Most Popular Types of Football Bets

There’s no doubt about it, the popularity of sports betting is now at an all-time high and only growing. What was once a shadow industry operating solely in Nevada or via illegal sportsbooks is now completely out in the open.

With many an increasing number of states allowing sportsbooks to operate legally, sports betting is now big business in the United States and across the world. Because of all this popularity, sportsbooks are now loaded with plenty of action. You can bet on anything these days.

Not only are there dozens of sports from all over the world to wager on, but there are also dozens of wagers to use. From southeast Asian basketball leagues to the NHL, sportsbooks are as busy as ever nowadays.

However, the more things change, the more they stay the same, as, even with all these new options, football remains the sport of choice for the gambling public.

Football is king

Even with the addition of sports and leagues from all across the globe, football remains the biggest draw in the sportsbook. It only makes sense, too, as football is perfect for sports betting.

There are plenty of games every week of the season, yet only once or twice a week for a sense of exclusivity. Whether college or pro, there are big rivalries between schools and cities every week.

The history of football goes back decades now, creating context for stats, records and awards. Basketball has its adherents, sure, and soccer may be more popular globally, but football is king in the US.

Differences between NFL and college football

Football is football, and fortunately for football bettors, the difference between college and professional is very minimal. Of course, pro ball is the better offering as the NFL is the most elite league in the world.

However, the college game has its strong points, as well, giving sports bettors two great options to choose from. The important thing to remember about college football is that it is a more wide-open game. The offenses generally score more points, and the players put up bigger numbers.

Not only that, but there are also slight differences involving the clock, which allows the college game to last longer and be more competitive. When wagering on a college or pro football game, be sure you know how these small differences affect football betting.

Types of common football bets

Football is the most popular sport for gambling, and this may have a lot to do with the fact that all the most popular wagers work perfectly with the sport. It’s as if every bet was made especially for football.

Here, we will look at all the most common bets in the sportsbook and how they relate specifically to football. To be a successful sports bettor, it is important to know how every available bet works but also what you can learn from every wager.

The moneyline bet

The moneyline bet is by far the most straightforward bet there is, as all you have to do is pick the winner. There are no spreads or points or totals to worry about, just one game with one winner. However, this is sports gambling, so it may be straightforward, but it is far from easy.

The moneyline wager asks you to simply pick the winner of a game at the odds provided. The sportsbook sets the odds for the favorite and the underdog.

If your pick wins, you are paid out at the odds you wagered on. If your pick loses, the sportsbook keeps your entire wager. Of course, a tie is considered a push, and all money is returned.

This is a perfect bet for football, as there is a variety of games and odds every week. There are great rivalries, upsets, conference games, playoff games, etc.

Weighing the risk versus reward is key to this wager and can be difficult when it comes to football. Taking the favorite can be low risk, but it comes with little reward, and a loss only compounds the problem. Taking the underdog comes with a great reward, but, of course, has a lot of risk.

The moneyline bet is perfect to use as a hedge in parlays or when you like a certain team but not the point spread.

The point spread bet

If the moneyline bet is the easiest, the point spread bet is definitely the most popular. This wager has it all: It is exciting, original and, to be quite honest, fun. On top of that, and much more importantly, point spread bets are some of the best odds in the sportsbook, and this is because these games are handicapped.

The point spread wager is a handicapped bet that assigns points to be added at the end of the game. The favorite will give these points, and the underdog will receive these points. Then, the points are added to the final score, thereby determining who has won the wager, not necessarily the game.

For example, suppose the Pittsburgh Steelers are three-point favorites versus the Chicago Bears. Once the game between these two teams is finished, you will subtract the three points from the Steelers’ score (or add three to the Bears, same thing).

If the Steelers win the game 14-10, you subtract the three and get 11-10. This means the Steelers have covered the point spread. If the Steelers win the game 12-10, you subtract the three and get 9-10, and the Steelers did not cover. Of course, a tie is considered a push, and all money is returned.

What makes this wager so popular are the odds. Since this is a handicapped wager, the odds get very close to even (meaning you win nearly as much as you wager). The standard odds on a point spread bets are (-110), so, to win $100, you would have to wager $110. Of course, such even odds can mean the wager is tougher to win.

Point spreads are best used independently of all other wagers.

The over/under or totals bet

The over/under, also called a totals bet, is an entirely different type of bet as it has nothing to do with which team wins the game, only the number of points scored. The sportsbook sets a final combined score for both teams, and you pick if the actual score will go “over” or “under” that total.

Just like the point spread wager, the odds on this wager are also very good.

What makes this bet so interesting in football is that the scoring is so distinctive from other sports. Touchdowns are six points, and an extra point is one. Of course, there are also two-point conversions, safeties and field goals to consider.

Scores can add up very quickly in a football game, and since the over/under is only focused on the score, a lot can change from moment to moment.

Over/under bets, like point spread wagers, are also best used by themselves. These are tough bets to win as they are very unorthodox.

Proposition bets

Proposition bets, or props, can be some of the most exciting wagers in any sportsbook. That is the entire point of proposition bets, sparking wagering action in aspects of the game otherwise ignored.

