A Wilson NFL football on the grass

Understanding How Bets Differ in American Football and Basketball Leagues


When you think of the biggest sports leagues, which names come to mind?

For nearly every American, the answer to this question would be one of these three leagues: the NBA, the NFL, or the NHL. There are no other tournaments that accentuate the power of the respective sports as these three leagues do. Since ice hockey is still a relatively less popular sport, let’s focus on the unique distinction between American football and basketball leagues instead.

Over the course of a few decades, these leagues have evolved into a culture of their own. Today, the NBA and the NFL are almost synonymous with American sportsmanship. The two leagues are famous for giving a platform to the most talented athletes in the country. They’re also famous for attracting the highest wagers in the history of national sports. The sports betting appeal of football and basketball in America is something the rest of the world can’t ignore, either.

So, let’s dive deeper into NBA and NFL sports betting to see how they differ.

The Evolution of Sports in America

Football isn’t a new sport by any means. In Europe, it has existed in the form of ‘soccer’ for centuries. On the other hand, American football has been around since the late 19th century. Since the first game of American football was played in 1869, the sport has become a staple of American identity. Shortly after the advent of American football, the other massively popular sport in question came dribbling about. Basketball has its roots in Springfield, Massachusetts. Basketball fans and sports bettors around the globe can thank James Naismith for the creation of this incredible game in 1891.

Over a century later, the two sports continue to fascinate audiences in the country and abroad. It’s hard to imagine the United States without the sports fanatic identity it now possesses. As the popularity of football and basketball grew in the US, it was only expected for leagues to form around them. This is how the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) came into being around the early 1900s.

Two basketball players trying to steal the ball from an opponent

Growth of the NBA and the NFL

Many people think that the NBA has a straightforward history. After all, there was always the need for a national basketball association, right? The actual evolution of the league is actually much more complicated than you might think.

You might be shocked to learn that there were at least 50 regional pro football teams that emerged from 1920 to 1950. Only a select few of them actually managed to sustain themselves as the league evolved. The lack of consistency in the NFL can be attributed to the fact that playing professionally offered little to nothing for the players back then. Today, professional college athletes who get drafted into the NBA or the NFL have a lot to gain. Monetary awards, financial stability, nationwide recognition, and future opportunities are just a few of the reasons that the two leagues are thriving today. But in the early days, professional players played for fun, not as a job.

Similarly, basketball has always been a widely enjoyed sport in the country. Regardless, the NBA had a tough time becoming the number one American pro basketball league. The league was born from the merging of the rival Basketball Association of America (BAA) and National Basketball League (NBL) in 1949. Since its incorporation more than 70 years ago, the NBA is now one of the biggest basketball leagues in the world. The NBA and the NFL went from being regarded as “just another pro league” to becoming the trailblazers of sporting culture in America.

NBA and NFL Sports Betting

If someone told you that more than one-third of the entire American population wagers on the NFL and the NBA, would you believe them?

It’s true! Many sports channels and sports betting sites have reported that over 45 million Americans have placed bets on various NFL and NBA seasons throughout the years. The number of people wagering on their favorite NBA/NFL teams and players also continues to rise by record-breaking numbers every season. Although this isn’t really a shock, considering the massive popularity of the two leagues, it’s still amazing to look at the betting trends. It’s also interesting to compare the two sports from an online betting perspective. Regardless of the more popular league of the two, betting on either of them is equally as fun.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re interested in NBA/NFL betting. It’s important for beginner sports bettors to understand how NBA/NFL betting actually works before they dabble in it. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the key aspects of NBA and NFL betting for the completely uninitiated!

A football player falling while holding a football

NBA Betting Opportunities vs. NFL Betting Opportunities

The first question new sports bettors tend to ask is, “Which league is more profitable?”

It’s natural to wonder if you’d be better off wagering on the NBA or saving your best bets for NFL games. However, the answer you’re looking for actually depends on you as a bettor. Many sports bettors wager on the basis of volume, i.e., the number of bets placed over a period of time. Since volume bettors bet on games that occur throughout a season, they usually find the NBA to be more lucrative. This is simply because the NBA organizes a larger number of games throughout a season, giving you more opportunities to bet.

On the contrary, betting on the NFL is much more lucrative for sports bettors who are looking for the highest bets. Industry experts claim that the NFL is a slightly more popular league than the NBA in America. Keeping that in mind, it’s safe to assume that you’ll likely find bigger bets and a larger range of betting options for the NFL.

Either way, there’s no way to bet on either of the leagues without having a good time. You might not win all the bets, but you’ll still be thoroughly entertained!

NBA Odds vs. NFL Odds

Now for the more technical question: how do the odds differ for both leagues?

