Our NFL Betting Guide
What you Need to Know
Whilst North America's sports betting market is finally benefitting from more progressive regulatory measures, a staggering amount continues to be wagered illegally in the U.S. each and every year. According to the AGA, a total of $93 billion is wagered illegally on the National Football League (NFL) alone each and every year, with this accounting for a staggering 98% of all bets transacted.
Fortunately, punters in the UK already benefit from open and progressive betting regulations, which means that they’re free to wager on the hugely-popular NFL throughout the season. So, here’s our brief betting guide and the key things that you need to know as a punter!
Getting to Grips with NFL Rules
American football and the NFL have become increasingly popular in the UK, with Wembley Stadium and the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London scheduled to host 4 NFL games before the end of 2019.
Many Brits struggle to fully understand the rules of American Football, but the main objective during a two-team contest is simply to score more points than the opposition.
To achieve this, each side must endeavour to transition the ball into the opposition’s ‘end zone’ and score a ‘touchdown’.
This is worth six points to the attacking side, who then have an opportunity to add another point by kicking a conversion through the goalposts.
But how exactly can sides craft scoring opportunities? Like Rugby, there are different phases of attacking play, and whilst American footballers can move the ball forward, they have a total of four attempts to move the ball 10 yards.
If they fail to reach the end zone during this time, the ball is then turned over to the other team. However, if they’re able to gain at least 10 yards of territory, a new set of four attempts will begin.
Each team will line up with distinct defensive and offensive elements, with the former responsible for repelling the opposition and the latter tasked with scoring points.
The quarterback is key to a team’s attacking unit, as he must decide whether to throw the ball to a runner or make ground himself once it has been ‘snapped’ back to him. The defence will often target the quarterback from the outset, and it’s commonly referred to as the ‘sack’ in instances where he’s tackled.
An NFL game also lasts for four quarters of 15 minutes in length, whilst teams that are tied at the end of the match will enter into a period of overtime. The first team to score during this period will win the game, and overtime tends to create some enthralling passages of gameplay.
NFL Betting and Wagers Explained
In many ways, NFL betting shares numerous similarities with wagering on other sports, with the popular ‘match bet’ offering a relevant case in point.
This is a simple wager on which one of team competing sides will win a single game, with this type of bet particularly popular given the rarity of draws in the NFL.
This simplifies the wager and marginally increases your chances of success, as you bet on either the home or the away team to prevail (either during normal or overtime).
The issue with match betting is that you’ll usually find one side heavily favoured to win over their opponents. These teams will pay out at prohibitive odds, which deliver a minimal return on your stake.
Punters can negate this by engaging in handicap betting, which levels the playing field between two competing sides and balances the odds presented by bookies.
For example, let’s say that Atlanta is set to do battle with San Diego at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Georgia. In this instance, the home side are the favourites and priced at 1.30 to win, whereas their opponents can be backed at a hefty 5.00.
In essence, there are two ways in which you leverage handicap betting to your advantage. You can increase your chances of winning by placing a +10.5-point handicap bet on San Diego, for example, creating a scenario where Atlanta has to win by a margin of 11 points or more for you to lose.
Conversely, you can lengthen the odds of an Atlanta win by applying a –10.5-point handicap on the home side.
This means that the hosts will need to prevail by 11 points or more for your wager to come in, which depending on the difference between the two sides may increase your returns without overly compromising your chances of winning.
The Last Word – What Else do you Need to Know?
There are other team-betting markets that you can access, from outright NFL and Super Bowl winners to the number of points that will be scored in a specific game.
You may also want to engage in individual player markets, particularly if you have detailed knowledge of the sport. One of the most common player wagers asks punters to speculate on the scorer of a game’s first touchdown, with quarter-backs and wide-receivers statistically more likely to earn this honour.
Interceptions also play a decisive role in determining the outcome of matches, as this turns over possession and allows defensive teams attack when their opponents are most vulnerable. You can, therefore, wager on the players most likely to earn interceptions during a game, and indeed over the course of a season.
Many of these markets are also available in-play in the UK, although the time difference between us and the States may make it hard to follow the action in real-time. So, we’d tread carefully when approaching live NFL markets, and instead embrace some of the more simplistic wagers on offer!