A proposition bet is a specialty wager that can be about any aspect of the game. Will there be a safety in the fourth quarter? Will the starting quarterback throw an interception? Will a running back rush for over a hundred yards? Seriously, proposition bets can be on anything.

In fact, proposition wagers are most popular during the Super Bowl. Sportsbooks are famous for their Super Bowl props. Sports bettors are known to wager on everything from how long the national anthem lasts to who wins the coin flip. These bets are a lot of fun, but don’t get carried away as there are better wagers to make.


The parlay is another interesting football wager, or a combination of wagers, we should say. In actuality, a parlay in and of itself is not a wager as a point spread or moneyline is. It is the combination of two or more wagers into one bet.

You must win every wager to win the parlay. As you can imagine, this is not easy to do, and, therefore, the payouts can be very big.

For starters, a parlay can combine any number of wagers as well as any types of wagers. You can parlay a moneyline wager, two point spread wagers and one over/under bet if you so desire. This is what makes parlays so attractive; you make them, not the sportsbook.

The payouts are interesting, too, as they are the total of all the wagers you’ve combined. So, using the example above, the odds from the moneyline would be added to the odds of two point spread wagers as well as the over/under.

Obviously, these odds can compound quickly, resulting in big-time payouts. However, parlays, as a rule, are tough wagers to win.

Bet live football

Live betting is one of the latest and best innovations in sports betting. This feature allows sports bettors to wager on games that have already started.

No more missing out on action because we missed the kickoff. This is not a bet, only a feature allowing you to bet. It all started in online sportsbooks but has since been moved into brick-and-mortar sportsbooks as well.

Once a game has begun, live betting, or in game betting, is available. Of course, as the time of the game elapses and the scores add up, things change.

With live betting, the odds, lines, point spreads, moneylines and totals constantly change and update themselves. What was once an eight-point favorite before kickoff becomes a three-point underdog in the third quarter, as the live betting feature allows for new wagers to be placed at any point in the game.

Football is perfect for live betting as there is a lot of scoring, unlike baseball or hockey, but also a lot of time between scores, unlike other sports like basketball. One aspect of live betting is getting your new wager down in time before the odds and line change again. With football, this is much easier to do.

Live betting is great for hedging wagers, line shopping or simply sports gambling as usual. New lines forming all the time, in real-time, makes for a completely new sports betting experience. There hasn’t been an innovation this exciting in some time.

Football betting strategies

With so many wagers available, football bettors need to have solid strategies to be successful. Of course, there are thousands of strategies in football gambling lore, but the key is to find ones that work for you.

Here, we keep it simple for you with some of the most popular football betting strategies available today.

Track line movement

One of the biggest benefits of wagering on football is the time between games. College games are almost exclusively played on Saturdays, while Sundays, of course, are reserved for the NFL.

Yes, you will have a few games throughout the week, but Saturday and Sunday are the main two days for football. This schedule is very helpful to football bettors.

Once the lines are set, usually on Mondays or Tuesdays, the wagers and money begin making their way into the sportsbooks. With almost a full week between games, there will be a ton of line movement.

Unlike other sports, this much movement will create not only very attractive lines, but also very honest lines. In fact, the lines you find before kickoff are some of the best in sports betting.

Don’t chase on Monday night

One of the most important rules of gambling is to not chase losses. “Chasing” is when you lose a wager and then immediately try to win back those losses with another, bigger bet.

This is not a good idea and rarely works. Unfortunately, football and its schedule constantly set gamblers up for this situation. Once the weekend rolls around, there is seemingly always another game. The late games follow the early games, and then there are still the primetime games.

Of course, if none of those work, there is always a game on Monday night. Football makes it easy to chase, so be sure you enter every weekend with a solid game plan and stick to it.

Fade the public

As mentioned, football is the most popular sport in the sportsbook and always attracts the most action. Because of this, football attracts as much action from recreational gamblers as it does the professionals.

Plus, the bigger the game, the more recreational money will be on the line. In these moments, “fading the public” becomes a solid football betting strategy.

Fading the public is simply betting against public sentiment. Just by watching the line movement, you can see which team the public is wagering on. So, once you identify the team the overall public is betting on, you wager on the other team.

Of course, this is not a foolproof plan. After all, football lines are very good due to all the action they bring. However, during certain “locks,” the lines will get out of hand, which is the perfect time to fade the public.

Forget your fandom

The word “fan” is of course short for “fanatic,” and, if you’ve ever been to a tailgate party for the Buffalo Bills, this will make a lot of sense. Another big mistake football bettors make is wagering on their favorite teams. The teams they are fans of and fanatics for.

This is usually a bad idea as it becomes very tough to remain objective when evaluating your wager. The best strategy here is to just never bet on your favorite team.


Not only is football the most popular sport in the United States, but it is also the most popular sport in the sportsbook. Sports betting goes hand-in-hand with football, and seldom has there been a better match.

However, just because they go together so well doesn’t mean gambling on football is easy. To be successful, you’re going to have to not only understand the game of football itself, but also all the most common football bets you’ll be using.

Be sure to study all of the wagers you use when betting on football, as each one has something specific to offer as far as odds and action.