the other side of the ball - the defense. The defense can influence the game with two major factors, sacks and interceptions. A sack is when the opposing quarterback is tackled on or behind the line of scrimmage by the opposing team before he completes a pass.

Whereas an interception happens if the defense can catch a pass that was intended for the other team. An interception that is returned for a touchdown is known as a pick-six.

The team who has the most points, wins the game. If the game is a tie, there’s a ten-minute overtime period on a first-to-score basis to decide the winner. If there’s no winner after the additional ten minutes, the game is recorded as a draw.

How many teams play in the NFL?

The NFL consists of 32 teams split evenly into two conferences. Those two conferences (AFC and NFC) contain four divisions with four teams in each, these are usually determined by geographical location. The most recent addition to the NFL was the Houston Texans who joined in 2002.

NFL Teams

Both the NFC and AFC are loaded with franchises that can make a NFL Finals run in 2022.

Arguably, the NFC’s heavy hitters are the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are the reigning NFL Finals champions, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in February, and their roster remains at an extremely high level.

After the Rams, the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to be the worthy contenders. The Green Bay Packers still have back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers, so they’re always a threat. As for Tampa, they can rejoice as Tom Brady’s retirement lasted 40 days, and now he’s back. But is it for his swansong?

The AFC boasts an impressive array of franchises with Lombardi trophy aspirations. None more so than the Buffalo Bills. The Bills exited the playoffs in the divisional round last year, but Bills mafia is primed to go all the way in 2022.

Besides the Bills, the AFC has last year's representatives, the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have a young core and they could go on better than they did last season. There’s also the Kansas City Chiefs who have Patrick Mahomes, the Baltimore Ravens who are talented if injuries permit, and the Tennessee Titans as well.

NFL Top Players

The NFL is where the premiere American Football talent resides. The league has created stars all over the field and in every position, but arguably the most important is the quarterback position.

Aaron Rodgers is the first quarterback we are going to mention. The man under centre in Green Bay has won back-to-back MVP trophies, leading the league in touchdown/interception ratio in both campaigns. Other quarterbacks to look out for are Josh Allen (Bills), Tom Brady (Buccaneers), and Joe Burrow (Bengals).

Now, Aaron Rodgers won MVP last season, but offensive player of the year was given to a wide receiver. Cooper Kupp. Kupp was ranked first in receiving yards last season (1947 - 331 more than the closest receiver), first in receiving touchdowns last season (16), and first in targets.

At the running back position, Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor, and Dalvin Cook are viewed as some of the best in the game. Additionally on defense, Jalen Ramsey is viewed as the league's best cornerback, Aaron Donald as the league’s best defensive tackle, and Myles Garrett or T.J Watt as the standout defensive ends.

NFL Regular Season

The NFL regular season is 18-weeks long and extends from September through to January. In total, the regular season combines for 272 games to flesh out your NFL betting experience with LeoVegas.

NFL Playoffs

The NFL playoffs begin after the regular season and involve 14-teams. It starts with the wildcard round; then the divisional round; then the division championship games; and finishes with the NFL Finals.

The first NFL betting opportunity in the postseason is the Wildcard round. Because the teams with the best record in the AFC and NFC receive a bye, the Wildcard round is matchups between the other three division winners. Their opponents in the Wildcard are the three teams with the best record that failed to win their respective division.

From this point, it is a single elimination playoff bracket until the NFL Finals.

NFL Finals

The NFL Finals is one of the biggest spectacles in the sporting world. It’s the annual final playoff game to decide who wins the Lombardi trophy, and this NFL season's NFL Finals will take place on the 12th of February at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

How to Bet on NFL at LeoVegas

LeoVegas offers thousands of markets to enhance your experience when NFL betting. It can be as simple as selecting the team you think will win, or go more in-depth by betting on specific player statistics. You can also get closer to the action by LeoVegas in-play American Football markets, which also include CFL.

Look out for the ‘American Football’ section on either our Desktop or Mobile App and see if you can score a touchdown-worthy winning bet.

How to Bet on NFL Draft

Aside from the season itself, the biggest day in most NFL fans calendars is the NFL draft. You are probably thinking: how does NFL betting work when it comes to the draft? Well, it works similarly to an outright. You can select who you believe will be the number one overall pick in the draft, and if they are, your bet comes in.

