Guide to American Football Betting (NFL)

Introduction to American Football

American Football is one of the world’s most popular sports; in 2021 alone, 91.63 million viewers tuned in to watch the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl. If you’re interested in American Football betting, NFL games are undoubtedly the best games to wager on.

We’ve compiled this guide to help you get a handle on American Football betting markets, where to bet on football games and everything in between.


Main Rules

If you want to bet on NFL games, it helps to have a solid understanding of American Football.

Every game consists of four 15 minute quarters, with a 15-minute break (half-time) between the second and third quarters. A typical playing field is 100 yards long and 60 yards wide, with ‘endzones’ at either end.

Two teams compete to score the most points, either by getting a touchdown or otherwise getting the ball into the endzone. One team is on offence, while the other defends, with the roles reversing should the team on offence turn the ball over, punt the ball, or have a turnover on downs.

The turnover on downs happens when the team on offence fails to get a first down after four attempts (getting a first ‘down’ happens when the ball is moved 10 yards forward).

Although that’s the basic framework of every game, each match can involve various ‘plays’ (tactics) that favour different players’ strengths. This reason is partly why American Football betting odds can be so exciting and subject to change during games as new plays are put into effect.

Main Competitions

Betting on American football

If you want to bet on football games, you’re spoilt for choice. These include:

  • The NFL Preseason and Regular Season
    All 32 teams in the NFL compete across 17 regular games and three preseason games starting this August.

  • Thursday Night Football (TNF)
    A televised season of around 17 games held between all the NFL teams, with occasional doubleheaders (two games in one day) and a Christmas Day Special.

  • The Super Bowl
    The most significant event in the NFL schedule, the Super Bowl, takes place every February and regularly involves extensive coverage in the week prior. The two teams that make it through the playoffs fight out to be crowned the Superbowl Champion.

  • Other notable events
    Although not games, the NFL Draft and Scouting Combine events invite media attention and may be featured on various American Football betting sites. Every year the Scouting Combine allows college football hopefuls the chance to show the NFL what they’re made of in a series of on-field tests, including a 40-yard dash and other agility drills. Every spring, each of the 32 NFL teams get to participate in the NFL Draft, and select college football players that they think have what it takes to play at the professional level.

Where to Bet on American Football

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Given the sport’s popularity, it’s not difficult to find online sportsbooks that offer American Football betting options. The only real difference will be which games a site features. You can find reviews of reputable sites that provide the best football bets elsewhere on our site.

How NFL Betting Works

Conferences and Divisions

Conference and division betting involves wagering on which teams you think will win the NFC (National Football Conference) and AFC (American Football Conference) Championships. You can also bet on specific divisions (grouping of four teams) to see which wins to make the Playoffs.

Schedule of play

This is simply the order of games available to bet on.

NFL Playoffs

These odds are about whether a team will make the playoffs or not and are presented as + (less likely) or – (more likely). Minus odds are less favourable for players as they require a greater outlay to generate a profit.

Super Bowl

This event involves the most varied possible wagers, including point spread, moneyline, over/under, and various prop bets (including coin toss result, total punts, and whether the final team to score wins the game).

American Football Facts and History

AF bets

It’s likely not too surprising to hear that American Football evolved from rugby and soccer. November 6th, 1869, is largely credited as being the date of the first college football game, but American Football as we know it didn’t truly take off until the late 1880s.

The American Professional Football Association formed in 1920 but changed its name in 1922 to the National Football League. In the late 1950s, the rival American Football League was formed from teams that weren’t included in the NFL.

However, in 1966 both organizations announced they’d merge, with an AFL-NFL World Championship game between the two leagues’ winners happening in 1967. This game tradition continued in the years afterwards and took on a more famous name: the Super Bowl.


American Football betting is a familiar mainstay on most online sportsbooks, with many sites also offering live coverage and detailed statistics. If you’ve never placed a wager on the sport before, hopefully, our guide has given you an insight into how to bet on football, plus what kind of bets and games are usually featured on gambling sites.


How to bet on NFL games?

NFL games can be found on most reputable sportsbooks. You’ll need to register for a free account, but then placing a wager is as simple as finding a game you want to bet on and clicking one of the proffered odds.

How does American football handicap betting work?

Also known as a ‘point spread’, handicap betting aims to even the betting field between two unevenly matched teams. For example, if you see the New York Giants listed as -4.0 against the Denver Broncos, a bet on the Giants would win if they win the game by at least four points.

Which are the most attractive American football betting markets?

The answer varies according to personal preference, but handicap betting is always a popular choice, as are prop bets (e.g., which team will score first).

Are there any American Football betting promotions available online?

Yes. Plenty of sportsbooks feature NFL-centric promotions, from deposit bonuses to cashback offers.

What is a money line bet in American Football?

This is a straightforward wager on which team will win a game.

What does ‘parlay’ mean in American Football betting?

It’s a version of an accumulator bet: you can wager on several games as one bet, but all the wagers must win for the parlay to pay out.

Elica Martinova
Betting expert
Certified Betting Expert
Elica Martinova
Ellie is in charge of writing, editing, and publishing reviews in Bulgarian, English, and German. She has a long track record as a journalist and is passionate about writing. Also, she is quite experienced when it comes to bookmakers as well.