What Does a Spread Mean in Football Betting?

A lot of people are passionate about sports and betting, which is no surprise since betting odds are always an essential part of any sports discussion. It is estimated that over 2.2 billion people worldwide regularly follow sports events and bet on them, with the majority of those people being based in Europe.

Bets usually take the form of a straight bet, where the buyer of the bet (the “favorite”) wins if the outcome of the game is as predicted and loses if the outcome is different to the prediction. Bookmakers offer customers more complex betting options in the form of “sportsbooks” which offer odds on multiple games and competitions simultaneously (e.g., the UEFA Champions League and the English Premier League), but in the end, it is all about the odds in betting.

What Is The Favorites Spread?

If you are familiar with NCAA March Madness bracketologies (or just do your research), then you know that there is a bit more to a “favorites spread” than simply the combination of two teams’ spreads. When a bookmaker offers a “favorites spread”, you are usually looking at a bet against the public, meaning that the bettor agrees with most people when predicting the final outcome of the game. In addition to agreeing with the majority of predictions, the favorite spread must also have the edge (or “coverage”) over the other teams in order to qualify as a successful wager.

While this type of wagering is popular among casual and recreational bettors, it is considerably more complex than simply placing a straight bet on the favorite team. Bookmakers look at a variety of factors when setting the odds on a sporting event, not the least of which is the popularity of the teams involved. Let’s take a closer look at how bookmakers calculate the odds on a “favorites spread”:

Public Favorites

Each team that is a part of a favorites spread is given a “public” rating based on various factors. These ratings can be gathered from surveys done by sportsbooks or through statistical analysis of past performances. For example, if you are backing the Green Bay Packers in the upcoming 2018 NFL season, then you are actually placing a bet on the Green Bay Packers, but the line-makers at the bookmaker will adjust your odds based on their analysis of public opinion.

If you are interested in exploring the world of sports betting, then you should familiarize yourself with some of the more popular methods of analyzing football odds, such as the Pro Football Forecaster, which is one of the most popular sports websites dedicated to offering free football analysis.

Bookmakers’ Favorites

Just because one team is the favorite in a game or match doesn’t mean that they will win by a large margin. To put it simply, the favorite team may not have the “best” chance of winning based on their line, but they do have the highest probability of winning based on mathematical analysis and past experience. The team’s performance over the course of the year and previous games against the same teams will all be factored into the bookmaker’s calculations. In order to back the favorite, you are usually looking at a sharp increase in the odds, as the bookmakers believe that the chances of the favorite winning are higher than those of the other, less favored teams combined.

In an attempt to maintain a level playing field, some bookmakers may also adjust the lines on certain games or spread matches in order to equalize the odds. This may mean that the favorite team has fewer favorable odds than anticipated and may require additional wagering in order to cover the spread.

Adjusted Spread

Even the most sophisticated sportsbooks are not perfect, and it is a well-known fact that they make mistakes from time to time. If a bookmaker miscalculates the public’s perception of a team or makes a mistake in their odds calculation, then they may have to adjust them after the fact. When this happens, the bookmaker will publish a new line within 24 hours of the original spread appearing. In some cases, these adjustments can be significant and may completely change the outlook of a straight bet.

As a general rule, the more people that are betting on a game, the more complicated it becomes. This is mostly due to increased odds, but it can also be caused by a mistake on the part of the bookmaker. In the event of a mistake, the line may have to be adjusted several times before the game ends.

Odds Are Everything

The importance of odds in sports betting cannot be understated. Not only do they affect the size of your payouts, but they can also determine the size of your wagers. For example, if you are betting on the Super Bowl and the spread is 3-2, then you are probably looking at a $2,000 bet, whereas if the spread is 6-5, then you are probably wagering $5,000.

The majority of people who are placing wagers on sports are doing so because they like the fact that the lines are generally easy to understand and that winning is usually guaranteed (except in the case of professional, major league sports where scandals are commonplace and fans lose trust in the game). When placing a wager, it is of paramount importance to look at the line as it is presented to you and not rely on any outside sources for information. Only you know what your current line is and what adjustments, if any, need to be made.