Point spreads help reduce risk and open up betting opportunites on any NFL football game no matter how good or bad either team might be
Point spreads are fundamental to sports betting. Without them it would be it would be too risky to bet on most NFL games because one team is usually much better, or worse, than the other. Simply put, point spreads level the playing field between to uneven teams by giving the underdog points. If you bet in the favored team, it must win by more points than the underdog was given. This is called covering the spread. If you bet on the underdog, and it loses the game, you can still come out a winner if it doesn't lose by more points than it was given.
The first step in mastering point spreads is understanding their notation. This is how a point spread might be displayed at your local sportsbook:
Visiting Team +3.5
Home Team -3.5
The visiting team is always above the home team. The "+" indicates how many points the underdog was given and the "-" indicates how many points the favorite must make up to cover the spread.
If you bet on the home team, you would win if it beats the underdog by 3 or more points. If you bet on the visiting team, it would have to lose to the favorite by no more than 2 points for you to win the bet.
If a half point is part of the spread there will always be a winner or loser. But sometimes spreads are whole numbers and might look like this:
Visiting Team +3
Home Team -3
In this example, to cover the spread and win the bet, the favorite must win by 1 point more than the spread. If the final score equals the spread, it is considered a "push" where no one wins or loses and any money wagered is returned to you.
Some games have two teams so evenly matched that no points are given and no point spread exists. This is often referred to as a "pick 'em" and the odds are even for both teams. To win this bet, your team must win by 1 or more points.