It takes extensive research to be consistently successful betting on the NFL, but luckily for our readers, PlayPicks is streamlining the process by bringing much of our research right to your screen.
On this page, our experts will provide their weekly best bets for NFL games and propositions, with an odds table to show you up to date lines at the best online sportsbooks. Our bets can be on the moneyline, spread, point total, or a player proposition, and all picks will have stats and analysis for support.
We’ll also highlight the best promos and odds boosts of the week at those top sportsbooks. Below the daily recommendations is a guide to the basics of NFL betting, and below that is an advanced guide to the strategies that can turn a novice bettor into a money-making machine during the NFL season.
NFL Week 1 odds
NFL Week 1 Picks 2021
Stay tuned for our best bets for Week 1 of the NFL season.
ALSO READ: NFL Week 1 predictions for every game
Best NFL betting apps
The biggest name in Daily Fantasy Sports made the jump to online sports betting in 2018 and continues to become prevalent in states that are legalizing gambling. As of August, 2020, DK Sportsbook is legal and available to residents of New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Iowa, and Indiana. Residents of states that have not yet legalized gambling can still download the App to check odds and download DraftKings DFS App for access to huge prize pools for several different sports.
In addition to NFL odds, DK Sportsbook offers odds on events in the NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA, NCAA, MMA, MLS, and more, all in what is recognized as one of the most user-friendly interfaces of any online sportsbook.
When users sign up to use DK Sportsbook, they’re eligible for up to $1,025 in deposit bonuses. There is a $25 bonus for signing up, a one-time risk-free wager of up to $500, and a 20% matched bonus for the initial deposit.
DraftKings platform is unique in its presentation and offerings, with weekly Odds Boosts that give savvy bettors an opportunity for more value when they place their wagers at the right time. There are “DraftKings Pools” where users can bet on a series of games together and prizes are awarded to the top three finishers, similar to a DFS contest.
And DK is ahead of its competitors in terms of its creative Player Futures, Team Futures, and proposition bet offerings. For the NFL season, that includes off-season specials pitting high-profile players against each other (Tom Brady vs. Cam Newton for example), Player Totals for most NFL QBs, and a full market on season-long awards.
Right behind DK Sportsbook in terms of offerings is DFS rival FanDuel, which also offers online betting in the aforementioned states and live betting options in New Jersey.
New users at FD also receive a $500 risk-free bet that is refunded as site credit if unsuccessful. FanDuel offers Multi-Sport Parlay Insurance that refunds part of the investment for a parlay if some (but not all) of the picks are successful. FanDuel Sportsbook offers a loyalty program for accomplished DFS players at FanDuel and also has daily Odds Boosts to offer more value.
Since FanDuel Sportsbook offers almost all of the same markets as DK, with different odds, it can provide a great opportunity to do some “line shopping” for savvy bettors. This is a strategy that highlights value on specific sites when it comes to the point spread, or the odds for a particular bet.
The casino industry wasn’t going to miss out on states legalizing sports gambling, with titan MGM opening a live sportsbook in Atlantic City, New Jersey in September of 2019. At this live location, there is a free $10 bet every Monday for users who wagered at least $50 the week prior, and a 20% kickback for all handle placed on live basketball games.
The BetMGM Sportsbook App is available in New Jersey, Indiana, and West Virginia, with expansion planned for multiple states. The company is partnered with the NBA, NHL, and MLB, which helps it provide one of the premier live betting experiences for online users. Like DK and FD, BetMGM offers a $500 risk-free bet for new users.
How to bet the NFL and Win
Moneyline picks: Betting the moneyline is essentially as simple as picking the winner. It doesn’t matter if the game ends in overtime, or is a blowout, the payout is still determined by the odds set at individual sportsbooks. Moneyline odds will be shown next to each team. For example, the Chiefs (-500) could be listed as huge favorites in a home game against the Broncos (+375), meaning that a $500 bet on KC would pay out $100 if they win, and a $100 bet on Denver would pay out $375 if they pull off the upset.
Betting the moneyline often makes sense if there is a very close spread in a competitive matchup, since the odds should be close to even for both teams. Taking the moneyline instead of the spread can avoid “bad beats” if a team that is favored by 3.5 points wins by 3 or something similar. This is also a preferred way to secure Parlays that link multiple bets together.
