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FOOTBALL BETTING GUIDE

Football is one of the most popular sports in North America. For some, betting on the top pro league is as exciting as watching, with millions betting on Sunday games. Unlike other sports with tons of games every week of the regular season, each pro football team typically plays one game per week. This builds anticipation and excitement as it gets closer to game day.

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QUICK FACTS

3 popular markets in football:

A trophy is shown signifying the winning team.

Moneyline

A bet on which team will win.

An arrow stretching either way is shown with a plus sign on the right and a negative sign on the left, signifying the Point Spread.

Point Spread

A bet on whether one team’s score will beat or cover an assigned point handicap or margin.

Up and down arrows are shown signifying the Over/Under.

Over/Under

A bet on whether the total number of points will fall over or under an assigned total. Also known as a Total.

ADDITIONAL FACTS

  • Point Spreads in football can be set as whole numbers, or in .5 increments to avoid a ‘Push’. A team with a Point Spread of -8.5 means they must win by 9 or more points to win the point spread bet.
  • America’s major pro football league has a regular season of only 16 games per team, far fewer than sports like baseball or basketball.
  • PROLINE+ features betting on pro and college football

READING ODDS

Every choice you make when betting on football has associated odds indicating which bet is more likely to win, and what the potential payout will be if it does. Here’s an example of a football Moneyline market, showing decimal odds:

MONEYLINE (MATCH)
BUFFALO
1.35
DETROIT
3.30

Decimal odds are the default on PROLINE+, and are relatively simple for calculating payouts. A decimal figure like 1.35 or 3.30 on a betting line means you’re dealing with decimal odds. The decimal amount tells you your potential payout and whether you’re betting on the favourite or the underdog:

  • Payouts are calculated by multiplying your wager amount with the decimal odds. A winning $10 bet with odds of 3.30 pays $33 (including the original bet).
  • The higher number is the underdog, or the less likely outcome. A riskier bet with a higher potential reward.
  • The lower number is the favourite, or the more likely outcome. A safer bet with a lower potential reward.
TIP

You can change your PROLINE+ settings at any time to fractional or American odds.

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COMMON FOOTBALL MARKETS & BET TYPES

POINT SPREAD

One popular way to bet in football is with Point Spreads. It’s all about guessing whether one of the teams will score over, or within an assigned point difference or handicap (‘the spread’). Favourites are assigned a negative (-) Point Spread, meaning they must win by at least the spread amount to win the Point Spread bet. Underdogs are assigned a positive (+) Point Spread meaning they must win the game or lose by that amount or less to win the Point Spread bet.

POINT SPREAD (MATCH)
BUFFALO -6.5
1.91
DETROIT +6.5
1.91

Here’s an example of a Point Spread market. The Point Spread is the number beside the team’s name, in this case 6.5:

  • Detroit is +6.5—if they lose by less than 6.5 points (or win the game), they win the point spread bet.
  • Buffalo is -6.5—if they win by more than 6.5 points, they win the Point Spread bet.

From a betting perspective, the spread keeps a game competitive and interesting. An underdog team can lose the game but still win the spread. A favoured team must do more than just win and score beyond the spread to be a winning bet.

Like all other markets, the green numbers represent the odds and potential payout for choosing either bet.

MONEYLINES

Moneyline markets in football are simply about picking who will win a game, the underdog or favourite.

MONEYLINE (MATCH)
BUFFALO
1.35
DETROIT
3.30

In this example, the odds tell us Detroit is the underdog and Buffalo is the favourite. Making your Moneyline bet is as simple as selecting whichever team you think will win, outright, without spreads or totals.

Bets on the favourite payout less if they win since that is the expected outcome. Bets on the underdog payout much more if they win since that outcome is less likely.

OVER/UNDER (TOTALS)

An Over/Under market is a prediction on whether the total number of points scored in a game will go over or under a set total. This is why you’ll sometimes see them called ‘Totals’.

OVER/UNDER (MATCH)
OVER 50.5
1.91
UNDER 50.5
1.91

In the example above, you’re betting on whether the combined total score of both teams would add up to over or under 50.5. In this example, the odds are even, meaning each outcome is as likely as the other.

Over/Under totals sometimes end in a 0.5 to avoid the possibility of a ‘Push’, just like Point Spread.

