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NFL Betting in Tennessee

When it comes to popularity among American sports, football is the undisputed king. Tennessee residents have plenty of teams to cheer on with the Tennessee Titans in the NFL and the Tennessee Volunteers, Vanderbilt Commodores, Memphis Tigers and Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in Division I college football. Even casual sports fans tend to enjoy watching and betting on football in their social circles. Learning how to bet on football can be an excellent way to elevate your enjoyment of the games.

NFL betting: Different bet types

Online sportsbooks in Tennessee and around the United States offer more betting line options on football than any other sport due to the game’s massive popularity. Here’s a look at the most popular ways to bet on football.

Against the spread

The majority of bets placed on football games every week are against the spread wagers. The spread is a points handicap that attempts to even out the skill discrepancy between the two teams playing. It also factors elements like weather, home field advantage and injuries into the equation.

Say that the Tennessee Titans are 6-2 on the season and they are at home on a Sunday against the New York Giants, who are just 1-7. The Titans are a clear favorite to win this game outright and would likely be going off at -500 (bet $500 to win $100) on the moneyline. Tennessee fans would have to lay a lot of money just to win a little.

Instead, they could bet this game against the spread. Sportsbooks might list a lopsided matchup like this as New York Giants +9.5 at Tennessee Titans -9.5. This means that the Giants are receiving a 9.5-point handicap. A bet place on the Titans to win at -9.5 points will only be a winner if Tennessee wins by 10 points or more. A bet on the Giants +9.5 will pay out if the Giants win outright or lose by nine points or fewer. Both sides of this wager would be offered at -110 (bet $110 to win $100).

Different spreads are placed on every game based on the teams and factors involved. A game that the sportsbook sees as perfectly evenly matched will have no spread at all as a “pick ’em.” The biggest favorites in the NFL usually land in the -14 to -17 range, but favorites of over -50 points can appear in college football when elite teams take on lowly scrubs.

Moneylines

Nothing frustrates some football bettors more than betting on their team as four-point favorites only to win by a field goal, losing their against-the-spread bet even though the team they picked won the game. Bettors who don’t want to deal with the spread and instead just want to bet on which team will win the game can bet their football games on the moneyline.

Instead of making up for the discrepancies between the two teams with a point handicap, the moneyline just factors these differences into the betting price on each team. A tough conference battle between the Tennessee Volunteers and the South Carolina Gamecocks might list Tennessee as a three-point favorite at home.

But on the moneyline, this game might be listed as South Carolina (+130) vs. Tennessee (-160). A Volunteers backer can bet $160 to win $100 on Tennessee and will still earn a win even if the Vols win by only one point. Meanwhile, Gamecocks backers can bet $100 to win $130 on an outright South Carolina win and earn a bigger payout than they would have betting the +3 if the upset occurs.

Totals

In addition to the spreads and moneylines, every football game also has a posted total next to it on the betting board. This total is a projection by the sportsbook of how many total points the two teams will score in the game. So if the books are anticipating a 24-21 Tennessee Titans win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, they would set the line at 45 points (24 + 21 = 45).

Football bettors can bet on whether they believe that the actual number of total combined points in the game will go over or under this posted total. A handicapper who predicts this will be a run-heavy game with lots of defensive stands can bet on under 45 points. This bettor would win if the final score was 21-10 Tennessee (with 31 points landing under 45) but would lose if the score was 28-24 Jacksonville, as 52 points would go over the posted total.

Totals bets, also known as over/under bets, depend strictly on how many total points the teams score. A 50-0 blowout or a 26-24 nail-biter would both be the same 50 points in the totals category.

Proposition bets

Prop bets are wagers on events that occur within a game that are separate from the outcome of the game itself. There are three common types of proposition bets:

  • Player props — Player props are bets based on player performances. For example, you might be able to bet on how many touchdown passes Aaron Rodgers will throw in a game (over 1.5 or under 1.5) or how many rushing yards Derrick Henry will have (over 91.5 or under 91.5).
  • Team props — Team props are based on individual team performances. These may include bets on how many points a team will score or allow in a game, or how many turnovers the defense will record in the game.
  • Game props — Examples of general game props include which team will score first, will one team score three consecutive times or will the game go to overtime. There are also first-half and second-half lines, alternate spreads and other ways to bet on portions of the game instead of the entire game.

Unfortunately, Tennessee laws do not allow for prop betting on college football games. But NFL prop betting is allowed, and it gets even more popular in the playoffs and for the Super Bowl as more prop options are listed.

Parlays and teasers

A parlay is a wager type in which you combine multiple bets (known as “legs” of the parlay) into one bet. Each leg of the parlay must win for the wager to win, making these bets a high-risk/high-reward endeavor. They offer high payouts when they hit, but are harder to hit than standard bets. For example, a three-team parlay of -110 bets generally pays 6-to-1 — far better than betting each side individually, but going two for three would be a loss.

