Odds and lines – An online football betting primer

online football betting primer

Betting on football games online requires an understanding of how sportsbooks use odds and lines. An advantage over the bookmaker comes from understanding the numbers. Using football betting lines is easy when you know the basics.

Point spreads

The point spread is the most popular football betting line. The spread sets a margin of victory that the favored team must win by for a wager on them to cash. Underdogs lose by less than the spread and still cover or win the bet. For example, Rams -6.5 vs. Cardinals means the Rams must win by at least 7 points against the underdog Cardinals. If the Rams win by exactly 6, the Cardinals cover the +6.5 point spread as underdogs. Spreads allow for action on both teams in a game to create balanced wagering action for sportsbooks.


A money line is a bet purely on which team will win a game outright without any point spreads. Each team is assigned odds in the form of positive or negative numbers. For example, the Chiefs -200 vs. the Broncos +180. The minus (-) indicates the favorite while the plus (+) is the underdog. To calculate winnings, divide the odds into your wager amount. So, a $100 bet on the Chiefs at -200 odds pays $50 profit if they win. Higher minus odds denote a stronger favorite, while bigger plus odds indicate a larger underdog expected to lose.

Totals and over/unders

Also called “over/unders”, a totals line sets the combined number of points scored in a game by both teams. You wager whether the final score meets the set total or not. For instance, a total of 48 means you would bet whether you think the combined score by both teams is over or under 48 points. Sportsbooks aim to set the odds around the expected total to attract equal action on both sides.


Teasers allow you to adjust the standard point spreads to make favorites easier to win bets on. In exchange for getting a better spread, the payout odds are lower. For example, in a 6-point teaser, a team favored by -6 might be reduced to -1.5 to make it easier for them to cover. But the odds would be around -120 instead of the standard -110 for point spreads. Teasers decrease risk but also potential winnings, so use them sparingly when you have an advantage.


Parlays involve combining two or more point spread or moneyline wagers in a single bet. All your picks must win for the parlay to cash. It increases the potential Fun88 payout exponentially but also the risk. For example, five NFL money line picks at -110 odds each would pay around +1400 together in a 5-team parlay. But one losing pick would sink the entire wager, so they are very high risk.

Juice and vigorish

Sportsbooks build in their “juice” or “vig” into the odds as their profit margin on each bet. It is usually -110 on point spreads and totals, meaning you must risk $110 to win $100. The key for bettors is shopping for reduced juice odds when available to increase win probability long term. It pays off significantly over thousands of wagers.