Everything About Betting on NFL Games
The National Football League (NFL) is America’s professional football league. Thirty-two (32) teams play in the league — 16 in the National Football Conference and 16 in the American Football Conference. Many bettors love to wager on most NFL games as they can enjoy the best odds and markets at top sportsbooks.
Several things make the football league interesting, from the teams trying to score touchdowns to fans cheering their favorite teams with chants of support. This comprehensive guide will discuss everything you need to know about NFL games. We will talk about the playoff, schedule, standings, and how you can get started betting on the league. If you want to learn all about that and more, keep reading this guide.
History of the NFL
Before we start talking about the structure and schedule of the NFL, let’s discuss the history of the league. The NFL was founded in 1920 in Ohio by 10 teams. At the time, it was called the American Professional Football Association (APFA). Later that year, four more teams joined the league, making it 14 teams. In the first season, Akron Pros won the tournament.
By 1922, the league’s name was changed to National Football League (NFL), which it bears to date. During the early days of the NFL, there were many inconsistencies, with some teams declining participation. In fact, only four founding teams finished the league’s first season. The first televised NFL game was that of Eagles vs. Dodgers on October 22, 1939.
After World War II, another football league played in the US, the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). It proved to be a major rival for the NFL and was different in many ways. However, because of AAFC’s financial crisis in 1949, the league was disbanded and absorbed by the NFL.
In 1959, yet another rival league was formed, the American Football League (AFL). Although the league only played for 10 seasons (between 1960 and 1970) it introduced many policies. The competition between the NFL and AFL was stiff, but the NFL had a better media presence. This saw the need for both leagues to come together.
By 1966, the merger agreement between the NFL and AFL was announced. But it wasn’t until after the 1970 AFL season that the two teams officially merged. The newly merged league expanded to 28 teams in 1970. In 2002, the league realigned, and the teams expanded to 32.
The NFL Structure
Thirty-two (32) teams play in the NFL — 16 teams in the National Football Conference and 16 teams in the American Football Conference. In each conference, the teams are split evenly into four divisions, each representing a direction on the compass: north, east, south, and west. The entire league spans 17 weeks, with each team playing 16 games. There are a total of 256 games played in the NFL across all teams, and each team has a rest day called a Bye Week.
Unlike some sporting leagues where all teams play each other in a home-and-away format, the NFL does not work that way. A team cannot play the rest of the 31 teams. So the league has its own cool way of scheduling games.
Understanding NFL Schedule
The NFL schedule is quite interesting. The regular season kicks off in September and ends in December. To help you understand how the schedule works, let’s use the Chicago Bears as an example. Chicago Bears is in the National Football Conference (NFC), and as we explained earlier, each conference is divided into four divisions. This means four teams per division. Assuming Chicago Bears are in the NFC North division, they will play all three teams in their division, home and away. This makes a total of six games.
Next, the team will play four games with teams in a different division within the same conference, say NFC West. They will play two home and two away games. This brings the number of games to 10. Then there will be another four games against a division outside their conference, the American Football Conference in this case. This is the same as two home and two away games, bringing the number of games to 14.
The last two games are against teams from the remaining two divisions within the same conference. That is NFC South and NFC East in this example. The matchups are determined based on division rankings from the previous season. So if the Bears finished third in the previous season, they would be matched with the teams in the third spot in the NFC South and NFC East. This brings the total number of games to 16.
NFL Playoff Schedule
Once the NFL regular season ends, the postseason games start called the NFL playoff. This single-elimination format begins in early January and ends in February after the Super Bowl. Starting from 2021, 14 teams are eligible to play in the NFL playoff, with 7 from each conference. These teams consist of all 8 divisional winners or leaders and three wild card teams (6 teams).
The divisional winners will receive the order from 1 to 4, based on the total points on the win/loss. As for the wild card teams, they will fill the 5th, 6th, and 7th seed. These are non-divisional winners, but have the best performances compared to the other teams.
Once all the teams in the playoff have been decided, they are matched up. Teams in the 1st seed play each other, the second seed, third, and the same applies to the remaining seeds. The winners qualify for the next round, and this will continue until only two teams are left. These two teams will play in the Super Bowl game, where the champion will emerge. This marks the end of the NFL season for that year.
Understanding the Game Itself
So far, we’ve discussed the NFL schedule. Now, let’s talk about the game itself. If you are not a fan of American football, you may see the sport as complex. However, it isn’t.
