What Is NFL Moneyline Betting?

An NFL moneyline bet is simply an outright bet on who will win the match – no special conditions, no point spread, no other gimmicks.

what is nfl moneyline betting?
What Is NFL Moneyline Betting?

The NFL is a huge deal in the United States. Its major finale, The Super Bowl, is watched live by millions of Americans and millions more across the world. Even those who are not into sports are hooked on its action.

NFL betting is also a big thing and for beginners, there is no easier place to start than with an NFL moneyline bet.

NFL Moneyline Bets Explained

An NFL moneyline bet is simply an outright bet on who will win the match - no special conditions, no point spread, no other gimmicks. If you win the bet, you get your money back plus the profit according to the odds. This is the type of wager you can find in any US online gambling real money site.

Betting moneyline means you will encounter moneyline odds. Moneyline odds label the teams in two categories, the favorites, and the underdogs. As it is a US-centric sport, most bookies use the American Odds format so the favorites are labeled with a minus sign (-) while the underdogs are labeled with a plus sign (+).

The favorites are usually the team that is more favored by the public to win the game. These are the teams that bookies expect to have the majority of the bets so they alter their odds accordingly. However, a word of caution for newbies, the favorites do not always win! Popularity does not always translate to victory, so don't assume that a team will always win if they're a favorite.

On the other hand, the underdogs are usually the teams that are less popular and are perceived to have lesser chances of winning. They are not necessarily worse or bad players, only that they are not favored by the public or bookies.

So how would you know how much you can profit from a moneyline bet? For that, you have to look at the moneyline odds. If you bet $100 on an underdog with an odds of +350, and you won the bet, then you will receive a total payout of $450 - the $100 staked plus the $350 profit.

In the case of a draw, where there is no "draw" option on the odds, the bet has declared push - the amount staked is refunded in full. If they wagered $100 for either side, they get their full $100 back.

However, if a draw happened in a game where the bookies offered a "draw" bet, the player loses their bets if they did not bet on a draw--no opportunities for a refund.

What is NFL moneyline betting
A short description of NFL moneyline betting

Calculate NFL Moneyline Bet Payout

When making a moneyline bet you have two options, either bet on the favorite or the underdog. As we've established the odds of the favorite will have a minus sign in front of them and the odds of the underdog will have a plus sign in front of them. Say the game we're looking at has the odds at -400 for the favorite and +280 for the underdog, how would we calculate our returns if we bet either side?

If you're betting on the favorite, you should divide 100 by your odds number, then multiply the result by the size of your bet For example for a bet of $50 at -400 we get this:

100/400 = 0.25

0.25*$50 = $12.50

Our total profit from betting $50 at -400 would be $12.50

If you're betting on the underdog you do it slightly differently. This time you divide your odds number by 100, then multiply the result by the size of your bet. So for a bet of $50 at +280, we get this:

280/100 = 2.8

2.8*$50 = $140

Our total profit from betting $50 at +280 would be $140.

Examples of NFL Moneyline Wagers

Here are some examples of NFL moneyline scenarios and a little something about how the odds came to be:

Cleveland -245 / Tennessee +210

In this example, the underdog is could be considered the better team in terms of actual stats and probabilities, but the majority of the bets still went to Cleveland tilting the odds for Tennessee to become the underdogs.

This is a perfect example of why you should not always bet on the favorites. Always remember that the ods by the bookies can easily change due to the number of bets coming in on either side of the game.

A simplistic American Football logo

Dolphins -130 / Bengals +105

In this game, the Dolphins became the outright and obvious favorite after they beat the Atlanta Falcons in what was the highest-scoring output for any pre-season game to date.

On the other hand, the Bengals were the obvious underdogs since their QB Joe Burrow was in an uncertain position so that greatly affected their probabilities of winning, too. Thus, it led to the team being the underdog.

Patriots -165 / Giants +140

This is another example of the odds being affected by the conditions pre-game. With numerous players either injured, recovering, or needing to be tested for COVID-19, the Giants simply couldn't field their strongest side. Therefore they were considered the underdogs for this game.

NFL Moneyline Best Strategy

One might think that with the NFL moneyline being a simple and outright bet, there could be no strategy you can apply to it. However, the technique for placing a good moneyline bet is understanding the odds beyond what the bookies show you.

There are two things that you should remember: one, is that the closer the gap between the ods of the two teams, the less certain the game outcome is. This is why betting on the underdog can be profitable, in an uncertain game either side has a good chance of winning but by betting on the underdog you'll get a higher return on investment.

However, if one team is almost certain to win, the gap between the odds gets wider as there is less risk involved. This is why NFL moneyline betting, and sports betting in general, is all about finding value in your wagers.

A huge underdog may offer high rewards, but it comes with a lot of risks. On the other hand, major favorites may offer little risk but also a smaller amount of profit. Understanding these things, and applying your analysis based on real numbers and stats, will show you which side of the odds holds more value.


What are NFL moneyline bets?

Moneyline wagers for NFL games are a straightforward bet on which team is going to win. This type of bet is common on any US sports betting site.

What does a + and - sign mean in NFL moneyline bets?

Odds with a + sign indicate an underdog team or ones who are less likely to win the game. On the other hand, favorites have a - sign to their odds among US sportsbooks.

What is the payout for NFL moneyline bets?

This depends on whether you bet on odds with a + or - sign. If you are betting on a team with odds of +300 and bet $100, you gain $400 with a profit of $300 if that team wins. For a favorite team with a -250 odds, you need to bet $250 to get a profit of $100 when that team wins.

Is there a good ROI for NFL moneyline bets?

Realistic return on investment (ROI) is usually 5% of your original wager, which ensures a long-term return on future NFL moneyline wagers.

Are NFL moneyline bets better than spreads?

The expected value of a wager is a good way to know if these are worth taking or not. EV is a measure of the payout rate of a wager against the odds of it winning or losing. An NFL moneyline bet with a better EV is worth your money than a spread wager with a low value.

NFL moneyline betting is straightforward. While it is a perfect place for newbies to start with, there are better and more profitable betting markets out there where you can earn more, and the odds of making a better profit are better.

This article was published on September 25, 2021, and last updated on June 22, 2022.