You are here
Home >

Guide to NFL & College Football Prop Bets

History of Prop Bets

Have you ever made a prop bet? If you think they are something new you would be wrong. In the 1870’s bookies would accept bets baseball games and even on the results of each pitch and at bat. Sonny Reizner in the 1980’s helped make prop betting popular when he created parlay cards that included NFL props for Castaways Casino Hotel in Las Vegas.
NFL proposition bets are becoming more popular because of the internet. It has been easier for online casinos to offer a multitude of bets to millions of customers around the world. All big games (College Football & NFL) will have a laundry list of prop bets from the biggest online sportsbooks, ( Every Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football will offer prop bets and live betting. You are no longer locked in to just betting on the side and total before a game. You can now bet on the running back, the quarterback, and margin of victory. The fun of watching a game a making a small wager on each player is in many ways like daily fantasy sports.

Football Prop Bet Odds

Football Betting Lines

Football Betting Tips and Strategies


One of the biggest differences between betting on football and other sports is the amount of time you have to do your research. Unlike baseball and basketball, where the lines are up the night before a game. Football give you a full week to do your handicapping. If it is just a little action you are looking for then bet on your favorite team. If you follow a team all year then you are researching the team. Just take that information you have about them and make a little money on the prop bets. Just remember to separate your money from your team. Don’t bet on what you want to happen. With dozens of player prop bets available all you need to do is find the one or two prop bets that will pay off.

Handicapping NCAA & NFL Football for a living

If you want to become a professional handicapper. Think about what this involves. With today’s online sports wagering. Lines move lighting fast. You will need to be ready to take advantage of any weak line you find. This means becoming a computer expert to produce predictive analytics. It isn’t easy and if you do not have a degree in some math based profession (My degree is in Economics) then I suggest you team up with someone who does have advanced math and computer skills. Another thing that most people don’t take into account when moving into a full time handicapping job. It is a job. No different than any other self-employed professional. For myself. I know there are other jobs I could be doing right now and make just as much money without the risk that gambling entails. But, I like being my own boss.

Beginners’ Football Betting Strategy

Step one. Math and computers. Those two things are a must in sports wagering and are even more important in prop betting because of the sheer number of bets available. If you just stick to sides and totals betting on football you will be misusing your time. The softer lines are on the prop bets. Back to more math. As I mentioned earlier. I have a degree in Economics. I have run econometric models. But, I just don’t have the time to do it all myself. A key to understanding the difference between analytics and analysis. Analytics is pure math. Analysis takes analytics and provides a useful meaning and context to the mathematic models. Because of my over 20 years of experience in building analytics models and working as a casino gaming analyst I knew I would not have the time to do both the model building and analysis. This is why I have outsourced my analytics to an online sports service. There are several sports wagering analytics services out there and I will recommend a few of them to you. Even if you use a service. You still need to know enough math to understand the strength and weaknesses of the models.

Line Shopping

Let’s start with one of the easiest strategies to be a handicapper. Line shopping. I can spend hours going of the line of one game. In the end if I like a side or like a prop bet on one player and I am ready to bet the next most important thing is line shopping. While this was always something I had been told by other people it didn’t really hit home until I scored a big wager by shopping. I was in Vegas and I liked 7 teams on a College and NFL parlay. I had some time so I decided to take a look at all of the different parlay cards that the casinos were offering. They all had almost identical odds except one casino (Harrah’s) had a team at +4.5 while everyone else had them at +3.5. The board had dropped to a +3 so I couldn’t take it on the board. Based on only this I decided to take the time and fill out my parlay cards (I used a round robin bet which we will cover later). Well, you they lost by exactly 4 points. If I had not taken an hour out of my day to compare parlay cards then I would not have hit a seven team parlay. With internet sports betting you no longer need to walk from one casino to another. Just open an account at several online sportsbooks and put your money down on whoever gives the better odds. It is my experience that there is a greater divergence in odds on prop bets than on side bets.