A teaser is similar to a parlay, but it offers a lower payout in exchange for a higher chance to win by adding points to the sides that you like. For example, say that you like the Las Vegas Raiders at +6, the New York Jets at +3 and the Minnesota Vikings at -8.5. If you select a 6-point teaser for these three sides, you would get the Raiders at +12, the Jets at +9, and the Vikings at -2.5. Payouts vary based on how many teams you select and how many points you add to your sides.

Futures

Futures bets on football cover an event taking place in the future, like who will win the Super Bowl or the NCAA championship. You can also bet on future events like season win totals, division winners and conference winners. A bet placed on a future event isn’t graded until the season is over.

How to bet on football: Betting strategies

Learning how to bet on football doesn’t take too much time, but mastering the art of handicapping it can take a lifetime. You will develop your own winning strategies as you gain more experience. Here are a few football betting tips to get you started.

Focus on key numbers against the spread

Historically, the most common margin of victory in an NFL game over the last 20 years is three points. This makes sense as games that are tied in the late stages often come down to a game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter or in overtime. Games ending by a margin of seven points are the second-most common, which again follows logic as touchdowns are worth seven points (with the extra point) and are often the deciding factor.

Three and seven are examples of key numbers in football. Other frequent margins of victory include six points, ten points and four points. Keep these numbers in mind when you are deciding on which games to bet on against the spread and when you are shopping for lines at different sportsbooks.

For example, if you see the Tennessee Titans as 5.5-point favorites, this mathematically isn’t much different from seeing them as 4.5-point favorites as games don’t finish by a margin of exactly five points very often. Conversely, getting the Titans at +3.5 is significantly more valuable than getting them at +3, as your bet will be a win instead of a push in the fairly common instance that Tennessee’s opponent wins by three.

Keep your eyes open for potential letdown spots

All football bettors occasionally find themselves scratching their head trying to figure out how their clearly superior favorite played so poorly and lost outright to a pitiful underdog. Sometimes it really is just a case of bad luck with a few turnovers or strange bounces going against you and determining the outcome of the game.

But in many cases, there are underlying reasons why a team isn’t at its best. Some of these include:

  • Travel fatigue — Imagine that the playoff-bound Seattle Seahawks are on the road against the Miami Dolphins in Week 15. Miami is playing its second straight game at home; for the last two weeks, the Dolphins players have been sleeping in their own beds and practicing in their own facilities. The Seahawks, on the other hand, are traveling roughly 3,000 miles into a different time zone and staying in a hotel. Regardless of how much more talented the Seahawks may be, Miami is in a much better position to be at its best in this hypothetical matchup.
  • Emotional fatigue — Division rivalry games are often more emotional and more physical than when teams play outside the division. Familiarity breeds contempt among players, and the fan bases get fired up for these matchups, too. Say the New Orleans Saints have played three straight games against NFC South opponents, going on the road against Tampa Bay and taking on Carolina and Atlanta at home. Now this week, they find themselves on the road against the Cleveland Browns. This might be a game they’d easily win under normal circumstances, but after the physical and emotional toll of three straight divisional matchups, it’s going to be tough to get up for this one.
  • Looking ahead — Looking ahead to bigger things is human nature. Coaches preach taking things one week at a time and playing every opponent tough. But if the Tennessee Volunteers have a road game against the Georgia Bulldogs coming up next Saturday that will decide first place in the SEC East, they probably aren’t going to be 100% focused on this week’s home game against the Missouri Tigers.

Consider semi-correlated parlays when they make sense

Sportsbooks do not allow correlated parlays. These are parlays on events that are tied to one another, such as the Tennessee Titans moneyline and Tennessee Titans against the spread. You can’t parlay these two plays together, as the outcome of one directly affects the outcome of the other.

You can, however, parlay a spread or moneyline with a total from the same game. These semi-correlated parlays are great to use when you see only one path to victory on your against-the-spread wager.

For example, say that the Titans are visiting the Kansas City Chiefs. You want to bet on Tennessee +6.5. But you know that realistically, the Titans aren’t going to be able to do much to stop Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s high powered offense. So the only way that you see the Titans covering the spread is if they also score a bunch of points to keep things close.

In this instance, why not parlay Tennessee +6.5 and the over 51.5 points? If the game does indeed go how you predicted it would and the Titans win or lose in a 31-28 shootout, you’ll cash a nice two-leg parlay instead of just the against-the-spread win. Parlay bets are risky and you should use them sparingly, but spots like these are a great place to take advantage of them.