Football is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to wagering on sports, and with a week in between the bulk of the action every week, there is never any shortage of ways you can bet on it. Below is a look at the most common types of wagers placed in football.
Point Spreads – Unlike most sports on which money lines are the most popular way to bet, point spread bets are king in football. Both sides are generally set at -110 (Bet $110 to win $100), and bettors can bet the favorite while surrendering points (such as -4.0) or the underdog while receiving points (such as +4.0). If a bettor bets the favorite, the favorite must win by more than the amount of points it is giving up; if on the underdog, the underdog must either win outright or lose by less than the amount of points it is receiving. Point spreads in pro football usually range from +1.0/-1.0 to +14.0/-14.0, while college football point spreads can go high into the 30’s.
Over/Unders – Over/Under wagers in football is also very popular, where sportsbooks set a points total and bettors can bet on whether the combined score of both teams will go over or under the bookmakers’ set total. Totals in pro football usually range from about 35.0 in games expected to be low-scoring to 50.0 in games expected to be high-scoring. College football’s low range is about the same, but two offensive-minded teams can see totals high into the 70’s. 35 is a key number due to the fact that it amounts to five touchdowns scored.
Money Lines – While point spread betting is more popular, money lines (or simply wagering on a team to win outright) is still available. Money lines are most popular among underdog bettors and in games with small spreads. Bettors that feel that their underdog has a good chance of winning outright may opt to give up the points in exchange for a better payout on an outright win. In games with spreads of 3.0 or less, underdog bettors often feel that since they aren’t receiving many points, they are better off taking the better payout; favorite bettors on the other hand are sometimes willing to pay a little extra juice to bet their team on the money line to avoid being burned by a close win that fails to cover the spread.
Parlays – A football parlay is a wager in which two or more football sides are chosen, and all must win for the wager to pay out. Football parlays are extremely popular; some bettors like to parlay low-scoring teams with the under or high-scoring teams with the over (semi-correlated parlays) to try to make a bit more money on their sides. Other bettors like to bet big 10 or 12-team parlays, betting a small amount for potentially massive winnings if one of these “lottery ticket” bets happens to hit.
Propositions or “Props” – Proposition bets are also extremely popular as bettors can bet on various team and player statistics as well as specific game events. Common prop bets in football include which team will score first, which player will score first, whether a team’s first possession will be a touchdown, field goal, or turnover, and many more. Bettors can also wager the Over/Under on statistics such as a quarterback’s total yards or passing attempts, or a running back’s total yards or carries. With so many sportsbooks carrying so many proposition bets, if you can think of it, you can probably bet it.
Football Betting Systems – Some bettors like to take the guesswork out of where and when to place wagers, and opt to develop or follow football betting systems. Football betting systems look for specific statistics or game factors (unique to each betting system) that meet a certain criteria, and if that criteria is met, a bet is placed. For example, a bettor may decide that he wants to bet on every team coming off of a double-digit win every time they are at home against a road team with a losing record the following week. Each week, the bettor will look for situations like this, and if they are found will bet on them. Obviously enough, the success of betting systems varies depending on the system followed.
Teasers and Pleasers – Another common way to bet this sport is football teasers and pleasers. These are parlay bets that use alternative point spreads. In a teaser the point spread moves in your favor resulting in a lesser payout, in a pleaser the point spread moves in the bookmakers favor resulting in a higher payout.
A wager type similar to teasers, but also helpful in line shopping, is purchasing half points. You can learn about these on our page the contains our NFL Half Point Calculator.
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Author: Jim Griffin