Intermediate Strategy for Football Betting

Watch ESPN. That might sound like strange advice. Everyone watches ESPN and their announcers are bunch of salesmen trying to get you to watch crappy games by making “expert” opinions on this week’s upset or this team really has a chance. They lie. But that is fine because you are not going to take their picks. What you will be doing is getting the same information the vast majority of the public will use to base their betting decisions on. Research the games that ESPN is hyping. These games will be bet by the public and they will move the line. What you will be doing is looking for a game that you will be on the other side of the ESPN hype machine. Watch line movements on a game like this. Wait until you see a little bounce back in the line and then jump on it.

Math is Required

Earlier I recommended you get an analytics service to do the math for you. That will only carry you so far. To implement advanced strategies you will need to do your own math. There are going to be ad hoc reports that you will want to run and test. If you are completely dependent on someone else’s models then you will never be ahead of the other people using the same service.
So where to get started? Start with an analytics service and talk to them about the models they have. Most of the services will be happy to discuss the type of statistics they are using and provide you with the basics on the models they have built. They may even build some of those ad hoc models you need to implement advanced betting strategies. I would stick with an analytics service for the first year. During the off season use their models as a starting point to build your own models.

Advanced Betting Strategy

My article on football prop betting provides valuable handicapping tips. Here you’ll learn my ins and outs of handicapping a specific market while also gaining an early understanding of the handicapping process. Odds are set using simple formulas and from here adjustments are required. Finding those formulas for all markets is difficult, as is discovering which adjustments to make. The good news is simply by learning the football betting tips shared on our website you’ll like already be a winning sports bettor. And, just from having been in the process the bits of pieces of valuable information that can be picked up on forums or by reading books. Just realizing learning profitable betting strategy is a process and our pages give bettors and excellent head star. With that I conclude by wishing you the absolute best of luck.

Best NFL Prop Betting Sites

All online sportsbooks offer some type of prop bets on football
Typical prop bets available:
• How many yards will a quarterback throw for?
• Will There Be a Score in the First 7:30?
• Will The First Score be a Touchdown?
• What type of score will happen first (field goal, safety, touchdown)?
• Will Either Team Score 3 Unanswered Times?
• Will There Be A Score in the Last 2 Minutes of the First Half?
• How many yards will a running back gain?
• Will there be an interception?
• How many field goals will be made by both teams?
These are just a few of upwards of over a hundred prop bets that will be available on NFL games. When it comes to Sunday Night and Monday Night football the two sites who seem to always have the most bets available are and

Prop Betting Strategy

Did I mention you need to know a little math to be a successful handicapper? Let’s start with the easiest bet available. A coin toss be heads or tails. Let’s say the odds given by a casino are heads -105 / tails -105. This proposition has a negative expected value (-EV) no matter which side you choose. For those of you who watch the Super Bowl and have thought about betting on the coin flip. I hope this convinces you not to do it. If you are looking for action then by all means enjoy the coin flip bets. If however, you are looking to make money off of sports betting. Knowing what bets to avoid is an important lesson.
The next lesson to beginning prop betting is not to let your emotions decide how much you bet. Never try to get even if you are down. Just stick to betting with your mind and your wallet and leave your heart at home.

Why Football Prop Bets

Props do not have a lot of money bet on them. They usually have low limits $200 to $500 maximum bets and adjust the odds as soon as bets are made. If you have a retail background then you will be familiar with the loss-lead. It is an item that the retailer will advertise at a loss to get foot traffic and make his money on more expensive item. Many sportsbooks have admitted that they lose money on football prop bets. The reason that it doesn’t bother them is the amount of the loss is small and the public will often times fill out parlay cards which are some of the profitable sports betting options the sportsbooks offer.. Many sportsbooks will take millions of dollars in bets on the side of a game and just have a few thousand on a prop bet. The books know that the low betting limits will keep away the professional gamblers so they just don’t worry about soft lines when it comes to prop bets.

How to Learn Prop Betting?

