NFL Moneylines

NFL moneylines have become one of the most attractive markets in all of online sports betting since the rise of league’s popularity. Their origins date back to Las Vegas sportsbooks in the 1970s. Aside from sides and totals, moneylines are easily the most wagered NFL market.

Moneylines will be available at every sportsbook that offers NFL action, so there won’t be any need to search out sportsbooks that provide these markets. Compared to sides and total wagering, bettors will need to consider other factors when betting NFL moneylines.

Some of these factors include knowing what a moneyline is, knowing how to place a NFL moneyline bet, and whether the bet being placed is +EV.

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What Is A Moneyline?

NFL moneylinesWhile point spread wagering dominates the football betting landscape, NFL moneylines offer a unique form of wagering that doesn’t take into account a point spread. When wagering on moneylines, bettors are only concerned with who is going to win the game outright.

It doesn’t matter if the team wins by one point or 20 points. If you take a team on the moneyline, and they win the game – your wager will be graded as a winner. If you take a team to win on the moneyline, and they lose, the bet will be graded as a loser, regardless of the final score.

It’s important to note that moneyline bets include overtime as well. Unlike point spread wagers without a half a point, moneyline bets will almost always have a definitive betting outcome. There is no real threat of a possible push, unless, of course, the game ends in a tie, which is rare in the NFL.

Moneylines at US-facing sportsbooks are offered using traditional American odds. Bettors who are familiar with baseball or hockey wagering on moneyline odds regularly, as it’s the primary form of wagering for both these sports when betting on sides.

NFL Moneyline Example

Let’s say the New Orleans Saints are favored over the Carolina Panthers by 7 points. This equates to about a +250 moneyline for the Panthers as the underdog. Since more bets will undoubtedly come in on the favorite and the sportsbook has to charge us vig so they can make a profit, the NFL moneyline odds for the Saints will be around -280 or higher.

  • New Orleans Saints -280
  • Carolina Panthers +250

Bettors wagering on the New Orleans Saints would have to risk $280 to win $100. If this bet were graded as a winner, they would receive $380 back, including their $280 original stake and $100 in profit.

Those betting on the underdog Panthers would risk $100 to win $250. If they win their bet, the return would be $350, including their $100 original stake and $250 in profits.

As with all wagered offered by betting sites, there is vigorish added to each side of the bet. We can calculate the no-vig using math, which we explain more in-depth on our article on implied probability.

Is Moneyline Betting +EV?

That depends, of course. One of the best resources for everything gambling is The Wizard Of Odds. They have an article on NFL betting markets, and if we scroll down slightly, we can see a chart of NFL point spread winners, which offer us a comparison to moneylines.

It is worth noting that the above chart doesn’t factor in the key numbers of 3 and 7, but it does help us figure out a fair moneyline and when and where to attack the oddsmakers based on the probability of winning.

It’s important to take the points when on the right sides of the 3 and 7. For instance, the difference between +3.5 and +2.5 is massive. We would encourage a wager on the former but not on the latter, and the same goes for +7.5 and +6.5.

However, when we’re not crossing the 3 or 7 on the right side, moneyline odds become a lot more attractive.

NFL Winning Probability On The Point Spread

Courtesy of the Wizard of Odds

Based on this historical data, it shows us that betting NFL underdogs on the moneyline has some real profit potential, and there are plenty of +EV bets available if we can find the right NFL moneyline odds.

The data shows us that that teams that are favored by 15 points are undefeated when it comes to winning on the moneyline or straight up. Moneyline odds here will be enticing here, but historical averages show that none of these teams have sprung the upset in 20 years of data.

We can see a nice stream of blue dots elsewhere on the graph, however. Specifically, in the 12-15 point range, where upsets seem to be more common than most probably think. Overall, though, there’s one common theme, moneyline odds on underdogs can be quite profitable in certain spots.

Breakeven Percentages

The reason to target moneyline underdogs instead of favorites boils down to breakeven percentage. The talent gap in the NFL is a narrow one. Sure, the best team is considerably better than the worst team, but this isn’t college football where powerhouse teams have no chance of losing to smaller schools. The playing field is a lot more even.

For the most part, it’s much better to take the favorite on the point spread rather than the moneyline due to the risk of losing when you are laying a substantial amount to win a much smaller amount. This isn’t just a general rule when it comes to betting NFL moneylines, but for all large favorites, in all markets.

We’re not saying not to wager on favorites if you’re getting a price that beats the market or if you feel your odds of winning beat the breakeven percentage, but these scenarios just aren’t generally as plentiful compared to underdog moneylines.

Betting The Moneyline In NFL

For example, a -200 favorite has a breakeven percentage of 66.67%. This is usually the moneyline odds for a favorite of 5-6 points. To break even on -200 bet, we need to win our wager about two-thirds of the time.

If we flip these odds to +200, our breakeven percentage goes to just 33.33%. This means we only need to in wager one out of every three times to breakeven.

Underdog Betting

With this in mind, which one of these wagers offers the best long-term profit potential? Clearly, it’s betting on underdogs.

One area where underdog wagering can be especially profitable is when the point spread falls under 3 points. 1-2 points decide only 7 percent of games. Taking the moneyline instead of a +2 line will rarely come back bite bettors and is a long-term +EV wager provided they grab fair moneyline odds.

Best NFL Moneyline Betting Sites

Bettors will find much more variation in NFL moneyline bets compared to sides and totals – making them an excellent target for spotting inefficiencies. It’s important not to look at wagering on moneylines at larger betting sites with sharper NFL moneyline odds (in almost all cases). If you’re an American, that means avoiding a site like Bookmaker.eu and for international players, Pinnacle Sports.

Popular Betting Site for Moneyline Bets

bovada sportsbookInstead, bettors should look to target recreational sportsbooks, like Bovada.lv. Bovada certainly isn’t the sharpest betting site around and often shade their lines towards public action – rather than mirror sharper sportsbooks. It makes them an excellent spot to target NFL moneylines, particularly on underdogs.

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Final Thoughts

Betting underdog moneylines is something that every bettor should have in their repertoire. Taking the points is fine as well, but if the opportunity is there, and bettors think an upset may be coming – they are fools not to take advantage.

One strategy is to wager split their bet between the point spread and the moneyline as a way to hedge in case a side covers but doesn’t win. Bettors can also be a little more aggressive and put two units on the moneyline and one on the point spread. It all depends on what the market is giving you when it comes to efficiency.

If you spot a soft moneyline or one that plainly doesn’t match your projection regarding win percentage, fire away.