Betting on American football has grown hugely over the last ten years, so much so that taking in the NFL action on a Sunday night has become an integral element of the punting week.
It’s easy to get lost in the jargon, but here are a few ways to get the most out of your gridiron wagering.
Each year, 32 teams head into the NFL season dreaming of winning the Super Bowl.
The teams are divided into two conferences, AFC and NFC, and then four divisions – North, South, East and West. Each team plays 16 matches in the regular season when they play the other three teams in their division home and away, plus ten other matches over a 17-week regular season.
The four division winners in each conference and the two other teams with the best records then battle it out for conference championships and the two winners meet in the Super Bowl.
So if you want an interest in the season, you can back a team to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy or to win the two conferences or the various divisions. It really is that simple.
Of course, there are 256 regular-season matches you can bet on too and that’s before we even get to those all-important playoffs.
Match betting is available and can be a great way to back underdogs, but sometimes the favourites are only available at short prices.
Consequently, much American football betting takes place on handicaps, often referred to as ‘the spread’.
Here, you can back one of the teams either giving up points against their opponents or receiving a head start.
So, for example, if Arizona are playing San Francisco in the NFC West, you could back the Cardinals to win the game at 13/5 or the 49ers to win at 5/16.
However, if you think Arizona might get close to winning and want some insurance should they lose narrowly, you can back them at +7 at 10/11.
Alternatively, if you think San Francisco will win comfortably, you can back them at -7 at 10/11.
There are a couple of things to remember with these bets.
Firstly, teams only have to win by one point, so it can be a frustrating experience watching a team win but not go all out to win by enough points to make your bet a winner.
And secondly, you should be aware of the key numbers with matches often being won by three points (a field goal), seven points (a converted touchdown) or combinations of the two.
Total points is another market that works the same way. Simply select whether you want to go over or under the predicted line.
But you are not just restricted to the outcome of a match. You can also make judgements on the effect individual players are going to have on the proceedings.
Players to score a touchdown, make a sack, catch a certain number of passes, run a certain number of yards – they are all catered for and can produce some decent-priced winners.
And prices are available for the season too. You can bet on who will pass the largest number of yards, or chalk up the largest total of rushing yards or indeed who will be voted the most valuable player of the season.
Super Bowl Betting
And then there is the big showpiece itself, the biggest sporting event in the American calendar.
The bets available on the Super Bowl are almost endless and even roll into the half-time show and the advertisements shown on television.
You can bet on all sorts of things, starting from how long the national anthem will take to the colour of the energy drink poured over the winning coach’s head. And everything else in between.
The one thing about betting on the NFL is that there is plenty to get your teeth into.