What Does.5. Mean When Betting?

The NFL has changed the way we look at football. The game is faster, the quarterbacks are smarter, the defenses are more sophisticated, and above all, fans have more expectations. The betting world has changed, too, and when it comes to football betting, there is more than one way to play.

What is the most commonly used method of betting on football? Odds are you’re thinking about how to play the game: You put your money on the outcome (either team wins). In today’s world, this method is generally known as “straight up” or “odds-on-odds.”

But what if you want to make a bet on the match itself? You might think that betting on who will score the most points is the most popular way to wager on a football game, but there is a slightly more sophisticated way of playing the game – and depending on your perspective, it could be the better option.

The Spread

Consider the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. The over/under on the total combined points scored is set at 58.5. The spread on that particular game is opened to -7.5 points (meaning the over will win by at least 7.5 points). This is widely considered to be a smart play because it allows the bettor to hedge his or her bets: If you’re betting on the over/under, you’re risking either getting back less money than you originally spent (if the under wins) or making a profit (if the over wins).

What if we change the game to a game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins? The over/under on total points is once again set at 58.5; however, the spread for that game is currently opened to 10 points (meaning the underdogs will win by that much).

So if you’re willing to risk losing a little on either side of the bet, you can play to win by taking the under. Of course, the opposite is true as well: If you think the over will win, then place a wager on that side and risk losing a little more than you’d like to.

The Straight Up Bet

As we’ve established, playing the outcome of a football game is a pretty simple and straightforward venture. Simply bet on the team you think will win. When it comes to betting on the score of a game, things become a little more complicated. If you’re wondering how to play that game, the simplest approach is to bet on the team you think will score the most points.

As we’ve seen, the over/under on point scoring in the NFL is set at 58.5; however, it’s important to note that this figure accounts for the combined total of both teams. That means if you’re making a wager on one team to score more points than the other, the number you need to use is the total combined points scored by both teams (i.e., 116.5). This is the line Judge Mathis uses to determine the winner of the Superbowl each year (the combined points scored by the teams in the big game determines the NFL champion).

If you think the Atlanta Falcons will have the better of the Baltimore Ravens in net passing yards this upcoming season (a match up between former college teammates), then you might want to bet on that side. Simply follow the same guidelines used for playing the over/under on total points scored in NFL games: Bet on the team you think will have the better season (Falcons), and if you think the other team will win, then place a wager on that side (Ravens). You’ll be glad you did.

The Point-Pro-Tip

Some books will tell you that betting on the score of a game is the same as betting on the total number of points scored. While that may be true in some instances, it’s important to remember that there is more than one way to play the game. The key is in the details. Take the above example featured on this page: If you wanted to play the number of points scored, but you didn’t want to risk the same outcome as we saw above (either the over or under would win), then play the score but use a prop bet to determine the winner. For instance, if you think the number of points scored will equal the over/under, but you don’t want to risk the same game as above, then put down a prop bet on the score of the game. If the Falcons win, you win your bet; if the Ravens win, you win your bet (as long as the over/under has been met).

What is a prop bet? Simply put, it’s a wager placed on an outcome (or event) that will occur in the future. For instance, if you think the Atlanta Falcons will win the Superbowl next season, you might want to place a prop bet on their behalf. Why? While it’s true that the Falcons will win the Superbowl, it’s also true that they might not: If you don’t want to risk losing, then don’t put down a wager on them to do what they were already going to do (win the Superbowl). Instead, put down a prop bet on their score in the Superbowl (this is called a “prop” for short): If they win the Superbowl, your bet will win; if they lose, then you’ll win your bet.

If you’re unfamiliar, you might not know how much time is left in a game. What if you’re watching the game and don’t want to risk losing? You can utilize one of the many NFL odds-checkers available online to gain instant access to the final numbers before the game even starts. (This is also a great place to look for lines, previous bettings, and more.)


Let’s say you’re watching the game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. You’re following along and the score is close enough that you know a score will be announced soon. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get the outcome of that game without having to watch the whole thing? What if, for some strange reason, you missed the beginning of the game and you only know the end results? With a bit of research, you can find the rerun of that game (much like you would with a sports radio station).

What is a rerun? Simply put, it’s a game that was previously played; the only difference is that you’re watching it on tape rather than live. If you want to bet on the rerun of a game, simply follow these same guidelines used for any other game: Bet on the team you think will win (either the Lions or Packers), and if you think the other team will win, then place a wager on that side. You’ll be glad you did.

Instant Action

Thanks to the spread and the rerun, it’s now possible to get fast action on football games. If you’re in need of a quickie, you can find the latest odds, props, and matchups for any NFL game in seconds. (You can use this information to get in on some quick action should you feel inclined.)

You might also feel inclined to jump into a prop bet. If you think a touchdown will be scored by a certain team within the next fifteen minutes, then you might want to place a bet on that side. If you feel confident that the outcome will be the same as in the last game between these two teams, then you might want to bet on that outcome as well.

Playing the score of a game is more complex than it seems. Simply follow the guidelines laid out above and you’ll be able to find the perfect way to wager on your favorite NFL team or match up.