NFL Point Spreads

The most popular NFL odds market, by far, is the point spread. In simplest terms, a point spread balances the two teams to facilitate betting on both sides.

It’s a hypothetical number that sets a mandatory margin of victory for the favorite. The NFL now has a 17-game regular season, giving even more opportunities for Texas bettors to back the star-studded Dallas Cowboys or the Houston Texans.

This week’s NFL spreads

See below for all of this week’s NFL point spread odds from online sportsbooks once legal betting is live.

How do NFL point spreads work?

A sportsbook will list the two teams playing and denote the favorite and underdog. The point spread is the number of points by which the favorite is expected to win.

If you bet on the favorite, you only win your bet if that team’s margin of victory exceeds the spread. If you bet on an underdog, that means you think they will win or lose by fewer points than the spread.

Here’s a look at a typical point spread posted at an NFL betting site.

  • Dallas Cowboys -10.5 (-110)
  • Houston Texans +10.5 (-110)

This is a hypothetical matchup between the Cowboys and Texans. The Cowboys are 10.5 favorites. That’s what the (-) sign means. The (+) sign indicates the Texans are the underdogs, picked to lose by 10.5 points.

Both teams have payout odds of -110. That’s because when you factor in the point spread, the game is expected to be even. Payout odds of -110 mean you must wager $110 to earn a profit of $100.

If the Cowboys win 23-17, then all bets on the Cowboys lose because they had to win by more than 10.5 points for a bettor to collect on them. But if you bet on the Texans, you’re basically starting the game with them having 10.5 points.

So even if they lose the game 23-17, you win because they didn’t lose by more than 10.5. Another way to look at it is, factoring in the spread, the Texans won 27.5 to 23 in our scenario.

By the way, if the spread is exactly seven points and you bet on the favorite who then wins by exactly seven, that’s a push. It means you get your money back, but no profit.

If you’re looking for this week’s Cowboys and Texans odds, see above or on our dedicated team pages:

How to bet on NFL point spreads online

First, do some research. Find a legal Texas online sportsbook or two that fits your preferred betting style.

You’ll need to open an account, which may require you to download an app or geolocator service on your computer (to ensure you’re within the state borders).

As a new user, you’ll often receive great offers. These could include bonuses like matching deposits or some bonus bets to start. Make your initial deposit, and start familiarizing yourself with the app’s design and layout. Placing a bet is usually as easy as a few clicks.

Best sites for betting on NFL spreads

By now, you’ve seen the advertisements for all of the big-time online sportsbooks like Caesars, BetMGM and DraftKings. Each one has a slightly different interface, but for the most part, their NFL point spreads are the same.

  • Caesars Texas Sportsbook: Caesars is known for having slightly better odds than the other sportsbooks. Maybe that’s just a half-point, but it’s still a big deal in a close game.
  • BetMGM Texas Sportsbook: BetMGM is the place to go for exotic bets. We’d also highlight its option to shift the point spread yourself. This is what’s called an “alternate line,” which then enhances or detracts from your odds.
  • DraftKings Texas Sportsbook: DraftKings gives you tons of easy-to-understand information on the teams, histories and up-to-date injury reports before placing your bet.

How are NFL spread odds set?

Legal sportsbooks all have their own oddsmakers who sift through years of data to set point spreads. They look at previous matchups, team statistics and information on current players.

First, they look at which team should be the favorite and the underdog. Then, oddsmakers use their information to set the spread and balance the odds between the two teams. Remember, they’re trying to draw even action on both sides of the bet.

What’s the difference between Vegas and Texas NFL spreads?

When sports betting becomes legal in Texas, the state will be one of the world’s biggest betting markets. It’s important to recognize that certified online sportsbooks come with certain protections that offshore or unregulated sportsbooks don’t offer.

If anything, the odds at a local Las Vegas sportsbook might be worse than a national online sportsbook. That’s because the former is catering to a local market, which might not be in tune with national odds. A big national sportsbook brand serves a much broader audience, which should make its odds fair and competitive according to public scrutiny.

When is the best time to bet an NFL point spread?

This is probably an individual choice, but there are two main methods. One is to strike early, and one is to strike just before kickoff.

