NFL Betting Lines: Point Spreads

The Point Spread

The point spread bet is one of the most widely used types of wagers when it comes to betting on the NFL. It is part of the NFL betting lines, making it very common, and you can find it easily on any online sportsbooks. This type of wager is used quite often due to it being able to give sports bettors a certain level of lee-way when trying to pick a team to bet; as it is important to know the differences between betting on the Favorite and the Underdog when it comes to the point spread.

What is the NFL Point Spread?

The point spread in essence is the point difference between the final score of both teams. In other words, you would simply take the final score of any particular match, and see what the point difference is between the team that lost and the team that won.

Final Scores Point Difference
Team 1 35 35 – 29 = 6 points
Team 2 29

When it comes to the sportsbooks, a sports bettor will find a value that is given. That value is what the sportsbook believes will be the average point spread of the specific matchup. There is some key information that the point spread indicates, as well as some rules bettors need to know before they decide on which team to place their bet.

Point Spread Information

Within the NFL betting lines, the point spread bet will be split into two sections, which are the Spread and the Price. The spread is the number that the sportsbook is giving the bettor, which they believe will be the average point difference in that specific matchup. The price is how the bettor will determine what amount of money they need to wager with or how much the payout will be.


With the information given, the bettor will be able to determine various different factors including which team is the Favorite and which is the Underdog, the pay-in and payout amount, and the most important aspect of the point spread is the actual value that is given by the sportsbook.

The Favorite and Underdog

When it comes to the point spread, it isn’t about which team will just win the match, but instead by how many points will the winning team win by. So, during any NFL matchup, there will always be a better team that has better chances of winning the match, while the other team has fewer chances of winning. Using the point spread means winning the bet, not the match. This is when you would determine which team is the Favorite and which team is the Underdog.

The way a bettor determines which is which is by looking at the spread. You can notice that there is a negative () and positive (+) sign in front of the spread. The negative () symbol will always represent the Favorite team, while the positive (+) sign will always represent the Underdog team. There are two different sets of rules for the Favorite and the Underdog when it comes to winning the bet.

Point Spread Rules

There are separate rules when the point spread is concerned, and it is split between the Favorite and the Underdog.

If the sports bettor places a wager for the Favorite to “beat the spread”, the bet would win if:

  1. The Favorite team has to beat their opponent
  2. Win by more than the value that is given on the sportsbook.
If the sports bettor places a wager on the Underdog, the bet would win if:
  1. The Underdog wins the match
  2. The Underdog keeps the final score difference below the value given on the sportsbook.

The Pay-In and Payout

The payout structure for the point spread is determined by the Price, which is always included along with the spread value. Just like it was for the money line bet, the bettor simply has to look at the price and determine how much they would need to invest or how much they could win. It is all determined by the symbol in front of the price value. The negative () value would mean that the bettor needs to wager that amount in order to win $100. However, if it is a positive (+) value it means that the bettor would need to invest $100 in order to win the value given.

Calculating the Payout

With most point spreads, it is very unlikely to encounter a price with a positive (+) value. This means that the bettor would just have to do one type of calculation to determine how much they would have to wager or how much they could win if they wagered a specific amount.

To determine how much you need to invest based on how much you want to win:

  Desired Payout Calculation Amount to Wager
$80 (Odds / 100) x Desired Payout $88
$200 $220

To determine the payout amount based on a set amount of money you want to wager with:

  Amount to Wager Calculation Payout Amount
$50 Amount Wagered / (Odds / 100) $45
$160 $145

This is exactly how it was done to calculate the payout for the money line bet, and it also how you would calculate the Total Points bet payouts as well.

Example of a Point Spread Bet


We can see from the NFL betting line above that the point spread for the Chicago Bears vs. Tennessee Titans game is of -3.5 and +3.5 respectively. From the start we already know that the Chicago Bears are the Favorite in this matchup, and combining that with the point spread value, it would mean that the Bears have a good chance of not only winning the match, but winning by more than 3.5 points.

Betting on the Favorite

Let’s say you place a bet on the Chicago Bears to beat the spread. That would mean that the Bears have to win the match and the final score difference would have to be of 4 points or higher. If the Tennessee Titans manage to keep the score difference at 3 points or below, the bettor would lose the bet, as the Bears failed to beat the spread; even if the Bears won the match.

The match ends with a score of 38 – 24 in favor of the Bears. The point difference is of 14 points, which is much more than the point spread value, meaning the bettor would win this wager.

Betting on the Underdog

The bettor believes that the Tennessee Titans will be able to at least keep the final score difference at or below 3 points. All the Titans have to do for the bettor to win the wager would be to win the game or keep the score difference below the value.

The match ends and the final score is 41 – 38 in favor of the Bears. The Bears still won the match, but were unable to beat the spread because the score difference is of 3 points; less than the 3.5 point spread. This would mean the bettor would win the wager.

Super Bowl Point Spread

The 2017 Super Bowl is coming, and shortly the game point spreads will be available at Bovada and other Vegas and Online Sportsbooks. Check back at later in January 2017, and we will post the Super Bowl point spread as soon as the bookies release them and the teams are known.