How to Bet on The NFL

While Canada may not have an NFL team to call its own, that doesn’t mean pro football isn’t a huge deal here. It is. There are several clubs with massive followings across the nation, especially the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks.

Their close proximity to the border certainly helps, but other squads, including the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, are also incredibly popular. Loyalties may be divided, but there’s just no denying the reach of the NFL across the Great White North.

Mobile sports betting apps from top industry operators like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel are available in ON. Our complete guide to NFL betting will tackle everything you need to know.

How to bet the NFL online in Ontario 

For the time being, NFL betting can be found on Pro-Line, which is offered online and at retail outlets by Ontario Lottery and Gaming. Offerings are restricted to parlay games for which users have to be correct on multiple choices to win. In the future, options will expand to actual sportsbooks, similar to what you find in the United States.

When they’re up and running in the province, you’ll be able to get started in a flash. The entire sign-up process can be easily completed on your computer or device. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Click on our exclusive links to get started. This will give you access to the best possible bonus offers.
  • You’ll be brought directly to the registration page where you can follow the prompts and enter your information, such as name, address and date of birth.
  • Once that’s all done, you’ll verify that all of your information is correct, check off some boxes and click submit.
  • Your account will be created instantly. Take some time to look around and get a feel for the layout and navigation.
  • If you’ve registered via computer, download the mobile app for your device directly from the sportsbook website and log in.
  • You can make your first deposit or take advantage of the online sportsbook promotions you receive.
  • Scope out the lines for the upcoming NFL games and get ready to place your bets.

All told, you’re looking at just a few minutes of your time to gain access to a real live sportsbook. Both the bets and other key functions will be at your fingertips whenever you want, including making deposits and withdrawals or simply browsing the odds and bet types.

Here’s one important note to keep in mind: you’ll want to make sure your sportsbook of choice is approved and regulated. If you stick with our recommended shops, you’re good to go. Elsewhere, there are offshore sites which are more than happy to take your business, but that doesn’t make them a good place to play.

In the world of offshore betting, there are no protections in place for consumers, and that includes with your bankroll left on site. Quite simply, there’s no need to take the risk. To spot the offshore sites, look for contact information and home office details. If it’s in an exotic locale you’re not familiar with, that’s a big red flag.

Best NFL betting apps 2021

Options abound in the competitive legal sports betting industry. There are several top operators consistently battling for market share. That’s great news for consumers, as the crowded landscape means that books have to go all out to capture attention. Many do so by offering absolutely stellar mobile apps.

Three of the companies that have really separated themselves from the pack are DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM. All three are outstanding options for online NFL betting. You’ll find odds and lines for every game on the schedule all season long, as well as lots of different bet types to explore. Some of the biggest highlights for the three operators include:

  • DraftKings app: lots of bells and whistles and a great NFL live betting product;
  • FanDuel app: easy to use, lots of different NFL props and the popular same-game parlay;
  • BetMGM app: very competitive odds and a regular selection of intriguing promos.

All three operators have their merits, and it makes a ton of sense to try them all. When taking them for a test run, make note of little things, like the ease of navigation and how all of the main functions work. You’ll also want to dig into which sportsbook offers the best promos throughout the week. One might offer better promos for TNF, while another might include better boosts for Sunday. Most importantly, decide what works best for you and your situation. To help make sense of it all, be sure to check out our detailed reviews of the industry’s top books.

NFL sportsbooks vs. Pro-Line

Pro-Line first debuted in Canada in 1992. It’s a way to legally bet on sports, albeit one with very limited options. The basic game revolves around a card of multiple bet selections. It’s basically a parlay bet for which you have to be right on all choices to win.

Offerings have expanded through the years to include spread and prop elements, but all games are still based on parlays. While it’s possible that the stars can align and you’ll be right on all of your selections, the cold hard reality of parlay betting is this: the chances of winning decrease with each additional choice you make.

For NFL bettors, Pro-Line has been at least something to legally play in Ontario. However, there’s just a lot of negatives when you compare it with sportsbooks. Among the key positives you’ll find with the online books are:

  • The chance to wager on each game in various ways;
  • Clear-cut odds for each selection;
  • The ability to shop around and compare lines between books.

From a features and benefits perspective, single-game wagering clearly beats having to wager on parlays. That said, there are also some negatives to be considered:

  • NFL games are heavily bet, so odds and lines will move regularly;
  • Consistently beating the sportsbook takes effort;
  • The sheer number of choices can be a little overwhelming.

Parlays are also part of the NFL offerings at sportsbooks, so if you’re a fan of that style, it’s still available. Ultimately, with sportsbooks, choice is in the hands of the consumer, so you can wager in whatever mode and at whatever level you’re comfortable. Pro-Line just can’t compare in that respect.

