A game in the NFL has two possible outcomes. The first result has been posted on the scoreboard: which team has triumphed and which side has suffered a loss? The second tally is done by bettors: whether the team covered the point spread or beat it by a significant margin. The art of picking winners and losers against the spread is a popular recreational activity. 

Before you engage on this journey, you must first have an understanding of how NFL odds work, as well as how to interpret point spreads and money lines. Remember not to spend more money on gambling than you can afford to lose, and remember that gambling can become addictive. 

What is the Point Spread?

The oddsmakers do more than just predict who will win and who will lose each game. In order to determine which team is preferred by how many points, they take into account a variety of criteria. In each game, they establish an initial point spread, which they then modify up or down based on betting patterns. 


For example, if the New York Jets are 6-point favorites over the Cleveland Browns, they must win by a margin of seven points or more in order to pay out winning wagers on the game. When betting on the Browns, you will win your money if Cleveland either defeats the Jets in a convincing fashion or loses by five points or less. 

What is a Push and can the Spread be Half a Point?

A “push” occurs when a team that is favored by six points wins by exactly six points. In this case, the outcome is deemed a “push,” and bettors receive their money back less the bookmaker’s commission. Spreads with half-points are frequently used by oddsmakers in order to decrease the number of pushes. To pay out winning bets, the Jets must defeat the Browns by a margin of four points or more if they are 3 1/2- to 3.5-point favorites over the Browns. 

How to Bet the Point Spread?

The oddsmakers want you to bet on underdogs as well as favorites in order to maximize their profits. They establish point spreads that encourage a balanced approach to bet. When evaluating each team, they take into consideration their win-loss record, the strength of schedule, outcomes versus common opponents, critical injuries, and current performance as well as prior games between the two teams. 

They also assess the significance of home-field advantage and, where applicable, take into account the weather forecast for the game day. If they notice a lot of money being wagered on the favorite, they will raise the point spread during the week in order to encourage more money to be wagered on the underdog. Increasing the amount of money bet on the underdog causes the spread to shrink as the game time draws closer. 

Explaining the Spread

If the Jets are 6-point favorites, the odds are -6 in favor of New York. For example, if the Cowboys are 6-point underdogs, the odds on them are +6. The New York Jets are favored by six points in the betting odds, while the Dallas Cowboys are favored by six points in the betting odds against the New York Jets. 

If you bet on the Jets and they win 34-30, you will have lost your wager because they did not cover the spread by two points. If you bet on the Cowboys, you will win by two points because they beat the spread. 

What is a Moneyline?

With money line wagers, you can bet on winners and losers in a straight-up fashion, without having to worry about point spreads. When there is a minus sign, you bet that amount in order to win $100 in profit on your wager. When there is a plus number, that is the amount of winning profit you will receive for every $100 wagered. 

So, for example, if the Jets have a money line of -200, you would have to wager $200 on them in order to win $100 if New York wins the game by a touchdown. If the Cowboys had a money line of +250, you would make a profit of $250 on a $100 wager if you won. You would win $100 if the money line was displayed as even, and you would win $100 if you placed a winning bet of $100.

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