Whether it’s college football or the NFL, betting on the football can be very exciting, but backing the moneyline weekly can get a bit old after a while. So true football fans are usually looking for more interesting and exciting ways to back their team. 

Especially in games where it seems obvious one team will win, you may want more excitement with your betting. That’s why so many bettors across the US love the point spread, which evens up the field in even the most one-sided games. Point spreads are perfect for college football games, where there may be a huge gulf in quality between two teams.

If you’re interested in leveling the field with point spread betting, read our guide below. We’ll explain how point spread betting works with football, including how these types of bets work with American odds. We’ll also explain where you can place football point spread bets in the US. 

What is a Football Point Spread?

A point spread applies an imaginary deficit to the favorite in a game and gives the underdog an advantage. The favorite is indicated with a (-). If you bet on a favorite with the point spread, you need the team to score a certain amount of points and win. You will lose if the team wins but doesn’t cover the point spread. You will see a higher point spread in games where the favorite is expected to win easily.

Betting on the underdog with the point spread is different, as this team can lose within a certain amount of points for your bet to be successful. The underdog is shown with a (+) symbol and can also win the game. Sportsbooks will offer a greater point spread on the underdog when a team is heavily outmatched.

Many point spread bets will have a ‘hook’, where the point spread will include a half. This is to prevent ties, where an exact score means no one wins the point spread. For example, -3.5 is a very common point spread at sportsbooks like DraftKings. The (-) shows this is for the favorite, and the 3.5 shows how many points the team must win by. In this case, the football team needs to win by four points or more for your bet to be successful.

If a sportsbook does offer an exact point spread, like +3, and the underdog loses by exactly three points, you’ll receive your wager back. This is called a push. Always check the terms and conditions before placing a point spread bet. 

How do Sportsbooks Set Point Spread Odds?

A point spread bet aims to encourage bettors to make both sides in a football game equally. While this may happen naturally in close games, no one wants to back a team that is obviously going to lose. Point spreads make even the most uneven of games fair.

You’ll often see point spreads drift before a game starts to reflect pregame injury news and how many people are betting on one side. For example, if loads of people are backing the favorite, the sportsbook will adjust the point spread in favor of the underdog to make things more balanced. This won’t affect any wagers already placed. 

While point spreads can drift in the build-up to games, you can get these betting lines early. For example, most sportsbooks will set the point spread for next week’s NFL games after Sunday night football wraps up. 

Football Spread Betting Tips

As with every kind of betting, there is no way to guarantee a winning point spread bet. However, you can increase your chances of winning by keeping some things in mind. For example, it’s important to remember the point spread is heavily influenced by public perception and not the strength of a team. You can use this knowledge to find misjudgments, and favorable point spreads. 

In addition, the home-turf advantage is worth around three points with most sportsbooks. This means home teams may get a point spread advantage, even if those teams don’t play very well. This is another opportunity to find point spreads that are more likely to win.  

Legal Points Spread Betting on Football in the US

Sports betting has been legal in dozens of US states since the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). You can visit many of these states and place football point spreads on the NFL using licensed sportsbooks. If you want to bet on college football point spreads, you will need to check the rules very carefully. Even in states where sports betting is legal, there may be restrictions on college football point spreads. 

Visit a state with legal online sports betting, download one of the best sportsbook apps, and start placing football spread bets today!