American Football Handicap Betting Explained (2023 Review)

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American football handicap betting explained: Like other big US sports when betting on the NFL a lot of people choose to bet on the handicap lines instead of betting on the money line (read this – 3-way handicap betting). With the handicap line, you get better value on the favorites you back, although of course landing a winner is tougher as you have to add another element to your bet.

If you have never played on the NFL handicap lines but you would like to give them a go then this article will tell you all you need to know about them and how to use them.

What is a Handicap Line?

A handicap line is a fictional line that each bookmaker creates for you to be able to bet on (read this – best crypto bookies). The purpose of the line is to bring the two teams that are playing closer together and try to make it an even match. As a result of this, when you are betting on them it is likely that both teams will be available to back at the same price or very similar prices.

One of the most important things to understand when you are placing bets on the handicap line is that each bookmaker creates their own line and their own odds. Normally when you are betting on the money line you can shop around for the best odds, when it comes to the handicap line you have to shop around for the best odds and the best line available to you to ensure you are getting the very best value on your bet.

American football handicap betting explained

Over the course of a season, losing the odd bit of value on the price when betting on the money line will not do too much to harm your profit and loss. However, on the handicap line, this becomes far more important, and it can have a huge impact on your profit and loss. With just a point difference on the line you take, this could be the difference between a winner and a loser for you, it is vital that you shop around.

How Does a Handicap NFL Line Work?

The handicap NFL line is completely fictional, so when you are watching a game you need to add the actual score of the game to the NFL handicaps to see if you have a winning bet. The NFL betting rules are simple, the favorites have to win by more than the handicap line for you to win, and the outsiders have a head start in the game, so they need to keep the score down. Here is a breakdown of a handicap line and how it works with NFL betting.

NFL Betting Handicap: New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins

On the money line, the New England Patriots are heavy favorites at 1/3 while the Dolphins are priced up at 5/2 on that line as they are the outsiders.

Many people will fancy the Patriots to win the game, but backing them at 1/3 is not very attractive to punters, so they will instead look to the handicap line. Few people will fancy the Dolphins to win outright, but with a head start, they could appeal to more punters because of that.

handicap football line

The handicap football line has been set at 7.5 for the game, with New England at -7.5 and Miami at +7.5

If you are backing New England, here is what you need to happen for you to win the bet:

New England must not only win the game but also cover the handicap betting NFL line. With this being set at 7.5, the Patriots have to win the game by eight points or more as you will add 7.5 points onto the total that the Dolphins get. For example, if the game ends 20-13 then the Dolphin’s handicap total is 20.5, so they win. If the game is 20-12, the Dolphin’s handicap total is 19.5, so the Patriots win.

If you fancy Miami with the head start, here is what you need to happen for you to win the bet:

If Miami wins the game by any score line then you will win your bet. On top of that, the Dolphins can lose the game by seven points or less and you would still win due to the 7.5 handicap points you would add to the total. A 30-25 Patriots win is actually 30-32.5 on the handicap NFL betting line, giving Miami the win on that.

It is important to remember that if you are backing a team that is given a head start because they are the underdogs, they can lose the game but you can win the bet, it all depends on the margin.

NFL Handicap Betting Explained

If you are looking to start using the handicap line when placing your NFL bets then the best and easiest way to get involved is to use it when you strongly fancy a favorite to win. This takes away backing an underdog and the complications surrounding them losing a game but still being a winning bet.

When you are looking at the list of NFL fixtures for the weekend, look at favorites who you fancy to win strongly. You are not looking for someone to just win, but you also need them to cover the NFL handicap betting line, so compare American football lines and pick out a team that you think has the ability to cover the line.

By using the handicap line to place this bet, you are adding another element of risk to it, but the rewards on offer are much greater. If you see a team that has a seven or eight-point handicap to overcome in a game but you believe that they can win the game by double figures, this is a good bet to take, and if you are right you will be rewarded with a much higher priced winner.

If you are looking to bet in a different way from the money line and you are looking for better value than the handicap line read our article about NFL betting lines for beginners at Footballterms. Don’t forget to look for teams you strongly fancy and take them on to beat the handicap as well as their opponents.

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