How To Bet On Football Games

Football season is upon us, and if you’ve ever wanted to bet on a game but didn’t know how, this article will teach you how to bet on football games.

Betting on a game of football is not only fun, but you can also win money. However, while betting may be easy (pick a winner, right?), it’s tough to win consistently betting on games.

This article is for beginners who want to learn how to bet on NFL and college football games. I’ll explain how the football point spreads, totals, and moneylines work.

How do you bet on NFL games?

There are hundreds of ways to bet an NFL game. However, I’ll focus on the most popular ways to bet on an NFL game: The point spread, total, and moneyline.

Point Spread

The point spread is the most popular way to bet on NFL games. In simple terms, you pick who you think will win the game by more or less than a given number of points.

For example, in Week 1’s Monday Night Football game, the Las Vegas Raiders host the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens opened at a -5.5 point favorite. If you bet on the Ravens’ point spread, you would need the Ravens to beat the Raiders by six points.

Likewise, if you bet the Raiders’ point spread, you would win your bet if the Raiders win or lose by five points or fewer.


The moneyline is a popular way to bet on underdogs. You pick who you think will win the game. If the team you bet wins outright, you win your bet. It can be a little confusing to understand the odds.

I’ll use the Week 1 Sunday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and L.A. Rams as an example. The moneyline opened as Chicago +260 and L.A. -335.

If you bet $100 on the Bears moneyline and win the game, you would win $260. If you wanted to bet on the favored Rams to win the game, you would need to bet $335 to win $100.

Total (Over/Under)

The last way to bet an NFL game that I’ll note in this article is the total. Most people refer to it as the over/under. The idea is simple–you are betting on how many points will be scored in the football game by both teams.

How To Bet On Football
How To Bet On Football: Totals

This season’s Week 1 Thursday Night Football game features the Dallas Cowboys at the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The total opened at 53.5 points.

You would need both the Cowboys and Bucs to score 54 points or more to win the over. To win the under, you would need 53 points or fewer.

How do you bet on a college football game?

Betting on college football is almost identical to betting on the NFL. The point spread, moneyline, and total work the same way they do for an NFL game.

The only difference is that betting on college football totals can be a little more challenging because the NCAA overtime rules work. It’s not uncommon to see totals explode because of three or four overtime periods.

Is it worth betting on football games?

I always tell new football bettors to play for fun. It’s challenging to beat the casino all season. You may have a good week or two, but betting football isn’t profitable for most people.

Betting on football is really fun!

There are some similarities to fantasy football. To have a good fantasy team, you’ll need to dedicate time and energy. The same is true for betting football.

I recommend betting to have fun. It may add some excitement to games you wouldn’t normally watch. And if you’re betting with your friends, it’ll liven up the atmosphere.

By all means, always bet what you can afford to lose.

There are too many stories of people losing everything they have. Bet sober. Always bet responsibly.

How can I win a football bet?

If you take your betting seriously, you can win money betting football. There are professional and semi-professional gamblers who win money betting the NFL and college football.

If you want to start down the path of turning your football betting into a profitable income, there are a few essential things you need to start doing.

1. Bankroll Management & Tracking Your Bets

Every successful football gambler knows how to manage a bankroll and track their bets properly. Choosing the right bankroll management strategy and staking strategy for your betting style will help you navigate losing streaks and lows in your betting performance.

A bettor with good bankroll management will avoid chasing losses, overbetting, and wasting money.

The difference between winning and losing long-term is good data.

When you track your bets, you are gathering data on your performance. You’ll know if you are getting good closing line value or if the markets are beating you.

When I started tracking my own bets, I learned what sports and leagues I was good at betting, what types of bets I won consistently, and what my bet sizing should be.

If you want to beat the casino, start tracking your bets, even if you’re only betting $20 per game.

2. Have Multiple Sports Betting Accounts

Most people don’t shop at one store, so why shop at one sportsbook?

Different sportsbooks have different liabilities, which result in different odds. Every half point matters; we made a shirt because it’s so true. You may find a half-point difference on a point spread, a point or two on a total, or 20-cents on a moneyline.

Generally, in the NFL, you won’t see too many discrepancies on the point spread, total, or moneyline. However, less efficient markets like mid-major college football conferences often have major discrepancies between sportsbooks.

Always have multiple outs. If a line moves against you or the sportsbook screws up lines in your favor, you want to have multiple accounts ready to take advantage of those opportunities.

It’s not hard to open an account at a different sportsbook and move some money over.

3. Avoid Parlays

This is pretty simple–don’t bet football parlays. Ok. Ok. We both know we’re going to bet some parlays. Don’t spend a lot of money on parlays. When I’m feeling the need for a little fun, I’ll bet a small football parlay. When I say small, I’m talking like a twentieth of my normal staking size.

The main reason is football parlays are bad odds disguised as big prizes. It’s fun hitting a $20 4-team parlay to win $500. In the long run, it’s a losing bet that can eat away your hard-earned bankroll.

4. Don’t Bet Your Gut

I’m a firm believer that good gut instincts are essential in being a long-term winner when betting football. If you are betting in-game, you need good gut instincts to make a wager quickly. But those gut instincts need to be formed with great information and data.

If you research the teams and put in the work, you should know how the game will play out. Suppose you feel that “feeling” or gut instinct; don’t ignore it. But use great data for the basis of your betting decisions.

Don’t bet your gut instinct because you feel it. Bet it because you are confident in your research and data.

5. Bet Sober, Don’t Chase Your Losses

I can count on my hand the number of times betting intoxicated worked for me. Don’t lose your hard-earned profits because of too many beers. Likewise, don’t chase a loss.

If you bet within your bankroll, you’ll never worry about a singular loss.

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn about betting sports was risk tolerance. When I started gambling, I wasn’t good at losing. Now I can lose 20 bets without batting an eye because I know it’s a game of peaks and valleys.

If you chase your losses, it’s straightforward to compound the problem, and often you’ll lose more.

The simplest advice I can give, bet sober and learn to accept losing.

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