What is the NFL Betting Line and How to Analyze Trends?

The NFL betting line consists of the main and most popular bets in NFL football betting and includes the point spread, the money line and the over/under on the total points. 

Here is an example of how the NFL football betting line looks on a sports betting site:

Most players will not look any further than the main betting line for NFL wagering, due to the immense popularity and relevance of the three. Football is far and away the most popular sport to bet on for Americans, with 15% of U.S. adults taking part in NFL betting.

In this article we'll go through the most common markets you will be seeing on the NFL betting line.

NFL Betting Line Main Markets

Due to the importance of the markets on the NFL betting line, this is where most bettors begin and end their NFL betting. For most games, there will be over 100 markets available with everything from which player will score a touchdown to whether the final score will be odd or even. 

The markets you will find featured however are the moneyline, total score over/under and the main spread line. These three types of bets are what you see in the photo above, and will see for each game.

Though the moneyline will obviously not change, the numbers used for both the spread and over/under can vary between sportsbooks. When looking at all markets for a game, there are often also alternative numbers that can be played, with different odds for each. 

Some of the other popular markets in NFL betting include: 

  • Futures bet, which team will win the Super Bowl

  • Prop bet, which player to score a touchdown

  • Game to go to overtime or not

  • First scoring play: touchdown, field goal, safety

  • First team to score 

NFL Moneyline Betting Strategy

The betting line consists of the three most relevant types of bets, especially the moneyline as this is the simplest bet a player can make. To win this bet, all you must do is decide which team will win the game. There are a few lesser-known rules that are necessary to know with this NFL bet. 

The biggest factor when it comes to NFL moneyline betting, is that there is always the possibility of overtime. If you choose a team to win, yet they only accomplish victory in the overtime period, then you will not win your bet. 

Over the last decade, there has been a significant percentage of NFL games gone to overtime: 

  • Of all the playoff games, 18.3% went to overtime 

  • During the regular season games, 12.3% went to overtime

  • For the Super Bowl, only 1.9% of the championship games have gone to overtime

These represent a noticeable percentage especially during the playoffs, where you must consider a nearly 20% chance that your bet will not win. To combat that, most sports betting sites will have a separate NFL betting line, which includes overtime, but these will come with lower odds. 

Examining NFL Betting Line Trends

In preparation for making better bets on the NFL, the main betting lines can be observed for patterns or trends before the games. Sportsbooks will not release lines only on game day, betting lines for NFL games will often be released about a week in advance of the next games. 

One of the most popular ways to prepare for Sunday's games is to watch how the odds move for main betting markets such as the moneyline or main spread. This will in turn give you an idea about two different factors. 

  1. How the public is betting, and perceives the chances of certain outcomes
  2. Any changes that may have affected the way the public is betting

The first one can be seen simply by looking at the lines. Once a sportsbook places odds on an event, then they will not be changed by the oddsmakers themselves. Instead, it is the way in which the public is betting that changes the odds. The more money put on one side, the lower the odds will become. 

Once we have observed the public's betting trends throughout the week, what we want to do is understand why the public is betting how they are. There are endless reasons why a person may decide to bet a certain way. Perhaps they want to bet on their favorite team, or for any other obscure reason.

The only trends we will be interested in, however, are the major ones. The changes throughout the week that will impact the majority of bettors. For example, an injury to a key player on one of the teams might push a lot of bettors to wager on the opposite team, thus changing the odds. 

You can use these trends and changes much in the way a broker would buy stocks, by waiting for the right time to wager. Perhaps a well-known expert gives their opinion on why the total will be over, but you remain unconvinced. Waiting for the public to bet based on the expert's advice will give you an opportunity to bet on your original prediction at higher odds. 

Tips for Using NFL Betting Trends 

In order to see which teams and games the other bettors are wagering on; you need to look at NFL betting trends. These can help you win bets in a variety of ways and are used by many professional bettors.

One of the best strategies to use when looking at NFL betting trends is to bet against the public, or where most bets are being placed. 

If you see that most bets are being placed on one team, that means that the odds on the opponent will move up to balance out the bets. When you find these, you can bet on the outcome that you originally wanted with higher betting odds. 