Basics of NFL betting

NFL betting is the most popular option at legal sportsbooks in the US, and we can expect it to be absolutely massive here in Canada as well. There are plenty of different options to explore for each and every game on the docket. We’ve got you covered below. Let’s take a look at all of the top NFL bet types and how they work.

Point spreads, moneylines and totals

The three main pregame bets for the NFL will all see plenty of betting volume at online and mobile sportsbooks. The initial release of lines happens early in the week, and they’ll adjust right up to kickoff. Here’s what an average game listing will look like.

  • Seattle Seahawks  +160        +3.5 (-110)      O 49.5 (-110)
  • Buffalo Bills            -180          -3.5 (-110)       U 49.5 (-110)

From left to right, next to the team names are the odds and lines for the moneyline, point spread and total. Negative numbers point to the favourite, while positive digits are attached to the underdog. Here’s how the three bets work.

Bet TypeHow it WorksExample
MoneylineSimply pick the team you think will win.Bills win 27-24. Bettors on that side win.
Point SpreadTake the favorite minus the points or the underdog plus the number.Seahawks lose 27-24, but they’ve covered the spread.
TotalsPick Over or Under for the estimated total points.A 27-24 game equals 51 points, so the Over wins.

NFL prop bets and futures

Beyond the main pregame bets, there are plenty of other ways to get in the game with the NFL. Two of the other top options are props and futures. The former presents additional wagering opportunities for each game, while the latter lets you make picks on season-long outcomes.

A prop is wager that revolves around something that can happen during an NFL game from the perspective of a team or player, as well as for the contest as a whole. You can find the available options by clicking through on game listings. There are generally lots of different choices to consider for each game. Examples include:

  • Who will have more passing yards—Russell Wilson or Josh Allen?
  • Will there be a pick six in the game—Yes/No?
  • How many total receptions for Stefon Diggs—Over/Under 7.5?

When it’s a prop with two choices as in our examples, it works just like a moneyline bet. There will be odds for both choices, and they may adjust in response to betting action. You’ll also see props with multiple choices, such as the player to score the game’s first TD, in which case there will be odds for all of the possible choices.

A futures bet revolves around an outcome that won’t be decided until a later date. It’s a very popular market in which the odds for the top offerings come out early in the offseason, while others will be unveiled as a season approaches. As bets come in, odds will move, but you can shop around and compare prices. Top NFL futures include:

  • Odds on 2021 Super Bowl Winner
  • Division and conference winners
  • Teams to make or miss playoffs
  • Over/Under on teams’ regular season win totals
  • Player award winners—MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.

The Super Bowl is the most popular market. Odds on next year’s championship will come out soon after the current edition is in the books. The odds for a few of the favourites might look like this.

  • Kansas City Chiefs +500
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers +650
  • Buffalo Bills +1200
  • Los Angeles Rams +1300

The positive odds also tell you how much you would get back for a winning $100 bet. For example, if you place that bet amount on the Rams and they go on to win, you’ll see a return of $1,300. Futures wagers can really ramp up your engagement with the season as a whole, and they can be potentially profitable to boot.

Guide to in-play football betting

In recent times, a new style of wagering has become one of the top options for NFL betting. In-game betting, also known as live or in-play, refers to wagers that you can place during the contest. There will be updated odds on the outcome to reflect what’s happening on the field, as well as lots of different in-game scenarios to consider.

  • Spreads, total and winners for quarters and halves
  • Exact outcome of a current drive
  • Various player, team and game props

Once the game gets started, live betting options will begin to appear. Mobile apps from the top books make it really easy to stay on top of what’s happening. This is a market that moves really fast with the odds and offerings continually updating throughout the game, but you can slow things down by focusing only on your desired markets.

There’s no need to try and take advantage of every live betting opportunity presented. On that note, it can be easy to get caught up in the action with in-game betting. As such, you should always approach it with a clear budget in mind. And stick to that budget. Live betting can enhance your enjoyment of NFL games, but always remember to wager responsibly.

Betting on wild cards, divisional playoffs and the Super Bowl 

Beginning with the 2020 NFL season, the NFL increased the number of playoff teams from 12 to 14. The field size had remained the same since the 1990 campaign, so the new format shook things up a bit. Here’s a quick look at how the postseason works.

  • Seven teams from the AFC and NFC qualify for a total of 14.
  • The top four spots in each conference automatically go to division winners.
  • The remaining three spots in the conferences go to Wild Card
  • Tiebreakers are implemented as needed for both division winners and other qualifiers.
  • The top-seeded team in each conference receives a bye for the first round.
  • The opening round is known as Wild Card Weekend—a total of six games (three in each conference) with winners advancing.
  • Next up is the Divisional Round: three winners from each conference, plus the teams that received byes, That’s four games, two on both sides of the bracket.
  • The winners of these games advance to the Conference Championships.
  • The two winners from these games advance to the Super Bowl.

