Betting on NFL Money Lines

Betting on NFL Money Lines

While betting on the NFL with the use of a pointspread may be the most popular way that sports bettors like to wager on the games, often times there are some golden opportunities to bet on the games with the use of a money line.

A money line is another way that Oddmakers can level the playing field between the favorite and the underdog in any matchup. As opposed to a spread where you have to lay points to take the favorite, while getting the same amount of points when betting the underdog, a money line bet is basically a straight-up pick. The main point of difference comes in the amount of money you have to risk to take the favorite verse the amount of money you stand to make on betting the underdog.

When it comes to betting the NFL, the following example is how a typical sportsbook will post both betting odds for any particular game:


Pointspread Bet: Chicago Bears +3

Green Bay Packers -3


Money Line Bet: Chicago Bears +145

Green Bay Packers -165


Using a base of 100, in the above scenario you would have to risk $165 for a bet on the favorite Green Bay. If you go with Chicago as the underdog and its wins straight-up, you would collect $145 for your 100 wager.

The main advantage of betting NFL money lines is the ability to shop for the best odds. While most sportsbooks would have Green Bay favored by three points on the spread, the actual betting odds on the money line are likely to vary somewhat from book to book. This gives you the ability to create an edge in your favor by betting with the book that best suits your actual pick.

Another advantage of betting NFL money lines is the ability to maximize your return if you are betting an underdog. If your confidence level is high that an underdog can win the game straight-up, then a money line bet is the best way to go. If you take Chicago and the three points, you are actually risking $110 to make $100 given the typical juice (commission) you have to pay to place that bet. The money line return of $145 verse a $100 risk offers a much more attractive return.

Correctly picking underdogs on a regular basis is not all that easy, but the beauty of a money line bet is that your winning percentage can be lower than .500, while your actual return on investment remains in the black. As an example, if you would consistently bet underdogs with an average money line of +175, you would only need to be correct 36.4 percent of the time to break even.

The risk/reward scenario in betting NFL money lines can also be lucrative when betting favorites as long as your confidence level they will win their game straight-up is extremely high. The problem you face is that the bigger the favorite the bigger the risk. If a team is a touchdown favorite on the pointspread the corresponding money line would be right around -280. Using an average -200 money line for picking favorites, you would need to be correct 66.7 percent of the time to break even on your bets.

The best way to maximize the value in any NFL money line bet is to do your homework by thoroughly handicapping the games that you eventually decide to play. One week that may only be one game, while another week you may have multiple plays that you really like. The key to being successful on a long-term basis is to only pull the trigger on an actual money line bet when your confidence level is very high.