When you see an NFL game in which the +5.5 appears next to the name of a team, it is referring to the points spread and the team that is considered the underdog in a game. When you see a minus sign next to a team it is considered the favorite to win the game. If you see a plus sign, that team is the underdog. If neither team is favored, the points spread will be listed as even or a pick.
Betting against the spread is one of the most popular ways of betting on football games. It's called laying the points when you pick the favorite and taking the points when you bet on the underdog. The reason there are point spreads is to make the two teams equal in terms of which one may produce the winning payout. It happens all the time where a team might lose the game, but produce a winning bet because it covered the spread.
The way it works is quite simple. If you pick a team that is listed at +5.5 points, it must lose by five points or less or win the game outright for it to produce a winning bet. If you see a team listed at -5.5, it must win the game by six points or more to produce a winning payout.
There are times when the odds for NFL games will be listed as a whole number without a decimal point. If the final score of the game is the same as the whole number, it's called a push or a tie. When this happens you neither win nor lose and you get your money back. In the majority of NFL games, a decimal point is included to make sure you either win or lose the bet.
While it can vary according to what sportsbook you are using, bettors should be aware that for every dollar you bet the winning payout is usually around 90 cents. In betting parlance, this is referred to as the "vig'' or "juice,'' which is the fee charged for you making a straight points spread wager.
An example of this can be found on NFL betting charts where you might see a number listed next to the spread. If you see -110, this tells you in order to win $100 you must wager $110. Similarly, to win $1 you must bet $1.10.
Once you understand how betting works in terms of the points spread, there are several things to keep your eye on as you get ready to make a wager.
For openers, if you have a particularly strong feeling about which way the game might go, it's a good idea to compare the points spreads on various sporting apps. This will allow you to find the spread that most benefits the team you plan to select. Also, check to see if the points spread makes a dramatic change either up or down during the course of the week leading up to the game. By doing this you might be able to make a bet that is more in your favor.