When it comes to sports betting, the NFL is king. NFL season is the busiest time of year for sportsbooks, whether we’re referring to brick-and-mortar locations or the continuously increasing number of places to bet online.
Football season, as we’ve just seen, goes by in a flash. Unlike the other major pro sports the NFL’s 32 teams only play 16 regular season games a year. Then come just 3 weeks of playoffs before the mega betting party that is the 2020 Super Bowl.
The scarcity of games only ratchets up the importance of each contest. Once you add sports betting to the mix, the interest level goes through the roof. But one of the added benefits of having the action spread out is the extra time it affords for handicapping each week’s games. As a new bettor, you will soon realize that nothing quite beats the thrill of an NFL game with a little betting involved.
Unfortunately, online sports betting is not available in your state. An alternative to sports betting is fantasy sports, which is legal in most states. There are multiple DFS sites to choose from. You can read our full DFS guide here or check out our FanDuel vs. DraftKings article.
And then there were two! Now that the Conference championships have been decided the early line for the Super Bowl is out. At the start of the two-week lead up to the Super Bowl 54 extravaganza, the Chiefs are the early favorite. But not by much:
Expect the lines to move all week as money comes in. See our full breakdown of how to bet on Super Bowl 54 online in the US here:
If you’d rather just pick the eventual Super Bowl MVP, the early lines are also out and, to no one’s surprise, the quarterbacks are the early favorites. Here are the MVP betting lines on Super Bowl 54 MVP on DraftKings as of Jan. 21:
Always check your sportsbook for current odds.
If you prefer to stick to the Daily Fantasy Sports side of things both DraftKings and FanDuel have huge Super Bowl contests on the table.
Both have a $1 million first-place prize. Click the links above to play and collect your exclusive DFS bonuses – $20 at DraftKings and $5 free + $5 on deposit at FanDuel.
On May 14, 2018, the US Supreme Court weighed in on a case brought forth by the state of New Jersey in regards to the legality of sports betting. The High Court sided with NJ and effectively placed the legal question in the hands of states.
The Garden State was up and running quickly. Retail sportsbooks began opening their doors the following month with the online rollout following as the summer moved along. Fast-forward to today, and New Jersey sports betting is a thriving market with several retail and online options for consumers.
While NJ was first to market, it was certainly not alone in moving forward with sports betting. Neighboring Pennsylvania has followed a similar path and went live in the Fall of 2019. Indiana and West Virginia have also since come online as has New Hampshire.
Today over a dozen states have legalized at least some form of sports betting (retail, online or both), while others are deep in the process of legalization as we speak.
To see where things stand on a state-by-state basis, you can check out our US legal gambling guide.
NFL betting can seem intimidating at first, but it suddenly doesn’t seem so daunting once you get a handle on the basics. Let’s walk through it all in full detail, starting with where to place a bet.
For NFL games, three types of bets are the most common: moneyline, spread and totals. Here’s what you need to know about each of them.
There’s also live NFL betting, which means you will be placing wagers on specific events or outcomes as the game moves along including specific team and play prop bets. In addition, there is an active futures market for the NFL. You can place bets on an event which has yet to happen, such as the winner of the Super Bowl or the number of regular-season wins a specific team will have.
As your knowledge of sports betting increases, you may hear references to line shopping. This means shopping around at various sportsbooks to find the most attractive number. Odds and spreads can be different at multiple outlets.
Typically the major books are in the same range, but there are outliers that come up here and there. Also, spreads at some books could vary by a half-point or more. While that may not sound like a big difference, it can sometimes be the difference between a winning and a losing ticket.
Odds can also vary, especially when we are talking about moneylines. For example, the favored team in an NFL game could have odds of -130 at one sportsbook. Another book may be offering odds of -120 for the same outcome.
Again, this may not seem like a significant difference, but the extra return afforded by the book with more favorable odds can add up over the course of the season.
Another area to be cognizant of when it comes to lines is that they will be fluid during the week. After bookmakers release what are known as opening lines, the market responds and places bets accordingly. If a lot of action comes in on one side of the equation, the spread, totals and odds can shift.
When you come across a situation in which the line has moved significantly in one direction, then you can interpret that as a significant amount of action coming in on the other side of the bet.
In fully legalized US states, consumers will have the option of placing their bets online or at a retail sportsbook. For online purposes, the major operators will generally have a web-based and a mobile option for consumers to use.