The short answer to this question would simply be: they don’t! For nearly every popular sport around the world, you’ll find more or less the same types of betting odds. Bookmakers apply the most common types of odds for both leagues. The only major difference lies in the timing of the release of the odds.

The NBA and the NFL have different playing structures. While the NBA regular season functions more like a daily game, the NFL gaming schedule occurs on a weekly basis. Due to the frequency of games, online bookmakers typically release NFL odds by the end of a respective week. Alternatively, you’ll usually be able to access NBA odds the night before or the morning of a game.

The three major types of odds for both leagues that you should know about are:

  • Moneyline odds
  • Point spread odds
  • Over/under (Totals) odds

NBA Bets vs. NFL Bets

Accessing the NBA odds and NFL odds alone isn’t enough. You’ll need to explore the different types of bets you can place, too. The good news is that the three major bet types are commonly used in both leagues. In NBA games, you’ll see sports bettors wager on totals and point spreads. You’re highly likely to see the same bets in NFL games. So, the real concern here is to understand what these bet types actually mean and how you can read them.

The last throw at a Lakers game

1. Moneyline Bets

If you’ve ever dabbled in online sports betting, you’ve likely come across bets that are displayed like this:

Lakers +230

Warriors -300

This is the most basic format of online sports betting odds you’ll ever find. When you place a moneyline bet, you’re essentially just betting on which team will win the game in question. The numbers in a moneyline bet simply represent the odds to win against a wager of $100. The plus and minus signs represent the underdog and favorites, respectively. In this specific example, the Warriors are the favorites to win the game. You must wager $300 to win $100 with a profit on this bet. Alternatively, the Lakers are the underdogs. If you bet on them and win, you make a profit of $230 against a $100 wager.

2. Point Spread Bets

Do you ever feel like the two teams who’ve been matched up aren’t in a fair fight? Many bookmakers and sports bettors feel like one team always has the upper hand in a matchup. To balance their odds out, bookmakers release point spreads. A point spread bet essentially functions on the basis of a margin.

Basically, a bookmaker sets a certain margin for what it thinks will be the difference between the two teams’ final points. Like in moneyline bets, there are favorites with minus signs and underdogs with plus signs. The amount of money you win depends on the bet you make and the final outcome of the game. The team you bet on will need to either score more than the spread (favorites) or less than the spread (underdogs). If it does, you win the bet!

3. Totals (Over/Under) Bets

Totals bets are also contingent upon the overall outcome of a game. The “totals” refer to the total number of points both teams score in a game. Sports bettors wager on whether the totals will be more than (over) or less than (under) an amount set by the bookmaker. Let’s assume that a bookmaker sets the precedent at 80 points and the final total score ends up being 74. If you bet on both teams to score less than 80 points by the end of a game, you win the bet!

A Wilson NFL ball on the grass with players sitting in the background

How to Bet on the NBA/NFL

After learning more about how two of America’s most iconic sports leagues differ in betting, you may be interested in giving it a go. Getting started with online sports betting is actually much easier than you might think. Just follow the following basic steps!

1. Choose a Good Betting Site

The online gambling market is now riddled with sports betting sites. You should take your time to find a betting site that caters to your exact needs. Look for the top local betting sites in your region to find the more tailored betting options. Choose a betting site that’s verified, licensed, and thoroughly reviewed.

2. Make an Account

Once you’ve found a good online sportsbook, you can register for an account. Safely deposit some betting money into your newly-made account. If you come across any welcome bonuses, make sure to activate them when making a deposit!

3. Place Your Bets

After funding your online betting account, you can finally start placing bets on your favorite sports. Incredible online betting sites like 888Sport and MyBookie offer many options for NBA and NFL betting. You can find the latest NBA odds and NFL bets on these sportsbooks, too.

A Spalding NBA basketball on a basketball court with trees in the background

Find the Best Online Sports Betting Resources in Your Country!

We understand the struggle of having to navigate the online gambling space as a beginner. That’s why our online betting portal Betting Sites Ranking is the perfect one-stop solution for you!

On our portal, you’ll find all the online sports betting and casino gambling resources you’ve been looking for. We’ve compiled a definitive ranking of the top betting sites in the world. If you’re specifically looking for local betting sites, you can filter your search on our portal. We cater to over 100 countries and languages! You can read our betting site reviews to learn about all the features and offers you need.

Our informative betting blog contains articles on topics that can help you bet online more effectively. You can learn new betting strategies, online gambling tricks, and much more through our expert betting blogs. We even update the top daily bets section on our site to help you stay updated with your favorite ongoing sports events.

Happy gambling!

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