When it comes to American football, it is often classed as one of the biggest sports in the world. This is due to its incredible popularity in America. However, it does have quite limited popularity around the rest of the world. If you want to get into betting on American football, what do you need to know? Fortunately, the Betting Veteran is here to fill up your knowledge banks.
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Sometimes, if you listen to the wind carefully, you can hear the sound of a betting slip being filled out. Some say that this is the Betting Veteran giving you good luck. Others say that it is the sound of him placing wagers in a million places at once. When the wind blows the right way, the Betting Veteran will be here to help you with your betting woes. Today is one of those days.

American football background

American football evolved from both rugby and football in the mid-19th century. It has over 1 million players in America as a whole, and the Super Bowl is the most watched sporting event in America every year. The first game is thought to have been played in 1869 by Rutgers and New Jersey (now Princeton), two universities. It originally used rules based on association football rules, but slowly moved over to rugby rules, and from there evolved into a much more different game.

The game itself is played with 11 players on each side, though depending on the phase of play will change from a defensive team to an offensive team. There is also a special team that is responsible for all plays that start with a kick.

There are four ways to score points in American football: with a touchdown, a PAT, a field goal or a safety. They will be covered in more detail in the sports terms section. The game is played for 60 minutes and is split up into four 15-minute quarters. Despite this, games usually last for around three hours as the clock is stopped between plays.

American football terms

End zone

– the space between the endline and the goal line, where players need to get the ball to score a touchdown.


– when a player gets the ball into the endzone, six points are scored and a PAT opportunity is created.


– stands for “point(s) after touchdown”. Here, either a field goal can be scored for one point or there is another attempt at a touchdown, which, if successful, scores two points. This opportunity is given after a touchdown is scored.

Field goal

– when the ball is kicked between the posts. This is worth three points.


– when an offensive player is tackled in their own end zone, a safety is scored. This gives the defending team two points. The ball must then be kicked to the defending team by the offensive team.


– the strategy that an offensive team carries out during the game.


– the pass that begins a play. 

Types of pre-game bets

There are a number of standard bets on offer for American football that generally sit in line with most other sports. The markets available are wide and varied. However, there do tend to be three types of wagers that are chosen more than any other.

As with almost every sport, there are moneyline bets available. This is a simple wager where you will choose a winner. It needs very little explanation. If the team you pick wins, then your bet wins. If they lose, then so does your bet. While this is quite popular in a lot of markets, it does not tend to be the most popular wager in American markets.

In American markets, the most popular type of wager that people put on are handicap bets, also known as betting the spread. This is not the same as spread betting, which is also another popular wager type. Handicap betting is a way to increase the odds if you want to place a wager on a favourite, or increase your chances of winning at the expense of higher odds if you want to place a wager on an underdog. The way this works is that the team you choose will have a points handicap applied to their score at the end of the game. For example, if you placed a wager on the Raiders to beat the Packers with a -5.5 handicap applied to the Raiders, then as long as they won the game by six points or more, your wager would be successful. This would increase the odds on the Raiders to win, even if they were the favourites in this game.

The last major type of wager that American football tends to offer is a totals bet. This is a very simple bet that is simply based around predicting the total number of points to be scored in the game. This is usually in the form of five or ten-point intervals or can be placed as an over/under bet. This means that you may place a wager that the combined totals of both teams would be between 62.5 and 67.5, or you could place a wager that the combined totals of both teams would be over 67.5 or under 67.5.

While not as popular as wagers on team performance, there are also a number of player-based markets on offer. This can vary from the number of yards rushed to the number of tackles made. These tend to come under the over/under bracket.

As well as pre-game wagers, there are also a number of outright markets on offer. These will include bets such as the winner of a specific conference, the winner of the Super Bowl, and which player will score the most points over the season. There are a huge number of outright markets available that will offer longer-term wagers that usually have higher odds than wagers on single games. 

Types of in-play bets

During the game, there are a number of different markets available to gamblers. One of the main markets is the in-play totals market. This is where bettors can choose on the combined points totals for various periods in the game. For example, after the first five minutes, it will be possible to place an over/under wager on the total number of points scored during the first quarter. This kind of market will be available for all quarters of the game as well as over a half.

Another in-game market that is on offer is winners of specific periods. If the favourites of a game go down early in a game, then it will be possible to place a wager on the favourites coming back and winning the first quarter. It does not have to specifically be the first quarter – it is available during any period of the game. 

Accumulators or singles?

The choice of whether to place a single wager or an accumulator, also known as a parlay, is often a difficult one for gamblers to make. The single wager will offer much lower odds than an accumulator will. However, predicting a single one-off result is a lot easier than choosing a number of results. The benefit to placing an accumulator is usually that you can pick a number of favourite teams that would have low odds as single bets, and link them together to make higher odds. This can be shown via three games that all have odds of 2.00 for the favourite to win. If you placed £5 on each one, then you would have a total return of £30 from a £15 wager. This is a £15 profit. If you placed £15 on an accumulator of all three games and all three games came in, then you would have a return of £120 from a £15 wager.

However, if only two games won, then your accumulator would lose, while the single wagers would still give you a return of £20 from a £15 stake. Your decision to place a wager on singles or an accumulator has to rest on just how confident you are with your choices and what level of risk you personally are willing to take.

Analysing the stats

When choosing what wager to make, it can often be important to look at the statistics to back up your choices. In American football, this can range across a number of important data sets. If you are looking at an individual player, then it will be based around their performances in terms of sacks and rushes. If you are looking at a team, then it will be based around their current form, league standings, and how many points per game they have scored. Having a good knowledge of the stats will allow you to place a sensible wager that has a better chance of you making a profit.

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