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Understanding Football Odds

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Understanding the football odds posted each week isn’t that hard.  Take a look at our guide so you know the lingo and just how each type of bet works this season.

Point Spreads

The first thing you need to know about is the point spread and luckily it’s the easiest way to bet on sports.  Most of the bets that you will make and the general public makes comes on the spread.  This is how the sportsbooks even out the teams and get their action on both sides of the game since it’s rare that two teams will be evenly matched and the game marked as a pick em.

The point spread is basically a handicap that the favorite has to overcome to win the game.  The more heavily favored a team is, the more points they will be laying.  If someone tells you that Colorado is a seven point favorite, the line will be listed Colorado -7.  The (-) minus sign always tells you who the favorite is and how many points they have to win by.  If Colorado wins by seven the game is a push, if they win by more than seven their backers get paid, and if they win by less than seven, or lose then the teams taking Colorado’s opponent ends up profiting.  An easy way to look at this would be to adjust the score from the beginning, so at kickoff Colorado is already down 0-7.  If you do that then you can keep score in your head all game long and know what you need to be routing for to happen.

The point spreads are set by the oddsmakers who work for the sportsbooks.  Even though lines can change throughout the week you are locked in to whatever the odds are when you place your bet.  If the line moves afterwards you don’t have to worry about it, since the number you got stays the same.  The books are looking to balance the action on both sides of the game so if Colorado is getting heavy action at -7 they will move the line to -7.5 to back people away from taking them and to encourage action on the other team at +7.5.

Totals

Another popular wager in football is on totals or over/unders.  This number simply reflects the total points that will be scored by both teams so if the total on the Colorado game is 46, both teams combined have to score more than 46 points for the “over” bet to be a winner, and less than 46 for the “under” bettor to cash his ticket.

Money Lines

People don’t bet as much on money lines in football as they do in other sports like baseball and hockey, but it’s still an option.  The favorite is once again listed with the (-) sign but this time it’s a much higher number, like -225.  That would mean that you have to bet $225 on that team to win $100 (plus your $225 risked is returned).  The underdog is listed with a (+) plus sign, such as +175.  That would signal a $100 bet earns a payback of $175.

Parlays & Teasers

Another popular option is to combine your wagers into a parlay, which means all of your games have to win, but you get a much higher payout when they do.  For teasers you get to move the point spread six points in your favor (on a 6-point teaser) but you get a much lower payout.

About the Author: Jack Jones has been one of the top experts on the site while competing against roughly 80 of the best handicappers in the world each year. He has made most of his money on the hardwood. In fact, he has finished in the Top-5 in college basketball each of the last three seasons (#5 2011-12, #5 2012-13, #3 2013-14). He was also the No. 1 NBA handicapper from 2012-13. As of early April, Jack has compiled an 802-631 basketball run that has seen his $1,000 game players profit $124,030. He was the No. 3 College Football handicapper in 2012-13. While he doesn't have any top finishes in the NFL, he has produced steady profits without killing his clients. Jack also was your No. 7 MLB handicapper in 2009 and backed it up with a No. 8 MLB finish in 2010. No matter the sport, the one thing you can count on with Jack Jones is that he won't leave any stone unturned. You'll know why he is on a game with his detailed analysis, and more times than not, you will come out well ahead against your book. Head on over to Jack's premium pick page to see what he has in store for tonight!
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