NFL Straight Bets

NFL Straight Bets

What is understood as a straight bet, for any of you sports bettors that are unfamiliar with the term or are just starting out, it is the simplest and most straight forward kinds of bets. In other words, it is a Yes or No kind of bet, pretty easy to understand so far. There are three main kinds of straight bets that can be found at any online sportsbook, and are widely used when betting on the NFL; these three are the Money Line, Point Spread, and the Total Points (Over/Under) bet. There will be a brief explanation of each, as well as example of what they look like.

We will be using the NFL betting lines and odds from the Bovada online sportsbook.

The Money Line Bet

This is the easiest and most common forms of NFL betting. The money line bet is the type of wager that a bettor places on an NFL matchup. More specifically, it is the kind of wager that is used when a bettor wants to determine who will win the match; simply outright win the match. There is no other information or factors involved with this bet.


When a sports bettor is looking at these odds, they are simply looking at which team has better odds of winning than the other. The team that has the best odds of winning is referred to as the Favorite, and the team with the least odds is the Underdog. It is very easy to spot which is which. The Favorite team is always the team that has the “” symbol in front of the odds; while the Underdog can be spotted by the “+” symbol in front of the odds. In the rare case that there are two “” symbols, the Favorite would be the team with the highest number after the symbol. If there are two “+” symbols, the Favorite is the team that has the lowest number after the symbol.

In the above example, the team that is favored to win is the Green Bay Packers, while the Chicago Bears would be considered the Underdogs of the match.

The Point Spread Bet

The Point Spread is a little more complicated form of a straight bet. It still uses the Yes or No determinant factor, but will depend on certain factors on whether or not the bet will win. As the name suggests, this type of bet is determined by the final score and the amount of points between the winning team and the losing team. It is a bet on whether or not the Winning team will be able to “beat the spread”; in other words, if they can out-score the opposing team by more points than are given on the sportsbook.


The above example is showing two important pieces of information; the Favorite vs. Underdog and what the point spread is. We already should know how to determine which team is the Favorite and which is the Underdog depending on their symbols. A bettor can do one of two different things; they can place a bet on the Favorite or they can place a bet on the Underdog. With each option, there are certain criteria they need to meet in order for the bet to win (payout).

Bet on the Favorite

Say the bettor places a wager on the Favorite team, since they do have better odds of winning. The number or value being shown is telling the bettor that the Favorite not only has to beat the Underdog, but they have to beat them by scoring that amount of points more than the Underdogs.

Example: Using the sportsbook information, the favorite would be the Green Bay Packers and the point spread is -5. This means that in order for the bettor to win the bet, the Green Bay Packers have to beat the Chicago Bears by more than 5 points. If the match ends, and the final score spread is of 5 points, that makes the bet a tie, and the bettor simply gets their money back.

Bet on the Underdog

Betting on the Underdog may prove to have its advantages. For the Underdogs to win the bet there are two different possibilities. The first possibility the Underdogs have is to simply win the matchup, this way the Point Spread doesn’t matter and the bettor wins. The other possibility is, even if the Underdogs lose the match, if they are able to keep the final match score difference below the value given in the Point Spread.

Example: Using the sportsbook information, the Chicago Bears are the Underdogs. They have a point spread of +5, which means they have to keep the final score difference below 5 points; or simply beat the Green Bay Packers.

The Total Points (Over/Under) Bet

The Total Points bet is when the online sportsbook gives the bettor a value, a number. This number represents the “average” total amount of points that they believe will be scored, combining both team’s scores, at the end of the match. The bet is then determined by whether the bettor believes the final total score will be more or less than the number given.


Depending on what the bettor thinks will be the final score of the match; they could place a bet on the Total Points. This is where the Over and Under factors come into play. If the bettor believes that the total final score will be less than the value given at the sportsbook, they will place their bet on the Under option. However, if they believe that the total final score will be more than the value given at the sportsbook, they will place their bet on the Over option.

Example: The total final score that is being predicted by the Bovada sportsbook for the Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears matchup is of 51½ points. If the bettor believes the final score will be less than 51½ points, they will place their bet on the Under, but if they believe the final score will surpass the 51½ points, they would place their bet on the Over bet.