Common advice for winning on NFL betting trends:

  • Follow the sharp money (where the professional bettors are betting)

  • Shop odds on different online sportsbooks

  • Pay attention to both instant and late jumps in odds

The sharps money are the large amounts of money placed by professional bettors. Oftentimes, these bettors can change the odds with a single bet. While it is not always a guarantee that jumps in the odds are from sharp bettors, it is one of the more common reasons.

Point Spread Explained 

NFL point spread betting is another very popular market as it gives two mismatched teams an even chance to win. The spread will either add or subtract points from a team’s total score based on their perceived chance of winning the game. 

For example, if the New England Patriots are the favorites to win a game, then they will have points subtracted from its final score. If you place a bet on its opponents who are the underdog, you will instead have points added onto its final point total. 

The final score of a regular season game: New England Patriots |-7.5| vs. Miami Dolphins |+7.5|: 

New England Patriots 35, Miami Dolphins 28

With a spread bet on the Patriots in effect: 

New England Patriots 27.5, Miami Dolphins 28

With an NFL spread on the Dolphins: 

New England Patriots 35, Miami Dolphins 35.5

If you picked the Dolphins to win with the spread, you will win your bet and if you take the Patriots you will lose. A straight-up NFL moneyline bet would produce the opposite result, as the final score would stand. 

For the Patriots, this is known as not covering the spread, whereas if they had scored just one more point, they would have effectively covered the spread and earned players who made a bet on the NFL giants a profit. 

The best reason to make bets on the point spread is that these will give the player much better odds. Usually, the odds will be completely evened out. This can give you a good payout, however, be wary that around 25% of NFL games are decided by three or seven points. 

One strategy for point spread betting is adjusting the point spread, known as a teaser bet.

Over Under Betting and Meaning

Lastly on the NFL betting line, we come to over/under betting or totals. These bets will give you a statistic that occurs during an NFL game (touchdowns, field goals, penalties, etc.) and a number. 

The player will need to correctly predict whether the number of times that statistic will occur in the game will be over or under the provided number.

On the NFL betting line, this statistic will always be the total number of points scored in the game. 

The most basic way to win this bet is to understand which teams score and which teams defend. Nearly every team in the NFL either plays great offensively or great defensively. If you find a team that does both, then go ahead and put a wager on them to win the Super Bowl, because it is not common. 

Top Teams Yards per Game from the 2020-21 NFL Season:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs 415.8  

  2. Buffalo Bills 396.4  

  3. Tennessee Titans 396.4

  4. Minnesota Vikings 393.3

  5. Green Bay Packers 389

Top Teams Yards Allowed per Game from 2020-21 season:

  1. Baltimore Ravens 214.5

  2. New Orleans Saints 277.5

  3. Green Bay Packers 297.5

  4. Seattle Seahawks 333

  5. Kansas City Chiefs 337

As you can see here, only one team appears in the top five in both offensive and defensive categories, the Baltimore Ravens, who will be playing in this year’s Super Bowl.

If teams are more offensive you should obviously look at the total over, but most importantly is to look at how the team scores and how the opposing team matches up. 

If one of the teams has a deadly passing attack that accounts for most of their touchdowns but the opponent has a strong passing defense or pass rush, then you can expect the offensive team to have some difficulties.

You can also look at current form, the score from the previous games and weather conditions to help you decide on this NFL betting line. 

Where to Make NFL Bets

Like we stated earlier, betting on NFL games is easily the most popular form of betting in America. The championship game, the Super Bowl, is also the number one betting event in the country. 

To get started betting on the NFL games, you have a few options: 

  • Online Sports Betting: While not every state has legal sports betting, there are plenty of states that feature it or will feature it in the future. This means that players have a variety of options when it comes to where to place a bet online. Sportsbooks can vary by state, so checking out each online option is helpful before signing up. 

  • Physical Location: Many of those online sports books will also have physical locations at casinos where you can go to place a bet. Finding these is only a web search away! Once you have found one of these locations, head there and find the lines for the upcoming NFL games.

  • Future Options: As the legalization of sports betting goes further and further, more options will likely open up. There is already talk right now of sports betting becoming available in restaurants and bars. The idea of betting in sports stadiums has also been brought up, which could easily become one of the most popular places to bet just based on the proximity and atmosphere it would provide.

NFL betting remains popular due to America’s love of its sport. With this guide and help from your own research you should have no problems getting started betting on the NFL and owning the NFL betting line. 

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