For those of you who aren’t familiar with betting the money line in the NFL it’s simple.  You are essentially  wagering on who you think will win the game.  There’s no point spread involved.  There is just an increase in the juice based on the percentage chances of a team winning outright.

For example, the money line on a 3-point home favorite in the NFL would have odds like -164 to win the game outright.  This means you would need to wager \$164 to win \$100 on that team. On the flip side, you could bet a 3-point underdog at +135 to win outright, meaning you would wager \$100 to win \$135.

What I’m interested in when looking at the weekly odds is whether certain moneyline bets are profitable.  Each chart below shows two money lines.  The first is the “expected moneyline”.  We took the win percentages for all NFL games since 1980 at each line and converted them into a money line.  The “actual moneyline” is what a typical sportsbook would set for each spread.

Why is this something you need to know?  Home favorites of -3.5 win the game 63.61% of the time.  If you look at the chart we’ve converted that to a money line of -175 (expected moneyline).  The problem is a book would make you pay around -206 (actual moneyline) for a -3.5-point favorite.  Thus, it’s obviously not a good bet.

The same goes for underdogs.  Say you see a home underdog of +2 and decide you might as well take the money line.  The actual line you would get would be something close to +105.  The expected moneyline for 2-point home underdogs is +119.  If the actual moneyline comes in lower than the expected moneyline then history says you are not getting value on your wager.

As you’ll see, it’s pretty rare to find instances where taking the money line is a valuable play.  There are obviously significant differences between certain situations.  So, I’ve broken the data into four groups: home favorites, road favorites, home underdogs and road underdogs.

*Please note that some higher lines did not have enough games to qualify as significant data.  For those games we used estimated win percentages to better represent those numbers.

NFL Money Line Conversion Charts

Now for the road favorites…

Here are the road underdogs.

And finally….home underdogs.

Handicapping NFL games isn’t easy.  But, hopefully this will give you another tool to use against the sportsbooks.  If you consider converting the point spreads into expected moneylines on any given game you might find a couple more winners.

As with everything in gambling, the house almost always has the edge.  This certainly doesn’t mean you have to avoid betting moneylines in the NFL, but check these charts to make sure you are maximizing the value of those wagers.

You’ll also notice that it’s better to do a two-team 6 point teaser on favorites of 6 or 7 points instead of doing a money line parlay.  That’s just one of the reasons we love NFL teaser wagers so much.

Spreads Converted to Expected Win Percentage

The table below shows the expected wining percentage at each point spread for the favorite and underdog.  This is the complete odds conversion table for the NFL.

Point SpreadFavorite Win ChanceUnderdog Win Chance
050.00%50.00%
0.550.00%50.00%
151.30%48.80%
1.552.50%47.50%
253.50%46.50%
2.554.50%45.50%
359.40%40.60%
3.564.30%35.70%
465.80%34.20%
4.567.30%32.70%
568.10%31.90%
5.569.00%31.10%
670.70%29.40%
6.572.40%27.70%
775.20%24.80%
7.578.10%21.90%
879.10%20.90%
8.580.20%19.80%
980.70%19.30%
9.581.10%18.90%
1083.60%16.40%
10.586.00%14.00%
1187.10%12.90%
11.588.20%11.80%
1288.50%11.60%
12.588.70%11.30%
1389.30%10.70%
13.590.00%10.00%
1492.40%7.60%
14.594.90%5.10%
1595.60%4.40%
15.596.30%3.70%
1698.10%1.90%
16.599.80%0.20%
17 & Up100.00%0.00%