During the regular season, there’s heavy interest in each NFL game. Interest rises even further come playoff time, and it’ll go completely through the roof when the Super Bowl rolls around. All of the same wager types you know and love will be available throughout the playoffs. For the Super Bowl, the menu of props will expand even further.

  • What will be the result of the coin flip—Heads/Tails?
  • How long will the national anthem last—Over/Under 1 minute 55 seconds?
  • What colour of celebratory Gatorade will be poured on the winning sideline—Blue/Red/Yellow/Orange?

In addition to the entertainment-related offerings geared toward casual fans, there will literally be hundreds of prop bets to sort through for the Super Bowl. Operators truly go all out for the biggest betting event of the year.

Best NFL bets for beginners

When just starting out with NFL betting, it can take a little time to get up to speed. This is true regardless of how well versed you may be with the sport in general. Head into it knowing there’s going to be a learning curve. But remember that curve is far from insurmountable. Here are four specific NFL bets that you can focus on as you build your skills.

1. Moneyline favourites with favourable payouts

The moneyline bet is a great place to start for those new to the game. You just have to pick which side you think will win the game. While that can be easier said than done, you can also use the odds as a guide for the most likely outcome.

You don’t want to just blindly bet on all of the favourites and hope for the best. In fact, that can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, focus on the favourites you feel have the best shot to win. From there, sort through the odds and look for the plays that provide the most value.

A big favourite isn’t going to pay all that much, but you also have to keep things in perspective. If you place a $100 bet at odds of -200, you’ll get back $50 in profit. Where else can you make a 50 percent return just like that? Naturally, there are no guarantees, but you can start to build out consistency with favourites at odds in the -140 to -200 range.

2. Find the upset on the weekly schedule

Every week during the regular season, upsets happen. This takes us back to our earlier point of never just blindly betting on favourites. Anything can happen when athletes step on the field, and the reality is that there’s not much separating NFL teams once you get past the elite squads.

When researching a weekly slate, zero in on the potential upsets. This comes with a big caveat: be realistic. Look for trends that reveal the squad with the poorer record is actually playing better than their standing suggests. Since the underdog will pay out at positive odds, you can make a nice return.

Approaching a weekly NFL slate with an eye toward the favourites you like best and the potential upsets can help to further boost your understanding as you move forward. Additionally, be sure to track your results to determine where you’re hitting and missing the mark. Just like a team, you’re trying to improve game your week to week.

3. Player touchdown props

If you have experience playing fantasy sports, then player prop bets make for a natural gateway into sports betting. Even if you don’t, this particular wager can be a great way to get in on the fun of NFL betting. Your job is to figure out which players will get in the end zone and wager accordingly.

For each game, there will be odds listed for players to hit pay dirt. A player who is a big focal point of the offence won’t have very favourable odds, but there are gems to be found the further you read down the list. Many of the choices are listed with positive odds, so you’ll be in line to at least double your money if you make the right call.

While you won’t always be on the money, this is a great basic bet that can help you hit the ground running. It’s an area where you can build out some consistency rather quickly and improve your understanding of offences. These props are fun and entertaining wagers that can be potentially profitable to boot.

4. Home underdogs in divisional games

The point spread can be a tough nut to crack for even the most seasoned handicappers. For perspective, consider that those who wager on the NFL point spreads at high volumes would consider a winning percentage of 56 percent to be good, while 60 percent would be outstanding.

There’s a lot that goes into handicapping the spread, and there is no single approach that’s going to work every time. However, this is an opportunity that has produced favourable results over the long term. Divisional rivals tend to circle games against each other on the calendar.

While not every game will be close, those who are installed as home underdogs can take it as a slight and deliver an inspired effort as a result. This can be a great wager to focus on for the opening weeks of the season. From there, base it on the closeness of the teams. If they’re in range, the home divisional dog plus the points makes lots of sense.

No matter what strategy you employ with NFL betting, you’re not going to win all of the time. It’s impossible, and those who claim otherwise simply aren’t being truthful with you. The above four wagering examples are good places to start for newer bettors.

NFL betting vs. CFL betting

There are a number of differences between NFL and CFL games, most notably the size of the field and the number of downs on offence. On the bright side, football is football, so if you have a decent handle on one of the leagues, you can get up to speed on the other pretty quickly.

From a top-down view, the main bets work the same, and the basic handicapping principles are translatable from one over to the other. In other words, if you know a lot about one but not much about the other, don’t sweat it. Just take the time to study up and you should be good to go.