Nfl Has Exploded in Popularity over the Past Couple of Decades

Major League Baseball used to be the American pastime. It dominated sports coverage all over the country for decades. You barely heard mentions of pro football back in 1920s-1960s.

But now it’s no contest that the NFL is by far the most popular American sport. The highest-rated TV shows each fall are usually NFL games.

And would you like to know the biggest reason why the NFL has really exploded in popularity over the past couple of decades? Gambling. Anyone who tells you different is lying. And, yes, fantasy football is basically a form of gambling. The NFL tries to distance itself from gambling yet allows advertisements from those daily paid fantasy sites and puts out injury reports every week, which are specifically tailored to gamblers. You can find point spreads anywhere these days and they are often referred to even in non-sports outlets.


So in case you aren’t quite fluent in betting on the NFL, here are a few basics.

You will find NFL games every Sunday from the start of the regular season through the Super Bowl, which is the first Sunday of February and this year held in Houston. There is also one regular-season game on Thursday and Monday each week of the regular season except Week 17. On Thanksgiving, a football holiday if there ever was one, there are three games.

And late in the season after college football’s regular season has concluded, the NFL puts a few games on Saturdays.

The easiest  form of NFL betting is the point spread. One mistake first-time bettors make is thinking that the spread is what the sportsbook thinks will happen in any game. That’s false.

The number is posted to where the sportsbook thinks it will draw the most betting action. In a perfect world, SBR Forum’s best sportsbooks see 50 percent  of action on both sides of a spread because then the books win no matter what.

Most NFL spreads will be in single digits, often around 3 or 7, although there can be a game or two each week where it can be 10 or higher. While some NFL teams are clearly better than others, all of the players are still professionals so that’s why you don’t see huge spread as in college. Many point spreads also include a half-point so there isn’t a tie, which is also called a  push.

So a typical spread might look like this: New England -7.5/Dallas +7.5. That means the Cowboys start the game with a 7.5-point lead from a betting perspective (or New England at minus-7.5). A bettor on Dallas simply needs the Cowboys to lose by 7 points or fewer to win the wager (you win back whatever amount you bet, minus any sportsbook fee). A Patriots bettor must have a win by at least 8 points. If the teams are evenly-matched, the home team usually will be favored by a couple of points. That’s what home-field advantage is judged to be worth.

A moneyline is an alternative to betting on the spread. You don’t have to worry about how much a team wins by, just that it does. So in the above example, New England could be listed at -380 and Dallas at +300. All moneylines are based on a $100 bet. So you would have to bet +380 to win +100 on the Patriots. But a +100 bet on the Cowboys wins +300. There are games where the spread is  a pick’em, which means neither team is favored. You won’t find a moneyline on those.

Finally, you can bet on the total points scored in a game (or quarter or half or by individual team, etc.). NFL full game totals are generally between 38-55. Bad weather can play a role in where the number is set and expected wind, heavy rain or snow can lower the number if it’s played in an outdoor stadium. You simply bet the total over or under that posted number to win. Both the over and under will have an attached moneyline, but often they are the same -110 number.

There are certainly many more betting options for NFL games, including team and player proposition bets but knowing these basics is most important. You can find more helpful NFL betting articles at SBR Forum.

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