How to Bet on NFL and NCAA Football

The NFL is one of the most popular sports to bet on. With the season extending 18 regular season weeks and the playoffs now including 14 teams competing through four weeks of action, there is plenty of football to bet on during the season. Here are some of the most popular bets and tips on how to win them.

While the NFL is the most popular form of football betting at online sportsbooks, there are other types. This includes NCAA college football, USFL, XFL, CFL, Aussie Rules, and arena football. 

The Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event of the year. Millions place bets on it. You can read more about different ways to wager in our Super Bowl Betting Guide.

US Casino Advantage may earn a commission if you accept one of the offers on this page. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

BetMGM Online SportsbookFirst Bet Loss Rebate, Up to $1,000Read ReviewClaim Now21+ and present in AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MD, MI, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV or WY. Loss rebate paid in one or five bet credits, depending on qualifying bet amount. Bet credits expire seven days after issued. Restrictions apply.
Caesars Online Sportsbook$1,250 First Bet Loss Rebate + 1,000 Reward & Tier CreditsPromo Code: VEGADVFULL or VEGADVPICS (in MD)Read ReviewClaim Now21+ and present in AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV or WY. First online real money wager only. Refund issued as a single bet credit that expires 14 days after receipt. MD (21+) offers a different welcome bonus. Restrictions apply.
BetRivers Online SportsbookFirst Bet Loss Rebate Bonus, Up to $500Deposit Code: SPORTSRead ReviewClaim Now21+ and present in AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, LA, MD, MI, OH, NJ, NY (up to $100), PA, VA or WV. First deposit only. One time wager requirement. Players have 30 days to clear bonus. Restrictions apply.

More online sportsbook welcome bonus offers

Moneyline betting

Moneyline betting is one of the most common and simple ways to bet on any sport. Betting on the moneyline is based around the idea of which team is going to win the game. These types of bets are very common for beginners because you simply pick who you think will win and just ride it out. This does not require beginners to learn too much when first getting into betting.

Moneyline betting can be difficult when looking at betting on big favorites though. Value can be quickly drained with bigger lines, but if you really like a big underdog to win outright, moneyline betting can be a way to get a bigger payout. These lines are used as a way to balance out the chances a sportsbook gives a team to win.

Some strategies to moneyline betting are based around the idea of watching the line carefully. Lines typically move in the week leading up to the game. If a team is coming off a surprising loss early in the season, they could find themselves as underdogs in a game they should be favored in. These can lead to good value bets on a team to simply win.

Another big thing to watch is if a game opens with a team as a slight favorite and they keep getting bigger. Figure out why. If it is just because the public is all over them, and not a key injury, betting against the public is not a bad idea.

Avoiding big favorites is another strategy. The risk versus reward of betting big on huge favorites is not worth it. Even the best teams fall. The variance can be brutal, especially for a player with a small bankroll.

Point spread betting

Betting for or against the point spread is a way to bet either side of a football game at relatively even odds. Point spreads are set at about where the books believe a game will end. If the sportsbooks look at the Lions versus Vikings game and believe it will be close with the Vikings winning by about a field goal, the line will sit at around -3 for Minnesota and +3 for Detroit.

When betting against the spread, it is important to watch out for key numbers in games. When a spread gets over 3 and 7 in an NFL game, those are key numbers because those are the two most common scores. 4, 6 and 10 are also three common final point differences to watch out for.

Strategies to use when betting ATS for the NFL is also watching for line movement. Injuries, previous week performance and more can affect the beginning lines, which can sometimes be to the bettor’s advantage. Games could also go over key numbers in the week leading up to a game if the majority of bets continue to get places on the favorite to cover. 

Another key strategy is looking for divisional games over the key numbers. Most divisional games are going to be closer than expected because these teams know each other so well. If you can get a favorable line in a divisional game, it could lead to a good opportunity for the underdog.

