NFL Betting

When it comes to betting on team sports, no other markets attract a higher volume of wagering than the American football games of the National Football League (NFL). American-style professional football has endured for over a century, beginning in 1892 with players being paid and wagers being won at Athletic Club matches. The American Professional Football Conference, formed in 1919, was the predecessor of the NFL, which was expanded in the 1960s to its current configuration through a merger with the American Football League.

Today, the NFL comprises 32 teams or “franchises.” They are evenly divided between the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). The conferences are in turn made up of four “divisions” of four teams each. In August each team plays four “preseason” warm-up games, which are followed by a 16-game “regular-season” that extends from September through December. These contests provide a total of 320 match-ups for betting.

In January, the eight division winners, along with the two best “wild card” teams from each conference, participate in a series of single-elimination “post-season” games known as the “NFL Playoffs.” Whichever two teams emerge as the conference champions then square off in early February in the “Super Bowl,” which attracts more wagering than any other annual sporting event in the world.

Even before the pre-season starts, ante post betting gets under way on which team will win the NFL Championship outright. Wagers can also be made on which teams will win their respective conferences and what the final records of each team will be.

Another form of off-season betting is on what college football players will be selected in the NFL’s annual “draft.” Wagers can be made on which players eligible to turn professional will be picked in the first round of selection and what teams will choose them.

Throughout the season, short odds are offered on straight-up match betting, so betting on the spread has become much more popular. Bookmakers give or take points to draw bettors to one side or the other. These wagers do not require one team to outscore the other in order to win—only that the chosen team win “against the spread” (ATS) and cover the adjusted points.

Other popular NFL football bets include first half betting, over/under wagers on the total of the final score, and accumulators known as “parlays,” whereby anywhere from two to ten teams are selected to win on a given day. Parlays offer longer odds, according to the number of winners selected, but all choices must win in order to collect on the bet.

Other common NFL bets are called propositions, or “props.” These are most common during in-running or live betting or for wagering on the Super Bowl. They include bets on which team will score first, how they will score, how many field goals will be kicked over/under, how many touchdown passes will be thrown over/under, and many more.

The vast majority of NFL games are conducted on Sundays, plus a few selected Thursdays and Saturdays, and one highly publicized match-up every Monday night throughout the regular season. The “lines” for these games are set by professional bookmakers in Las Vegas and typically announced on Wednesday for the week following. They will forecast not only which teams are expected to win, but also how much they should win by and how many combined points each pairing is expected to score.

Professional “handicapping” is the art and science of picking winners for wagering with minimal risk. Most experts eschew the preseason games, which are conducted primarily as “exhibition” or “practice” matches that do not count toward qualification for the playoffs. Of all the statistics available for handicapping, ATS records are considered the most significant. Teams that cover the spread tend to pay more in the long run than those that win outright. Upsets are quite common late in the season, especially ATS, and “home dogs” (home teams expected to lose) are often a very good bet.

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