The average NFL bettor probably doesn’t know the name, Charles K. McNeil. But almost 80 years ago, the former math teacher changed the gambling world forever when he introduced the point spread to betting on football.
Without the point spread, there’s a good chance that betting on football wouldn’t be anywhere near as exciting as it is today. There’s also a good chance that Americans wouldn’t bet upwards of $95 billion football every year.
If you’re going to be a successful NFL bettor, it’s important to understand what “the spread” is and how it works. Here’s a beginner’s guide that will help you make sense of the spread.
What Is a Point Spread?
When people first start betting on football, they often struggle to comprehend what a point spread is and what they need to do to beat it. But the truth is that it’s not nearly as confusing as some people think it is.
A point spread is a number that represents how many points oddsmakers think one NFL team is going to beat another team by during a game. The spread looks like this when it’s presented to bettors by sportsbooks:
- Jacksonville Jaguars -3 @ Carolina Panthers +3
- New York Giants +7.5 @ Dallas Cowboys -7.5
- New Orleans Saints -4 @ Philadelphia Eagles +4
In the examples listed above, oddsmakers believe the Jaguars are 3 points better than the Panthers, the Cowboys are 7.5 points better than the Giants, and the Saints are 4 points better than the Eagles.
That means that if you decide to bet on, say, the Jaguars with the spread, you need them to “cover the spread” and win by more than 3 points to win your bet. If you bet on the Panthers, you need them to either win or lose by less than 3 points.
The spread is what makes things interesting for bettors. You could technically bet on a team like the Giants getting 7.5 points and win your bet, even if the Giants lose 21-14 in their game against the Cowboys.
What Are Point Spread Betting Odds?
In addition to looking at the spread on a game before betting on it, you also need to pay attention to the betting odds attached to it. All games have betting odds that will determine how much you’ll win if you choose to bet on them.
More often than not, the point spread betting odds on a game will be -110. This means that you’ll win $100 for every $110 that you bet on a game. But the betting odds on a game can also fluctuate.
The betting odds on a game are often called the vigorish or the “vig” by sports bettors. The vig is the money that sportsbooks collect for booking games.
Why Are Point Spreads Always Changing?
Point spreads aren’t set in stone. In the days, hours, and even minutes leading up to games, it’s not uncommon at all for sportsbooks to change the spreads on games numerous times.
For sportsbooks, the goal is to attract bets on both teams taking part in a game. In a perfect world, sportsbooks want to see an equal number of bettors taking the favorite and the underdog in a game. This guarantees a profit for them.
It’s a good idea for new sports bettors to get into the habit of monitoring point spreads at all times. It’ll allow you to get the most favorable spread on the game you’re interested in betting on.
Learn How to Bet the Spread to Win Money on NFL Games
You’re not going to be able to rake in the big bucks if you don’t have a firm understanding of the spread. Make sure you know how point spreads work before you begin betting on games.
Make sure you look for spreads that offer a ton of value, too. If you aren’t sure what to look for, call on the pros for help.
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