Once upon a time, bettors were limited to simply selecting the team they thought were more likely to win a National Football League game. Over the years, however, things have thankfully progressed, and wagering is now a much more interesting affair!
But don’t feel pressured into placing new stakes simply because they’re there. Check out your other options, of course, but only use the bet types that you find interesting or where you think your knowledge of the game will come in handy.
Why We Need Spread Wagers
Betting on the spread is actually a very common way to wager on the NFL at online sportsbooks. If you are just learning how to stake on Football games, these are great bets to begin with.
The idea behind Spread Betting is to level the playing field, making a game between two teams with different skill levels more evenly matched. No two teams are ever ideally suited. There will always be small differences that make it more likely that one will beat the other, but what would be the fun in betting on a match with a foregone conclusion?
Bookmakers Creating an Even Match
Sportsbooks adjust for these differences by providing what is called a Line or Spread to equalise the teams. The Spread reflects how many points a squad is expected to win or lose by and if it weren’t offered, we would all simply wager on the favourite winning every single time!
Because the payout for picking the winner is the same for two disparate teams, this is the bookmaker’s way of adjusting the expectations of what is needed to win the bet.
Let’s say that the Chicago Bears are set at -5.5 (-105) and the Detroit Lions are at +5.5 (-125). The negative number is the clue as to who the favourite is, so these numbers translate to the fact that the Bears are expected to beat the Lions by at least five and a half points.
This is how the wager puts the teams on equal footing. Rather than plain winning being the goal, beating these expectations is the aim. And one thing to bear in mind is that you’ll usually find half-points in these wagers in the effort to prevent a tie. If the sportsbook doesn’t have a half-point in its spread then you must prepare for the possibility of a Push, or tie, occurring.
Your Job is to Beat the Spread
In other words, your team needs to exceed the expectation represented on the spread. So, in terms of the example featuring the Bears and the Lions, the Bears need to do more than simply win the match. They have to do so by more than five and a half points. If the Bears win by six points, you’ll see a return on your stake, but if they only score five more points than the Lions do, you’ll lose.
Conversely, if the Lions lose by five points, you’ll win, but if they lose by six points, so do you.