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Moneyline betting is one of the most popular and arguably the simplest way to gamble on the NFL. Also sometimes referred to as ‘head-to-head’ or ‘to win’ betting, moneyline wagering in the NFL is as easy picking which team you think will win the game. However, even though it’s a choice between two teams, it’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily a 50/50 proposition!


The ability and talent levels of both teams are not always equal and the sportsbooks need a means of accounting for this. This is done by attributing odds to each team based on their likelihood of winning the game. The favorites are represented by a minus sign in front of the odds (e.g. -190), while the underdogs are represented by a plus sign in front of the odds (e.g. +160).


Due to the way these odds are calculated, your payout for a winning bet is scaled to the probability of your team winning. In other words, betting on a favorite involves less risk, but also smaller payouts, while betting on an underdog involves higher risk, but also more lucrative wins.


This might sound bleedingly obvious, but the thing about a moneyline bet is that your team still needs to win the game for you to win the bet. So while some nice juicy odds for an underdog might look enticing, your online betting account balance won’t go up a cent if you bet on them and they lose!


With all that in mind, it’s important to understand the odds with the negative sign correspond to the amount a bettor needs to wager in order to turn a $100 profit, while the odds with the positive sign correspond to the potential profit a bettor can make by wagering $100. 


In other words, the calculations to figure out how much profit you make from are moneyline bet are as follows:

  • For favorites divide 100 by the odds and multiply the result by your wager amount. 
  • For underdogs divide the odds by 100 and multiply the result by your wager amount.


For a more detailed explanation on how to read NFL betting odds, including moneyline odds, click here.





Let’s take a look at the moneyline odds for this matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 


Straight away, the +520 odds for the Falcons tells us they are the underdogs (shown by the plus sign). Odds of +520 in a two-horse race indicate the sportsbook believes the Falcons have very little chance of beating the Bucs (which is not surprising given the deep-seeded psychological trauma they probably deal with every time they come up against a team with Tom Brady under center… did someone say 28-3?). What we also know is the -720 odds for the Bucs means they are heavy favorites in the eyes of the sportsbook.


Now, let’s say we had $100 to bet on the moneyline for this match. 


If we chose to wager that $100 on the Bucs to win, your winnings would be the eye-watering sum of $13.89 profit (i.e. {100/720}x100=$13.89), plus your original $100 stake back.


If we bet that $100 on the Falcons causing the upset, and heaven forbid they did, your winnings would be $520 profit (i.e. {520/100}x100=$520), plus your original $100 stake back.


Unsurprisingly, you can get handsomely rewarded for being brave enough to bet on the team everyone expects will lose. This is where you hear the rags to riches stories of people winning big by wagering on a rank outsider!


However, the real opportunity in moneyline betting on the NFL lies in your ability to identify wagering opportunities where you think the risk reflected in the odds is less than the risk in reality. Thankfully, the team at Bet Basics has put together a list of NFL betting tips and strategies to help you do this.



During the 2020 NFL season (including the playoffs and Super Bowl), the moneyline favorites won 179 out of 267 games.


If reading this article has helped your decision to place a moneyline bet on the NFL, then you’re also probably interested in trying to maximise your profits by finding the best odds for that bet, right? We recommend having accounts with multiple sportsbooks so you can always conduct an odds comparison and make the most of any NFL bet bonuses or promotions being offered. Check out our full list of legal sportsbooks.

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