Understanding Football Odds and Lines for Online Betting

Clare Louise

The world of online football betting opens up endless thrilling opportunities to wager on all kinds of matches across major leagues and tournaments worldwide. But if unfamiliar with how betting odds and lines work specifically for football wagering, all the numbers and terminology can be confusing. 

  1. Betting odds– Presented alongside the wager type, betting odds reflect the implied probability of that wager winning or losing based on factors calculated by the sportsbook. American odds show how much you stand to profit on $100 wagers or how much you must risk winning $100.
  2. Lines- Also called spreads, these numbers set by oddsmakers aim to make betting equally attractive on both teams for a game by handicapping the perceived favorite team and giving the underdog an advantage. 
  3. Moneyline-This is a bet simply made on whom will win a game Click here, with each team getting their odds tailored to their win probability.
  4. Totals- Also referred to as over/under, a total is the predicted number of combined points scored by both teams in a match as set by oddsmakers. You wager whether scoring will exceed or fall short of that posted figure.
  5. Vigorish- Known as “vig” or “juice,” this refers to the built-in profit margin for sportsbooks on the betting odds for each event. It’s usually around 4-5%.

Bet types- action, spread, moneyline & totals

Now that we have the glossary down, let’s spotlight the main ways to bet on football games using the odds and lines.

Point spread– To make contests evenly matched betting-wise, favorites must cover a point spread – essentially a scoring handicap. If the Raiders are -7.5 over the Jets, they must win by 8+ points to cover as 7.5-point favorites. Underdog Jets cover by losing by 7 or less. Straight wager on who you think will win the game. Each team gets their odds. Stronger teams get minus odds like -200, meaning you must risk $200 to win $100. Plus odds like +150 on underdogs mean a $100 bet profits $150 if they pull the upset. 

Deciphering odds & line moves  

The primary dynamics between odds and lines give you greater command over the betting process:

Lines and odds correlate– As lines move points in one direction, odds shift in the other. If a football spread drops from -7 points down to -5.5 points in the favourite’s favour, their odds decrease while the underdog’s odds rise accordingly with their better spread

  1. Odds adjust to get 50/50 action on both sides
  2. Changes reflect new information/betting trends
  3. Sharp large bets sway lines more than public money

Significant line moves signal sharp action from pro bettors. Keeping up with line movements and reacting quickly leads to betting value. 

Use these tips when making football wagers

Now let’s wrap up with essential advice for making smart bets:

  • Shop for the best odds across multiple sportsbooks using odds aggregators
  • Look for key numbers like 3, 7, or 10 for added value  
  • Buy points on spreads/totals to cross key numbers 
  • Bet early to get the best numbers 
  • Sprinkle bets across player props, derivatives like halves, and live wagering

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