Betting the Point Spread in the NFL

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With America’s biggest game being the NFL about to get underway, what does this mean for you as a bettor, whether you are a beginner, casual, or a seasoned pro? For many casual or seasoned bettors, this time of year brings big money, but if you are new to the game of online sportsbetting or NFL betting in general, what are your options when it comes to deciding how to wager on your favorite team or game?

The focus of today’s article is just that as we will go more into depth on what it is the most popular betting type when it comes to the NFL and that is the point spread. The point spread or “spread” as it is also referred to can be a bit confusing to understand for some (especially if new) so let’s break it down so that you can gain confidence when electing to wager this type of bet on the NFL.

As you will notice with every sportsbooks here at Wonder Punter, there is what is called an oddsboard which is filled with numbers and symbols for every game a person can bet on. And when it comes to the NFL, sportsbooks will quickly post the odds such as the point spread in advance to try to get a jump on the competition.



Masters at their craft, sportsbook oddsmakers look at every single game and determine a number that will serve as a median between two opposing teams or sides. The purpose of this median number (point spread) is designed to try to generate enough interest for both teams for betting purposes. Sportsbooks need to garner enough interest from “chalk” bettors to back the favorites with the right number of points, but also must try to keep the underdog (“dogs”) in the conversation with enough bettors to want to back them; this is key for the sportsbooks because if a team is much too far of an underdog, the underdog will see very little betting action in the form of bets thrown their way.

Here is an example of what an NFL spread will look like when looking at an oddsboard:

Kansas City -4.5 (-110)

Oakland +4.5 (-110)

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Looking at the point spread example above, the team going in as the favorites (or chalk) is associated with a minus (-) symbol; Kansas City is favored in the game by 4.5 points. For Oakland, they are considered the underdogs in the game according to the oddsmakers by 4.5 points, so their associated value is (+).

For betting purposes of this matchup, you must decide to either back the Kansas City Chiefs at -4.5 points, or go with the underdog Oakland Raiders at +4.5 points. Simply put, can the Chiefs defeat the Raiders by at least 4.5 points or will Oakland keep the game within 4.5 points? Kansas City winning the game by a 17-10 score will produce a winning bet if backing the Chiefs at -4.5 points, however, a final score of 17-13 will produce a losing bet if backing the Chiefs because KC did not cover the 4.5 point spread. Kansas City won the game straight-up (SU) but lost against the spread (ATS).

On the other hand, the Raiders can still lose the game 17-13 but give you a winning bet because they stayed within the +4.5 points difference. Just remember the underdog heading into the game is always given a head start on points. Oakland in this case lost the game straight-up (SU) but won against the spread (ATS).

Keep in mind a team favored to win a game can still win the game straight-up, but “fail to cover” the spread. Question is… “what side of the spread are you on?”



Going back to our above example of the spread with a value of -110 in parentheses (-110), what exactly does it relate to when laying down a wager? The -110 in this case translates to 10 percent being paid by the bettor to the sportsbook for brokering the wager. 10 percent… also known as “juice” or “vig” is the norm on juice being paid to the books, but some sportsbooks may entice a bettor by offering reduced juice, so it is wise to go “price shopping when it comes to getting the best value for your money.

Taking the value at -110, it means you will need to risk $110 to win back $100, but maybe another sportsbook is offering reduced juice at -105 meaning you will need to risk only $105 to win back $100. Again, this is what is referred to as “price shopping” in the sports betting industry… finding the best value with your money.



If your original bet was $110 and you win, you will receive back the $110 ($10 juice) plus the $100 win for a total of $210 in your pocket. However, if you lose the bet, the sportsbook gets your $100 plus the $10 vig on top for a total of $110 out of pocket.



When neither team is able to cover the spread, the sportsbook refunds the wager because the result of the game is a tie or “push” in sports betting terms. An example of this would be the Chiefs favored by -3 over the Raiders +3 with the final score being 20-17 with Kansas City winning.



Sometimes the oddsmakers have a matchup so close, they have the point spread as a Pick ‘EM or (PK). Simply put, the books can’t decide on a favorite or an underdog for the game meaning all you have to do is pick an outright winner; no need to worry about the margin of victory to give you a winning bet.

This same type of point spread wagering can be applied in College Football and the NBA. And, when it comes to “price shopping,” be sure to check out all the different top-rated sportsbooks here at Wonder Punter where you can easily sign-up and place a deposit for what will be an exciting sports betting season!