How to bet on the NFL
The NFL, the National Football League, is the biggest sports division in America and it is continuing to find a bigger and bigger audience outside of its homeland with every passing year.
To those unfamiliar with American football, the rules of the game and the complex league structures can be quite baffling at first, but once you have spent some time studying them, you will discover that they are not too difficult to wrap your head around.
The NFL is one of the most financially successful sporting franchises on the planet and as such, bookmakers and punters alike are always looking for new and exciting ways to make money off the product.
Getting started betting on the NFL can be quite a daunting prospect, but once you have read this guide on the basics of NFL betting, you will be making cash off the sport in no time.
The NFL schedule
For those who follow popular European sports and divisions, getting your head around how the NFL is laid out can prove incredibly tricky.
The NFL is made up of a total of 32 teams, which are split into two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Each of these two conferences in then divided into four divisions, North, South, East and West, with four teams playing in each division.
Each team will play 16 games. They will play all three of the other team’s in their division twice, and will then play against six other teams from their conference, and then four from the other conference.
This then leads to the playoffs, where the eight division winner will all enter and the two best runner ups from each conference, meaning there are 12 playoff teams in total.
After three rounds of playoffs, the division finally reaches the Super Bowl- the holy grail of American Football and one of the most watched sporting events in the world.
In terms of dates, the NFL starts in September and runs until the end of the year, with the playoffs lasting through January and culminating in February at the Super Bowl.
Games are played on a Sunday, with one game each week played on a Thursday and one on a Monday.
Type of bets
The most common type of bet placed on any team sport is the full-time result bet, and American Football is no different. This bet is simply where you predict the full-time result of the game will be a home win, an away win, or a draw.
Over/Under markets are another incredibly popular market when it comes to team sports and they are becoming increasingly popular when it comes to betting on the NFL.
Over/Under markets are simply when you decide whether the total number of points scored in a game is over or under a designated total.
These markets can tend to be quite useful when you feel like a game has a strong chance of having a particularly high or low number of points scored.
Handicaps or point spreads as you may find them called on the US market are very popular bets to place on American Football. In these types of bets, one of the teams, typically the favourite, starts the game with some sort of hypothetical points disadvantage.
For example, team A may start the game with -4 points, meaning they would have to score at five points to win the game.
This is an effective way of evening the odds when you are struggling to find value due to their being too clear of a favourite in a match.
American football may be split into quarters but that doesn’t mean you still can’t use this classic team-sport betting market when betting on it.
Half-time/full-time bets are when you decide which way the result will be going at half-time and then at full-time. You will need to be correct for both of them to win the bet though.
These kinds of bets can be advantageous when there is a team who has a record of either flying out of the gates or completely imploding late in games.
The NFL is a huge market for bookmakers and the majority of the big hitters will have fairly in-depth markets on the division.
Specials in NFL betting can range from bets on individual players to points totals to future bets, with the latter of those three being a particularly popular market.
Most bookmakers will also run markets on the Super Bowl throughout the year, meaning you may be able to pick up decent odds on a fancied team before the season even gets going.
A lot of companies also offer good sign-up bonuses and/or enhanced odds on the sport, especially during the playoffs and the Super Bowl, so you should keep an eye out for these.
Where to bet
A lot of the major bookies will have fairly in-depth markets when it comes to betting on the NFL, but which ones offer the best value?
Paddy Power tends to offer good sign-up bonuses for the NFL, while William Hill and Betway both tend to have some of the best and most in-depth markets for the sport.
If you are unsure as to which bookmaker you would like to use, please check out our bookmakers reviews at the top of the page. You will also find useful how-to guides on how to claim sign-up bonuses from selected bookmakers and useful how-to guides like this one.
NFL Betting Strategies
Betting on the NFL can be tricky business but like other team sports, there are plenty of useful ways you can sharpen up your betting skills for it.
Paying attention to a team’s form, and their records against other teams is highly advised, as is paying close attention to the form of individual players.
You should also be up to date with all the latest injuries and suspensions for teams as this can be a major stumbling block if you are not careful.
Taking advantage of the early betting markets is also very useful here as some bookmakers will often present very generous odds during pre-season.