NFL Betting Online, Where To Bet & How To Bet On The NFL
Pickswise online NFL betting guide has everything you need to know about how to bet on the NFL. We look at the top online sportsbooks for where to bet on the NFL. Our NFL betting experts round up the guide with some NFL betting tips, which will give you some extra knowledge for how to win money in NFL betting.
Online NFL Betting Sportsbooks
How to bet on the NFL
There is nothing like a football Sunday to get the juices flowing and the blood pumping, and it is little wonder American’s favorite sport is also the number one when it comes to betting too.
On any given Sunday, any team in the NFL can beat any other. Former NFL Commissioner Bert Bell coined that famous phrase in 1958 after the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Chicago Bears for the first time in 14 meetings.
The NFL is different from many other sports in that Bell, and his successors at NFL headquarters, have embraced the concept of parity – the attempt to give every team an equal opportunity to be successful.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that means all teams are equally successful, though. Measures are taken to even up the competition, such as a salary cap and allowing the worst-performing teams to select first in the following year’s NFL Draft. But those who appoint the best general managers and coaches and acquire the best players will still rise to the top.
For NFL bettors, the challenge is to spot the opportunities when the stronger teams will have an off-day, and when the weaker teams may just have a chance to shine.
Everyone sometimes loses, even the team who ends up lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and from a betting point of view, it often pays to oppose even the best. In their 2019 Super-Bowl winning season, New England Patriots failed to cover the spread seven times in 19 matches.
It’s the same at the other end of the scale. In the 16-game regular season era, two teams have lost all of their games, but Detroit Lions covered the spread in seven, or 43.75 percent, of their games even in the worst NFL season on record, while Cleveland Browns rewarded their spread bettors four times in their winless 2017 campaign.
The trick for bettors is to identify value and the off-days for the top teams. Ony any given Sunday (or Monday, Thursday, or Saturday in the modern era), any team can defy the odds.
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NFL Betting Markets
In this section, we will pull apart and examine the most common terminology associated with NFL betting markets.
Against the spread (ATS) betting
Against the spread, betting is the most popular type of wagers among NFL bettors. Simply put, betting on NFL spreads involves backing on a team to either win or lose by a certain margin.
Let’s say, for instance, that you place a wager on the New England Patriots (-5.5) to beat the New York Jets. For your bet to be successful, The Patriots would need to win the game by six or more points.
Typically the odds either side of the line are almost equal, and the line is likely to shift more than the odds, while there is the option to take the teaser, which offers a greater/smaller spread for much different odds.
Spreads are often framed with half-point lines to avoid the possibility of a tie (e.g. Dallas +3.5 wins if they win or lose by three or fewer points), but when full-point lines are offered, ties are generally declared a push and voided.
An early handicap line, the Vegas line, is posted based on odds soon as the previous week’s games are finished, and the consensus line can change by a point or two through the week as the latest injury and weather news and the early money influences the price.
The magic numbers on handicap betting remain three and seven -– the points gained from a converted field goal and a touchdown converted by a kick. Taking +2.5 when +3 is available is never wise as three points are going to be a typical winning margin, and similarly, if you can back favorites giving up only 6.5 points rather than seven, that will be well worth it.
Game totals betting
Of course, it isn’t always necessary to pick a team to win or cover the spread. Instead, you can place a wager on the total points that you think will be scored in a particular game by both teams combined.
Sometimes when assessing a game, you can have a fair idea about whether it will be high-scoring or low-scoring, but not such a strong opinion about which team will win. In those cases, a bet on the total points may be for you.
Oddsmakers give their assessment of how many points the teams will score between them, and you bet higher (over) or lower (under). The figure can vary by a fair amount – the early points lines posted for week one of the 2019-20 season varied from 38.5 points to 53.5 points, which a typical line pitched in the mid-40s.
Factors include the weather (bad weather tends towards fewer points, indoor stadiums produce higher make- ups), the strength of the offenses and defenses, and the playing styles of the teams will be taken into account, along with their track record as the season progresses.
Potentially extreme games between two high-scoring teams or two strong defensive teams are often hard for bookmakers to set an accurate mark for. A prime example of this came in the 2018 season when the league’s two highest-scoring offenses, Kansas City Chiefs and LA Rams, clashed on a memorable Monday night in California.
The points line of 63.5 points was the highest they had ever set – and they were only wrong by 41.5 points! The gung-ho teams combined for 105 points as the Rams won 54-51.