Don’t expect to find too many professional punters willing to give you the ins and outs of every proposition bet on the board. Each prop is a small market and those best at handicapping and pricing props are unlikely to help a competitor; teaching you to handicap and price means one more person to potentially beat them to the punch. If you’re going to beat props you’re going to need to be sharp and learn through trial error until you determine how the odds are set. I will however walk you through a given prop to show you how my thought process works.
Handicapping and Pricing a Specific Prop
Although this example will be outdated by the time you read this, the basic math is still the same. At the time I’m writing this article the Week 13 Thursday Night Game is about 10 hours away and features the Eagles -3 @ Seahawks +3. A prop I expect to find offered at online sportsbooks is over/under on total passing yards for Tavaris Jackson. In order to price this prop I went to his stats page and found he’s played 10 games this season and is average 206.5 yards passing per game.
In order to know if this statistic is usable I search his box scores and see he’s passed for 197, 159, 171, 319, 166, 323, 221, 217, 148 and 144. I need to now take a look at the 319 week; here he played Atlanta and I see this was a heroic come back where Atlanta nearly blew a 20 point second half lead to hang on 30-28. I then check the 323 and this was a game he didn’t start (due to injury) came in during the second quarter and playing from behind was forced to pass constantly. Upon further look at his stats I see his median passing yards is about 184 per game, so his average is inflated. I also lean on the fact he’s went considerably under that total the last two games and this is more the result of injury concerns than a fluke.
The next thing I do is check how many passing yards the Eagles are allowing per game. Here I find they are giving up 234 yards passing per game. I also look and see the league average is 230.6 yards per game. The correct math here is (QB yards) * (defense’s passing yards allowed / league average passing yards allowed), so in this case 184*(234/230.6)= 187 yards expected. Now I suspect because bookmakers are lazy when it comes to pricing props they mostly likely priced this one using his average yards which were 206.5, so I’m expecting to see 206.5*(234/230.60) = 209.5 for this game. The next thing to look at quickly is the point spread. Here the Eagles are favored by 3 points, so this isn’t a major concern. In games with high point spreads the favorite is likely to have less than their average passing yards and the underdog more than average passing yards. I then the look at the total and see it’s 43.5 and this is close to league average as well.
Factors giving me a bias towards the under: 1) Tavaris Jackson has not been performing well as of late. 2) Tavaris Jackson has a much higher average passing yards than median passing yards. 3) Tavaris Jackson is injured – if he doesn’t start the wager is a push, if he does start and then comes out the game it has action and is even more likely to go under.
My next step is to stop shop dozens of sites looking for any prop bet with a 10% or larger advantage. I’m expecting these exist because already familiar with how bookmakers price this prop, I’m excepting them to cap it at 209.5, but I’m capping this at 187 with a lean on the under. At this point if I can find under 202, which I probably will, I’ll wager it. Shopping the odds this is what I found:
• Bet365: o220.5 +100 / u220.5 -140
• Bovada: o205.5 -115 u205.5 -115
• 5Dimes: *unique* o209.5 -120 / u209.5 -110
At this stage no one else has lines on this exact prop. The first thing I can tell you right away is Bet365 is giving me the worse odds here because 11.5 difference only moves the line from -110 to -129. The next decision: Bovada is offering Tavaris Jackson over/under odds, where 5Dimes is offering Seattle QB passing yards. This is an interesting choice because on one hand if Tavaris comes into the game and then leaves due to injury my wager at Bovada stands; but if he doesn’t play it is voided. There’s a slim, but also realistic chance, he might not play in which case I get Charlie Whitehurst who has never passed for even close to 209 yards in an NFL game. I’m going to start with under 209.5 @ 5Dimes here. Disappointingly so, I just discovered 5Dimes has a $100.00 maximum bet on this prop. So I bet it, line moved to -120, bet it again and it moved to -130, bet it again and now at -150 I pass on betting anymore and quickly head to the next site. My next move was Bovada which I hit up for $300.00 max (which was allowed in one shot), and finally I made a $150 wager on Bet365’s line; I now have $750.00 total action.
What you need to understand here is many years ago I had no clue the math behind prop betting, I store blankly at odds for years trying to reverse engineer how bookmakers priced specific props. Once I learn how the bookmaker is setting the line everything else was easy; I now know in advanced whether there is going to be value or not. I don’t get it correct all the time, because like the bookmaker I’m lazy too; with props I can afford to be because there are hundreds available and spending too much time on any given one, causes me to miss several others where a large edge can be found.
So you now have my thought process and the formula to price one particular prop, for another read my article onderivative betting, where I break down the simple but powerful prop which team will score first. Finally, if you enjoyed this article perhaps you’ll enjoy others linked from our hub that covers helpful football tips to maximize wins.

Football Prop Bet Odds
Football Betting Lines