NFL Betting Lines: The Basics

Betting Lines

The most important aspect that any and all sports bettors should know about are the betting lines. During an a long NFL season, where the bettor wants to wager on all or some of the upcoming matches, they will find that in order to do so, they will need to use the NFL betting lines. This is why it is important for anyone to have a good understanding of what the betting lines are, what factors come into play, and how to use them in order to improve your chances at picking the winner.

This is the first article of many, where we will explain just the basics of what a betting line is and what factors make them up. Read further into this series to get a much better grasp and understanding of what the NFL betting lines are.


Betting Line Information

From the betting lines we can take a great deal of information that is not technical at all. Some of the more basic information that can be found is the Matchup contenders. The more advanced information includes the three main components of any betting line, the Money Line, Point Spread, and the Total Points.

Matchup Contenders

The matchup contenders are simply the two teams that will be facing off against each other during a given week. Looking at the above example we can see that the first matchup is labeled, “Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers”. We know which two teams are going to be playing, as well as which team is on the road and which team is playing at home; the “at” in the phrase means that the AWAY team will be playing at the HOME team. This will help you greatly when it comes time to analyze and compare the teams before placing a bet. It is also necessary for the bettor to determine which team is the FAVORITE and which team is the UNDERDOG, and that is quite easy to do by simply looking at the odds in the Money Line or the Point Spread bet.

The other basic information from the matchup contenders is the date and time of the match. This is done because, no matter how much research and data you read, the most important thing is to watch the games and see how well each team is performing.

The Money Line

The money line is a type of wager, and it will always be found on any NFL betting line that can be found at any of the many online sportsbooks. It is the most basic wagering types, as it is a simple and straightforward bet. The sports bettor will use the money line when they want to bet on which team will ultimately win the match; it is a win vs. lose wager. That is all that goes into this type of wager, and the odds are used to reflect that.

When looking the money line wager on any sportsbook, be aware that it can be represented by many different names. Some of the more common name variations that are used are Money Line, Money, and can be abbreviated with just ML. If you ever encounter weird betting line names, simply look for the option that does not have a Price included with the odds.


The team that has the “” sign in front of the odds is considered to be the Favorite; in other words, the team that is favored to win the particular match. While the “+” sign in front of the odds represents the Underdog, the team with less chances of winning the particular match.

The Point Spread

The point spread is one of the most commonly used and popular wagering types that can be found on the NFL betting lines. The point spread value, not the Price, is used to determine whether the final score difference will be more or less than the value. In other words, if the point spread is -3.5 and the final match score is 35 – 30, then you can say that the winning team “beat the spread”, as the point difference is greater than the value. The sports bettor, using this wagering type, will be determining whether or not one team will be able to “beat the spread”. It will depend on which team the sports bettor wagers on, the Favorite or the Underdog, to determine how the bet is won or lost.


Just like for the Money Line, we can determine the Favorite and the Underdog by looking at the signs in front of the odds. The team that has the “” sign in front of the odds is considered to be the Favorite; in other words, the team that has better chances of winning the match and beating the spread. While the “+” sign in front of the odds represents the Underdog, the team with less chances of winning the match and beating the spread.

The Total Points (Over/Under)

The total points bet is when the sportsbook gives the sports bettor, what they believe to be, the average total number of points that the two teams will score during any particular match. It is simply the sum of both team’s scores at the end of the match. What the bettor will be determing with this wager is whether they think the match will end with a higher total score or a lower total score than what is given on the NFL betting line, and the total point’s wager.


Do not be confused, as the total points bet can be shown with a variety of different names, including Total Points, Over/Under, and simply put as Total. The total points wager is the only one of the three betting line bets that does not imply Favorite or Underdog, as it does not depend on which team wins or loses, but rather on the points scored.

NFL Betting Line Basics

This is the basic information that any sports bettor will encounter when looking at the NFL betting lines for any given week and its corresponding weekly match-ups. This should be able to help any new and inexperienced sports bettor with the basics of betting on the NFL, but in order to fully grasp each concept better, be sure to read further into the series to gain a more detailed and specific knowledge on each concept and bet.