Betting the NFL Spread

NFL Betting

Betting on one of the world’s best sports is an everyday act, at least during the NFL season it is. As a sports bettor decides to bet on each of the matchups during the regular season, playoffs, and even the Super Bowl, they take into account everything that could affect the outcome of the match. With this predicted outcome, there is one type of bet that can enhance both the experience of betting, as well as enhancing the bettor’s payout if they make the right choice; it is the Point Spread bet.

For anyone not familiar with this type of bet, it is the kind of bet that depends on the final score and by how many points a team won or lost by. I will go over what a Point Spread bet is, as well as a few pointers on how to improve your chances when betting on the point spread, and finally a great strategy to employ, middling.


NFL Point Spread

Most often, when a  bettor comes across an online sportsbook, they will be given the betting lines, which contains bets such as the Money Line, Total Points, and of course, the Point Spread. We will be mainly focusing on the point spread bet as this is an excellent way to compliment the other bets and make some extra money at the same time.

Point Spread Bet

This type of bet depends on the final outcome of a match in order to payout, more specifically, the final score. It uses the amount of points that one team has over the other team, looking at by how many points on team beat the other. The way sportsbooks decide what the point spread is going to be depends highly on which teams will be playing. If the match is between teams of somewhat equal performance, the point spread will be low, while if the match is between a really good team and an average-to-bad team, the point spread will be larger. When looking at the point spread on the betting lines at the online sportsbook, they look similar to this:



Point Spread

07:00 PM

New England Patriots

+1           +100

New York Giants

-1           -120

08:30 PM

Miami Dolphins

+3½        -110

Dallas Cowboys

-3½        -110

For the first match, the point spread indicates that the Favorite, the New York Giants, have to defeat the Underdog, the New England Patriots, by more than 1 point. This is a very close match, considering they were in the Super Bowl final. The same would happen for the other NFL matches and their respective betting lines at the online sportsbook.

For more NFL betting lines visit

Which Bet Pays Out

Depending on which way the bettor decides to wager, there will be different outcomes. When the bettor wagers on the Favorite, in order to win the bet:

1)      The Favorite team not only has to win, but win by more points that what is given in the spread. If the point spread is -1, then the Favorite has to win by 2 points or more for the bet to payout. If the score ties with the point spread, it is a tie, and the bettor simply gets their initial wager back.

For those bettors that wager on the Underdog, several things can happen in order for the bet to payout:

1)      If the Underdog wins the match, the bet automatically pays out.

2)      If the Underdog loses, but keeps the score under the point spread, the bet pays out. In other words, if the spread is +4 on the Underdog, and they lose the match, but the final score is 20-17, the bet pays out since they managed to beat the spread.


Point Spread Strategy

There are several strategies when it comes to betting on the point spread that can help a bettor when they decide place a wager. Looking at the point spread numbers themselves helps a lot, as well as taking into account the “.5”; there is also the possibility of shopping around.

Look at the Numbers

Sportsbooks do not place arbitrary numbers in the point spread. They calculate the best point spread in order to tilt the balance in one way or the other, depending on which team is favored to win. In other words, the numbers mean a lot more than meets the eye.

3 Points

When the point spread shows a 3, these are very good odds for the bettor to wager on the Favorite. As most NFL matches end with just a 3-point difference, there is a likely chance that the Favorite will either tie or surpass that spread.

There is a big difference when the sportsbooks include the .5 or ½ into the spread. If the sportsbook is showing a 3½ point spread, the bettor would have good odds of placing the wager on the Underdog, seeing that if the game ends with just a 3 point difference, the Underdog would win the bet. However, if the spread is showing a 2½, the bettor should probably go with the Favorite.

10 Points

Looking at such a large point spread, the bettor should realize that the match is skewed towards the Favorite. What the sportsbook is trying to do in this instance is balance out that superior advantage the other team has. The decision on which team to bet on could differ, based on how well the Underdog performs at defense versus how good the Favorite is at offense.

Shopping Around

A bettor should always shop around to find the best odds possible when it comes to the point spread. One sportsbook may have better odds for the Underdog to win the bet, while other sportsbooks may have better odds for the Favorite. Finding the smallest difference in spreads can be a gold mine for those that understand how the point spread works. This is also a gateway for a very popular Point Spread betting system; Middling.


Middling the Bet

Middling a bet simply refers to making a bet that is right in the middle. Shopping around is essential as the bettor has to find two different odds at two different sportsbooks. The way middling works is where the bettor will wager on the Favorite at one sportsbook, while wagering on the Underdog at the other sportsbook. Obviously, they will wager on the odds that are best suited for each bet.


Let’s say that the next match is between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears. These figures do not represent real values, and are used as an example.

BetOnline Sportsbook


Point Spread

Indianapolis Colts

+9.5       -120

Chicago Bears

-9.5        +100

TopBet Sportsbook


Point Spread

Indianapolis Colts

+8           +110

Chicago Bears

-8           -110

Even though the point spreads are very similar, they each show an advantage for either the Favorite or the Underdog. TopBet shows an advantage for the Favorite, as they are predicting an average value. While the BetOnline sportsbook would be giving good odds for the Underdog, as the Favorite would have to outscore them by more than 9.5 points; essentially meaning that they need to win by 10 points.

For more NFL betting lines visit

Calculating the Payout

As the bettor would wager on the same match, but placing two different bets, at two different sportsbooks, the risk is halved. At TopBet, the bettor would bet $110, in order to win $100, while at BetOnline, they would bet $100 with a possible payout of $120.

1) The Bears beat the point spread, the bettor will be up $10.
2) The Colts win or beat the point spread, the will be up $10.
3) TopBet ties, BetOnline wins, the bettor will be up $120.
4) BetOnline ties, TopBet loses, the bettor will be down $10.

These are very good odds of winning, at least of winning something. By middling the bets, the bettor is able to reduce the risk of losing large amounts of money, although they also have the risk of getting a smaller payout in the process. Do this enough times, for NFL matches that show different point spreads in different sportsbooks, and it could turn out to be profitable.