OTHER COMMON MARKETS & BET TYPES

HALVES & QUARTERS
Halves & Quarters markets are about choosing whether you think something will happen by the end of a quarter or the half of the game. It could be a Point Spread, an Over/Under specific to a half or quarter, or a Prop Bet on whether there will be a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. It all revolves around different periods of play within the game.

PARLAY
A Parlay is when you have multiple selections on one betslip, and each one of them must win for the overall Parlay to win. The more selections you have in one Parlay, the less likely it is to win, so the bigger the payoff if it does. You can combine different markets (e.g., Moneyline, Point Spread, and Over/Under) from different games and sports into the same Parlay bet.

Combiboost: PROLINE+ offers a bonus multiplier when you add 4 or more eligible selections to any Parlay. If you win, the Combiboost will enhance your payout rate. Learn more about Combiboost.

PROP BETS
Prop Bets or ‘props’ are a type of market for specific outcomes in a game (‘game props’) or outcomes related to a player’s performance (‘player props’). Prop bets are sometimes made as ‘yes/no’ or ‘either/or’ decisions, and in football can often intersect with other betting factors like Totals. Will either of the teams score a 3rd quarter field goal? Which player in Buffalo’s starting lineup will score a touchdown? These are examples of Prop Bets.

LIVE/IN-GAME BETTING
PROLINE+ gives you the ability to bet on games as they are happening, with dynamic odds that constantly update in response to what happens in the game. If Detroit takes the lead over Buffalo late in the game, the odds will likely shift to favour Detroit. This gives you the chance to bet on a scenario you know is likely, but with a lower potential payout if it wins.

COMMON FOOTBALL BETTING STRATEGIES

No sports bet is a guarantee, so use the following strategies with caution. Even if an outcome is likely, it still might not occur. The randomness of sports keeps sports betting unpredictable.

CHECK FOR LINE CHANGES

A sports announcer is shown delivering sports news.

In football, active/inactive player lists are released the morning of a game. If Buffalo’s star quarterback is out for the game unexpectedly, it could have a huge impact on their chances to win. While staying on top of football news could lead to insights that may impact your bet, know that every bet is a gamble. After all, a team can always rally without their star player. Knowing the lineups leading into a game can help you make an informed bet.

KNOW THE TEAMS

A football player is shown with stats around the athlete.

Past performance is not a guarantee of how a team will do in the future, but there are some potentially reliable statistics that can inform who you think will win or lose. If one team has a consistently better performance in key areas like blocking, turnovers, or field goals, then they might outperform in their next matchup. Of course, there’s always the chance of an underdog pulling off an upset, so use team stats with caution.

SET A PERSONAL WIN LIMIT

Three trophies are shown with varying levels of payouts. Underneath each trophy is a checkbox with the middle win limit selected.

It’s no fun to be up and then lose it all. Counter it by deciding on a win limit—the point at which you plan to walk away, even if you’re up. Some players set this at double their bankroll.

THINK ABOUT LOCATION

Home team advantage might sound like pure superstition, but there is some serious research backing its benefit. It makes sense: the crowd’s on your side, you’re not tired from travel, and all of this helps to put you in a positive mindset that can focus on the game. Give consideration to the location of the game, but don’t bank on it as a guaranteed win.

COMMON FOOTBALL BETTING MISTAKES

NOT KNOWING THE LINEUPS
Imagine this: a team is on a winning streak, but tonight their quarterback is out, so they’re more likely to underperform. If that ends up being the case, then a Moneyline bet against them would have been a good bet. The only way you could have taken advantage of this scenario, is by knowing the lineups leading into that game.

You can’t know for sure how players and teams will perform, but you can still factor in historical stats and game developments into your decision-making. That said, knowledge can only go so far—it’s not as powerful (or as fun) as the random chance of the game.

MISMANAGING YOUR BANKROLL
Not establishing a bankroll and planning how much you’re going to spend could result in betting more than you’d intended, which might take the fun out of things for you.

BETTING ONLY ON YOUR FAVOURITE TEAM
Regular season pro football only features 16 games, so every game counts. Think with your head and not with your heart when it comes to your favourite team; if they’re up against a much more dominant competitor, be realistic about their chances and bet accordingly.

TRACKING WINS AND FORGETTING LOSSES
People have a funny habit of remembering the good and forgetting the bad. Sometimes this carries through to their betting. Keep an accurate tally of how much you’ve won and lost for a truer sense of what you’re spending over time.