Experiences can vary. Some operators spend a lot of money on the technical side, and the result is a smooth product devoid of glitches. Other web and mobile-based options may not necessarily be as user-friendly. In the end, the product to use is entirely up to you.
The same rules apply for betting online versus at a retail sportsbook. Often, the sportsbook will be located in a casino. Typically, there will be betting windows that are operated by employees, as well as some self-serve kiosks.
On the retail side, it’s not uncommon to find that the sportsbook has numerous amenities, such as a bar, food menu and multiple television screens to watch the action.
Once again, placing bets online or in-person comes down to user preference, as well as the convenience factor. Placing bets online can be a snap, but visiting a retail sportsbook can certainly be worth the trip.
The majority of online sportsbooks have a mobile app these days for both iOS and Android devices. Many are smooth and easy to use, while others have some kinks that still need to be worked out.
In the end, it all comes down to user preference. Take a look at our recommended sites in the table above and pay attention to usability, interface and overall appearance. When you find one that catches your eye, look for its mobile offering. Those that nail it online will often hit it out of the park on mobile as well.
While sports betting is legal in several US states, there are plenty of operators out there that have serviced US consumers for many years. These operators are also known as offshore betting sites.
These sites have accepted US consumers while pointing to the unclear legal situation as the reason for doing so. Just because many remain open for business isn’t a reason for bettors to take their business there.
Here are some reasons why users should only use legal, regulated sites:
At PlayUSA, we only review and recommend legal, regulated operators. Our advice is to always stick with these sportsbooks as opposed to taking chances with an illegal entity elsewhere.
As the NFL season moves along, noticeable NFL betting trends will develop. Some squads will perform well as favorites, while others may thrive as underdogs. Some teams seem to have a knack for covering the spread, as well as ones with a poor record.
The same applies to situations such as home versus away games, as well as total points scored in a contest. Staying mindful of these trends can help to point out exploitable situations, but it’s important to remember that there is nothing foolproof when it comes to handicapping.
Trends can help paint the picture, but they are far from the only ingredient needed.
Trends can also develop over multiple seasons, but the same note of caution applies. After all, each season is entirely different. Teams improve or decline from year-to-year, while others can remain in the middle. Historical trends can be great sidebars or additional weight for a specific argument, but it’s not a great idea to rely on them alone.
The NFL preseason gets underway in the first week of August with the annual NFL Hall of Fame game. From there, it’s another four weeks of exhibition season with each team playing four contests.
Typically, the third game is the most highly regarded for forecasting purposes, as this is the game in which teams will take an extended look at projected starters.
Some handicappers swear that the preseason offers up numerous opportunities, while another group sits on the sideline and waits for the games that matter.
After Labor Day, the NFL regular season begins. It lasts for 17 weeks with each team playing 16 games. Each squad will have eight home games and eight on the road. Select teams will have international games, which can reduce the equation one way of the other.
During the season, each team will get a week off, which is known as a bye week. The season closes out in Week 17, which is typically the last weekend of December or the first weekend in January.
After the regular season closes, 12 teams will have qualified for the postseason.
Six teams from each conference will make the playoffs. The top two seeds on each side will have the first week of the playoffs off. The first round of the postseason is the wild card, which involves two games from both conferences.
Afterward, it’s on to the divisional round. Four teams are left in both conferences at this point, resulting in four games for one of the most exciting football weekends of the calendar year.
The winners from those games will move on to the NFC and AFC conference championships. The winners of the two games will advance to the Super Bowl, the biggest betting event of the year.
While the same principles apply to handicapping games throughout the year, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind. At the beginning of the season, it’s not uncommon to see games which are higher scoring. There are several reasons for this, ranging from personnel turnover to rule changes which the league’s teams adapt.
As the season moves along, defenses tend to catch up. Overall scoring may drop from this point, but that doesn’t mean every game will be low scoring. Once the playoffs roll around, the 12 best teams in the NFL are involved.
Naturally, the playing field is pretty level at this point. However, there are situations in which there are powerhouse teams and weaker members of the field. Lines will generally be tighter as defenses improve and the playoffs get underway, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
As mentioned up above, each season is unique. That said, there are league-wide trends that may develop over the year. These situations are certainly worth factoring into your handicapping process.
Once the regular season kicks off, fans can look forward to 17 weeks of regular-season action. Here is how the games are spread out:
Once the playoffs get underway, there are four games spread over Saturday and Sunday for both the wild card and divisional rounds. Conference championship games take place on Sunday, as does the biggest sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl.
