By Mark Wadie

NFL Logo On Pitch

Gamblers in Canada will soon be able to legally place bets on sporting events worldwide at licensed betting sites in the country after a bill to legalise Single Event Sports Betting was passed in Summer 2021. With this exciting news The Casino Heat is publishing guides to some of the world’s biggest betting markets including the Canadian National Hockey League and the English Premier League. In this article we cover NFL Betting – American Football.

This guide covers the basics of the sport – what it is, where and when it is played, and how you can bet. It should help those new to NFL betting to understand how to enjoy gambling on this richly entertaining and massively popular sporting event.


NFL is the National Football League of the USA. It consists of 32 teams and runs each year over 18 weeks between September and January, culminating in play-off matches between qualifying teams and the season finale Super Bowl held in early February each year.

To give you an idea of its popularity as a betting market in the States, the American Gaming Association estimated that $4.3 billion was wagered on the LV Superbowl won by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in 2020. And that’s just one game! Throughout each season there are ample opportunities to bet on the outcome of individual games, the scores, scorers, in-play markets and of course the outright winner come the end of the season.


Tom Brady Celebrates

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates winning the Super Bowl in 2021


For those new to the game, here is a quick breakdown of the main rules of NFL.

Like all team sports the simple objective of American Football is to score more points than the opposition. The game plays out over four 15-minute quarters after which time if no team is leading, then overtime is played and the first to score wins the game.

Points are scored by landing a touchdown – taking the ball into the opponents end zone – or kicking it through the posts. Touchdowns are worth six points whilst kicking the ball through the posts is worth just 1 point.

To score a touchdown the team in possession of the ball must move up the pitch, retaining possession as they do so. When in possession a team has four attempts to move forward 10 yards. If they fail, then the ball is given to the opposition to try. If they succeed in gaining 10 yards or more, then the play re-sets and another four attempts are granted.

What makes NFL very different to other team sports is that depending on whether a team is in possession or defending their line, they will field an entirely different set of players – the offence and the defence.

When a ‘play’ begins, the two teams square up against each other. The offence give the ball to their quarterback. They will try to defend him and prevent the defensive team from breaking through and bringing him down – known as ‘sacking’. The quarterback’s role is to throw the ball to runners who break free of the lines and look to find space to run into and take a catch. Alternatively, the Quarterback may decide to run himself.


There are many ways in which to bet on NFL games and the season as whole. There is also a wealth of statistics out there and time between games to choose where and when to place your bets. NFL betting will be legal in Canada from Summer 2021 though it is unlikely that betting markets will open in the country before December. The first websites likely to offer sports betting to customers are due to be live in Ontario on this date.

Here are the basic bet types for NFL.


This is a bet on the winner of a specific match. Draws are extremely rare. Gamblers can bet on the home team or away team and the odds will reflect the relative strength of the opponents – favourites and underdogs.


It is also possible to bet on the margin of victory which is a bet that only pays out if the victory is by or above the stated score. This is called a Spread Bet, or a Handicap Bet because it balances out the odds of the favourites overcoming the underdogs.


Another popular bet in NFL is the Over and Under Bet. With this type of bet you don’t need to declare who you think will be the winner, only the total number of points scored during the game. Your bet will be on whether the total will be above or below a specified value.


After betting on the winners and scoring, gamblers can then move into betting on particular player performances. For example, you may choose to bet on who will score the first touchdown in the game – usually a wide receiver or quarterback – or how many touchdowns a player scores, or how many yards they run, or passes are completed.

The choices for this kind of betting can be endless and it is even possible to Parlay them into as many as 12 different bets, which all combine to create a much bigger bet with huge potential payouts.


In-play, or Live betting is betting on events during a match with changing odds and new opportunities to gamble as the game progresses. This gives players the chance to bet on markets like how many points will be scored in the rest of the quarter or game, who will retain possession the longest, and which players will score.

In-play is a huge gambling opportunity for those who understand the rules of NFL and follow the trends of a match as it plays out. Reacting to what is happening during a passage of play can give bettors with a keen eye the opportunity to score some excellent short-term wins.


Of course, at the season start (or at any point during the season, though the odds will potentially be less favourable) it is possible for a gambler to bet on the overall winner of the championship. This is known as a Futures bet, or Outright Winner.


Chicago Bears Stadium

A Packed-Out Chicago Bears Stadium During an NFL Game


Now that we have covered the basics of betting on NFL, here are a few tips to help those new to the game to get the most out of this thrilling gambling opportunity.

Follow Betting Trends – it is possible online to look up websites where the current trends for betting on outright winners, points scored and spread are published. Whilst these can be useful in helping to decide how to bet but treat them with caution. The majority of bettors choosing one team over another is helpful, but often the total wagered in money is a better indicator to follow. It might show what a smaller, more clued-up group of gamblers is thinking over the majority opinion.

Either way, use these trends as a guide, but try to decide for yourself what the outcome will be.

Line Shopping – as the market in Canada opens up we fully expect there to be a wide choice for gamblers and it is worth shopping around to find the best odds available. This is a dynamic market and odds will change from minute to minute, not just day to day. Use aggregator sites to compare odds and also search out new customer bonuses which can get you free bets.

Using Analytics To Decide on Your Bet – unlike real money casino betting which in many cases is gambling on fixed odds games, NFL betting requires some skill and analysis to get the best outcome for yourself. By looking at the statistics around a player or a team you can start to make educated predictions which will help you to create your own betting strategy.

Here are some of the key stats and factors to consider when deciding who might win a game or what the points total might be.

Home Field Advantage – Some teams are better at taking advantage of a home leg due to the size and volatility of their crowds and the history of their team.

Turnovers – Some teams have particularly strong defences which means that despite having little possession they can still keep the points total low and even win a game from an underdog position.

Offensive Efficiency – Having possession is one thing but turning that possession into touchdowns and points is another. Offensive Efficiency will tell you how capable a team is of making their drives and passes count. This can help you decide on a likely points outcome.

Pace – This figure tells you how many plays a team will run in a game. A team that runs a lot of plays in a game may score more points than a team that slows the game a lot.

Win Probability – There are algorithms out there that will give you the probability of a team winning at any point before or during the game. This is the simplest tool to help you decide how to bet. It is good for in-play but even an algorithm can be wrong sometimes!

Betting Online – some of the betting types we have discussed in this article are only available at online sportsbooks.  We expect offline bookmakers to open up in Canada too but these shops will not have the same depth of markets, including in-play, or allow you to react to events as quickly as sites available through your mobile phone or on gambling apps. To enjoy the best of NFL betting we recommend getting to know online sports books and how they work.


Finally, a note on gambling responsibly. With so much choice and with gambling so easy to do from your desktop or mobile it is important to stay on top of how much you spend and how often you partake. Remember that gambling is supposed to be for fun. So keep to these rules and if you ever feel you are spending more than you can afford, then seek help.

  • Don’t chase your losses
  • Don’t gamble whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Don’t let your emotions decide your betting strategy
  • Set a limit on how much you want to spend each month and stick to it
  • Try not to bet wildly on long odds outcomes in the hope of a windfall