Mastering The Odds: A Guide to Understanding NFL Betting Trends

14 min read
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Fact checked by:
Paruyr Shahbazyan
Last Updated: May 27, 2024, 2:40 PM


Welcome to "Mastering the Odds," your ultimate guide to navigating the exciting world of NFL betting. Here, we'll dive deep into the world of online sportsbooks and sports betting in North America, focusing on the National Football League (NFL) – one of the most popular and dynamic sports betting options. Whether you're a seasoned bettor or new to the game, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and strategies to make informed betting decisions and understand the ever-changing trends in NFL betting.

How to Choose a Reliable Sportsbook

Choosing the right sportsbook is crucial for a positive betting experience. Here are key factors to consider:

  • Reputation and Reliability: Look for sportsbooks with a strong reputation in the market. Check online reviews and betting forums for user experiences.
  • Betting Options and Odds: Ensure the sportsbook offers a wide range of betting options for NFL games with competitive odds.
  • User Interface and Support: A user-friendly interface and responsive customer support are essential for a hassle-free betting experience.
  • Security and Licensing: Opt for sportsbooks that are licensed and follow strict security protocols to protect your personal and financial information.
  • Bonuses and Promotions: Many sportsbooks offer welcome bonuses and promotions. Compare these offers as they can add value to your betting experience.

The Basics of NFL Betting

Odds in NFL betting are a fundamental aspect that bettors must understand to make informed decisions. These odds are not just numbers but are indicators of the probability of various outcomes in the games, from simple win/lose scenarios to more complex event predictions. The American odds format is predominantly used, characterized by positive and negative numbers, each conveying different meanings regarding potential payouts and betting requirements.

American Odds Format

Positive Numbers (+): Indicate the underdog in the matchup. The number shows how much profit you would earn on a $100 bet if the underdog team wins. For example, if the odds are +150, a $100 bet would return $150 in profit, plus your original $100 bet, for a total of $250.

Negative Numbers (-): Represent the favorite. The number tells you how much you need to bet to win $100 in profit. For instance, odds of -150 mean you must bet $150 to win $100 in profit, totaling $250 when you add your initial stake back.

Examples from the NFL

Let's illustrate these concepts with hypothetical examples from the NFL:

Example 1: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

  • Cowboys Odds: +200
  • Eagles Odds: -240
  • Interpretation: The Eagles are favorites to win. To win $100 on the Eagles, you need to bet $240. If you bet $100 on the Cowboys and they win, you earn $200 in profit.

Example 2: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

  • Packers Odds: -175
  • Bears Odds: +155
  • Interpretation: The Packers are favored. A $175 bet on the Packers would yield a $100 profit if they win. A $100 bet on the Bears would return $155 in profit if they pull off an upset.

Key Points to Remember

  • Odds fluctuate based on various factors, including team performance, injuries, and betting trends.
  • Positive odds offer higher rewards but come with higher risks since they represent underdogs.
  • Negative odds indicate safer bets on favorites but require a larger initial investment for a smaller return.
  • Understanding the nuances of these odds can help you strategize your bets effectively.

Types of Bets

In NFL betting, several types of bets are commonly placed:

  • Moneyline Bets: The simplest form of betting - you pick which team you think will win the game outright. Odds are assigned to each team, indicating the likelihood of them winning.
  • Point Spread Bets: Here, you're betting on the margin of victory in a game. The favorite team will have a certain number of points deducted from their final score (e.g., -7), while the underdog will have points added (e.g., +7). To win a spread bet on the favorite, they must win by more than the spread. For the underdog, they must either win outright or lose by less than the spread.
  • Totals (Over/Under): This bet involves predicting whether the combined score of both teams in a game will be over or under a specified number set by the sportsbook.
  • Prop Bets: Proposition bets, or prop bets, are wagers made on specific events or individual performances within a game, such as which player will score the first touchdown or the total passing yards of a quarterback.
  • Futures: These are bets placed on events that will happen in the future, such as which team will win the Super Bowl or who will be the MVP of the season.
  • Parlays: A parlay is a single bet that links together two or more individual wagers for a high payout. All the individual bets must win for the parlay to pay out.

Advanced NFL Betting Strategies

Bankroll Management

One of the most important aspects of betting is managing your bankroll effectively. This section should guide readers on setting aside a specific amount of money for betting (bankroll) and advise on how much to wager on each bet (usually a small percentage of the total bankroll).