Many sportsbooks allow players to buy a half a point in a football game. This usually doubles the juice, or the house edge. The price to move the line a half of a point may double when moving it off or on key numbers like 3, 7, 10 and 14. A standard football bet has a -110 vig. Moving it a half a point would make it -120. Key numbers could make it -130. Make sure the value is there before buying points.

Over/ under betting

The third most common way to bet on an NFL game is the total. The over/ under is a way to bet on the total points scored in the game without choosing a certain team. Both teams’ final scores are added together and whether it is higher or lower than the total line decides which side wins. Over/ unders are usually both set at similar odds in NFL and college action. College games tend to have higher scores, so higher totals are posted by sportsbooks on these contests.

When looking to bet on the over/ under of a game, it is important to look at each team’s offensive and defensive rankings. If two strong offenses are going up against weak defenses, it is likely to be a higher scoring game. These rankings are usually taken into the total placed on the game, but it is still important to watch.

Just like betting against the spread, key numbers to watch out for when betting over/ unders are 37, 41 and 44. These are the three most common totals in the NFL. Watching for lines that go over or under these totals can give someone the edge when betting on over/ unders.

A strategy for over/ unders can be finding the biggest and lowest total for the week and taking the opposite. Early in the season teams can be high scoring, but the later the season gets, the more defense tightens up.

Looking at how divisional games have gone previously is another way to bet the over/ under. If divisional opponents typically play in higher scoring affairs, betting the over could be a strong bet. Teams coming off huge offensive performances can get bigger totals, despite the fact that teams will not put up those numbers every week.


Parlays are exotic bets that can have massive payouts. A bettor includes multiple outcomes in a parlay. It can be a combination of point spreads and totals. Same game parlays allow players to combine prop bets into a single event. Some sportsbooks allow props between multiple games to be parlayed. A handful allow parlays across multiple sports and futures that are not correlated.

All parts of a parlay must win for the player to cash. A push lowers the ticket by one team. If a two-team parlay has a push and a win on it, the bet is graded as a straight win. It is paid as a win like on a single bet. The more teams on a parlay ticket, the higher the house edge.


Teasers are another popular and solid way to bet on the NFL. These wagers are similar to parlays, but have better odds of hitting. To bet a teaser, you pick multiple spreads and totals. From there, you can add different amounts of points to your teaser to give yourself an extra advantage. 

An example of a teaser would be if you took Lions +3, Cowboys +1 ½, and Over 44, you could add +7 points to each to bring Lions up to +10, Cowboys up to +8 ½ and the Over to 37. This is a way to increase the spread and totals to important numbers, while also increasing the payout by tying them together.

The best strategy for doing teasers is to find multiple spreads that are under key numbers and use the teaser to bring these spreads above the key numbers. This gives a more likely chance for each spread to hit and adds extra value to the bet because they are based on each other.

The most common football teasers are 6, 6.5 and 7 points. If one leg of a teaser pushes, the total number of teams on it drops by one. If it is a two-tea teaser with a push, the entire ticket pushes. Any loss kills an entire teaser ticket.

Some online sportsbooks deal 14-point teasers. In these bets, a push causes the entire ticket to lose.


In-play betting is sometimes called live betting or micro betting. It involves making wagers on a game that is already in progress. This is typically only available during commercial breaks. Bettors can place a wager based on the current score and how they think it will end. One perk of in-play betting is that positions can be sold when there is a profit or it can be used as a stop loss. The house vig is typically a little higher for these wagers than traditional ones made before the game starts.

Football prop betting

There are many forms of prop bets. The largest selection can be found during the Super Bowl. Other playoff games also have a wide array of options. Note that prop bets on college games are illegal under Michigan law. Several other states have the same restriction.

Prop bets include alternative point spreads, wagers on a specific player or team’s statistical performance, coin tosses, if a game will go to overtime, if there will be a defensive or special teams score, as well as bets on quarters or halves.