NFL Betting Odds

NFL betting odds can be found on either our desktop or mobile app in the American Footballsection. The NFL odds are indicated by decimals, for example, the team that is favoured will be placed closest to 1. If the odds are at 1.25, a $100 bet would return $125. Whereas the underdog may be valued at 3.5, therefore, a $100 bet would return $350.

NFL Betting Tips

The NFL is one of the most unpredictable leagues in the world. However, we have some tips that may be able to give you a headstart with NFL betting.

Our first tip would be to look at history. For example, the Kansas City Chiefs have won the AFC West for six-straight seasons, and despite being a competitive division in 2022, we tip the Chiefs to be on top again.

It’s a long time until the NFL Finals, but the early tip from us would be to go with the Buffalo Bills. They have made the divisional round in the last two seasons, and they have a roster that is primed to make a run at the Lombardi trophy.

Week-by-week we would recommend looking at records and form to aid your selections for either the moneyline or parlay bets. If a team is on a hot streak, or is holding a good record, they should be the ones winning come Sunday.

Key Factors to Consider Before Placing Bets

  • Researching NFL Teams and Players
  • Analyzing Team Performance and Statistics
  • Evaluating Player Form and Injuries
  • Understanding the Importance of Home Field Advantage
  • Keeping Up with NFL News and Updates

Types of NFL Bets

Betting on NFL games is no different than wagering on sports from around the world. There are different NFL betting markets and bet types. Below are the three most common bet types for NFL games.

Point Spread Betting

The point spread is very popular for NFL betting. It is the most popular way to wager on the NFL and often provides better odds than the moneyline. However, the point spread bet isn’t as easy to understand as the moneyline bet. But once a punter understands it, they can use it every Sunday.

The favourite must win the NFL game by a specific number of points, or the underdog must avoid losing by that same specific number of points for a point spread bet to be successful. Point spread betting is more concerned with the number of points a team wins or loses by than which team wins overall.

Point spread betting is popular with professional bettors. The profits can be much higher than on other NFL betting markets. Moreover, spread betting is a way to make uninteresting games more interesting by using the spread to make two uneven teams more evenly matched.

Moneyline Betting

Moneyline betting is the simplest betting market for the NFL. Bettors simply place a wager on the team they predict to win the game. If their selection wins, the bet is successful. Unfortunately, moneyline odds aren’t often very appealing. The odds are sometimes better on point spread.

Bettors of all skill levels will make moneyline bets on NFL games due to their simplicity. Even professional bettors will use the moneyline if they find value in the odds. Moneyline bettors should do their research before a game to gain insight into the match-up. A variety of information can be gained from online research, including injury reports, statistics, head-to-head records, and more. This information is invaluable when making moneyline wagers on NFL games.

Over/Under Betting

Over/under betting focuses on the total number of points scored in a game. Bookmakers will set the totals as half a point. For example, a bookmaker may offer an over/under of 55.5 total points for the Packers-Bears game. Punters can either wager on the teams combining for over 55.5 points or under 55.5 points.

Bookmakers will offer over/under for the full game, first half and second half, and for each quarter. This is a great alternative bet to the point spread and moneyline.

Bettors must focus on the teams’ offenses and defenses for the bet type. A strong defense doesn’t give up many points, which could result in a low-scoring game. Strong offenses often lead to high-scoring games between teams. Successful over/under bettors must follow the trends from game to game of the teams competing to be successful. Over/under betting can lead to profits, but bettors need to understand scoring trends.

Advanced NFL Betting Types

Point spread betting, moneyline betting, and over/under betting are the three main bet types for NFL games. But they are not the only ways to wager money on weekly matchups. Bookmakers offer multiple advanced bet types. The different bets allow punters to diversify their betting on the NFL.

Parlay Betting

A parlay bet is the combination of two or more selections in one wager. Each selection must be successful for the bet to payout. Parlays are popular because bettors can combine two or more bets into one wager, which increases the odds.

One of the reasons parlay bets are popular is that punters can place a small stake and win large profits. Since the odds of the selections are combined, the payouts can be large. This is an attractive bet for punters looking for big wins from small wagers.

Parlay bets are risky. The more selections added to the parlay, the more difficult it is for the bet to be successful. Adding fewer selections to a parlay bet lowers risk and increases the chances of success.