Betting Against the Public

Often called 'fading the public,' this strategy involves betting against the team that the majority of the public is backing. The idea is that the sportsbooks adjust the lines to balance the money, not necessarily to predict the game outcome. By identifying and understanding public biases (like favoring favorites or overvaluing recent performances), you can find value in going against these trends.

Using Data and Analytics

In the modern era of sports betting, data and analytics play a huge role. This section should cover how to use statistical analysis to make more informed betting decisions. Discuss the importance of looking at advanced metrics, understanding team and player statistics, and how situational factors (like weather, rest days, and travel schedules) can impact the game.

Impact of Player Injuries and Team News

Player Injuries

Injuries are a critical factor in the NFL and can drastically change the dynamics of a game. A key player's absence can weaken a team's offense or defense, thereby affecting the betting odds. As a bettor, it's vital to monitor injury reports, usually released a few days before the game. Look at the player's role in the team and their contribution to previous games to gauge the injury's potential impact. Also, consider how well the team has performed in the past without this player. This analysis can provide insights into whether to adjust your betting strategy.

Team News

Team news, such as changes in coaching staff, player trades, or internal issues, can also influence a game's outcome. Such changes can affect team morale and performance. Stay informed by following reputable sports news sources and team social media channels. Analyze how similar changes have affected teams in the past. For instance, a new coach might bring a different strategy that could either bolster the team's performance or lead to initial instability.

Responsible Football Gambling

Understanding the Risks

Gambling should always be approached as a form of entertainment, not a reliable way to make money. The risks include the potential for addiction and financial loss. Always bet with money you can afford to lose, and be aware of the signs of problem gambling, such as chasing losses, betting more than you can afford, or gambling interfering with your daily life.

Tools and Strategies for Responsible Gambling

To practice responsible gambling, set a budget for your betting activities and stick to it. Use tools provided by many sportsbooks, like deposit limits or self-exclusion options. If you find yourself struggling with gambling, don't hesitate to seek help. Resources like the National Council on Problem Gambling in the U.S. or Canada's Responsible Gambling Council offer support and advice.

To Sum it Up

Our hopes are that this guide has provided you with a comprehensive look into NFL betting. We focused on understanding odds, types of bets, analyzing trends, and the impact of player injuries and team news. We also highlighted the importance of understanding the legal and regulatory aspects of online betting in North America and the necessity of responsible gambling. Remember, successful sports betting is about making informed decisions, managing your bankroll wisely, and always being aware of the risks involved. Bet responsibly, stay informed, and enjoy the dynamic world of NFL betting.

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Meet Our Authors

Paruyr Shahbazyan began his business career in 2000 as a private entrepreneur. Over thirteen years, he developed a deep understanding for business and leadership, laying a solid foundation for his professional journey.

In 2013, Paruyr stepped into the sports and betting industry as the founder and president of Bookmaker Rating. This online mass media platform, which he led until 2020, focused on providing in-depth analysis and insights in sports betting, earning a reputation for its quality content. 

Continuing his innovative approach in 2022, Paruyr co-founded Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol. This venture showcases his dedication to integrating advanced technology in the evolving landscape of sports betting. Through these diverse experiences, Paruyr has continuously influenced and shaped the betting industry, driving new trends and setting high standards.

Engaged in private entrepreneurship2000-2013
Founder and President at Bookmaker Rating, an online platform focused on sports and betting2013-2020
Co-founder at Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol2022

"Innovation in sportsbetting comes from a deep understanding of both technology and the human element of sports." 

- Paruyr Shahbazyan, Founder, RG


Principles and Ethics

Paruyr Shahbazyan's core beliefs lie in the power of informed decision-making and integrity in the betting industry. He understands that the foundation of successful betting is not just about odds and predictions, but also about the trust and reliability of the information provided. Paruyr advocates for a betting environment where transparency and knowledge are paramount, ensuring that bettors are well-equipped with accurate data and insights.

Strategic Vision

Paruyr's vision is to revolutionize the sports betting industry through the integration of technology. He sees the future of betting as a blend of traditional sports knowledge with innovative tech solutions, like decentralized protocols, to enhance user experience and fairness. His aim is to create platforms that are not only user-friendly but also uphold the highest standards of ethical betting, contributing to a more responsible and enjoyable betting culture.

