While there are plenty of options to explore at legal sportsbooks, some events just capture the imagination of the masses much more than others. NFL games fall into that category. The most popular sports league in the US has a reach that expands across the globe.
That interest extends north of the border to Canada, and it’s likely to increase in the coming months and years. Legal single-game wagering is on the path to becoming a reality here in Ontario before too long.
Each game on the NFL docket turns into a must-see event when betting is involved. Sportsbooks respond to the demand with every bet you could ask for. This guide to NFL odds will help you make sense of it all.
Latest NFL betting odds
Given the league’s popularity, each NFL game will attract betting interest. As a result, the odds will shift in response to the action. To help you stay on top of what’s happening, our live odds feed pulls together the latest real-time data from the top books. You can compare the current numbers for moneylines, spreads and totals quickly and easily. Here’s what it looks like in action.
NFL opening lines
Prospective bettors anticipate the release of opening lines for each slate of games during the NFL season. This is the first look at the matchup from the perspective of the oddsmakers, and a chance to size up the favourites and underdogs for upcoming contests. The opening lines come out early in the week, so there’s plenty of time to handicap.
The initial release will unveil the numbers for three main bets: moneylines, point spreads and totals. The standard listing calls for the road team on top and the home team on the bottom, with odds and lines to the right.
- Seattle Seahawks +120 +2.5 (-110) O 49.5 (-110)
- Buffalo Bills -140 -2.5 (-110) U 49.5 (-110)
For the moneyline and point spread, negative numbers indicate favourites, and positive numbers indicate underdogs. In this example, the Bills are favoured on the moneyline and 2.5-point favourites on the spread. The line for the total is 49.5 points. Next to the spread and total lines are the actual odds for placing the bet.
When the bets start to come in, if there’s a flurry of activity on one side, then the sportsbook may respond by adjusting the numbers. For example, if lots of bets come in on the Seahawks plus the points, the spread might dip to 2.0 while the odds adjust on both sides.
The odds won’t always be the same everywhere, so you can shop around and compare prices to find the most favourable option. You can place your bets soon after release or wait and see how the market shakes out.
- Betting on NFL opening lines
- Pro: Place a bet before the numbers can move in a direction that’s less favourable to how you want to bet.
- Con: New information may develop as the week moves along, and you won’t be able to take it into account.
- Betting right before kickoff
- Pro: The market has spoken and factored in all of the news and notes.
- Con: The odds may jump to a level that you find much less appealing.
Tracking the numbers from the initial release to the time you are ready to bet should be a key part of your NFL handicapping strategy. This can help you determine which way the market is leaning, and also potentially point you toward news you may have missed.
The standard moneyline bet is one of the simplest ways to get started with NFL betting. You just have to choose which side you think will win the game, and that’s it. There will be odds on both sides, with the range of numbers pointing to the closeness of the matchup.
- Minnesota Vikings +115
- Green Bay Packers -125
For this example, the Packers are slight favourites over the Vikings. If the numbers were further apart, such as -200/+180, then we could interpret that to mean more of a perceived mismatch, while an even smaller gap — like -105/+105 — would indicate a potential toss-up.
Once you’ve made your selection, you simply click on the odds that correspond with your choice. The wager will go on your betting slip where you’ll have to add in the amount you want to bet and verify that everything is correct before submitting.
Payouts on moneyline bets are straightforward, as well. The book will display your potential return, but you can also figure out an estimate from the odds. When odds are negative, that’s how much you have to bet to potentially win $100 — in this case, $125 at -125. If the odds are positive, the number equals your potential profit on a winning $100 bet. Here that would be $115 at +115.
NFL spread bets
One of the most popular bets in NFL circles is the point spread wager. Oddsmakers install a spread that you need to account for to win a bet. The spread can make even the mismatched games equal from a betting perspective.
- Dallas Cowboys +4.5 (-110)
- Kansas City Chiefs -4.5 (-110)
For this game, the Chiefs are 4.5-point favourites. Bettors on that side need Kansas City to win by five points or more. A final of 31-24 works, but a 28-27 win does not. On the Dallas side, the Cowboys can lose by four points or fewer, or they can win outright for spread bets on them to win.
If the Cowboys lose by a score of 24-21, they’ve covered the spread, but they fail to do so with a 35-17 defeat, for example. It can be helpful to think of the spread as an estimated margin of victory as you handicap different possibilities for the contest.
The default odds for spread bets are generally -110, and the numbers can adjust from there in response to betting action. At those odds, bettors would have to wager $110 to collect $100 on winning bets, while a straight $100 bet would return a profit of $90.90.
A totals bet, aka an over/under, is a wager on the total combined points in the game. Oddsmakers will set an estimated number, with odds for either side.
- Over 52.5 (-110)
- Under 52.5 (-110)
A 52.5-point benchmark points to a potentially high-scoring affair. For over bettors, the goal is 53 points or more. A final score of 28-27 works, but 24-23 does not. Under bettors, meanwhile, are looking for 52 points or fewer, so the reverse applies.
NFL totals can range from a low end of around 40 points to 55 or more for potential shootouts. When analyzing a slate of games, it can help to break them down into tiers — low-, mid- and high-scoring — and then handicap from there.