Teaser Betting

A teaser bet essentially works with the punter buying points (or selling them) to the bookmaker. The bettor will buy points from the bookmaker, in return, the bettor must make a parlay featuring two or more selections.

Typically, bettors will receive six points for an NFL game when placing a teaser bet. The bettor must then make a minimum of two selections. This will increase the chance of the bet failing. It is the trade-off the bettor makes for placing a teaser bet. All parts of the teaser bet must be successful to win, just like a parlay bet.

Teaser bets aren’t often a strategy for bettors to employ. Why? Tying multiple selections together into one bet raises the risk. The odds may not be favourable for bettors to make a teaser.

Prop Betting

A prop bet is a side wager on an event occurring during an NFL game. For example, a bet on a player to score the first touchdown of a game.

Prop betting is very popular during the NFL Finals. Bookmakers will offer markets on an assortment of markets, including the team to record the opening first down, the team to win the coin toss, and much more. There are even prop bets on the national anthem.

Prop bets are often fun wagers for bettors to make. Despite being entertaining, there is profit to be found in the various prop bets available for NFL games. Punters with advanced knowledge of the way teams play can make successful wagers. For example, punters with an in-depth knowledge of a team’s offense may successfully pick the method of the opening touchdown. Punters with a high level of knowledge are well-suited for placing prop bets.

There are different betting systems punters can employ for placing wagers on NFL games. Systems offer bettors structure for betting on matchups. Below are two of the most popular betting systems.

Martingale System

The Martingale System is known as a negative progression system. This method is most common in roulette betting, but it can be adapted to NFL wagers.

Before using the Martingale System, punters need to set their bankroll amount. Once the bankroll amount is determined, punters need to decide how much one unit is worth.

Now, bettors place a wager on an NFL game using one unit. If the bet is successful, the punter will make their next wager using the same one-unit stake. If the bet was unsuccessful, the punter should increase their wager to two units.

By increasing the stake to two units, the bettor will make their original stake back if the bet wins. After winning an NFL bet, the punter should return to wagering one unit per game and continuing the cycle.

For every loss, the bettor should increase their stake by a unit. This allows the punter to regain their original stake and potentially make profits. The downside of the Martingale System is a large bankroll is needed. Moreover, punters can go on long losing streaks.

Kelly Criterion

The Kelly Criterion focuses on money management. It is used to calculate the ideal amount of money to wager on an NFL game when there is a difference between the true odds and given odds.

The Kelly Criterion formula is:

  • f* = [(b x p) – q] ÷ (b)
  • f = fraction of bankroll to bet
  • b = decimal odds – 1
  • p = estimated probability of winning
  • q = estimated probability of losing (1 – p)

The formula will take the odds of the team a punter wants to wager on and provide a percentage of how much to wager on that team.

Bankroll Management for NFL Betting

Bankroll management is the amount of money a punter has set aside to bet on NFL games. Punters lacking bankroll management can experience heavy losses. It doesn’t matter how much money a punter has. Bankroll management is vital for successful sports betting.

Bettors need to establish their betting unit size. Once the betting unit size is established, punters can focus on how many units to wager on a game.

Using a betting strategy like the Martingale or Kelly Criterion can help punters preserve their bankroll. All punters need to set realistic betting goals. While everyone would like to win $10,000 on their weekend of NFL betting, realistic goals prevent bettors from losing all their money.

Punters wagering $10 on a game between the Giants and Jets shouldn’t expect to win $5,000 off a successful bet. Keeping expectations realistic will help grow the bankroll with wins.

Live Betting on NFL Games

Live betting, also known as in-play betting, is incredibly popular. Most sports betting websites now offer bettors the chance to place live bets on NFL games. Live betting is a great way to see the teams before placing a wager. This is a strategy that can help bettors make smart decisions.

Bookmakers offer a variety of markets for live NFL games. The market odds are always changing, and bettors can place a well-timed bet resulting in a big win. Bettors can watch the games to find trends in the event before making a prediction. For example, bettors may watch the first quarter of a game between the Chiefs and Broncos before making a bet. The quarter could be low scoring prompting a wager on a low total of points.