The match-up – both sets of offense vs. defense – is the key factor in total points assessments, A strong defense will be hard for even the best offenses to score against, but even usually mediocre offenses will find ways to score against bad defenses.
NFL Prop Bets
Bring fantasy to life by betting on prop bets. Player performance markets are a great way to do just that and offer bettors a chance to support a player to have a good or bad game.
Books offer over/under prices on individual players’ total receiving yards (for wide receivers, tight ends, and some running backs), passing yards for quarterbacks, rushing yards for running backs and often combined rushing and receiving yards for multi-purpose running backs.
There are also longest receptions, longest run, longest successful field goal for kickers and so on. There are even opportunities to support the forgotten folk of NFL betting – defensive players, with lines on the number of interceptions, sacks, and tackles a particular player makes.
The thing to remember with the defensive markets is that players from teams who are up against it will often do well in this market. If you think one team will have plenty of joy running the ball, then taking one of the other team’s linebackers to make a high number of tackles could pay off, similarly if you think a team will do well with their passing game, then look for the cornerbacks and safeties to be charged with bringing them down more frequently.
It’s another area where knowledge of the individual match-ups can pay off. Emerging rookies are often worth a look in these markets as oddsmakers can be slow to latch on to players who have shown they are worth bigger roles in the offense as their first season progresses.
The first touchdown scorer market is an easy one to understand. You pick the player you think will score the game’s first touchdown. Running backs are usually the favourites, ahead of the teams’ leading wide receivers with tight ends generally a big price except for regular red-zone targets.
This is an area where advanced knowledge of match-ups and team tendencies can be a huge help, as oddsmakers’ prices tend not to vary too much from week to week but players can be much more likely to feature in the game plan in some matches than others.
For example, wide receivers will have a much better chance of scoring in games against teams who have cornerbacks who are poor in coverage – check which players scored against a team in other matches – if teams have trouble keeping track of tight ends near the goal line, for example, make your move. This is a smart area in which to react to team news too.
Sometimes you just want more bang for your buck and a great way to have an interest on NFL Sunday is to have a single stake, needing multiple options to come in.
The bigger the stack of teams the greater the bigger the reward, although it is also increasing the chances of losing. There is nothing more satisfying than hitting a big NFL parlay.
For those not wanting to risk being beaten by a garbage-time consolation prize for a big outsider this parlay option can be a better way of getting with a host of favourites across the week. In singles the odds don’t add up to much, but together it can be interesting.
NFL Live In-Game Betting
One of the big boom areas of business is in-play betting and the NFL is perfect for bettors to get involved during the game.
Every play brings the in-play bettor information the pre-match bettor did not have. Exact knowledge of the weather, a proper idea of the crowd noise, injury report information rather than an estimate that may have involved some massaging of the truth by the teams – in every way, the in-play punter is armed with better information than those betting before the game.
So if there’s a match where you consider one player’s injury status to be crucial to your betting plans, or where you were thinking of a total points play but were concerned about a possible snowstorm, remember you have the option to bet even after kick-off.
From the first two drives, you will be able to make an instant assessment of how the coaches are approaching the game and get an early look at whether the other team is likely to be able to deal with it or not.
Some coaching staffs are much better at making in-game adjustments to their gameplans than others, who either never learn or don’t have the flexibility in personnel to be able to change what they’re trying to do.
It’s not so easy when the game is part of NFL RedZone, which whizzes viewers to the best action in every game. But there are plenty of standalone primetime games to which you can give your full attention and you no longer have to be committed to your original thinking if it is not borne out by events
The opposite of the speed of in-play is the future markets where bettors anticipate what will happen over the course of an entire season with the most popular being the market on who will win the Super Bowl market.
Super Bowl betting can sometimes be a little dispiriting. There are 32 teams to choose from and it’s perfectly possible to correctly identify one of the 12 who makes it through 16 regular-season games to reach the playoffs only to find they were bigger odds than they were in September!
A crazy amount of other long-term options are available, including total team wins, odds on teams to win their division and who will come out on top in the Conference. The rewards are often worth it but remember you are locking down your cash for a long period.
One last word on future bets is not to get carried away by the addition of rookies. NFL playbooks are complicated to learn and few youngsters are ready to make a major contribution to a top team in their first season.
The exception is in positions that are less complex to learn and rely more on pure athletic ability, such as running backs – even undrafted rookie rushers have been able to step in and contribute right away.
And talking of the draft brings us to one of the hottest NFL betting events outside of the season. Forget the mock draft – bettors do it for real by wagering on any number of events from number one pick, to the over/under position when a player comes off the board.
