NFL Betting: Lay The 2.5-Point Spread Or Take The Moneyline?

Even the casual NFL betting fan is probably aware that the key numbers in football include 3, 7 and 10. The fact that these are key numbers means that the sportsbooks are well aware of their value and whether or not they should move the line on either side of them. For example, you will often see a team that is listed as a 9.5-point favorite stay at that mark or go lower since moving it higher would mean crossing the key number of 10 and becoming vulnerable to the exposure for anybody that wants to have both sides of the number 10 locked in. The trend towards avoiding key numbers has led to at least a couple of 2.5-point spreads most weeks and that brings up the interesting debate about whether or not you should wager on the point spread or the money line in those situations. Here is a look at whether you should be the 2.5-point NFL spreads or simply take the moneyline wager instead.

The Numbers

The numbers indicate that you would actually be better off betting team on the money line rather than betting them on the spread if they are 2.5-point underdogs. The reality is that the 2.5 points likely won’t do much in the end since the majority of games are decided by a field goal or more so in most cases it makes sense to take the better value and select the moneyline wager. Dating back to 2003, teams that were 2.5-point underdogs posted a 104-82 mark against the spread for a profit of 22.66 units or a 12.2-percent return on investment. If you bet those same 2.5-point underdogs straight up then you would have posted a 96-89 record but the value of those wagers would have produced a profit of 29.77 units won or a 16.1-percent return on investment. So while you actually would have won slightly more wagers if you took the 2.5 points, you would have actually made more money on lesser wins taking the value with the moneyline wagers. Taking the points is a slightly safer road but it also caps the potential value of your winnings. The numbers also show that buying an extra point to move the line to three will improve your chances of winning but also cap your potential earnings. According to the numbers, if you bought the point to push the line to +3 then you would have posted a 104-64-18 record against the spread, but your net profit would only be 13.03 units. Therefore you actually increase your number of winning wagers significantly but still finish with less money overall than you would have just taking that team on the moneyline.


Everybody has their own approach to betting on sports and can make their decisions based on what they feel is the best strategy for them but the numbers never lie. When it comes to betting on teams that are listed as 2.5-point underdogs, you can play it safe and produce a better winning percentage taking the points or buying the line up to +3 but you are sacrificing the value of your wagers by doing it. At the same time, if you choose to bet the 2.5-point underdogs on the money line then you can increase your potential profit margins with bigger net winnings in the long run.