Just like the spread, many books go with odds of -110 as the starting point for totals, but you can expect to see adjustments in response to betting action.
The big three bets from above generate lots of interest, but they’re not the only options on the menu. You can also make some predictions on how the season as a whole and the postseason will turn out. The NFL futures market features a number of options to wager on, including the following:
- Super Bowl winner
- Division and conference winners
- Teams to make or miss playoffs
- Regular season win totals for teams
- Player award winners — MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.
The odds for the top offerings come out in the offseason. The market then stays active nearly all year round. Just like any other bet, the numbers will shift in response to betting action and other developments. As an example, the odds for a few Super Bowl favourites might look like this.
- Kansas City Chiefs +500
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers +750
- Buffalo Bills +1200
If you make the right call on the next Super Bowl winner, you’ll be in line for a nice payout. As an example, a winning $100 bet on the Bills at odds of +1200 would return a profit of $1,200. The odds won’t be exactly the same at all sportsbooks, so remember to shop around to find the best prices for your selections.
Speaking of choices, you can make a single call in the futures market and hope for the best, or you can spread the risk out by placing a few strategic wagers. Regardless of which direction you go, remember that your funds will be tied up at placement. They will remain that way until the outcome is final, so budget accordingly.
Other types of bets
Beyond the wagers above, you have yet more options for betting on the NFL. Prop bets offer multiple additional wagers for each game, live betting lets you wager as the game is playing out, and parlays give you a shot at increased winnings.
NFL prop betting
Props are very popular for NFL games. These are additional wagers that are separate from the actual outcome of the contest. Options will vary, but many popular bets are on individual players and how they’ll perform.
- Total combined TDs for Josh Allen — over/under 2.5?
- Who will have more rushing yards in the game — Aaron Jones or Dalvin Cook?
- Will DK Metcalf score a TD — yes/no?
There will also be props that revolve around team accomplishments or something that may or may not happen during the game. You can find the available props by clicking on the individual contest listings at online sportsbooks.
NFL live betting
Once the game begins, the wagering action doesn’t end. That’s thanks to live betting, a fast-paced style of wagering that lets you react in real-time to what’s happening on the field. You will find updated game lines and various other wagers.
- How many total points before halftime — over/under 24.5?
- Will the Detroit Lions score a TD on this drive — yes/no?
- Who will have more receptions in the second half — Tyreek Hill or Julio Jones?
A sportsbook app is a fantastic companion for NFL games as you can stay on top of all of the live betting options with ease. Odds will shift rapidly, but the top apps are built for the task.
NFL parlay betting
For parlays, bettors include two or more choices on a single betting slip. If you are correct on all of them, you win, but a single wrong choice means the entire parlay loses. For example, you might place a parlay using this trio of NFL moneyline bets:
- Tennessee Titans -142 over Houston Texans
- New York Giants +132 over Arizona Cardinals
- Atlanta Falcons +116 over Chicago Bears
- Total parlay odds: +754
Parlays are high-risk, but the potential is there for great returns if you’re right on all of your picks. For this example, a winning $20 wager would return a solid profit of $152.39, but a single miss equals a complete loss of your betting stake.
NFL Pro-Line odds vs. online sportsbooks
For Ontarians, current legal NFL wagering options start and end with the Pro-Line bets offered by Ontario Lottery and Gaming. Once the province introduces single-game wagering, your choices will expand rapidly. Pro-Line is all about multiple-choice parlay-style games, while online sportsbooks let users pick and choose how they want to wager.
When it comes to NFL betting, there’s just no comparison. As an example, building up consistency with point spread bets is challenging, but you have a much better chance of doing so when focusing on single games and outcomes. There are Pro-Line games with a spread element, but you have to be right on multiple selections in order to win.
As for the odds, you immediately know what you’re getting into with sportsbooks. Since Pro-Line revolves around parlays, it’s not always clear.
Sportsbook house rules for NFL betting
If you plan to wager on the NFL at legal sportsbooks, then know that there are specific rules you’ll need to follow. All sportsbooks have house rules in place for pro football and all other sports. They cover what bettors need to know about wagering and things that could have an impact on a bet. For the NFL, here are the key points to know:
- Bets are live once the game kicks off. They’ll remain active in the event of a slight delay. Venue changes will not impact wagers, but a complete cancellation or postponement will lead to the sportsbook voiding bets.
- Sportsbooks settle wagers based on official data and statistics. The book will not entertain disputes on things you disagree with, for example, an officiating call or questions on the accuracy of the game clock.
- Prop bets on players who are ruled out or who fail to suit up will be void, and you’ll receive a refund of your bet amount.
- In the unlikely event of the complete cancellation of an NFL season, sportsbooks will void and refund futures wagers.
- Bet settlement will be inclusive of any overtime periods unless expressly noted otherwise in the wager terms.
House rules are readily accessible at online sportsbooks. If there’s not a dedicated tab, you’ll find them in the FAQ or help sections. Take the time to get acquainted with the exact rules at the books where you play. While there’s a lot of similarity across the industry, there may be a few quirks here and there.