Live betting can provide better value compared to pre-game wagers. Some experts swear that pre-game bets are the only way to wager on the NFL, however, just as many experts claim live betting is a better option. Indeed, both have advantages, so bettors must decide when to implement them into their betting strategy.

Live betting odds change frequently and are determined by the trends of the game. Paying attention and being aware of the action as it unfolds can make all the difference in making a successful bet and an unsuccessful one.

Key Statistics for NFL Betting

The NFL is a sport in which data and trends help bettors make important decisions. Punters can use week-to-week information to make smart picks. But there is also historical data from previous seasons that can help punters make winning choices.

There are specific trends that show up repeatedly in NFL betting. Home-field advantage is one of the most common trends punters uncover. Historical head-to-head records are also important areas for bettors to consider.

Some players perform better against specific teams due to several factors. Analyzing the different defensive and offensive systems used by the various teams can help punters make winning bets. Using advanced metrics can help bettors find a niche in NFL betting. Advanced stats can uncover value in betting types other than the moneyline, point spread, and over/under.

NFL Betting FAQ

How does betting on NFL games work?

Bet on the NFL matchups with our pre-game and in-play markets. Do you think someone is going to have a big game before kick-off or have you spotted a trend in the game? Take advantage of LeoVegas’ markets and find your best bet.

How do you bet on NFL betting?

You can place a bet on thousands of NFL markets with LeoVegas. View the American Football section in either our desktop or mobile app and find the market for you. Whether it’s the moneyline, a parlay, or an outright, find the best odds and place your wager.

How are NFL betting lines determined?

NFL betting lines are determined by the sportsbook based on various factors. Home advantage, injuries, and form all apply to set the betting line, however, keep an eye out during the week for the best odds as the line can drift over time.

What do NFL betting lines mean?

NFL betting lines are how favoured or less-favoured an outcome is. These are indicated by the decimal odds.

What is the spread in NFL betting?

Here’s how to bet against the spread in the NFL. If the team that you select is -4.5 on the spread, that team would have to win by more than five points to cover the spread.

How do you read NFL betting odds?

Betting odds are indicated by decimals. The lower the decimal, the more favoured that team/outcome is. If you place a wager on a team which has odds of 1.15, a $100 bet would return $115 if it comes in.

What does +1 mean in NFL betting?

+1 shows the handicap or spread for a team within the game. If the team is valued at +1 on the spread, they’d have to win the game or not lose by more than one point.

What does Su mean in NFL betting?

Su stands for straight up. This refers to whether a team has won the game, disregarding the spread.

What is the handle in NFL betting?

A ‘handle’ in NFL betting is defined as the amount of money that has been wagered on the game/event.

What does over and under mean in NFL betting?

Over/under in NFL betting is when you place a wager on whether the combined points in the game will go above or below the total set. For example, if the total is set at 45.5, you’d select whether the final score would total over/under that amount.

Who won the 2021/2022 season NFL Finals?

The 2021/2022 NFL Finals champions were the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals at So-Fi Stadium to secure a second Lombardi trophy.

What is the difference between the point spread and the moneyline?

A moneyline bet is the simplest wager on an NFL game. Bettors simply select the team they believe will win the game. The point spread bet is a wager on a team to win an NFL game by a specific number (margin) of points.

Can I bet on individual player performances in NFL games?

Betting sites offer markets on teams and players throughout the campaign. Bettors can wager on quarterback markets, running back markets, and wide receiver markets for every game.

How can I spot value bets in the NFL?

Value can be found in different NFL betting markets. While the moneyline may not offer much value to bettors, value can be seen in bets on players, handicaps, or other markets. A manual search may take time, but value bets can be located. Some bettors may find value in NFL bets by searching odds aggregator websites. These websites compare the odds from different betting websites.

Can I bet on NFL games using a mobile app?

Sporting betting mobile apps allow users to bet on NFL games throughout the season. Users can wager on a variety of NFL game markets or outright markets. Simply download a mobile app from LeoVegas to a tablet or smartphone to begin.

Learn more about NFL and other leagues in our guides:

The Ultimate Guide to the NFL Draft

Discover everything you need to know about the NFL Draft, from scouting prospects to draft day strategies.

NFL Finals 2024: Complete Guide

Find out everything you need to know about having a wager on the NFL Finals. We have broken down the different types of bets available and provided tips.