Point Spread picks: Almost all NFL games are assigned a point spread to handicap the field and force action on both teams. Occasionally, a matchup will have a “Pick ‘Em” line (listed as PK) with no spread, so that any bet is a moneyline bet. For the most part, oddsmakers set NFL spreads around key numbers such as 3 or 6 points. Home teams are generally favored by 3 or 3.5 points and consensus favorites will often be favored by 7.5 points. Bets on the spread are still assigned odds (usually -110 or -120) to provide a rake for the sportsbook.
A bet on the losing team can still be successful if the team loses by fewer points than the spread listed at the time of the wager. Bets on the winning team are only successful if they cover the spread, so if the Chiefs are listed as 7.5-point favorites against the Broncos and earn a 28-20 win, a bet on KC will just barely cash. Point spreads often fluctuate based on the amount of action coming in on either side of the line.
Point total (over/under) picks: Instead of choosing a winner, bettors can wager on how many points both teams will combine for during an NFL game by betting the total. These totals, usually set somewhere between 40 and 52 points, are almost always listed with a decimal point (example: 49.5) to avoid returning all bets if the game hits the exact total.
A matchup between the Bills and Jets might have a relatively low total of 39.5 points, so a bet on the Over would pay out as long as the teams combine to score 40 or more points. A meeting between the Falcons and Saints under either teams’ dome would likely have a higher total around 54.5 points, so a bet on the Under would cash as long as the final score added up to 54 points or fewer.
There are tons of factors to consider when betting the total, including weather and other conditions heading into the game. Pace of play can be a huge factor in determining how many possessions each team squeezes into 60 minutes, and how many scoring opportunities they can generate.
Proposition bets: Many sportsbooks offer propositions on the performances of teams or individual players. Known as “player props,” these bets usually ask bettors to take the over or under on how many yards or touchdowns a given player will accumulate in a specific game. Prop bets can also apply to a player’s performance over an entire season, or a team performance in a specific game.
If Lamar Jackson has a prop bet on rushing for 56.5 yards in a Ravens game, a bet on the over would pay out if he tallies 57 or more yards. The player has to start the game for the action to count, but if they depart with an injury, there is no return on investment for those who back the over.
The more high profile the contest, the more props are available, with the Super Bowl generating a laundry list of options including bets on the color of Gatorade the winning team will dump on their coach and the length of the national anthem.
Futures bets: Futures bets are essentially proposition bets on a team. Some Futures are only available prior to the season, such as win totals and whether a team will make the playoffs. The market for the conference champions and Super Bowl champion, however, is constantly changing throughout the season based on results and news updates.
Prior to the 2019-2020 season, the 49ers were huge longshots with +4500 to win the Super Bowl. Eventually they became one of the biggest favorites with +400 odds, but a preseason bet at the original mark would have still paid out $450 for every $10 wagered if San Francisco had held on to win SB 54.
Parlay bets: Pairing multiple bets together can create bigger payouts, with more risk. These pairings are known as parlays and they essentially combine the odds of any number of bets to create an all-or-nothing proposition.
A parlay can be placed on the moneyline, spread, or point total for any game within an NFL week, so there are no real restrictions. There are no real restrictions on the number of games that can be combined. In fact, one lucky bettor placed a 15-team parlay in Week 1 of the NFL season last September and turned $5 into $100,000 when all of their picks hit correctly. Usually, a parlay includes three or four results, with a potential 4x or 5x return on investment. Again, all of the bets have to be successful, so a 4-team parlay on the Steelers, Saints, Patriots, and Chiefs to cover would not pay out if the Saints come up even 1-point shy of their assigned point spread
Teaser bets: A teaser is a way to tilt the field in your favor so that your parlay is more likely to cash. These wagers also link multiple games or results together, but the bettor gets to adjust the spread or point total in a more favorable direction, at the cost of lower odds. For example, if the Steelers, Saints, Patriots, and Chiefs were all favored by 7.5 points at home in a given week, a 4-team teaser could allow you to bet on all 4 teams covering a 1.5-point spread instead. The return on investment would likely be closer to 2x or 3x the initial stake, rather than the lofty returns of a parlay.