The NFL games are played on a turf or grass field that is 120 yards long and 53.3 yards wide. The end zones are at both ends of the field, 10 yards long. If an opposing player successfully carries the ball to the end zone of a team, he scores points for his team. The rest of the field is marked every 5 yards with lines, and every yard has a hash mark.
Behind each end zone, there is a goal post, 10 feet high and 18 feet 6 inches wide. A standard NFL game takes 60 minutes, split into 4 quarters of 15 minutes each. The end of the 2nd quarter marks the half-time, a 12-minute period where the teams regroup and replan before starting the 3rd quarter.
If the game is tied at the end of regulation, an overtime period of 10 minutes is played. But if both teams still have the same score after overtime, the game ends as a tie. The only exception to this rule is during the playoffs and the Super Bowl. A two-minute break applies if the game is tied after the first overtime of 10 minutes or the second team has not completed its second possession. After that, another overtime period is played. This continues until a winner emerges.
Like every league and competition, the NFL has its standings or rankings. This compares the teams in a particular season to help fans understand how they perform against each other. Operators usually present the standings on a table. Since the NFL consists of teams in two conferences, you will see teams’ standings in their respective conferences. Besides, you can check the rankings based on the divisions. This will help you know the leader of a particular division that will advance to the playoffs.
Below are a few features you may find in typical NFL standings.
- Win (W): This represents the number of games the team has won
- Loss (L): This refers to the number of games the team has lost
- Tie (T): The Tie field shows how many games played by the team ended in a tie
- Percentile (PCT): This is the percentile of a team’s performance against that of other teams.
- Points For (PF): Here, you will see the total points the team has scored
- Difference (DIFF): Some NFL standings may also show the difference between a team’s Points For and Points Against
- Points Against (PA): The PA field shows the number of points a team has conceded
Apart from the items above, some NFL standings may also display a team’s division record and conference record.
How the NFL Makes Money
As a fan of the NFL, you may wonder — how do the teams make money? There are three main sources of revenue. These are Sponsorships, Merchandise Sales, and Ticket Sales. Almost every NFL team has at least one sponsor. Corporate sponsors often pay teams to display their logos on players’ uniforms.
Apart from making money through sponsors, NFL teams sell merchandise like apparel, clothing, jerseys, hats, and other products. The merch also contributes some percentage to the revenue each team makes.
Then there are the ticket sales which form a larger percentage of the revenue. In the 2021 season, each NFL team’s average total home attendance was over 570,000, with tickets ranging from between $150 and $300 per ticket, depending on the team.
As for the league itself, they make money through three primary sources. The first is the NFL Ventures, which handles merchandising. Second is the NFL Enterprise, consisting of the NFL Network and NFL Sunday Ticket Broadcast. And the third is TV contracts, which make up two-thirds of the entire revenue.
Betting On NFL Games Today
With interest in the NFL growing over the years and the legalization of sports betting in many US states, many gambling sites now offer NFL betting. You can wager on individual games or place outright wagers in the league. In fact, some betting sites offer live betting and live-streaming for NFL games. This means you can catch all the actions of the games in real-time, directly on your desktop computer or smartphone.
If you plan to bet on NFL games today, you should learn about the different bets available such as Moneylines, totals under/over, point spread, and props. Some operators even allow bettors to wager on the NFL draft, injuries, possessions, and several other outcomes.
The NFL Draft
The National Football League Draft (AKA Play Selection Meeting) is an event that takes place every year during the spring. This is when each team gets to pick or sign new players. The Draft consists of seven rounds, and each team gets at least one pick in each round.
As we mentioned in the previous section, you can bet on which players will be picked by what teams. NFL Draft betting odds are usually higher than other options.
Summing It Up
From the NFL structure to the league’s history and the playoffs, we have discussed all the vital things you need to know about the NFL. Remember that 32 teams play in the NFL and are divided equally between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference. Teams in each conference are then divided into four divisions and matched up in a specific order based on the NFL schedule. The winners of each division and three wild-card teams will proceed to the playoff, a single-elimination format competition. The last two teams will then face off in the Super Bowl to know the champion.
Don’t forget that 256 games are played in the league, and you can bet on all the games and enjoy the best odds. You can even bet on the NFL draft, where teams sign new players to boost their squad strength. But ensure you do your analysis and consider factors like the teams’ performances, injury reports, and team news before placing any bet. So, with all the knowledge you now have about the NFL, you can start wagering on the league like a true pro.