How to Bet on American Football
The NFL is enjoying an explosion of popularity within the UK. Games are shown on Sky Sports and held across London multiple times a year.
This increase in awareness and popularity has opened up a world of NFL and American Football betting not previously available to bettors in the UK.
Here’s a guide on how to bet on the NFL…
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What are the rules of American Football?
Like the majority of sports, the aim of American Football is to score more points than the opposition. This can be done by advancing the ball into the opposition ‘end zone’ (worth six points) or by kicking the ball in between the posts (worth three points). A further point can be gained by scoring a conversion following a touchdown.
Whilst it may look confusing to an outsider, American Football is a straightforward game in reality. The team with possession of the ball has four attempts to advance 10 yards up the field, if they fail to do so, they turn over possession and give the opposition the chance to advance. If a team does manage to advance the 10 yards, they get another four attempts to do the same thing, the process continues until either the team scores, turns the ball over, or fails to make the 10 yards.
Within an NFL team are two separate teams, the offence and the defence. When the team has possession of the ball the offensive unit is on the field, and when they’re out of possession the defensive unit takes centre stage.
An NFL game is made up of four quarters, each of which are 15 minutes long – should the game be tied at the end of these quarters, it will go to overtime. Whichever team scores first in overtime is the winner.
How to bet on NFL
There are a vast amount of NFL and American Football markets available to punters, and whilst some games may begin at times that are unsocial for the UK market, the popularity of the sport has exploded, with multiple regular season NFL games being held in London every year.
The best way to think of the moneyline for anyone unfamiliar with the term is the standard ‘match winner’ market for most sports. Betting on the moneyline is putting money on a team to win the game outright, this DOES include overtime. If, at the end of overtime, the match is still tied, bets on the moneyline are voided.
For example, if the New England Patriots are playing the Cleveland Browns and a £10 bet is placed on the Patriots moneyline at 1/1, the bettor will receive £20 back if the Patriots win (£10 stake back plus £10 profit).
Perhaps one of the most popular markets regarding American Football is the points spread. The system is almost identical to the handicap system used in rugby betting in the UK.
For example, the New Orleans Saints (favourites) are playing the Miami Dolphins (underdogs). The Saints are given a handicap of -5.5 points and the Dolphins given a +5.5 point handicap – both will be priced up accordingly. This is popular amongst bettors because it gives them the chance to back the favourite at better odds, albeit with increased risk.
In the example, let’s say the bettor backs New Orleans -5.5 to win at 10/11. If the Saints win by at least 6 points, the bet is settled as a winner. If the Saints fail to win, or win by 5 points or less, the bet is settled as a loser.
If a bettor doesn’t feel confident in which way the game will go, they can bet on the Point Total market. This market is very simple, will the total points in the game be under or over the number provided by the bookmaker?
As an example, let’s say the under/over for our Saints vs Dolphins example is 45.0 points and a bettor backs the over. The game ends 32-11, meaning the bet is settled as a loser.
Most Valuable Player (MVP)
The MVP is awarded at the end of every season to the player voted as the league’s best during the regular season. The criteria for being named MVP is often subjective to each individual voter, but a consensus is usually formed over one particular player who stood out amongst his peers – often a quarterback.
Bets on the MVP can be placed prior to or during the regular season, but better value will often be found the earlier the bet is placed before a favourite emerges in the market.
Super Bowl Winner
This is a straightforward bet on which team a bettor believes will win the NFL Championship this season. Odds are usually at their longest before a season begins, but bets can be placed throughout.
NFL Conference Champions
The NFL is split into two separate conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Bettors are able to bet on which team they believe will win either Conference.
NFL Division Champions
Each Conference contains four divisions of four teams. Because of the reduced number of teams, odds are often shorter in Division Champion markets. Bettors can place money on which team they believe will win each respective Division.
Can you bet on the NFL Draft?
The NFL Draft is the process by which teams select the best college prospects to join their roster for the upcoming season. As a general rule – the worse a team was in the season prior, the higher the pick they’ll have in the draft.
Betting on the draft is simple, bettors are able to wager on which player they believe will be selected first. Some bookmakers will also offer odds on players to be picked in the top ten of the draft.
How does NFL live betting work?
NFL live betting is similar to betting in-play on any sport. Markets are offered on a variety of outcomes and potential events within a game. These markets can focus on things such as: Match Winner, Total Points, Total Home/Away Points and Player to Score a Touchdown.
Some of the best value can be available to a savvy bettor who uses the live betting markets, they may see a pattern emerging to play, or may be best placed to take advantage of a game-changing event by betting live.
Can you bet on the NFL playoffs?
The NFL playoffs occur at the end of every season. The 12 (six from the AFC and six from the NFC) best teams from the regular season take part and play for the right to play in the Superbowl for the NFL Championship. Betting on the playoffs can be as simple as placing money on the moneyline of one match, but bettors are also able to wager on which teams will make it to the Superbowl.
The best way to think of the moneyline for anyone unfamiliar with the term is the standard ‘tmatch winner’ market for most sports. Betting on the moneyline is putting money on a team to win the game outright, this DOES include overtime. If at the end of overtime the match is still tied, bets on the moneyline are voided.
See more Betting Guides here.