NFL Props, Futures, and Live Betting Explained
Have you ever known a quarterback was going to have a huge day? Have you had a hunch a dark-horse candidate entering the season would win the Super Bowl? Or how about that gut feeling a team would erase a massive deficit and complete a comeback? Of course you have; you’re a sports genius! But instead of just reminding your friends about it when they laud their own acumen, why not throw a little more than bragging rights in their faces. You know what I mean: make it rain in their smug faces with straight cash, homie!
Betting the moneyline, the point spread, and over/under are all fun. But sometimes they don’t scratch that deep betting itch. This is where alternative NFL bets join the party. Among these types of bets are props, futures, and live betting. If you currently find yourself sitting on the bench watching the rest of us have all the fun, allow us to put you through a short minicamp to provide you with all the information you need to get on the field.
What are Props?
First off, “prop” is short for proposition, which is an assertion that expresses an opinion. In this case, it is the sportsbook who is making the proposition for the bettor to answer. The prop will not directly relate to the final outcome of a game; instead, it will involve one specific statistic from the game. The subject of the prop may be one player or the whole team.
Some examples include:
• Tom Brady touchdown passes: 3.5
o Over (-110)
o Under (-110)
• Ezekiel Elliott rushing yards: 145.5
o Over (-110)
o Under (-110)
• Antonio Brown receiving touchdowns: 1.5
o Over (-105)
o Under (-115)
• Denver Broncos sacks recorded: 2.5
o Over (-120)
o Under (+100)
• Total interceptions thrown in the game: 2.5
o Over (-110)
o Under (-110)
As you can see, just like with totals betting, the sportsbook sets a predicted number. Your job is to decide whether the actual number will be “over” or “under” the predicted number. You’ll also notice the vast majority of totals will have half-points attached to them. This is referred to as a “hook.” It is there to prevent the possibility of a push (tie).
To be clear, those numbers in parentheses next to the over and the under option are the payout odds. They tell you how much money you could potentially win, and indicate the implied probability of that outcome. If you need a rundown on odds, see our user-friendly Sports Betting Basics.
Sportsbooks may also present their props in the form of a question, with the predicted total next to the over/under options, like so:
• How many yards will Aaron Rodgers throw for?
o Over 285.5 (-110)
o Under 285.5 (-110)
• How many total yards will David Johnson gain?
o Over 175.5 (-110)
o Under 175.5 (-110)
• How many touchdowns will the Saints score?
o Over 3.5 (-115)
o Under 3.5 (-105)
Not all props are over/unders. Some will require a yes or no response.
• Will there be a turnover in the game?
o Yes (-200)
o No (+150)
• Will Matt Ryan be sacked?
o Yes (-120)
o No (+100)
You’ll also find props that require a little more than an over/under or yes/no determination.
• What will the first score of the game be?
o Field Goal (+100)
o Touchdown (+120)
o Safety (+750)
• Who will be the first player to score a touchdown in the game?
o Le’Veon Bell (+250)
o Antonio Brown (+350)
o Isaiah Crowell (+500)
o Kenny Britt (+600)
o FIELD (+300)
The last example includes a “FIELD” option. If you are selecting this option, it means you get every player who is not listed.
Prop bets are most popular come the Super Bowl, but are available to bettors throughout the regular season, as well. When the Super Bowl does arrive, you will also see many props that may not have any relation to football – length of the National Anthem, the color of the Gatorade bath, and guest appearances during the halftime show, for instance.
A futures bet is one that will not be decided anytime soon. You are no longer betting on a game scheduled for this Sunday, instead e.g. picking a team who will win the Super Bowl, even though it’s still August. You may also find yourself wagering on team win totals or individual player awards (MVP, DPOY etc.)
With team win totals, the sportsbook sets a predicted total for the upcoming regular season and bettors select over or under. For example, the New England Patriots win total is set at 12.5 on most sportsbooks for the 2017 season. If they win 13 games, they will hit the over. If they only win 12, they stayed under.
Individual player awards may also be categorized under props, depending on the sportsbook. But we’ll classify them as future bets here. Usually, the sportsbook will provide a laundry list of the most probable candidates, along with a “FIELD” option.
Wagering on single games doesn’t end after kickoff. Just about any bet that is available to you before the game starts will still be available after the kickoff. This is called live betting.
Through live betting you can still bet the moneyline, against the spread, totals, and even some game props. The odds for each will change with each play; it all depends on the score, the time remaining, and flow of the game.
There are certain prop bets that are only available through live betting, as well. For example, you can wager on whether the offense will choose to run the ball or throw it on the next play, along with what the outcome of that play will be. You do have to be quick, though, as there’s a very short window to place these bets.
If you’re not satisfied with props, futures, and live betting, certain sportsbooks also offer alternate spreads, alternate totals, race to ten points, first and second-half moneylines, first and second-half totals, and win margins. Some books group these with the prop bets, while others keep them separate.
Alternate spreads and totals are similar to teasers, but a little friendlier to the bettor. The majority of teasers only allow you to tease the spread or total by 6, 6.5, or 7. This method allows you to move the spread or total by half-point increments in either direction. Instances where alternative spreads are common is when you see a -3.5 spread. You may like the favorite to win the game, but figure it will be a field-goal game. The bettor has the ability to choose an alternate spread of -2.5 while still receiving reasonable odds.
When betting a win margin, you are forced to choose which team will win the game and the range for their margin of victory. The ranges are often divided up as such: 1-5 points, 6-10 points, 11-15 points, and so on.