What Is a Moneyline Bet in American Football?
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There’s no point spread and no conditions. It’s just will Team A or Team B win the game?
On an odds sheet or in a sportsbook app, games will typically be presented with three different types of bets: point spread (which may vary in name depending on the sport), total (also referred to as over/under), and Moneyline (which might be shown as “win” on an app where screen space is limited).
If you place a bet on the Moneyline, that means you think the team you bet on will win the game. If they win, you win, no matter the score. While a point spread requires the team you bet on to win by a specified margin, Moneyline does not. However, point spread bets typically have odds somewhat close to even money, meaning you would win about as much as you bet if you won. Moneyline bets have a wide range of odds.
For example, when Alabama football plays FCS opponents or when Manchester City plays an amateur team in the FA Cup, they are heavily favored. It would be giving away free money if sportsbooks allowed even money bets on Alabama or Manchester City in those circumstances. Exactly how much of a favorite they are is where Moneyline bets get interesting.
In the above example, the Kansas City Chiefs are a strong favorite against the Chicago Bears. The -350 odds mean a bettor would have to bet $350 to win $100. Conversely, a bettor on the Bears would make $245 in profit if they bet $100. If someone put $100 on the Chiefs, they would win $28.57 in profit.
These odds are somewhat extreme for football, given the polar opposite talent level of the teams in the standings. Most games will see closer odds between the two teams. That’s even more true for baseball, where results are less predictable on an individual-game basis.
A more extreme example is Alabama’s 2019 season opener against Duke. The Crimson Tide were -10000 on the Moneyline while Duke was +2000. So if you bet $100 on Alabama, you’d have won a single dollar. Games like these with such an obvious favorite sometimes won’t even get listed in sportsbooks.
Correlation between Moneyline and spread
There’s a clear correlation between Moneyline and point spread lines. You won’t see Alabama at -10000 against Duke on the Moneyline and only favored by 10 points against the spread unless someone made a big mistake at a sportsbook. In that game, Alabama was favored by 34 points. Point spreads exist as a way to create a competitive, balanced bet because almost everyone would expect Alabama to beat Duke (and they did, 42-3).
The correlation between the two types of bets is true across all sports but applies most in higher-scoring sports like football and basketball. Hockey, soccer, and baseball won’t often see spreads of more than one or two, so Moneyline bets and the wider variety of odds that come with them become more appealing.
A more advanced technique is to see how the spread and the Moneyline are correlated. For example, an NFL team favored by seven points is typically somewhere around -350 on the Moneyline. How does American football betting work? So if you find a spread is -7 and the Moneyline on the same team is only -300, there might be value there.
Favorites vs. underdogs
The risk/reward for betting on Alabama -10000 against Duke may not entice many bettors. However, betting on underdogs on the Moneyline can have big payouts. For example, in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, No. 15 seed Oral Roberts beat No. 2 seed Ohio State with +900 odds.
Anyone who put down money on Oral Roberts on the Moneyline would have won nine times their bet. Standard point spread bets won’t offer odds like that. That’s one of the upsides of betting on Moneyline.
Sports like soccer and formerly hockey frequently have ties. That complicates the Moneyline. In soccer, this is typically displayed in what is called a three-way line.
Instead of choosing two teams to pick from, the possibility of a tie or draw is included. As a low-scoring sport, spreads aren’t always available in soccer. So instead, a game can look like this on a betting sheet.
Betting on Manchester City to win is listed at -120, a tie or draw is +270, and a Manchester United win is +320. The home team is listed on top or as Team 1 on a bet slip in soccer.