Here at NFL Ireland we all love the sport of American Football, and we all enjoy predicting what will happen. Maybe you fancy trying to put your knowledge to the test while winning a bit of money, maybe you’re after one more selection to add to your weekend accumulator, or you just want to have an interest in the games on Sunday evening after the Premier League has finished. But what’s this? The NFL betting on your bookie’s website or on their coupon is full of goobledygook! How can you possibly make an informed decision on where to put your hard-earned money with this weird jargon all over the place? Fear not, we’re here to set things straight with our introduction to NFL betting!

Terminology:
Many bookmakers take the terms used for their NFL betting from the American betting industry, which can sometimes be slightly different than here in Ireland. Here’s a few examples:

The Money Line:
Money Line betting is, simply put, match betting. Similar to Win-Draw-Win betting on soccer, GAA and rugby, but without the draw bit included, it will usually look like this:[container]Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers 21/20
Philadelphia Eagles 4/5
[/container]

This is simple. If you back Green Bay to win the game you get odds of 21/20, and if you back Philadelphia to win the game you get odds of 4/5.

But why is there no option to back a draw? What happens if it is a draw? Well, Americans and american sports don’t really like ties, so you’ll often see something similar to this on screens and coupons in bookies on this side of the pond:

[container]Overtime to Count. Tie = Push = Stake Return[/container]

In the NFL if scores are tied at the end of the fourth quarter, the game goes to overtime because, as we said, America hates ties. If your selection wins in overtime, you still win your bet. In the event that no team scores in overtime, the game is stopped and awarded as a tie. This means the match result is a draw, and that equals a ‘Push’ result (more on this in a minute). Basically the bookie acts like the bet never happened and you get your money back, because the only thing Americans hate more than a tie is a loser. For single bets you’ll get your stake refunded, and if your selection is in a multiple bet, it counts as a non-runner.

This applies to 2-way markets like the Packers @ Eagles example above. Some bookies will offer you a 3-way market which includes the Tie as an option to back, in which case there’s no ‘Push’ result and no stake returned, but that’s a separate market (not Money Line) that you need to specifically seek out.

Spread Betting:
In most high-scoring sports, spread betting is very popular. You’ll have heard people in TV and movies saying they’ve ‘beaten the spread’. Spread betting is very similar to Handicap betting in other sports, so if you’re familiar with Handicap betting that’s a great start. If you’re not, here’s a quick primer. A typical spread market often looks like this:

[container]Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers +2.5 pts 10/11
Philadelphia Eagles -2.5 pts 10/11[/container]

This is a way of leveling the playing field between the two sides, and also splitting some of the risk for the bookie. You must add the ‘handicap’ or spread points that you have selected to the final result of the game and, if your selected team still wins the game after applying the selected points, you win the bet. Let’s say that you selected the Philadelphia Eagles to win -2.5 pts in the above example, and the final score of the game is Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 Green Bay Packers. You must subtract your handicap points from the final score. That means that you take away 2.5 points from the Eagles score in the actual result:

27 (actual) – 2.5 (handicap) = 24.5 pts

So, your score for betting purposes is now Philadelphia Eagles 24.5-20 Green Bay Packers. Even with the handicap of subtracing 2.5 pts your selection still wins the game, so your bet is a winner. This is called beating the spread.

What if the winning margin is smaller than the handicap points, and the final score of the game is Philadelphia Eagles 21-20 Green Bay Packers? Let’s do the same sums:

21 (actual) -2.5 (handicap) = 18.5 pts

So, your score for betting purposes is now Philadelphia Eagles 18.50-20 Green Bay Packers. That means the Eagles would lose the game after applying the handicap, so your bet is a loser. In the same scenario, suppose you selected the Green Bay Packers +2.5 pts instead of the Eagles. Then the handicap points you’ve selected are applied to the Packers final score. Let’s do the maths for that:

20 (actual) +2.5 (handicap) = 22.5 pts

The final score for the game with your selected handicap is now Philadelphia Eagles 21-22.5 Green Bay Packers. Even though they didn’t win the game, the Packers win for betting purposes, and so do you!

As with Money Line betting, overtime counts for these markets unless they offer a ‘Tie’ option. Sometimes you will see handicap betting using a whole number of points, rather than with a decimal. There is a slight advantage to this, because it means that our friend ‘Push’ comes back into play. Say for example this is the market offered:

[container]Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers +3 pts 4/5
Philadelphia Eagles -3 pts 11/10[/container]

Imagine you back the Eagles -3 pts in this scenario, and the game finishes Philadelphia Eagles 23-20 Green Bay Packers. Again, we do the sums:

23 (actual) -3 (handicap) = 20 pts.

Now the score for betting purposes reads Philadelphia Eagles 20-20 Green Bay Packers, which is a tie. ‘Push’ comes into operation here again, and your stake is returned for the bet. You don’t win but you don’t lose!

Now that you have a grasp of some of the betting jargon, you can make an informed bet on the American football games. We’ll be looking at other popular bet types in our next post, so come back for more soon, and good luck with your betting!

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