Live betting: With so many excellent online sportsbooks now available, live betting is becoming increasingly popular. Oddsmakers will constantly adjust the spread, moneyline, and total throughout a game based on results. This can provide a huge advantage for savvy fans who are watching the game and detect a reason, or have a strong predilection that one team will come back to win or cover. If the Cowboys are 9.5-point favorites against the Giants, but get down 10-0 in the first quarter due to a blocked punt for a TD, it would be wise to jump on a live line of Dallas (-1.5) using the logic that the early TD was a fluke and the better team will eventually pull out a close win.
Advanced NFL betting strategies
Fading the public: Oddsmakers are extremely smart and often pick spreads and totals that are right on point, but they’re also slaves to the public because they want to encourage action on both sides of each line. Thinking a step or two ahead of the public can be a lucrative practice, especially in the “update league” that is the NFL.
When a team has a huge performance at home one week, but hits the road for a cross country trip the next week, the public might assume they will continue to roll. But you can “fade” that public perception and bet on their opponent, or take the under on the point total because you believe their offense will not find the same success on the road.
Weather impact: Weather plays a huge impact in the NFL on a weekly basis and can be a critical factor to consider when placing any sort of bet. Teams that play and practice in fair weather or in domes can have completely different results in cold weather. Windy and wet conditions can disrupt passing games and favor teams with more of a run-heavy approach. Inclement weather also plays a key role in the point total, usually leading to lower scoring affairs that end quicker due to more running plays.
Of course, public perception tends to shift based on the weather and lines will adjust as well, creating another opportunity to fade the public and predict that some passing attacks will do just fine despite windy or wet conditions, and some fair-weather teams will snap their trend of struggling in colder climates.
Injury reports: When a high-profile skill player is injured, it rarely goes unnoticed. The weekly analysis of Julio Jones oft-injured toe is always a topic of discussion for season-long and daily fantasy football players, but players that don’t make the same impact in the box score don’t receive the same attention.
Reading the injury reports with analysis as to the importance of each player that is in danger of missing an NFL contest can be a key way to gain information prior to placing bets. For example, Chiefs DT Chris Jones missed significant time last year with a toe injury and KC was repeatedly gashed by opposing RBs when he was out. That helped opponents hang with the Chiefs high-scoring offense, leading to more of their games going over the total, and more underdogs covering. There are similarly impactful injuries to offensive lineman, linebackers, cornerbacks, and even special teams players to consider each week.
Advanced statistics: Basic statistics, such as scrimmage yards and touchdowns, will tell you only a portion of the story from an NFL game. These numbers don’t account for pass interference penalties, or big plays that were called back due to holding. They don’t account for the strength of the opponent, or show the overall efficacy of an offensive line.
There are plenty of advanced statistics that tell a more complete story when it comes to the performance of teams and specific skill groups. These metrics can be adjusted based on the strength of each opponent, so they become even more useful with each passing week. They can be incredibly useful when analyzing individual matchups between wide receivers and cornerbacks that are deficient in certain areas of the field. Essentially, they help you determine which players and teams have been somewhat lucky, and which are due for improved performance.
Situational betting: Expecting the same results from one week to the next week is not the best way to bet the NFL and win. Coaches are constantly making adjustments and teams can look completely different the following Sunday after getting exploited the week prior. Situational betting is a way to not only fade public perception after those poor performances (or great performances), it’s a way to consider the intangibles that motivate and influence professional athletes. There are twitter feuds, contract disputes, career milestones, and family events that can lead to spirited efforts from certain players. There are situational factors to consider on a team-wide scale when it comes to division games, jockeying for playoff position, or scheduling concerns. Consider all aspects when betting on an NFL game, not just the statistics.
Line shopping: With so many online sportsbooks thriving, bettors can shop around for the best price for each wager. Point spreads and totals are usually set with a market consensus, but Futures markets and player props can fluctuate widely at different books. Not only can you take advantage by getting better odds or a better number at a different book, you can use the numbers from one site to identify value on another site, and perhaps bet against a prop that you otherwise would have considered to be the correct number.
Bonus offers: Sportsbooks want your wagers and provide lucrative offers to generate more action. As a bettor, you can take advantage of these bonuses, especially the Odds Boosts that are offered for high-profile games and provide more value or change the nature of a point spread altogether. Check back frequently and wait for the right time to pull the trigger on a big bet once that boost is offered.