The NFL is the most popular league in New Jersey and the state’s new legal sportsbooks have understandably made it central to their offerings. Excitement is mounting ahead of the new season and the masses will flock to the casinos and head online to grab a stake in the action.
The Philadelphia Eagles are the most popular team in the southern half of the state, and those fans are still celebrating their team’s famous Super Bowl win in February 2018. Once you hit Burlington County, it becomes Eagles territory, while around a third of Atlantic City residents are also Eagles fans. The Giants dominate the northern half of the state, although there exists a smattering of Jets fans there too.
You also see a number of swing counties in the center of New Jersey: Warren County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County and Ocean County are among the areas where there is a great deal of support for both the Giants and the Eagles. That can make for heated debate in the local taverns, and passion for football runs deep across the Garden State. It is therefore no surprise that the new legal sportsbooks are pulling out all the stops to ensure their NFL lines are attractive. Here are the key betting categories to be aware of if you fancy trying your luck betting on the NFL:
This is a wager on a long-term event that is not necessarily decided by a single game, and the most common option is backing who will win the Super Bowl. The Eagles carried huge odds of +6000 (60/1 in fractional odds and 61.0 in decimal) to win the trophy ahead of last season, and the sportsbooks gave them little chance of glory. The odds dropped steadily as they embarked on a magnificent winning run, and by December 26, 2017, they were as low as +1200 (12/1 or 13.0). The team’s record stood at 14-2, which nobody in the league could better, but still the Eagles were behind the Patriots, Vikings, Steelers, Saints and Rams in the betting. Many fans started backing them heavily and the odds dwindled further.
Then catastrophe hit the franchise as star quarterback Carson Wentz was struck down with a season ending injury. The Eagles were on the brink of securing the top seed spot in the NFC, but their chances were written off in the absence of Wentz and the odds on Philadelphia drifted back out again. Yet the Eagles remained defiant, wearing dog masks as a symbol of their fiery underdog status, and an already great season turned into a fairy-tale. The defensive line was magnificent, reserve QB Nick Foles vastly exceeded expectations and the team surged into the Super Bowl. Once again it was the underdog, but it showed no fear and toppled the mighty New England, making several bettors rich.
The sportsbooks believe Philadelphia has a strong chance of repeating next season, but they have made the Pats the +650 (13/2 or 7.5) favorites. The Eagles are next at +850 (17/2 or 9.5), and they will be formidable when Wentz returns to action, followed by the Steelers at +1000 (10/1 or 11.0) and the Rams at +1100 (11/1 or 12.0). The Giants are down at +3300 (33/1 or 34.0), so they are not given a great chance of success. And look away Jets fans: Todd Bowles’ men are the +20000 (200/1 or 201.0) outsiders to win the Super Bowl, the longest set of odds on any franchise.
Odds like +850, +3300 and +20000 can be confusing. But it simply tells you how much you would win if you laid down $100. So +850 would net you an $850 profit, +3300 would return you $3,300 in winnings and +20000 would pay out $20,000, illustrating the perceived gulf in class between the state’s three popular teams.
You can also bet on who will win the AFC, the NFC, the various divisions, whether a particular team will make the playoffs and how many wins each team might rack up during the regular season.
This is a simple wager on who will win a game, and it is popular in sports like soccer, boxing and NASCAR. However, it is a lot less common in football, where spread betting dominates. Here is an example of a moneyline bet:
The Giants begin the 2018/19 season by hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they are underdogs in this game. The Giants are priced at +162 (13/8 or 2.62) to win it, so a $100 stake would earn you $162. When your bet is a winner, you get your stake back, so you would be handed $262. Jacksonville is expected to win, and it is -200 (1/2 or 1.50) to do so. When you see a minus symbol in the odds, that tells you how much you need to stake to win $100. For odds of -200, you need to stake $200 to earn a $100 profit. That means a $100 stake would only earn you $50 if the Jags won, indicating that they are the clear favorites. If one team has plus odds and the other team has minus odds, the team with the minus odds is the favorite and expected to win.
This is far more popular than moneyline betting among sports fans, as it gives one team a handicap to even the playing field. For example, the line in the Jaguars v Giants game is set at 3.5 points. You can either bet on the Jaguars -3.5 points or the Giants +3.5 points, and both teams will have identical odds of around -109 (11/12 or 1.92). If you back the Giants +3.5, and they either win or lose by no more than three points, your bet is a winner. The line changes depending on the perceived gulf in quality between the two teams in each game, and then it can continue shifting in the build up to the match if one team is heavily backed.
Betting on whether the total points in a game will go over or under a certain line is also extremely popular. Sticking with the Jags and the Giants, the total point line is set at 43.5 points, and you simply have to guess whether it will go over or under that total. The odds on both outcomes will generally be the same, somewhere between -110 (10/11 or 1.91) and -105 (19/20 or 1.95). Giving both outcomes minus odds allows the house to make a margin.
You will hear this phrase bandied about on a regular basis in the build up to the Super Bowl. It is short for proposition bets, and it relates to special markets that do not necessarily affect the result of a game. They range from the sensible to the outrageous, from the number of rushing yards a star player will accumulate to what color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach after the game. The novelty markets gain the most attention, but you might have more success by cracking the sensible player props.
You can accumulate more attractive odds by betting on multiple teams in the same wager. For example, you might back the Eagles, the Giants and the Jets all to win on the same weekend. All three would need to come in for you to be paid out, but your rewards would be far greater as it is a more difficult wager to predict. You can go for moneyline options, but most fans prefer to put a few spread bets in a parlay. For example, you might back the Giants +3.5 versus the Jaguars, the Eagles -4.5 against the Falcons and the Jets +6.5 versus the Lions. If all three came in, you would rack up odds of around +600 (6/1 or 7.0) and enjoy a sweet profit.