Football Betting

Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, and it is nowhere more popular than here in Canada and across the border in the United States. As well as watching the sport, football betting is an incredibly popular hobby for Canadians. Here at CaBets.ca, we are on hand to guide you through football betting by giving you tips and strategies to use along the way.

Football Betting Markets

Betting on football is a huge pastime for many punters and there are mountains of data and statistics to dive into if you really want to find the best value bets. You will want to understand a little more about the markets that are available on both American and Canadian football before you place any bets though. After all, an educated and informed bet is much more likely to prove successful than a lucky guess! 

Knowledge and research are two important factors if you want any chance of making a profit from football betting, so let’s look at the popular markets that you will come across at the top sportsbook sites.

Point Spread

The most popular way for punters to place wagers on football is through the Point Spread. The Point Spread can also be referred to as betting lines or handicaps and it provides an estimate of the final margin between two football teams. Sportsbooks tend to determine the margin to be a 50/50 bet. So, in its simplest form, they believe there is a 50% chance that the result will end up on one side of the proposed margin and a 50% chance that it will result on the other. This gives the players the choice on which side they want to opt for.

To show this in more detail, let’s take a quick look at an example:

So, this may look quite confusing if you are not familiar with the bet type. However, you don’t need to worry as it’s fairly simple to understand once it has been explained. The Browns have been considered the favourites to win the match as they have the minus handicap, while the Bears have the positive handicap. 

In this example, the sportsbook has decided that the final score margin will be either side of the Browns by 6.5 points. This then gives the bettors the opportunity to decide which side of this margin they want to be on. So, if you believe the Browns will win by more than 6.5 points then you back them at -6.5. If you fancy the Bears to win the game or at least get within 6.5 points of the Browns then you back them at +6.5.

To work out if your bet wins, you just need to add or subtract the score that you have bet on to the game's final score. For example, if the Browns win 25-10, and you backed the Browns at -6.5, the final score is 18.5 – 10 and your bet is a winner. However, in a tighter match that saw the Browns win, your bet could be a losing bet. If the match finished 15-10 after the handicap is added the final score is actually 8.5 – 10 and your bet does not win.

One last point that is relevant across several betting markets is the use of 0.5 in points. This is to prevent any ambiguity. If it was showcased as 6+, people may be confused by whether or not 6 points win them their bet. If it is shown as 6.5, you know you need 7 points or more to win the bet.


Another familiar betting market in many sports that is also popular in Canadian and American football is the Over/Under market. Over/Under betting is extremely straightforward. Like the Points Spread, a bookmaker will present a figure to represent the number of points that they think will be scored in a football game. It’s the job of the punter to work out if there will be more or fewer points in total.

Let’s take a look at another worked example to get more detail:

Denver Broncos @ Detroit Lions

If you were to bet on over 55.5 goals, you would need the combined points tallies of the Broncos and the Lions to be 56 points or more. In other words, the number of points scored in the game needs to be 56 or more. On the flip side, if you bet on under 55.5 you would need their combined score to not exceed 55 points. Sportsbooks will offer markets on each team's individual points tallies, too. There will be several markets ranging from the popular and more likely Over/Under 50.5 points to the more outlandish Over/Under 70.5 points where the odds will be much higher for over than under.


A football betting guide wouldn’t be a proper guide without mentioning moneyline bets. Moneyline is simply a head-to-head or a match-winning bet. There are no handicaps added, there doesn’t need to be a certain number of points scored, just who you think will come out of the tie as the victor.

Let’s do this properly and look at an example:

The Packers are favourites in this tie as the return on the winnings is much lower than their opponents. The minus sign represents the favourites and you would need to bet $135 to win $100. The plus sign represents the underdog and you would win $230 from a $100 bet. You can make quick calculations to work out what you would win from other bet amounts such as $10 or $20, but the $100 amount is a useful reference to work from for most punters. In summary, if you back the Packers and they win, you stand to win much less than if you backed the Jaguars and the Jaguars win. 

The odds will always reflect how the sportsbook deems the tie will end up. Many football bettors enjoy mixing and matching some of these markets. For example, you could back the Packers to win and the total points to be over 50.5. There is a whole load of fun opportunities for players to enjoy across multiple markets.

Futures and Outrights

You can bet on futures and outrights in both Canadian and American football. The number of futures markets you have available to you will depend on the sportsbook you choose. Some will offer more standard options such as tournament winners and MVP predictions. While others will have more unique and specific offerings.

