Betting News & Analysis

NFL Betting 101: Everything bettors must know to gain an edge

Inglewood, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) celebrates after sacking Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) in the fourth quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

• As the popularity of sports betting continues growing meteorically, PFF is the ultimate resource for bettors of all experience levels looking to learn more.

• Welcome to the PFF Betting 101 landing page, a wealth of information designed to help bettors gain their edge.

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Last updated: Nov. 2, 2:15 p.m.

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

The overturning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018 gave individual states the green light to bring sports betting into their ecosystem.

Today, 31 states, in addition to Washington D.C., have legal sports betting, including 21 (plus D.C) with legal mobile betting.

Also, five other states have legalized sports betting but are not yet operational.

With all this in mind, if it hasn't already, sports betting might be coming to your state or a state near you soon, and there are betting terms and types of wagers readers should know if they want to dive into the world of sports betting.

Let's start by covering some basic terms and bet types.

After newer bettors become accustomed to betting spreads, money lines and totals, the next evolution typically involves betting parlays and teasers. These bet forms can offer unique opportunities, but an initial understanding of how they work and how to approach them is needed if you hope to enjoy sports betting as a potentially profitable hobby.

Parlays are the lottery tickets of sports betting.

Sports Betting is designed for individuals to lose, and for the house to win. Oddsmakers prey on the inexperience of public bettors, and even the most skilled gamblers often struggle to find an edge when betting on the NFL. 

It is possible to win, and exciting to do so, but such success requires discipline.


In order to be a profitable long-term bettor, it is crucial to take advantage of disparity in implied probability and the probability which the bettor assigns to an event.

The process of finding your edge begins here. 

PFF Greenline operates similarly to a few other public-facing prediction systems, using a model-based approach which derives its own outcome for the game based on various team and situational factors. At the end of the process, Greenline spits out a probability for how likely each team is to win.  

We must begin with an example of how PFF Greenline discovers and defines edges.

In order to understand how Greenline functions, we must understand the metrics that are most commonly used in our handicapping process.

Expected points added (EPA) is a measure of success which defines the value of each play by the effect it has on the offense's likelihood to score.


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