The point spread is by far the most popular way to bet on the NFL, but there are times when a good, old-fashioned moneyline bet makes more sense. Fixed-odds NFL betting was the way things were done in America prior to World War II. The moneyline (known as “American odds” in other parts of the world) still does good business today – especially if you like betting on NFL underdogs.

Here’s a common situation: the home team (the New York Giants) is a small underdog against a visitor with a solid win-loss record (the Atlanta Falcons). The sportsbook makes New York a three-point dog, meaning with standard odds, a $110 bet on the Giants will pay out $100 provided they don’t lose by a field goal or worse.

However let’s say you really like the G-Men. You think they’re good enough on defense to win this game outright against a road-weary Falcons team that hasn’t faced many tough opponents. Conveniently enough, the moneyline allows you to bet on New York without those extra three points tacked on.

This is what it would look like at the sportsbook:

  • Falcons -160
  • Giants +140

The Giants are +140 underdogs, meaning if you bet $100 on them and they win, you get $140 back. That’s a much healthier outcome than New York +3 can offer. As for the Falcons, they’re – 160 favorites, meaning you have to bet $160 on them to win $100. The sportsbook collects the difference between the two teams as vigorish.

Professional handicappers will keep a close watch on the NFL betting lines throughout the week, tracking down opportunities just like this one. Do what they do and consider a moneyline bet the next time a small home dog catches your eye at the right price.