Upcoming Match-ups

New to NFL betting? That’s fine. This is a no-judgement zone. As a newcomer, betting on the Super Bowl might feel like diving straight into the deep end, but it’s actually one of the best places to begin. There are many different types of wagers available. Hence, you can get the lay of the full betting landscape and be a sharp before you know it.

We won’t let you wander into the football betting wilderness alone, of course. We’ve developed this handy Super Bowl betting guide to help you get acquainted with NFL betting, generally, and lay some simple wagers on Super Bowl 52. Now that the matchup is set (the Patriots and Eagles will be squaring off at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4), we can use some concrete examples to make things clearer.

But first things first. Let’s start with some classification.

Types of Bets

Every football bet can be classified in one of three categories: (1) against the spread, (2) moneyline, and (3) over under.

Against the Spread

Against-the-spread betting (commonly abbreviated as ATS) is probably the most common type of football betting. In Super Bowl 52, the Patriots are five-point favorites over the Eagles. On paper, this is written out as “Patriots (-5)” or “Eagles (+5)”. The five-point spread means that, if you bet on the Patriots (-5), you only win your bet if the Patriots win by more than five points. If the Patriots win 33-30, for example, you’re outta luck (and money).

The flip side is that if you bet on the Eagles (+5), you’ll still win your bet even if they lose the game by four points or fewer.

If the Patriots win by precisely five points (say, 35-30), it’s called a “push,” and both sides get their money back, sometimes less a percentage (around 5% to 10%) which is kept by the sportsbook.

Simple enough, right?

You might get confused a couple of days after you make your bet when you see the spread change. If a lot of money is being wagered on one team compared to the other, sportsbooks will shift the spread to encourage equal betting on both sides. (This reduces the potential for loss.) For instance, if 70% of the “early money” is bet on the Patriots this year, the spread might shift to Patriots (-5.5) or Patriots (-6).

These changes do not impact any bets that you already placed. For your purposes, the spread will remain what it was at the time you placed your bet.

The payout on spread betting is about $1 for every $1.10 you wager. You’ll often see the payout listed as “-110,” which indicates that you must bet $110 to win $100. You’ll see similar looking numbers in our next type of betting. (Ooh, nice transition.)

Moneyline Betting

Betting on the moneyline is even simpler than betting against the spread. It simply means betting on which team will win the game “straight up.” You don’t have to worry about margin of victory. If the team you bet on wins, you win your bet!

That’s much simpler. Why doesn’t everyone do that, you ask? Because the payout is lower if you bet on the favorite, and you don’t get the advantage of the spread if you bet on the underdog. Sportsbooks aren’t going to reward you the same way for picking a massive favorite to win. They will, however, reward you handsomely if you correctly pick an underdog. Let’s use this year’s Super Bowl as an example again.

The Patriots’ moneyline is -200 at the moment. (Hey, that style of number looks familiar!) That -200 number indicates that if you bet New England to win, you have to wager $200 to win $100. The Eagles’ moneyline, on the other hand, is +170.

The plus-sign changes everything! When preceded by a plus-sign, the moneyline number indicates how much you’ll get back if you bet $100. So, if you wager $100 on Philly +170 and they upset the Patriots (by whatever score), you’ll walk away with $270 — your original $100 bet plus $170. (For all intents and purposes, the favorite is always listed at a negative number and the underdog at a positive number.)

You don’t have to wager $100, of course. You can wager any amount (though sportsbooks tend to have upper and lower limits). If you cut your bet in half and put $50 on the Eagles at +170, you’d go home with $135 if they cover — your original $50 bet plus $85 (i.e. half of $170).

Over Under Betting

Over under betting (O/Us) is considerably different than ATS betting or moneyline betting in that it doesn’t generally involve picking the winner. The most common over under bet is the game total, which involves predicting the total number of points that will be scored in the game. When you’re on/at a sportsbook, you may see a line for the Super Bowl that looks like this: Eagles vs Patriots (-5, 48.5 O/U).

You already know what that -5 means. But what about 48.5 O/U? That’s the game total. You can either bet that the game will feature more than 48.5 points (in which case you’re betting the over) or fewer than 48.5 points (in which case you’re betting the under).

If you bet the over and the Patriots win 30-29, you win your bet since the teams combined for 59 points. (That’s more than 48.5.) If the Patriots win 28-20, you lose everything, even though the combined score was super close to 48.5.

Like with ATS betting, the game total can and will shift over time, depending on where most of the money is going. Also like ATS betting, you can get “pushes” with the game total. Obviously, these only arise when there aren’t half numbers involved. I haven’t done all the research, but I’m pretty sure no NFL game has ever ended 30-28.5.

Totals betting isn’t just limited to game totals, of course. Sportsbooks offer all sorts of O/Us for various sports. In the NFL, it’s common to see win-total O/Us at the start of every season. This year, the Patriots win-total O/U was about 11.5 or 12 (depending on where you looked). Since they hit 13 wins on the season, those who bet the over won their season-long wager and those who bet the under lost.

To complicate matters, O/Us can and do have moneylines attached to them, meaning the payout isn’t always equal between the over and the under. It all depends on the outcome the sportsbook thinks is more likely. As long as sportsbooks consider the two outcomes are equally likely, you’ll roughly double your bet if you win, minus the “house” keeping a lil summin-summin.

Those Props You Keep Hearing About

So far, most of the wagers we’ve been discussing focus on the outcome of the game, itself. The Super Bowl, however, is just as famous for its litany of prop bets as it is for actual football. What’s a prop bet? It can be anything. Prop is just short for proposition.

To encourage the most betting possible, sportsbooks offer prop bets on almost every aspect of the Super Bowl, from which team will win the opening coin toss to which player will score the first touchdown. A lot of the props are about on-field performance. For example: who will have the most receiving yards? How many interceptions will Tom Brady throw? And the really fun ones have almost nothing to do with football.

This year, wagers include what color hoodie Bill Belichick will wear during the game, what color Gatorade will be poured on the winning coach, and who will join Justin Timberlake on stage at halftime.

Props aren’t a separate type of bet per se; they’ll either be moneyline or over under-style bets. Let’s look at a couple of examples to clarify.

For example, “who will have the most receiving yards?” is a moneyline-style prop bet. Julio Jones is currently the favorite at around +175. (Remember what that plus-sign means? If you bet $100 on Julio and he does have the most receiving yards in the game, you’ll win $175.)

“How many interceptions will Tom Brady throw” is an over under style prop. The O/U is at 0.5. If Brady throws zero interceptions, the under wins. If he throws one or more, the over wins. Right now, the over for Brady interceptions is at +120, while the under is at -150, meaning the sportsbooks think it’s more likely that Brady won’t throw any picks.

Ok, I get it. Now what?

Go look at your finances and see if you have some disposable income. If you do, and you want to get in on the Super Bowl action, try one of these sports betting sites.

Featured image: sidewalk flying [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/].