It’s not whether you win the game, but whether you cover the spread. As sports betting becomes more popular, this is becoming less of a tongue-in-cheek saying and more of a reality. Bettors will bemoan their fate if a 10-point favorite they wagered on only wins by a touchdown, but they will pump their fist in celebration when a team they wagered on loses but covers the spread in the process. That’s the wonderful world of sports betting in a nutshell.
Where Do Spreads Come From?
Spreads are meant to level the playing field. If a 12-1 team is set to play a 3-10 team in Week 15 of the NFL season, the 12-1 team would likely be an enormous favorite on the moneyline barring anything out of the ordinary. Rather than having to deal with debating whether or not to bet a moneyline of -500 or higher, oddsmakers created a line in order to draw equal action on both the favorite and the underdog.
If you are unfamiliar with how spreads work, they are meant to be added to the game’s final score in order to determine which team covered the spread. For instance, if Team A is a seven-point favorite against Team B, Team A would have to win the game by more than seven points in order to cover the spread. If Team A won 30-20, that would be a cover, but a 30-24 win or a loss would result in a losing wager.
Conversely, if Team B won the game or lost by less than six points, they would cover the spread. A 31-30 victory for Team B or a 30-24 loss would be a cover as they would stay within seven points. However, if they lost by eight points or more, they would fail to cover.
One of the worst things in the world as a sports bettor is to lose on a backdoor cover. It will happen to most bettors at least once a season, and it seems to be occurring more often than it did in the past. There’s a knot that grows in your stomach when your team is up 10, but the other team is moving the ball down the field looking to score a meaningless touchdown with almost no time remaining just to pull a little closer and ruin your cover.
NFL Spread Betting Tips
It’s important to keep key numbers in mind when betting NFL spreads. Due to the unique nature of scoring in football, some numbers are much more important than others. The numbers 1 and 2 don’t mean a ton, but the number 3 means more than any other number because of how often games are decided by a field goal.
There are other key numbers too. The numbers 4, 6, 7, and 10 are all common margins of victory in football. That’s some crucial information to have when trying to estimate line movements or inputting parlays and teasers.
You will find ever increasing spreads in the NFL as games are becoming more high scoring. It used to be uncommon to see double-digit spreads, but now it feels like we see one a week. We have seen a couple games touch 20 points in recent years too, as the Kansas City Chiefs were enormous favorites at home against the New York Jets during the 2020 season. Kansas City went on to cover that game.
Halftime spreads are now part and parcel with sports betting. They used to be somewhat uncommon before the internet as it was difficult to get in a wager if you weren’t in a casino, but they are ever-present these days. All you need to do is log into your account, and the halftime numbers are at your fingertips.
Spread betting in the NFL is more popular than any other kind of sports betting in the United States. The popularity of the sport transcends into the betting sphere, and you will find millions of Americans betting weekly. It is the most difficult sport to beat in the long term though, as the oddsmakers are generally much more informed than the general public. That means getting good value with your numbers is essential.