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The Top 5 Bet Types for Beginner NFL Bettors

by January 24, 2020

The 2019 NFL season is behind us. You didn’t bet once, but after watching the Super Bowl and seeing your friends’ joy as they counted their winnings, you decided that maybe it’s time for you to get in on the action. You may think you know it all because you’ve had a fantasy team for the last decade or so, or maybe you’ve never even owned one of those. Either way, you’ll want to take the offseason to do some research. Because of the popularity of NFL betting, there are numerous bets available at a variety of sportsbooks. They can all seem enticing, but if you’re just starting out, the five bets below are the ones that you should focus on.

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This is the easiest bet to make when getting started with any sport, but especially with the NFL. The NFL is widely known as the most popular sport to bet on in America, so Vegas is sure to keep a close eye on all lines. This season, Vegas correctly had the Browns as favorites over the Bills when the Bills were 6-2 and the Browns were 2-6. And guess who won? The Browns. Now, any novice bettor would have probably been all over the Bills as underdogs, and that’s exactly what Vegas wants. While the previous example is definitely a cautionary tale about trying to beat Vegas, the great thing about the moneyline is that it requires the least amount of knowledge in order to “beat” Vegas. It’s simple. You bet on the team that you think is going to win. Of course, it’s not that easy as odds are heavily weighted, and you’ll be looking at big numbers like -210 for favorites (bet $210 to win $100.) So, while it’s the easiest bet to make, it really only pays if you take an underdog or are able to parlay a couple of big favorites together. But if you’re just starting out, it’s the easiest way to get your foot in the door and see if you’re on the right track.


Now things are starting to get a little bit tougher. It’s no longer as simple as the Patriots are going to beat the Dolphins (too soon Patriots’ fans?). These bets almost always give better odds to favorites than the moneyline does (generally -110 across the board), but now you have to really look at not just who you like to win but by how much. Knowing football’s key numbers (3, 7, 10). For instance, if you see a spread at -6.5, that means if you pick the favorite and they win by a touchdown, you win. But if the line is -7.5 and the favorite wins by a touchdown, then the underdog wins. Key numbers are simple to understand, but will really help you create your best possible return on investment.


Also known as over/under. Game totals are fun to bet on because you either root for or against points and don’t have to worry about which team is winning or how close the game is. But this can be a lot trickier to bet than many might expect. Everyone wants to bet the over. As sports fans, we all want to sit down and watch a game with a lot of points. With fantasy football so prevalent in the NFL, it can be very easy to get sucked into thinking that all numbers are easy to achieve. Aaron Rodgers is stepping on the field, well, of course, this total is going over. Not so fast. There are a lot of factors to take into account when betting an over/under and one of those factors is how public a team or player is. There is almost always going to be more action on a game involving the Packers than there is on a game involving the Jaguars. Vegas knows which games are going to be the most popular each week and they take that into account when putting together their lines. So while total can be very fun to bet, be wary and really do your research on the strengths and weaknesses of the competing teams’ offense and defenses before throwing down a bet.


Now we’re getting a little fancy. These bets won’t offer great odds, but they will give you the opportunity to parlay with a much better chance of winning. Teasing a line means adding or subtracting points to or from an already existing line. Let’s say you think the Bills should play the Texans close, but you aren’t sure how you feel about them at +2.5. You can tease the line six points to get them at +8.5. That means the spread moved through two key numbers. It’s too good to be true, right?! Exactly! You’re not going to get favorable odds when you tease a line, and you’ll always have to parlay, meaning at least two bets on one ticket, but you’re giving yourself a much better chance to win with these new numbers than with what Vegas gave you to begin with.


This is a bit more daring, but if you think you have a good read on a game, then maybe you want to start venturing into creating your own lines. It’s not easy to do and is certainly the most difficult of the five mentioned, but its’ a great way to start evaluating how well you’re reading the games and also gives you the opportunity to get better odds for your money. A lot of early bettors want to get into player props, but the truth is, they’re not easy to figure out. We all think in terms of fantasy and how “easy” it is to clear 90 yards receiving. But in reality, it isn’t easy and injuries or other circumstances can appear throughout the course of a game. Predicting a game isn’t easy either, but if you see a favorite you really love at -4.5, then it won’t hurt to bump them up to -6.5 for better odds (say +110 instead of -110) without crossing through any key numbers.

The five bet types above require just a basic understanding of the NFL and betting and don’t ask you to do too much. Once you start to watch games as a bettor, then you can start to branch off into player props and parlays, first-half totals, etc. But to begin, you should keep it simple. Vegas knows that the NFL is the most popular sport to bet on, and they know how a novice bettor thinks. And remember, when a line looks too good to be true, there is a good chance it is.

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Philip Wood is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Philip, check out his archive and follow him @Phil_Wood_Jr.

Bet Types, Betting Tips, NFL