NFL Moneyline Betting

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Back in the day, there was only one way to bet on the NFL: fixed-odds betting. This is a bet where each team is given specific odds to win, and you pick one side or the other – no point spread involved. You can still make these wagers today when you bet on NFL football at Bovada. There are multiple ways to express fixed odds; the moneyline (Aka American odds is the preferred method in the United States, and it should definitely be in your NFL betting arsenal.

 

What Are NFL Moneyline Odds?

Moneyline betting simply require the team you’re betting on to win outright. The odds attached to each team denote an underdog and a favorite, which determine how much you win if your bet pans out. If you’re used to betting on NFL spreads, you’ll already be familiar with the concept of moneyline odds. The lines that are attached to spreads are expressed using the moneyline format. But let’s take the spread away and look at the moneyline for Super Bowl XLII between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants:

Giants   +325
Patriots   –450

The Patriots went into the Super Bowl with an undefeated record in 2007, so they were heavy favorites in this matchup – they were also the designated home team, which is why they’re listed at the bottom. The negative sign in front of New England’s odds tells you they were the favorites, and that you needed to bet $450 to win $100 (or any multiple thereof). That’s an implied win probability of almost 82%.

As for the Giants, they went 10-6 during the 2007 regular season, and they squeezed into the Super Bowl as a Wild Card after winning three playoff games on the road. The positive sign next to their odds shows that New York was the underdog; in this case, betting $100 on Big Blue would have earned you $325. Thousands of people did just that, and they were rewarded when the Giants won 17-14 in an instant classic.

With NFL moneyline betting, you’ll occasionally see a line where both teams have a negative sign next to their odds. This will happen in games that are very close on paper. A standard pick ‘em situation will have each team listed at –110, where you bet $110 to win $100. Again, this will be familiar to anyone who has experience with NFL spread betting, where the standard line on each side is –110.

 

 

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Moneyline Betting Explained

Because there’s a little bit of extra math involved, betting on the NFL moneyline isn’t as popular as betting on the point spread. But they work pretty much the same way when you boil it down. In our example from Super Bowl XLII, if the Patriots had started drawing too much betting action, leaving the sportsbook at risk of exposure, the odds could have been changed to –475 or lower, with the Giants moving in turn to +350 or higher. That would have encouraged more people to bet on New York, helping the oddsmakers balance the action.

When the point spread is adjusted in NFL betting, we talk about the line moving by a certain number of points. With moneyline odds, we talk about cents instead. Shifting the moneyline from –450 to –475, and from +325 to +350, are both examples of 25-cent moves. Moving from –110 to +110 would be a 20-cent move. 

 

NFL Moneyline Betting Strategy

In theory, there shouldn’t be any impact on your bottom line whether you bet on NFL moneylines or spreads. But there can actually be some small differences between the two. Anytime there’s a small favorite involved (say, –2.5 or lower), you might find more value taking the moneyline, where you can get a slightly larger payout in exchange for a relatively small amount of added risk.

On the other hand, when a game involves a really big favorite, it’s often best to go with the point spread. As the moneyline odds for the underdog grow longer and longer, the sportsbook is at increased risk of exposure, so the juice on these lines tends to increase as well. Most NFL football games fall in between these two extremes, so the two types of betting will work out roughly the same. Having said that, if you enjoy the thrill of nailing a big payday (like picking the Giants at Super Bowl XLII), go ahead and take the big underdog on the moneyline if you think the dog is the right choice. Even better, combine several moneylines in an NFL parlay and see if you can hit the jackpot.

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