How to Bet on Sports: Point Spreads and NFL Betting

So you pull up your favorite betting website to see what the numbers are for the upcoming Sunday action in the National Football League. One game has the home team at -4, while another has the visitors at +10.5. It’s important to understand in a specific way what these numbers mean and how to use them toward your own advantage.

Handicappers calculate point spreads for each game to make the final outcome as close as they can, for betting purposes. In the NFL, point spreads usually range from “PK” (pick) to 13.5. In some cases, point spreads are even larger (and they are frequently larger in college). Because of the parity in the NFL, though, a line of more than two touchdowns is almost unheard of. Those sports bettors who want to maximize their profits take the time to understand what the point spread is saying about the likeliest outcome of a particular game.

Most of the time, playing at home grants a team a 3-point edge on the line. If the home team is favored by 3 or 3.5 points, that means that the handicappers view the matchup as a dead heat. If the home team is up near -7, the handicapper is seen as a favorite. If a home team gets points, they are underdogs. The more points they have with a plus sign, the bigger the underdog they’ve become.

A good point spread makes the bettor feel comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable with a spread, you have two options: choose a different game for your wager or look for a moneyline bet that doesn’t rely on a point spread. The moneyline method involves betting on the game’s outcome rather than the margin of victory.


The best point spread often does not appear without some shopping around. People who take their sports betting seriously always have accounts at multiple sites. They look each day at the sites for the best spreads. Even just grabbing an extra half or full point by shopping around can make the difference when that last-minute field goal changes the margin of victory. It’s important to research your matchups and the point spread to get the best result possible.


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