The NFL reigns supreme as the most popular league for sports wagering across Delaware and that is in no danger of changing any time soon. Basketball, baseball and soccer are also extremely popular, but football is the undisputed heavyweight champion.
Delaware is sometimes referred to as an NFL swing state, existing amid an eternal tug of war between the Philadelphia Eagles to the northeast and the Baltimore Ravens to the west. The Eagles are the most heavily supported team in the state as the bulk of the population is concentrated to the north, and it is served by Philadelphia-based TV stations. But former University of Delaware Blue Hens quarterback Joe Flacco has helped drive some loyalties towards Baltimore with his performances for the Ravens.
Either way, a passion for football runs deep in Delaware. It is therefore unsurprising that the state’s sportsbooks made the NFL central to their offerings after the legalization of sports betting. It is tempting to grab a stake in the action, but. There are many different outcomes you can bet on, but there are four key betting types to be aware of when it comes to football:
This involves wagering on the outcome of a tournament or a future event, and the most common is simply who will win the Super Bowl. The Eagles defied the odds to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy in February 2018, thanks to the awe-inspiring performances of its defensive line. The Birds were +5000 underdogs at the start of the season (these odds may also be listed as 50/1 fractional odds or 51.0 decimal odds), but the odds plummeted as they made a blistering start to the season, with Carson Wentz excelling. Disaster struck towards the end of the regular season, as Wentz suffered an injury that would rule him out for the playoffs. The odds then lengthened considerably on the Eagles seizing glory, but some diehard fans continued to back them. In the play-offs, a great season turned into fairy-tale stuff, as the defensive line held strong, supporters in underdog masks roared their heroes on and back-up QB Nick Foles stepped up in style to lead the team to an unlikely victory.
It was a sensational Super Bowl performance, as Philadelphia vanquished the almighty New England Patriots and left legends like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick miserable. But the sportsbooks have installed the Pats as the +500 (5/1 or 6.0) favorites to return to the summit of the sport by winning Super Bowl LIII in February 2019. The Eagles are the +900 (9/1 or 10.0) second favorites, followed by Pittsburgh and Green Bay, while the Ravens are all the way out at +4000 (40/1 or 41.0).
A word here on odds. When you see something like +900, that represents the amount you will win by placing a $100 stake. If you put down $100 at odds of +900, you will win $900. When your bet is a winner, you also get your stake back, so you would be paid out $1,000. If you bet $10 on the Eagles to win Super Bowl LIII and they pulled it off, you would get back $100 at the end of the season. A $10 stake on the Ravens at +4000 would earn you $400, and you would get $410 back including your stake.
When it comes to futures wagering, you can also place bets on the AFC champion, the NFC champion, divisional winners, whether a particular team will make the playoffs and how many wins they might secure over the course of the regular season (over or under a set line).
Moneyline betting is extremely common in soccer, as fans simply bet on whether the home team will win, the away team will win or the game will result in a tie. Moneyline betting exists in football, but it is a lot less common, as spread betting rules the roost.
As defending champions, the Eagles host the first game of the next season, and they will play the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field. In the moneyline betting, Philadelphia is -200 (1/2 or 1.5) to secure victory. When you see a minus in the odds, that tells you how much you need to stake in order to win $100. So if it is -200, you need to stake $200 in order to win $100. If you are successful, you will be paid out $300 (a $100 profit and the return of your $200) stake. If the odds are -700 (0.14/1 or 1.14), you will need to stake $700 just to win $100. Always remember that plus odds are more attractive than minus odds, but bear in mind the more attractive the odds, the harder it is to win the bet.
The Falcons are priced at +175 (1.75/1 or 2.75) to beat the Eagles in the curtain raiser, and that may tempt some fans, but the vast majority prefer to go for spread bets, which level the playing field.
Spread betting gives one team a handicap in order to even things out. Let’s take the Falcons v Eagles game as an example. The Eagles are the defending champions and they enjoy home field advantage, so they are expected to secure victory. For that reason, in the spread betting, they start the game at -4.5 points. You can then either back the Eagles -4.5 and hope Philadelphia wins by five or more points, or back the Falcons +4.5. That means the Falcons can either win the game or lose by up to four points, and your bet still pays off. Most sportsbooks will offer odds of -109 (0.9/1 0r 1.92) on both outcomes. This means that a $109 stake will earn you a $100 profit if you are successful. Sometimes sportsbooks will offer -105 on both outcomes to entice customers, but they always take a margin so you are not going to see even money (+100) on both.
The handicap line changes depending on the game. The Eagles were 6.5 point underdogs against the Pats in Super Bowl LII, but still won the game outright. Detroit is the 6.5 point favourite in its season opener against the Jets, while Tennessee is the 2.5 point favorite against Miami. You will often see the handicap line changing if the public starts to heavily back one team. For example, if a lot of punters back Philadelphia -4.5, the sportsbooks are likely to shift the line to Philadelphia -6.5 and push the Falcons to +6.5 in a bid to encourage more people to back Atlanta. This allows the sportsbooks to cover their liabilities and reduce their risk, but it can also offer bettors a strong opportunity to make a profit.
Another common option is to bet on the total number of points there will be in a particular game. As with spread betting, the sportsbooks set a line, and you can bet on whether it will go over or under. The line depends on how strong each offense and each defense is. For the Falcons v Eagles game, the line is set at 46.5 points. You can get -109 (0.9/1 0r 1.92) on over 46.5 points and -109 on under 46.5 points. This is a great option if you are unsure about which team will win, but you have a strong opinion on whether it will be a high-scoring game or a low-scoring encounter. This is where a strong knowledge of each team’s historical data, its recent form, its offensive and defensive capabilities, the head-to-head record between the teams and any injuries to key players can really help you make a profit.
The team “prop bets” is short for “proposition bets” and it relates to wagering on things that do not necessarily affect the result of a game. They range from sensible options like how many rushing yards LeGarrette Blount might rack up in a game (over or under 26.5, for example) to the frankly ridiculous, like what color hat Justin Timberlake will wear while performing at the Super Bowl half-time show. Many of them are novelty markets and it is advisable to keep your stakes low, but prop bets can also be a potential goldmine if you take them seriously and pick out some intelligent options.