Understanding NFL Handicap Betting Lines

Like other big US sports, when betting on the NFL a lot of people choose to bet on the handicap lines instead of betting on the money line (read this – 3 way handicap betting). With the handicap line, you get better value on the favourites you back, although of course landing a winner is tougher as you have to add in another element to your bet.

If you have never played on the NFL handicap lines but you would like to give them a go then this article will tell you all you need to know about them and how to use them.

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What is a Handicap Line?

A handicap line is a fictional line that each bookmaker creates for you to be able to bet on (read this – best crypto bookies). The purpose of the line is to bring the two teams that are playing closer together and try to make it an even match. As a result of this, when you are betting on them it is likely that both teams will be available to back at the same price or very similar prices.


🏈 How to handicap sports?

Each sportsbook site for every football or basketball event creates a fictional handicap line to bring the two teams that are playing each other closer. So you can bet on these teams handicaps at the same odds.

🏈 How does NFL handicap betting work?

If you want to bet on NFL handicap you need to look for some team that is expected to win big and cover your handicap betting line. So NFL handicap betting works when you bet on a given point advantage.

🏈 How to handicap NFL games?

To handicap NFL games profitable, you need to know a lot of statistics (power rankings, yards per play offensively and defensively) and also you need to know how to find the right spots (scheduling dynamics bad or good, back to back games).

🏈 How to handicap NFL totals?

Handicapping NFL totals it’s not easy, normally you should have more experience if you want to do it, because you need to know more specialized metrics like number of players an NFL team runs in an average game, offensive philosophy and sometimes gameday weather.

🏈 How to find good NFL handicappers?

You can find good NFL handicappers in stakehunters.com platform.

One of the most important things to understand when you are placing bets on the handicap line is that each bookmaker creates their own line and their own odds. Normally when you are betting on the money line you can shop around for the best odds, when it comes to the handicap line you have to shop around for the best odds and the best line available to you to ensure you are getting the very best value on your bet.

nfl handicappers and handicaps

Over the course of a season, losing the odd bit of value on the price when betting on the money line will not do too much to harm your profit and loss. However, on the handicap line, this becomes far more important, and it can have a huge impact on your profit and loss. With just a point difference on the line you take, this could be the difference between a winner and a loser for you, it is vital that you shop around.

How Does a Handicap NFL Line Work?

The handicap NFL line is completely fictional, so when you are watching a game you need to add the actual score of the game to the NFL handicaps to see if you have a winning bet. The NFL betting rules are simple, the favourites have to win by more than the handicap line for you to win, and the outsiders have a head start in the game, so they need to keep the score down. Here is a breakdown of a handicap line and how it works with NFL betting.

NFL Betting Handicap: New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins

On the money line, the New England Patriots are heavy favourites at 1/3 while the Dolphins are priced up at 5/2 on that line as they are the outsiders.

Many people will fancy the Patriots to win the game, but backing them at 1/3 is not very attractive to punters, so they will instead look to the handicap line. Few people will fancy the Dolphins to win outright, but with a head start, they could appeal to more punters because of that.

american football nfl betting handicap lines rules

The handicap football line has been set at 7.5 for the game, with New England at -7.5 and Miami at +7.5

If you are backing New England, here is what you need to happen for you to win the bet:

New England must not only win the game but also cover the handicap betting NFL line. With this being set at 7.5, the Patriots have to win the game by eight points or more as you will add 7.5 points onto the total that the Dolphins get. For example, if the game ends 20-13 then the Dolphins handicap total is 20.5, so they win. If the game is 20-12, the Dolphins handicap total is 19.5, so the Patriots win.

If you fancy Miami with the head start, here is what you need to happen for you to win the bet:

If Miami wins the game by any score line then you will win your bet. On top of that, the Dolphins can lose the game by seven points or less and you would still win due to the 7.5 handicap points you would add to the total. A 30-25 Patriots win is actually 30-32.5 on the handicap NFL betting line, giving Miami the win on that.

It is important to remember that if you are backing a team that are given a head start because they are the underdogs, they can lose the game but you can win the bet, it all depends on the margin.

NFL Handicap Betting Explained

If you are looking to start using the handicap line when placing your NFL bets then the best and easiest way to get involved is to use it when you strongly fancy a favourite to win. This takes away backing an underdog and the complications surrounding them losing a game but still being a winning bet.

When you are looking at the list of NFL fixtures for the weekend, look at favourites who you fancy to win strongly. You are not looking for someone to just win, but you also need them to cover the NFL handicap betting line, so compare american football lines and pick out a team that you think has the ability to cover the line.

how to handicap nfl betting games totals

By using the handicap line to place this bet, you are adding another element of risk to it, but the rewards on offer are much greater. If you see a team that has a seven or eight-point handicap to overcome in a game but you believe that they can win the game by double figures, this is a good bet to take, and if you are right you will be rewarded with a much higher priced winner.

If you are looking to bet in a different way from the money line and you are looking for better value then the handicap line read our article about nfl betting lines for beginners. Dont fortget to look for teams you strongly fancy and take them on to beat the handicap as well as their opponents.

Dalius Mikalauskas

Sports Betting Expert

Dalius became interested in sports betting at the age of 16, although he could not place bets at that time (bets accepted from the age of 18). However, it was not forbidden to sell betting picks, which is what the author did actively on sports betting forums. Today, he has more than 18 years of experience in sports betting. In school, the auth ..
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