Differentiating NFL Sports Betting: Odds, Picks, Futures

Differentiating NFL Sports Betting

Updated: Jul 7, 2021 10:39 am

There are many different bets available to bettors, especially when you’re playing the biggest league of the most popular sport in the country. Differentiating between all of these betting types can be confusing, so we’ve created this short guide on odds, picks, and futures betting. This allows you to figure out which types of betting will be best for you and your gambling habits.

Once you’re familiar with these terms, you can learn about sportsbooks by checking them out and experiencing them for yourself. You can read about betting forever but the real learning starts when you place your first wagers.


NFL odds are expressed in a variety of ways depending on the types of wagers you’re playing. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular forms of betting.

Line betting, also known as sides, is the most popular betting type for NFL games. It’s where there is a clear favourite and an underdog in the game, which is decided by the sportsbook who also predicts how many points the favoured team wins by. You can then choose to side with the favourite or bet against the sportsbook for a potentially higher payout.

Money line betting is then where bettors bet on who will win the game based on the given odds, in a market that’s different from the others and may offer a more favourable betting line. Those odds are much longer and shorter than the odds in the other markets, too.

Then there are totals bets, where bettors predict whether the total points scored in the game will be above or below the sportsbook’s prediction.


Picks, or pick ‘em bets, are where there isn’t a clear favourite to win the game. It’s essentially a coin toss, which the betting lines typically reflect by offering similar odds. The betting lines usually have a point spread of zero, though the bookmakers may change the home team’s lines since they tend to be favoured by bettors in pick ‘em situations.

Since pick ‘em bets are a specific situation, there are multiple bets that you can take when faced with a coin toss game.

Single bets, where bettors simply choose who they think will carry the game using betting lines and point spreads.

Parlay bets, where two or more wagers are taken across multiple games at once in the hopes that they all pay off, maximizing your payout. They offer higher returns but require more luck to win. There are also same-game parlay bets, where a parlay bet is taken on the same game.

Teasers, which are a type of parlay bet where you can shift the odds slightly in your favour so you’re entitled to a smaller payout, should it pay off.


NFL futures betting are typically single wagers that are placed on an event that’s, well, in the future. Sometimes they are so far in the future that it hasn’t actually been decided yet and if the event doesn’t go ahead then you usually get refunded. Online gambling has led to the explosion of futures betting, so it’s a fairly common type of bet that bettors like to indulge in.

So how do futures bets differ from straight bets? Futures play across a much larger time frame, so the totals and sides of each wager are different. You can take a futures bet months in advance, especially if you’re placing a bet at the start of the season, and doing so can even get you more favourable betting lines when compared to straight bets that are taken closer to the big game.


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