The NFL returns this week for its eagerly anticipated new season, with the American football league’s array of elite-level teams dreaming of ending their campaign next year with Superbowl glory and prizing the Vince Lombardi Trophy from the grips of holders Kansas City Chiefs.

Ahead of the season’s start, we’ve taken an in-depth look at the world of NFL betting and what bets you may want to look out for over the coming weeks and months so that you know all there is to know on how to bet on American football.

Understanding NFL betting

The three most common bets when it comes to American football betting are the moneyline, point spread and total points markets.

Moneyline

A moneyline bet is the simplest of all the NFL bets: it’s when you simply pick which of the two teams will win the match outright. As with other sports such as football, the odds typically come at a premium for the ‘favourites’ as there’s less risk of them losing to the ‘underdogs’.

For example, in the new season’s opening game between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, favourites the Kansas City Chiefs are priced at an odds-on 5/22 for victory, with the Houston Texans further back at 18/5 for the win. Betting on the Chiefs to win would be less risky but comes with less reward, while it would be the opposite for backing the Texans.

To find out how much you’d win based on what you choose to bet, check out our Bet Calculator.

Points spread

The points spread market in NFL betting involves a points figure devised by our odds specialists which provide either an advantage or disadvantage to each team playing based on how they are expected to perform against each other in their match.

The team that are the ‘favourites’ for victory would be given a points figure that would leave them at a disadvantage as they would need to win the game by more points, while it would be the opposite for the ‘underdogs’, who would be at an advantage to not lose the game by a set number of points.

For example, in the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs clash on Thursday, favourites the Chiefs are -9.5 in the spread betting at odds of 20/21, with the Texans +9.5 at odds of 20/23. Bettors need to decide whether they believe that Kansas City Chiefs will win by more than 9.5 points or if the Houston Texans will either win or keep the score within 9.5 points if they lose. If you bet on Kansas -9.5 and they win 30-25 it means your bet will have lost as Houston will have covered the +9.5 spread.

Total points

The total points market in NFL betting is another simple one: you have to decide whether the final score in an NFL match will be over or under the total projected ahead of the game by our odds specialists, which is based on how they envisage the game proceeding.

For example, for the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs clash on Thursday, the total points mark has been set at 54.5, with the odds at 10/11 for both over and under. You have to decide whether the final score will tally up higher than 54.5. If Kansas were to win 30-25 then that would add up to 55 points, meaning the game went over the points total.

Other types of popular NFL betting

As well as the three most common bets when it comes to the NFL there are also a number of other markets you can get involved in during the season.

Outrights

As with other sports, as well as betting on specific matches you can also bet on certain events that could happen during the NFL season. For example, ahead of the new season there are a host of options such as who will win the Super Bowl, who will be the respective Conference winners, who will make the play-offs, as well as who will win the regular season MVP or who will win the Coach of the Year award.

Prop bets

As well as betting on an NFL game in the ways already discussed, there are also prop bets for each match, which do not typically determine the final outcome of the clashes. For example, during the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs game on Thursday you can bet on a range of different things, including who the team will be with the most punts, who will be the first team to turnover or which team will score the first touchdown.

Check out all the latest American football betting odds at William Hill