For years, the standard way of betting on the NFL has been the handicap-based “points spread”, which allows bettors to decide if they think a favoured team will win by more or less than a set number of points. If you’ve ever idly listened to an NFL broadcast and heard an expert say that he thinks the overdog in the contest will “cover”, that means that they’ll win by more than the aforementioned spread. Anyway, while the history of NFL betting has been inextricably linked with the spread, experts believe that the future is likely to lie elsewhere.
Younger bettors are more interested these days in player-specific proposition bets which can include an exceptionally wide range of propositions. With much of the media attention in the present day on the individual athletes who make the difference in games, a natural progression is that new viewers are more interested in those players, and more likely to connect to betting markets that reflect the increasing importance of the individuals involved.
So while betting on a team has been the way of things in the past, younger bettors are more and more interested in looking ahead to a match and deciding whether Patrick Mahomes will throw for more than 300 yards. They might also feel that there is more value in betting on a player to score the game’s first touchdown, or younger Dolphins fans might want to bet on whether Xavien Howard will have an interception in the upcoming game. Bets like these often have longer odds than points-spread betting, and can deliver bigger wins for modest stakes.
This doesn’t mean the death of the points spread, of course. For fans of the underdog, the chance to bet on perennial cellar-dwellers like the Jets or the newly-named Commanders is an interesting wrinkle. We still expect the Jets to be beaten soundly by the Bills this season, but they have more chance of keeping it within 14 points, and staging points like that can be important in a team improving to the point where they can be competitive.
One thing is for sure: with betting companies gaining access to an increasing number of markets across the USA, there will be more football fans ready to bet on their teams and their favorite players. And if there’s a chance to attract more business as a result, the sportsbook oddsmakers will be only too happy to oblige.