With the 2018 NFL season now underway, it’s time for football fans to dust off those crystal balls and sharp pens (or, if you’re like me, your finger nails and ballpoint pens) and get ready to place that first (or last) NFL wager. As the year goes on, I’m sure there will be numerous occasions where you’ll need to lay down some cash on the game day outcome. Whether you’re supporting your favourite team or just want to be able to say you were there from the beginning, there’s no shame in placing a wager on the NFL; in fact, it can be a fun way to follow the game you love.
Why Should You Bet On The NFL?
The NFL has been the most popular sports league in North America for nearly a century. It is one of the most lucrative leagues in all of sports, and it attracts a lot of passionate fans who love watching their favourite teams play. There is also a wide range of betting markets available for the NFL, so you’ll never be short of options if you want to place a wager on the game day results.
Many people think that betting on the NFL is only for casual fans or people who want to make a quick buck. Nothing could be further from the truth, as there is actually a lot of strategy that can be applied when betting on the NFL. Professional bettors may wager on all sorts of things, including the spread, total number of points, over/under, and more.
The spread is, in a word, the difference in the combined scores of the two teams after the first forty minutes of the game. This is generally determined by the following:
- The total number of points scored in that first forty minutes (generally referred to as the ‘half’ game)
- The final point differential between the two teams (at the end of the full game)
The beauty of the spread is that there doesn’t need to be any specific reason for it to change at the end of the first forty minutes – it is, in fact, common for it to shift either way based on a variety of factors.
In American football, there is a unique scoring system where both teams typically score and the scoring is adjusted based on the situation. This is generally referred to as ‘total football’ and it can be a little confusing to those new to the game. For example, if a team receives a ‘safety’ – a free kick for an offence that stops a drive – then both teams will score and the team that didn’t get the safety will receive a point bonus.
When betting on the under/over, the point spreads generally work in the opposite direction to indicate that the under team will win. This is why the over/under is frequently referred to as a ‘dog’ or ‘dog race’. You can use this to your advantage by laying money on the under. Similarly, if a team is playing at home, they will have an advantage and it is usually the other way around if a team is travelling.
This is the total number of points scored by one team minus the total number of points scored by the other team. For example, if the home team scores 17 points and the visitor team scores 10 points, then the point differential is 7 points. In general, more points should be scored by the home team than the visiting team in order to ensure that you make the right option.
Total Number Of Points
This is simply the total number of points scored by all four quarters combined. For example, if the game lasts for three hours and there are four quarters, then the total number of points is 12. This can be useful to those who love an even number – like me – if you are trying to even out your score after betting on the under/over.
This is, in essence, the price at which you can get paid (or become entitled to win money) for taking the other team. The oddsmakers set these prices based on the betting market and the game’s various betting lines. In most cases, the favourites will be the teams with the best records and the underdogs will be the teams with the worst records. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, as the oddsmakers may adjust the odds based on a variety of factors, including performance in previous games, injuries, weather conditions (hot and cold), and more.
In the event of a tie, the following schedule will be followed:
- If the home team wins the coin toss, the game will be played on the other team’s home field
- If the home team loses the coin toss, the game will be played on the other team’s home field (with the exception of the AFC Championship game, which will be played on the neutral field)
- If the away team wins the coin toss, the game will be played at the away team’s home field
- If the away team loses the coin toss, the game will be played at the home team’s home field
The rules for playing in the NFL Playoffs are generally the same as the regular season, with the exception of:
- Three-minute warning: Given at the end of the first half and when the half time whistle blows
- One-minute warning: Given at the end of each quarter
- Inactive players: Active players are those in the game at the time of the warning; Inactive players are those not in the game at the time of the warning
- Quarterbacks: All quarterbacks are eligible to return kicks, provided they maintain their starting position
- Running Backs: Running backs can only return kickoffs, and they must be within 10 yards of the goal line
If you want to know more, you can click here for the full rulebook.
Tips For First-Time Bettors
If you’re new to sports betting, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with a few simple strategies that will make you a better long-term bettor. Here are a few tips that I’ve found useful: