Learn the basics of prop betting including how to read NFL odds, what props are, strategies & tips for prop betting, and more to make the best NFL picks.
While strategies on how to try and win consistently on betting on the NFL certainly exist (and Sidelines is no exception—check out our guides to bet against the spread, the moneyline, and over/under), there will always remain an element of sports betting that remains fun.
NFL prop betting certainly fits into this category, as prop—or proposition—bets are extremely popular in the Super Bowl in particular but can also be offered on a weekly basis.
Due to the NFL being the most popular sport to wager on, there are more prop bets offered during the NFL season when compared to any other sport. While many of these bets are considered longshots (for example: Will the first score of a game be a safety?), there can be a betting strategy on NFL prop bets in order to take advantage of some opportunities that oddsmakers may put out there.
In this guide, we will discuss the different kinds of prop bets in the NFL along with strategies you can implement along the way.
What Are NFL Player Props?
One of the most popular types of prop bets in the NFL are player props. Other kinds involve coach props, first-team props (where you bet on which team accomplishes something first in the game), timing props, team scoring props, and more.
One type of player prop is when you are betting on whether a player will reach a certain benchmark. An example of this is as follows: Will Tom Brady throw for over 300 yards? And similar to an over-under bet, you wager that he either will or won’t, and the bet is around even-money odds.
Another version of a player prop compares two players that can either be going against each other, on the same team, or even playing a different game altogether.
One example can be: Will O’Dell Beckham Jr. or Jarvis Landry (teammates with Cleveland) have more receiving yards in the game? Another pitting opposing players can be: Will Ben Roethlisberger or Patrick Mahomes throw fewer interceptions (even if they’re not playing against each other)?
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The Super Bowl is by far the biggest betting event in the United States, which should come as no surprise given that it’s also the most popular sporting event in the country and is routinely the most-watched television show of the year.
In Nevada, $136 million was bet on Super Bowl LV in 2021, and the handle is growing in other states as gambling becomes legal in other locations. New Jersey, for instance, had $117 wagered on the game, which more than doubled the amount from the previous year. And that’s not to mention office pools and other small, off-the-book gambling.
In addition to a huge number of normal props bet on this game, there are also unique ones that span other sports and entertainment.
For example, you can bet whether LeBron James’ combined point and rebounding total in an NBA game on the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday will exceed the number of points scored in the Super Bowl that evening.
Another popular bet for the big game is whether the coin toss lands on heads or tails, the length of time it takes for a singer to perform the national anthem, and what color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach.
These bets reflect the fun nature and casual interest that the Super Bowl draws, and fun wagers like this can make your viewing party even more exciting.
Understanding NFL Proposition Odds
There are two types of NFL prop betting when it comes to NFL betting odds. The first is a wager between two choices that oddsmakers try to set a number that generates close to an equal amount of betting on both sides.
This is very similar to the over/under, and technically, this is an over/under bet most of the time (the other popular version is a yes/no bet).
For example, if Aaron Rodgers hadn’t thrown for 300 yards in a game for four or five games in a row, if oddsmakers set a prop of whether Rodgers would throw for 300 yards, most of the bets would probably come in for the under.
Therefore, oddsmakers will find the number that’s most likely to get action on both sides. For this example, that could be 265 yards.
The other type of NFL prop betting is selecting from a number of different choices with various odds attached to them.
These can be for either NFL player props or team props. Here are a couple examples from Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers:What Will Be the First Score of the Game?
Chiefs Field Goal
Buccaneers Field Goal
Chiefs Any Other Score
Buccaneers Any Other Score
The higher the number after the plus sign, the more of a longshot the bet is. So if you bet $100 on the Bucs scoring the first touchdown (which is what happened), you would have won $190.
Based on how the teams performed during the season, oddsmakers believed a touchdown was more likely than a field goal, which is reflected in the odds.
And most of these styles of bets contain a huge longshot, as any other score (essentially, a safety) would pay $5,000 for a $100 wager, which is a huge reward but an event extremely unlikely to happen.
NFL player props are the other example of this type of prop bet. Again, from Super Bowl LV:Total Touchdown Passes by Patrick Mahomes?
Four or More
This is a case where the longshot bet hit, as Mahomes threw no touchdown passes in Super Bowl LV, so if you bet $100 on zero, you would have won a cool $1,000! Oddsmakers will happily pay that bet every time, however, as the vast majority of the bets would come in on Mahomes throwing at least one, so sportsbooks likely turned a massive profit on this prop.
NFL Prop Betting Strategy
Many prop bets are based on random chance, but others can be analyzed to favor a specific outcome. Here are some NFL prop betting strategies that you can implement.
Think Before You Check If you’re a regular sports bettor, you’re probably routinely analyzing NFL games for the week leading up to Sunday (and Thursday and Monday night action). While doing that, you may feel strongly that a player may have a better or worse game than he usually does. Or you have a feeling that a team may surprise people and score a lot of points that week. Use this analysis to your advantage to check if there are any prop bets on these points, and if you suspect an edge, place the bet.
Review the Terms Before You Bet Some props will be done to entice you to bet a certain way based on your first instinct. Research any bet before placing it. Sometimes you may find that the facts (recent history between teams, etc.) may tell a different story.
Don’t Bet the House on Random Props While betting on the coin toss, the length of the national anthem, and the color of Gatorade are fun, if you are betting to win money, you should not place serious money on these wagers that all come down to luck.
Arbitrage Betting Strategy By using a source like Sidelines, you can check different odds from various sportsbooks. If you do enough digging, you may find bets where you can wager one side on one site and the other side on a different site and come out ahead either way based on the odds. This is called arbitrage betting and can almost always just be done when you’re shopping around. Say one sportsbook has Brady throwing for over 300 yards at +103, and a different website may view it differently and place the under at +101. You can place wagers on both sides of the bet and turn a profit regardless. Granted, it won’t be a large profit (if you bet $1,000 on each outcome, you would win $10 if the under hit), but guaranteed profits aren’t supposed to happen in the sports-betting world. You also likely will have to act quickly to take advantage of arbitrage betting, as it’s usually best to catch this as lines fluctuate, and by time you notice it, the odds may change again before you even have time to place your bet.
Find Your Niche If you’re not sure which prop bets to make, take a week to do your research, and record the bets you would take without betting on them. Do this for two or three weeks during the season. You may find out that you’re having success at a certain type of prop bet, so that’s something you may have a better grasp on than even the oddsmakers. Put your skills to the test and place a bet!
Try to Predict the Game Script Watch for trends on how teams start a game. Do they prefer to run early? Are they a team that typically takes the lead in the first quarter or are they more apt to fall behind and come back in the second half? These are all factors that can work to your advantage when analyzing prop bets.
Using Props as Derivatives The term derivative comes from the financial market and refers to something that has value due to the price of something else. In the NFL, you can use props to create your own derivatives. If you feel strongly that the Green Bay Packers will smoke the Detroit Lions, you will likely bet on them to cover a -10.5 spread at home. If you’re banking on the Packers having a big day, that means that their key offensive and defensive players will be very productive. So you can bet on props that favor Aaron Rodgers having a big day, the defense having a certain number of sacks or interceptions, and even things like whether there will be a defensive touchdown in the game. This gives you an opportunity to win even more money based on your projected outcome of the contest.
Time to Place a Prop Bet
Whether you want to test out one of the strategies above or the Super Bowl is coming and you want to make a few prop bets for fun, the possibilities are virtually endless, so we urge you to explore the world of NFL prop betting with Sidelines.
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