Upsets happen in all sports, but massive ones in the NFL can be particularly earth-shattering due to the amount of attention the league receives. Let’s take a look at two of the more memorable ones in NFL history:
When discussions of huge NFL upsets take place, those are two of the most significant. But there have been plenty of others through the years.
Just because a team is a two-touchdown underdog or so doesn’t mean there’s not a fighting chance. Anything can happen once the games kick-off, after all.
One of the great things about sports betting is that your involvement level can vary as you see fit. Some casual bettors prefer to focus on a game or two per week, and there’s the other end of the spectrum for handicappers who like to tackle the whole slate.
In between those two extremes are various other approaches. Naturally, it’s entirely up to you. The same applies to how you approach the actual handicapping of games. You could take a hands-off approach, rely on specific sources to make decisions or even pay for picks.
There are plenty of bettors who also take the time to develop their detailed routine. It’s entirely up to you, and it also depends on the amount of time you have at your disposal.
If you’re looking to develop your own system, it can help to start small and expand from there. A great starting point is to use football power rankings, which attempt to assign a reliable numeric value to each team.
Many power rankings are free to use on the internet, while there are also plenty of subscription services which provide metrics. It’s important to remember that power ranking numbers are not the only piece of the puzzle, but they can be a great tool to have in the belt.
When devising your system, focus on the most important statistics, e.g., average points scored and allowed for each team, as well as for and against yardage.
Turnovers and sacks are also helpful metrics to consider. You can even get as advanced as spotting the differences between disciplined and undisciplined squads by looking at things such as penalty yardage.
There are plenty of ways to develop a system, but it’s often helpful to start with the basics and work your way out. You can become as advanced as you like in your research. However, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple and focusing on the areas you deem to be most important.
It’s great to have a betting system, but it’s also beneficial to know the red flags to avoid when it comes to NFL betting.
Here are some of the common mistakes that inexperienced bettors can make:
The list is far from all-encompassing, but those are some of the most significant potential NFL betting mistakes.
Handicapping games revolves around numbers, whether we’re talking about point spreads or specific stats.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more important numbers to consider when handicapping games:
Following along with the wisdom of the crowds can be useful in many situations. However, sports betting is one of those scenarios in which it can be quite fruitful to take a different approach.
Betting against the public means going against the grain of popular sentiment. Also known as the contrarian approach, which means you’re taking a stance that’s the opposite of what the majority may think.
Most oddsmakers are very good. They’ve spent years perfecting their craft and working their way into that position with sportsbooks, which are massive companies that have a wealth of data at their fingertips.
Said another way, the sportsbooks don’t make a habit of being wrong. If they were constantly losing money and/or facing lopsided propositions on numerous bets, there would be changes to come at that sportsbook.
Of course, the public can be right about specific games or instances. It’s certainly worth the time taken to understand the lay of the land in a given week while gaining a sense of where most of the public money has come in.
However, you also shouldn’t follow this blindly. Don’t be afraid of taking a different stance, as well as looking for opportunities that look ripe for exploitation. There is certainly the possibility that you have picked something up in your research which has been missed in the general chatter surrounding a game.
From a bottom-line perspective, the public is not always right. If they were, many of the massive sportsbooks would be a lot less profitable than they currently are.
A parlay bet is when two or more games or outcomes are linked together on a single betting ticket. To win the wager, you must be correct on all selections.
The home team, or team that is playing in its stadium, is generally viewed as having the edge over the visitor, or away team.
These are bets on an outcome that has yet to be determined, such as the winner of the Super Bowl or league MVP. Futures bets are quite popular in the offseason and throughout the regular season.
Thursday, Sept. 5, with a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.
There are 32 teams in the NFL.
Each team has 53 roster spots. For 32 teams, that means 1,696 players. In addition, each team is allowed to designate up to 10 players for the practice squad.
For the 2018 season, the league generated nearly $15 billion in revenue. Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly has aspirations of reaching $25 billion in revenue annually.
Week 17 is the final week of the regular season, and the playoffs begin the week after. This year, wild card weekend gets underway on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.
The Dallas Cowboys have the moniker of “America’s Team” and are generally considered to be the most popular in the NFL.
What is the lowest-scoring game in NFL history?
On Nov. 7, 1943, the Detroit Lions and New York Giants played to a 0-0 tie.