Point spreads for the upcoming slate of NFL games are usually revealed on Mondays. But some games may be held up either because that team is playing on Monday night or because an injury situation with one team means further information is needed before the point spread can be posted.

The initial line can be great if you’re betting on a favorite. You could bet them at a lower number earlier in the week before public betting on the NFL widens the spread.

Alternatively, if you want to wait until just before kickoff, then you can use all the pertinent information from the week, like maybe a key injury or a weather forecast.

NFL betting against the spread vs. NFL betting with the spread

When you bet with the spread, you’re backing the favorite to win by the amount predicted or more. If the Cowboys are -6.5 point favorites, and you think they’ll win by more than a touchdown, you’re betting with the spread.

If you bet against the spread, you take the underdog and the points. You aren’t necessarily saying you think the underdog will win the game. You’re simply saying they won’t lose by as many points as the oddsmakers predict. If the Texans are +7.5 underdogs and you think they’ll only lose by a touchdown or better, you are betting against the spread.

There is one more factor to consider—a push. If the Cowboys were -7 favorites and they won by seven points, the -7 would negate that lead, and the bet would be voided. You would receive your initial wager back.

This brings us to how you can avoid this scenario.

What is an alternate spread?

The more sports betting has grown in the United States, the more options there are to customize your bets. A huge number of people have taken to alternate lines. That’s specifically true when it comes to point spread.

Basically, you can move the line yourself and get the new odds associated with it. Say the Texans are +6.5 underdogs with -110 odds but you want to cover yourself a full touchdown if they lose. You can buy points and boost it to +7.5. You’ll receive lower odds at a possible -180 but cover yourself better in the event of a touchdown loss.

This also comes in handy when you’re creating an NFL same game parlay. You can maneuver the points in your favor more than the odds and stack your desired bets to give you more favorable odds.

Within each NFL game’s betting market, you’ll find this listed under a heading like “Alternate Spread.” You’ll also find alternate totals to adjust the total points similarly.

What are the key numbers/tipping points for NFL spreads?

When it comes to point spreads, the home team typically starts with three points just based on the fact that they are playing at home. Three is considered a key number in a point spread because a field goal is worth three points. Many games are decided by that margin.

The other key number to look for is seven, which is the number of points gained from a touchdown. When you see a team favored by 6.5 points, that’s a tough number to bet on, because they may win the game by a touchdown.

Why does the NFL spread change?

Information comes out during the week that can impact a team’s performance and effort in an NFL game. Maybe it’s late in the season: a team has already clinched a playoff spot and is planning on resting its best players.

The weather forecast can also impact a point spread. Snow or rain can mean a low-scoring game or a tighter margin of victory.

The biggest variable when it comes to an NFL point spread involves injuries. NFL teams are notorious for withholding specific information on injuries, but it’s always wise to check the news reports for player health status.

Are spreads better bets than moneylines or totals?

That comes down to personal preference. There is a simplicity to a moneyline bet: you’re betting on a team to win. And there is a disconnected quality to a totals bet: you’re not worried about who wins or loses, just the combined final score.

Point spreads give you a margin for error that the moneyline doesn’t. You can bet on the underdog, and even if they lose the game, you can still win your bet provided they cover the spread. If you bet on the favorite, you risk them taking the lead in the game but not by as many points as the spread.

Best strategies for NFL spread betting

  1. Shop around: There will be multiple online betting sites in Texas, once sports gambling becomes legal. You shouldn’t limit yourself to one. If there are better odds at a different sportsbook or an individual player bet that you like, then spread your money around.
  2. Factor in emotion. Football is a game of emotion and passion, and a loud crowd can impact a road favorite. You see it all the time where an underdog gets an early score, the crowd gets involved, and suddenly momentum is building for an upset. There really isn’t that much that separates NFL teams on the field, so finding a home underdog is a fun bet knowing that the crowd could give them a boost.
  3. Do your research. Some NFL teams just match up better with others. The Cowboys are always sky-high to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. The Houston Texans don’t like the Indianapolis Colts. Division games are usually closer than normal because the teams play twice a season and know one another. Just a little bit of knowledge can inform your bet and give you a winning edge.