NFL betting is one of the biggest sports betting types in the world, with millions of players backing their favourite teams and stars every week of the American Football season.
And it’s also a great way to develop your knowledge of the NFL while following the sport live. That’s why here at Unibet you can bet in-play on every American Football game each season.
The NFL is the biggest showcase for American Football and takes place every autumn and winter. So popular is the sport that games are now staged in London each year, while there are rumours that eventually there will be a UK franchise that competes in the league each season.
To familiarise yourself with how NFL betting works, check out our handy guide below.
American Football rules explained
American football is a two-team game where the aim is to score more points than the opposition. To do this, you must get the ball in the opposition’s ‘end zone’ or kick it through their goalposts. Getting the ball in the end zone is called a touchdown and is worth six points. You get a further point for a conversion, by kicking the ball through the posts.
The basic rules of American football are straightforward. The team with the ball must try and move up the field. They have four attempts to move the ball 10 yards. If they cannot do this, the ball is turned over to the other team. If they make 10 yards, a new set of four attempts begins.
There are effectively two ‘teams’ within an NFL team. One is the offence, which enters the field when the team is in possession and is responsible for trying to score the points. The other is the defence, which comes on when the team is not in possession.
The two teams line up against each other for each play. The ball will usually ‘snap’ back to the quarterback, who will then decide whether to throw the ball or run himself. If the quarterback is tackled, it is known as a ‘sack’.
An NFL game lasts for four quarters, each of 15 minutes in length. If the scores are a draw at full time, the game goes into overtime. Here, whichever team scores first wins the game.
American Football Betting Explained
American football is by far the most popular sport in the US and for a long time it remained popular only there. With the emergence of online betting and live streaming the sport has become more accessible and watching football on a Sunday is no longer just an American tradition.
The kickoff times for the Sunday games are usually around 6pm and 9pm UK time, which make them the perfect prime time sport to round off the weekend. There are also games on Thursdays, Saturdays and Mondays — but these can be at unsocial times in the middle of the night for UK fans.
The games are also prime targets for sports betting, as there are always dozens of bets to be played both before the game and during it. In the next section, we go through the most popular bets in American football.
How NFL Betting Works
The big bet many NFL fans gravitate to when they are starting out is the match bet. This is simply a bet on who will win the game. Because draws are exceptionally rare in the NFL, you will either bet on the home team (1) or the away team (2) to win. Match bets include overtime, which is when the game finishes in a draw after regular time, and it effectively continues running until the next team scores.
The chances of actually going to overtime are very slim and the likelihood of it then being a draw at the very end is slimmer still. This is why most punters choose the match bet with overtime included.
Another huge bet type in NFL is handicap betting. Like rugby, there are plenty of points scored in American Football. And that means sometimes teams can win by 30 or 40 points. The handicap bet effectively balances the odds, so that uneven games become more even.
Let’s take Atlanta vs San Diego as an example. Say Atlanta are 1.30 to win and San Diego 5.00. You can place a +10.5 point handicap on San Diego, to even out the odds. In this instance, you would only lose your bet if Atlanta win by a greater margin than 10.5 points.
Over/under betting is also very popular in American Football because there are so many points scored in a game. In this bet, you don’t back specifically how many points will be scored. Instead, you predict whether the total number of points scored will be above or below a certain line. So, you could bet on a game witnessing +27.5 points. If there are more than 27.5 points in the game, you win the bet.
NFL player betting
There is an increasing interest in players during NFL games and many punters like to bet on the individuals. This means there is a wealth of NFL player bets available. The big bet is the first touchdown. This is usually reserved for either the quarterback of one of the teams — who may rush forward into the end zone during a play — or a wide receiver.
The wide receivers are effectively like the strikers of football, or the top batsmen in cricket. They score the most points and can often get plenty of the attention. That’s why many NFL betting fans back the wide receivers to score first or last during a game, as well as earning the highest points total.
Interceptions are also big in the NFL and can completely transform games. This is when a player on the defensive teams intercepts the pass from the offensive quarterback. When the ball is ‘turned over’, the defensive team turn into offence and can feasibly score a touchdown. You can bet on players to earn interceptions and also turnovers during games.
NFL outright betting
There are also outright bets that can be placed for the long-term. One of these is the NFL Championship bet, where you can bet on who will win the eventual title that year. This is a big bet and the odds on a team can fluctuate wildly during a season, so timing is key.
Betting on the NFL MVP is another popular bet type and one you may not know about until the Super Bowl — last game of the season. Whichever two teams meet in the final game will likely have the MVP within their squads. The NFL MVP is often awarded to the player who contributed the most to the title-winning team — usually in the last game and during the playoffs. Quarterbacks are the centre of attention in the NFL and therefore they are usually the frontrunners to win the MVP each year.
American Football college betting
Here at Unibet you can bet live on the NFL each season on our sportsbook! We offer new and current players the chance to bet in-play using our ever-changing odds markets. We make sure the odds are accurate and up-to-date with the latest plays.
Remember, the NFL is not the only league that plays American football. You can bet on college football all year round from your smartphone, laptop or tablet. College football is the bedrock of the sport and the breeding ground for the very best players on the planet. It is also fiercely competitive, with local and national tournaments taking place all year round.
Teams compete to play in the College Football Playoff National Championship game, which is effectively the final of college football and is staged every January. But there are loads of Bowl games staged each year in college football too. These are effectively staged games where the 12 best teams in the country are invited to play.
College football is the main route for players wanting to compete in the NFL being selected by the franchise. Games can be played in front of 80,000 spectators and payers can become legends at their colleges. The ultimate aim is to land that NFL contract but only around 250 graduate through the NFL to the professional league each year. Others can try and get a team as a free agent but the Draft is the main pathway for young stars.