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Point Spread


Updated: Feb 12, 2023


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Points Spread Betting Odds
Points Spread Odds Movements
Types Of Point Spreads

Point spread betting has become one of the most popular betting styles out there. Lots of sports bets use the point spread now. This is thanks to the popularity gained by football and basketball betting.

Even though point spread bets have gained in popularity, it may take a bit to understand it, especially for new bettors.

The point spread is the ultimate equalizer for oddsmakers. Sports teams are not all the same. Some are stronger than others, and that is a problem for bettors and sportsbooks. Therefore, the point spread was created to even the chance for each team to win the bet.

In other words, it gives bettors a reason to risk their money on both teams. The better team is the favorite, according to the bookmakers. They will have to win by the point spread set by the sportsbook.

The favored team will have a minus sign (-) attached to the point spread.

The team with the lesser opportunity to win is labeled the underdog. The bettor wins if the underdog triumphs or loses by a smaller amount than the point spread.

The underdog spread comes with a plus sign (+) next to their point spread.

Super Bowl Point Spread Betting

Let’s use the last Super Bowl betting as an example. The Kansas City Chiefs were 3-point favorites over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

This means the Chiefs must win by four or more points to cover the spread and win the bet. As for the Buccaneers, the 3-point underdogs could win or lose by less than three points to win the bet.

If the Chiefs won exactly by three points, the bet would’ve ended in a push, and bettors for both sides get their wagers reimbursed.

Here, Tampa Bay blew the Chiefs out. They won 31-9, so the Bucs’ bettors at +3 got the payout.

Point Spread Betting Odds

The betting odds set for point spreads are usually a standard -110, but the pricing can fluctuate at online sportsbooks. This is the bookmakers’ house edge.

At -110, the sportsbook guarantees itself a little profit over time. With the -110 odds, a bettor must place $110 in a wager to win $100 (or $11 to win $10).

These odds, known as vigorish or “vig,” is the profit margin the book reserves. It’s also called “juice.”

Point Spread & Odds Movement

The oddsmakers’ goal is to make bettors wager equal money on both sides of the spread. In an ideal world, when the money is evenly split, the sportsbooks will gain the exact juice as their profit. If all bets come equal, the sportsbook’s profit maximizes.

To make both sides of the spread get equal money, the bookmakers have a tactic. They will move the spread to attract bettors to the less-wagered side. The odds for a point spread might shift before the point spread number does.

In football, point spreads like 3 and 7 are ones the oddsmakers try to keep. This is because most games end with a final score margin of these numbers.

A quick example. If a lot of money goes wagered to the Detroit Lions -3, the juice may vary from -110 to -115 to -120 before the oddsmakers change the line to -3.5.

Run & Puck Lines

Even though football and basketball are the sports where point spreads are most famous, they’re not the only ones. Baseball and hockey rely more on moneylines because of their low-scoring nature.

However, to make baseball and hockey more appealing to point spread bettors, the sportsbooks offer run lines and puck lines.

These are lines that allow spread bettors to wager familiarly in other sports. Since the scores are not high in either baseball or hockey, the lines are often set at 1.5.

The odds with these lines have a wider range than a football or basketball game as well.

Point Spread FAQs

‘Pick Em’ Or ‘Pick’ In NFL Betting?

A pick ’em is when the teams have a point spread equalling zero. No team is the favorite. In this case, you’re basically picking a moneyline. The outright winner of the game will determine your bet.

-7 And +7 In NFL Betting?

A spread of -7 means the favored team has the bookmakers projecting a win by a touchdown (and extra point). A team favored by -7 needs to win the game by eight or more points to secure the wager. If the team wins by seven, the bet results in a push.

The underdog odds will be +7, meaning the team can win outright or lose by less than seven points to win the bet. A loss by exactly seven points would cause a push bet.

-3 And +3 In NFL Betting?

A -3 point spread tells you the favorite is expected to win by a field goal margin. To win the bet, the team must triumph by four points or more. A win by three equals a push bet.

A spread of +3 sets the bar for the underdog to win the game or lose by less than three to get the payout. An FG loss would grade the bet as a push, meaning the wager gets refunded.

Why Are Point Spreads In The NFL Lower Than In College Football?

Let us explain this with an example. In 2019, the Baltimore Ravens led the NFL in point differential per game at a +13.7. The Miami Dolphins were the last ranked team in that same statistic at -11.7.

A team famous for their explosive offense like the Chiefs had an average of 9.7 points in point differential. Overall, the net point differential in the NFL is -14.1, or -0.9 points a game.

The point is, talent-wise, even the mismatches in the NFL draw games within a score of each other. They are pretty close.

NFL spreads tend to be between one point and four, with six points marking a heavy favorite. You’ll see some extremes every once in a while going for 14-20 points. But why are they so much lower than college?

The 1941 Chicago Bears hold the record of NFL point differential at +15.7 points per game. Ohio State had a +33.1 point differential in 2019 alone. It’s two different ball games altogether.

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