How Do Sportsbooks Set Their Odds For Professional Football?

How Do Sportsbooks Set Their Odds For Professional Football?

Published Date · March 25, 2022 · Last Updated · July 5, 2022 ·Read Time · 4 mins

With the recent success of the US Online Sportsbook, the betting industry improves year after year on how the odds are determined. The odds are set so that either side of the wager warrants a bet on either side. This is done to eliminate as much risk as possible for the sportsbook and make sure they come out on top regardless of the final outcome of each bet. The final result of the NFL Odds that hit the online sportsbook page are filled with a lot of math, analytics, and analysis, the likes of which the common bettor will never see. That being said, there is value when wagering on NFL games if you know where to look. But before you dive into the nitty-gritty of betting on online sportsbooks for the NFL, you need to know what numbers you’re looking at. Thankfully our guide below will explain all the NFL odds you will need to know to Bet on Football in the US.

Reading NFL Odds

So right off the bat, you may be wondering what the numbers in the hundreds represent near the team names and wagers. For example, a line like this: Kansas City Chiefs (-200) vs. New York Jets (+170). A negative value means that that team is favored while a plus value means the team is an underdog. These are the betting odds provided by the sportsbook oddsmakers and they’re quite simple to follow once you get the hang of them. The odds for favorites will have the negative sign, and represent the money you need to risk to win $100. So in our example, as the Chiefs are -200 odd favorites, you would need to wager $200 to win $100. On the other side, the odds for underdogs will have the plus sign and will show the money you can win for every $100 wagered. In our example, if you put $100 on the Jets to win, you’ll win $170 if they pull off the upset. 

Moneyline: The example provided above is called the Moneyline. This is the simplest bet in all of the NFL because it just means you have to pick whoever you believe is going to win the game. A Moneyline always has a favorite and an underdog, which can easily be identified by the plus or minus number next to the team name.

Points Spread: Below is an example of what the points spread or what bettors usually just call the “spread”

Giants -7.5 (-110)

Bengals +7.5. (-110)

The Giants must win by at least eight points (more than 7.5) for a bet on them to payout. If the Bengals lose by 8 points or more, they win. The NFL Odds in an NFL Point Spread are generally in a -110 format. This keeps the wagers relatively even like we mentioned before and gets action on both sides of the bet. In contrast to the above example, some spreads are written as whole numbers, such as +/- 8. A ‘push bet’ happens if a whole number ties, so bets are void and money is returned. The NFL Point Spread is a more complicated version of the NFL Moneyline. NFL Point Spread odds are derived from detailed sports analysis. Usually, NFL spreads are read as odds. In addition to handicapping, this can also be called ‘betting the spread’ or ‘beating the spread’ if you win.

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Over/Under: The Over/Under bet is the number of points that the sportsbook believes will happen in the game and makes bettors wager whether it will be over or under that number. The typical over/under wager ultimately depends on the two teams that are playing. If they’re two defensive juggernauts, then the final O/U number will be low. If it’s two teams that love to throw the ball, it will be a higher number. For reference, the average total points in a game since 2015 is 41 points. So keep that in mind when making your first (or next) Over/Under wager. 

NFL Props: NFL prop betting has a wide variety of options to choose from, thus a wide variety of odds is available. They can be as simple as “Will Aaron Rodgers throw more than 2.5 touchdowns in this game? Yes (-225) / No (+150)” to as silly as “What color will the Gatorade be when it’s dumped on the winning Super Bowl coach?” Prop bets are a fun way to stay engaged in the game that doesn’t just rely on the final outcome.

NFL Futures: Similar to NFL Props, the NFL Future bets have a wide variety of options to choose from which also have a wide variety of odds. Most of these are in the positive wagering outcome (plus sign odds) because there’s so much uncertainty when it comes to the NFL on a season-by-season basis. For example, you can wager on things like “Who will win the NFC East?” or “Which team will have the most wins in the season?”. While bettors have to make these wagers typically earlier on in the season, it’s a fun way to stay engaged on a week-by-week basis.


Ian Dincuff

US Content Writer