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Betting Advice

How to bet on American Football: The BetConnect Betting Guide

how to bet on american football

Fancy a bet on American Football but not sure where to start? Here’s everything you need to get involved.

American football has seen a surge in popularity in the UK in recent years, largely a result of the NFL staging regular-season games in London. It’s also becoming an increasingly attractive proposition for sports bettors. There is a wide range of markets to choose from and, given most NFL games kick off on Sunday at around 6 pm UK time, it doesn’t need to get in the way of the rest of your weekend sports viewing.

And the good news is, you don’t need to be an American Football expert to get involved, either. Just think of it as a variation of rugby with helmets, pads and forward passes. So, read on as we run you through the basics of betting on American Football.

What are the rules of American Football?

The rules of American Football are often over-complicated and can sometimes put people off the sport. There are only a couple of things you need to know to enjoy – and bet – on it.

1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Down

The team with the ball aims to move the ball up the field. They have four chances (a down) to move the ball a total of 10 yards, either by running or passing it. If they make 10 yards, they get another set of four downs. If they fail to make 10 yards in the four downs, the other team gets the ball.

The attacking team may choose a conservative approach, where the quarterback hands the ball to a running back who attempts to gain three or four yards per play. It’s more exciting, however, when the quarterback (the playmaker in effect, or to put it in football terms, the Zinedine Zidane of the team) ups the ante and attempts a long pass to a wide receiver.

If you are watching American Football on TV, you will probably see the words “1st and 10” written in the corner of the tour screen. This means it’s the 1st Down with 10 yards to make. If four yards are gained on the first down, this will change to “2nd and 6”.


Six points are scored if a player runs into the end zone possession of the football. This is called a touchdown, triggering fireworks, cheerleaders and fans going wild. An extra point results if the kicker plants the ball between the posts.

If, however, a team is close to the end zone but has got to fourth down, then they usually don’t risk a touchdown attempt. Instead, they can try to kick a field goal, which is worth three points.


There are four periods of active play, divided into quarters, 15 minutes long with barely any dead time. The clock stops as soon as a receiver runs out of bounds (off the field), points are scored, possession switches to the other team or a play is reviewed by the officials.

In addition, each team has six timeouts to use at its discretion. The clock also stops with two minutes at the end of the second and fourth quarters. The average NFL game lasts more than three hours, including a break of around 12 minutes at halftime.

How does the NFL season work?

The NFL regular season is short and sweet. It begins on the weekend following the first Monday of September and ends in December or early January. There are 256 games, with each of the 32 teams playing 16 games during 17 weeks.


The NFL is divided into two conferences, the AFC and NFC. After the regular season, seven teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs. If teams are tied with the same regular-season won-lost-tied record, the playoff seeding is determined by tie-breaking rules.

Super Bowl

The playoffs, of course, culminating in the Super Bowl. This is when the winning teams from each conference play each other to become ‘world’ champions. Since 2002, the Super Bowl has been played on the first Sunday in February. It is one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar, attracting millions of viewers not only in the US but worldwide.

American Football Betting Markets Explained

There is a wide range of markets available to American Football punters. Some you may be familiar with from betting on other sports, but others require a little more explanation.

Money Line

The ‘Money Line’ is the bedrock of American Football betting.  It means betting on a specific team to win a game. Although rare, it is possible for a match to end as a tie if no points are scored during overtime.

Point Spread

Also known as handicap betting, spread betting involves giving one team a head start to even out the odds. You are betting on a specific team to win or lose by a certain margin. This is great if you fancy a team to win comfortably. Or maybe you can see the perceived underdog taking a stronger side without necessarily winning.

Total Points

In this market, you are betting on whether you think the combined total of points scored by both teams will be over or under a specific line. A recent game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens had a line of 51.5. It finished 34-20 in favour of the Chiefs. If you add both scores together, you get 54 points. That means your bet would have won if you backed over 51.5 points and lost if you backed the low side of the line.

First Touchdown Scorer

This market requires little explanation. You are simply betting on which player you think will score the first touchdown.

Anytime Touchdown Scorer

Similarly, the Anytime Touchdown Scorer market involves betting on a player to score a touchdown at any point in a game.

One last thing…

Before placing an NFL bet it is always worth checking the rules around overtime. Most match bet markets do include overtime, but not all, so make sure you know where you stand by checking out our rules around American Football betting.


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