Future Perspectives

Looking towards the future, Paruyr envisions a betting landscape that is more inclusive, technologically advanced, and globally connected. He anticipates a significant shift towards more decentralized and transparent betting systems, driven by blockchain technology. Paruyr is committed to being at the forefront of this change, continuously exploring new possibilities and innovations that can redefine what it means to engage in sports betting in a digital world. His focus is on building systems that prioritize user empowerment, fairness, and the global growth of the sports betting community.


Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen

Sol's interest in sports was sparked at a young age, inspired by athletes such as Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. This early fascination evolved into a deep-seated passion, guiding him toward a career in sports journalism in 2007. Over the years, Sol has contributed thousands of articles and reviews to dozens of online platforms, sharing his research, knowledge, and perspectives.

“In the world of sports betting, truth is more valuable than any bonus offer.”

Content Manager, OnlineCasinoReports2012-2021
Sports Journalist, Dottraffic2009-2011
Content Writer, HouseTech2007-2009
Cristina Varela Galan
Cristina Varela Galan
Problem Gambling Expert

Cristina used to work as a Psychology Assistant in the Bizkaia Pathological and Risky Gamblers Association. She was also part of a research team in Deusto University, specializing in pathological gambling area. While working there, she managed to develop her own project 

 “Exploring the association between emotional regulation, alexithymia, stressful life events and gambling in adolescent and young adult women”.

Nick Ashbourne
Nick Ashbourne
Senior Writer

Nick has been fascinated with sports since he was first taken to a Toronto Maple Leafs game back in 1998, and he's written about them professionally since 2014.

Nick has covered baseball and hockey for outlets like The Athletic, Sportsnet, and Yahoo Sports, and his sports betting expertise has grown since its legalization in Ontario in 2022. 

Between 2022 and 2023 he worked for a betting startup called NorthStar Bets, and in 2024 he contributed to Oddspedia before joining the Responsible Gambling team.

Anna Kravtcova
Anna Kravtcova
Problem Gambling Expert

Ph.D. in organizational psychology, an internationally certified psychologist (EuroPsy 2022, Cognitive behavioural therapy of mindfulness 2020, International Society for Emotional Intelligence 2017, Russian Psychological society 2014, American Psychological Association(Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologist) 2011), speaker of many international conferences (USA, Brazil, Portugal, Czech Republic, Russia, etc.). TEDx speaker.

Mike made the decision to dive headfirst into the booming world of sports betting fresh out of college. Back in the day, when 1-800 pick lines and sports pagers were all the rage, he couldn't resist the allure, having grown up idolizing sports legends like Sweetness, MJ, and Slammin Sammy. Mike dedicated his early years to the industry, tirelessly analyzing games, writing articles with free picks, and selling his expertise on reputable handicapping sites. Unlike many others, Mike was known for his integrity and only released one Game of the Year per sport, per season. His hard work and unwavering commitment paid off, earning him a devoted following and propelling his career to new heights. Then came the explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports. Believe it or not, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel used to pay Mike's company to increase their brand exposure. Now, those same industry giants don't even bother responding to his emails. While Mike appreciates the convenience of being able to place legal bets in his own backyard, he can't help but feel disheartened by what has become of the industry. People are being led astray, falsely believing that a mere $5 wager on a 20-team same-game-parlay will be their ticket to financial security. If there’s one thing Mike learned from making book back in the day, it’s that parlays are a bookie’s best friend. A bankroll is the only leg you have to stand on in the battle with the books, and Mike’s here to offer up advice on how to protect it.

Mark Medina
Mark Medina
NBA Reporter

Mark Medina is a longtime NBA reporter that includes stints as a Lakers blogger with The Los Angeles Times (2010-12), Lakers beat writer with the Los Angeles Daily News (2012-17), Warriors beat writer with Bay Area News Group (2017-19) as well as an NBA reporter/columnist for USA Today (2019-21) and (2021-23). Medina is also an NBA insider with Fox Sports Radio and frequent contributor to CBSLA's SportsCentralLA with Jim Hill and with Spectrum Sportsnet.

Daria Tuboltseva
Daria Tuboltseva
Hockey Journalist

Daria went to St. Petersburg State University and earned a bachelor of international journalism. Working as a sports journalist from 2014, from 2016 as a hockey journalist. Covered 5 World Championships, 2022 Winter Olympics, 2020 World Juniors, 6 Gagarin Cup Finals. 

Owner of a telegram channel Coolest Game on Earth.

Integrative nutritionist specializing on sports nutritionology.