Where to bet on the NFL?
They offer a wide range of NFL betting markets, prematch, and in-play live betting. They also have weekly promotions and price boosts on most primetime games.
Most legal sportsbooks offer NFL betting so we recommend you take a look at our best online sportsbooks section to see which ones are legal in your state.
NFL BETTING TIPS: BET SMARTER ON THE NFL
Create your own lines – things can change quickly in the NFL, and if you think your assessment is more valid than those, the prices are based on, trust yourself. One exercise that is well worth doing is writing out your own estimate of the spread for each week’s fixtures before you have seen the lines. Sometimes you will find your figures are more or less the same. Sometimes you might be way off but later realize the reason why the figures are different and that your number should be nearer theirs. But if you think you can see why their number differs from yours and that yours is the right one, that’s the time to bet.
Be selective – you don’t have to bet on all 16 games every week. Every few weeks, it is worth going back to reassess the results of earlier games. What might have looked like a solid benchmark game after week one could end up looking like an outlier a month later.
Public teams – those who pile on the points – tend to be overbet, and it can often pay to start looking at the game trying to make a case for backing the underdogs and only switch to the favorites in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Find your niche – NFL lends itself to betting superbly well with its host of team and individual statistics that can be assessed and argued with, and a plethora of breaks in play in which to reassess, think things over and bet as events unfold.
Find an area that suits your style and stick with it, whether it’s a pre-match parlay, some total points play, or some player props.
The most crucial concept for NFL bettors to remember is that the players are not trying to help you win your bets. The players are only interested in winning the match whatever the margin, and one point will be enough.
That is not tremendously comforting news if you have backed a team to concede a start of 1.5 or 2.5 points successfully, but it can regularly lead to nightmare scenarios.
For example, imagine your initial excitement if you have backed a team to win by seven points and, leading by five with just over a minute left, they intercept a pass or regain possession on downs inside the 20-yard line.
Under normal circumstances, they would be in great shape to have a shot at scoring another touchdown to lead by 12 or kicking a field goal to go eight points ahead. Then imagine your sinking spirits when you realize that the trailing team had no timeouts left, and all your team has to do to seal the victory is for the quarterback to kneel down three times and jog off to the locker rooms.
There are no benefits to winning by a wider margin. Running further offensive plays increases the risk of losing possession again through an interception or fumble, as well as unnecessarily risking injuries to players who have already done enough.
The irrelevance of winning margins is also a factor in the practice of ‘running up the score’ (teams who already have the game in the bag continuing to go all out to pile up more points) being frowned upon in parts.
Regardless of the ethics, there’s no sense in a team who are already over the line reaching deep into their bag of trick plays or exposing more offensive concepts to their future opponents than they need to when some basic runs from the first page of the playbook will eat up the remaining time and get them on the plane home earlier.
Barkin’ dogs – The ‘backdoor cover’ is a situation where underdogs, who have never been in the game, cover the spread with a pointless late score that does not affect the result of the match but can do great damage to the pockets of bettors.
Cheap points can be costly either way, but remember the players and coaches are only trying to win by one – big underdogs can claw back to cover in garbage time.
Regular examples of why it can be smart to back the underdog can be seen on the various websites that chart the weekly fancies of the general public versus the bigger-staking professional punters (often known as Pros v Joes), based on reports from Las Vegas Sportsbooks.
Very often, the most popular picks of the smaller-stakes bettors will be the big teams who are on winning runs, while the ‘sharp’ money is more often on an underdog who might not be quite as bad as the line suggests.
Not all teams are created the same – their approach to winning games will differ depending on the football philosophy of the coach and the players available to them – some are more defensively or offensively minded/ some like to run the ball, some prefer the aerial approach.
For that reason, it’s wise not to have too firm an opinion in your head about which teams are good or poor or somewhere in between – they will all be seen to better effect playing against the teams that match up well for them and not so well against others.
Individual match-ups matter just as much – if a team has begun to show weakness, such as defending tight ends near the goalline, or being susceptible to long-pass plays, that sort of thing is likely to happen again unless they make a personnel move or get a better player back from injury in that position.
These kinds of factors can be particularly helpful when assessing the total points market – good pass defenses can be effective in slowing down even the best wide receivers, and even elite running backs can do little damage if their offensive linemen can’t win at the line of scrimmage.
Learn as much as you can about each unit’s strength in every team, and you will begin to see a bigger picture.