Easily the most popular form of betting on NFL games is point spread betting. The spread is put out by books, also called the line, and it gives the bettor the opportunity to bet on the underdog or the favorite. The point spreads make the game more even, as the favorite will be giving points away and the underdog will get points.
The books will come up with a score that they think the favorite will win by and then give those points making it more likely that there will be even money bet on the game. Generally the public likes to bet on the favorite, as that is pretty obvious since they are favored to win the game. However, with the favorites giving away points they not only have to win, but win by the spread.
Here is an example of what a NFL point spread looks like:
Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 +110
Washington Redskins -3.5 +110
The number in this case (3.5) is the point spread for the game and the + in front of that number means the team is the underdog and the - in front of the number means that the team is the favorite. In this case if you bet on the Eagles you will be getting 3.5 points at the end of the game and conversely if you bet on the Redskins you will be giving away 3.5 points. For instance, if you bet on the Redskins to win this game and they win by a score of 27-20. Since you have to give 3.5 points the final betting score is Redskins 23.5 Eagles 20 so you will win the bet. Conversely, let's say the final score is Redskins 21 Eagles 20 and with giving 3.5 points the score is Redskins 17.5 Eagles 20 so you will lose the bet. Obviously, if the underdog wins the point spread does not matter since they will be getting points.
The -110 that is next to each of the teams in this example above means how much money you have to risk to win $100. It can also be broken down as betting $11 to win $10.
The reasoning behind the point spread is to make the teams as even as possible even though one team may be better or another team may be dealing with injuries. The point spread is to make up the difference between the two teams for whatever reason that is. The point spread is not the only way to bet on the NFL, as you can bet the moneyline as well, but the point spread is the most popular way to bet on the NFL.
Point spreads can change during the week before the game, as things can happen like injuries and weather issues. However, what the point spread is at the time you make the bet will be the one you are locked into even if has changed after you made your bet.
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©Bettors Place 2002