Things you can definitely expect to see whichever sportsbook you choose include the following:

Popular Football Tournaments

This leads us nicely on to talking about the most popular football tournaments that you should keep an eye out for. We will begin by covering the top Canadian tournaments:


The Canadian Football League season is 21 weeks long and stretches from mid-June to November. The nine teams are split into two different divisions. The East Division consists of four teams, and the West Division gets five teams. Each team plays the other eight teams twice with two divisional games that rotate each season. This means each team plays 18 games and gets three “bye” weeks. Once the regular season has finished, the top team from each division qualifies for the divisional final. While second and third face one another for the opportunity to play them. The winner of the semi-final then travels to the group winner for the divisional final.

Grey Cup

The two winners of the divisional final then qualify for the Grey Cup, a one-off final held in a rotating host city. The Grey Cup is Canada’s largest sporting event and the winner of the tie is regarded as the national Champion for the year.


The National Football League (NFL) is the American Football equivalent of the CFL. It consists of 32 teams that are divided equally into the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference. Both of which can be bet on individually. Like the CFL, the NFL is split into regional divisions with game crossovers and the top-performing teams qualifying for the playoffs. Similar to the CFL playoffs, the best performing teams get “byes” into the regional finals. The winners of the regional finals qualify for the big one, the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is one of the world’s biggest sporting events gathering millions of viewers from across the globe. Regardless of what happens in the regular season, the winner of the Super Bowl is the American Football annual champion. This is seen as the pinnacle of the sport.

Tips for Betting on Football

So, we have covered the major markets and tournaments for football. Let’s now take a look at how we can maximize your potential returns by looking into some tips and strategies you can use when betting.

1. Only bet with value

It may sound stupid but plenty of people don’t listen. Only bet if there is value in it. Don’t place wagers for the sake of placing wagers. Make sure the reward is worth the risk. Sport is never predictable.

2. Analyse and learn from your mistakes

Every day is a school day when it comes to football betting. You can’t be too stubborn. You need to analyse your mistakes and learn from them and make sure you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

3. Know your markets

The more you get to know about football markets the more fun it will become, and also the more profitable as you can widen your scope. Make sure you spend time fully understanding the markets available to you to broaden your strategy.

4. Bet on what you know

Whilst we are on that topic, it is worth pointing out that you should only bet on what you know. Whether that is markets you know or teams you know. Don’t start experimenting with markets you don’t understand or teams you have never watched before. Betting on what you know will improve your chances of winning considerably.

5. Track your betting

You can fall into bad habits with your betting if you aren’t very organized with it. Keep track of all your bets and how much you are spending to keep on top of things. It will also give you a much clearer picture of how well you are actually doing, and which markets are proving profitable for you and which aren’t.

6. Do your research

This one cannot be stressed enough. Do all the research you can. Whether you look at injuries, form, individual head-to-head battles, coach records, away form, or home form. Just get all the information you can before placing your bets.

7. Check for the best odds

Shop around. Keeping your bets in one place has many advantages. But the reality is that if there are better odds elsewhere, you are betting in the wrong place as you are essentially minimizing your return. Keep an eye on other sportsbooks to see what odds they are offering so that you can ensure you stand to make the best possible return should your bet win.

8. Keep up to date with the news

Whether it is via a newspaper, news channels, news websites, or social media, make sure you keep up to date with all the latest Canadian and American Football news. The easiest way is by following journalists and teams on Social Media channels like Twitter. Whichever way you choose to do it, make sure you are up to date.

Facts About Football

  1. The NFL was introduced in 1920 and the CFL began in 1958.
  2. The first-ever televised NFL game took place in 1939 and was shown across 500 television sets in New York.
  3. It wasn’t until 1943 that players had to wear helmets in the NFL.
  4. The day with the least number of weddings in the United States is Super Bowl Sunday.
  5. In 2011, a 30 second long TV commercial during the Super Bowl costs a staggering $3 million.
  6. To date, the Greenbay Packers are the only team to win three straight championships in the 1960s.

Football Betting FAQ

Is it legal to bet on Canadian and American Football in Canada?

Yes, it is entirely legal to bet on either Canadian or American football in Canada. There are many sportsbooks that will offer a range of markets to Canadian bettors.

Can I use promotional offers betting on American or Canadian Football?

Yes, almost definitely. Many sportsbooks offer enticing offers to bettors and these can be redeemed on both American and Canadian football matches. It is always worth checking the specific terms and conditions of your promotion to avoid disappointment.

Can I bet on American and Canadian Football in-play?

Yes, many sportsbooks offer live and in-play markets on hundreds of American and Canadian football games each season.