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NFL Parlay Betting Guide

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When getting into NFL betting, one of the more exotic plays is the parlay. The parlay is considered an exotic play because it is not just your standard bet. It is not the typical bet of laying 110 to win 100. There is a higher risk, but also higher payout in a parlay.

That makes it a pretty popular play for the ordinary bettor. So, with that in mind, what is a parlay, how do you parlay, and when it comes to NFL, what are the best times to parlay?

What are NFL Parlay bets?

The idea of a parlay is taking two individual bets, and linking them together for a higher payout. If both individual bets cash, the bettor would win at whatever odds you get each team at. If one side of the parlay loses, the entire bet loses. Even if the other side cashes, you lose the whole wager. This is why the payout is higher, but this is why the gamble is riskier. The idea of a parlay payout is as follows:

If you parlay two bets together, and they cash, the payout is 13 to 5. Those odds mean that for every five dollars you put down, you get back 13 because both bets need to hit. You can see it is over twice as much of a payout. That is where the risk of requiring two separate bets to win makes it interesting. Three team parlays are 6.5 to 1. Putting four teams together is 13 to 1. Five team is 25 to 1. Six team is 50 to 1. Seven team is 100 to 1. Eight team is 180 to 1. Nine team is 400 to 1. Lastly, a ten team is 825 to 1.

However, that is when factoring in even odds. When discussing the NFL, that would mean taking two bets straight up at the odds they present. While we will show an example of the standard payout process, there are also ways to maneuver the betting line to your advantage in a parlay.

Correlated NFL Parlay

The correlated parlay is the most commonly used in NFL betting. You are betting that if one thing happens, it will lead to another. If you are confident in the first leg of your bet coming through, you can double up by parlaying it with what you would think is correlated to the first leg.  For an example of a correlated parlay, take the Baltimore Ravens. The Baltimore Ravens are known for having a strong defense. Let’s say this week you think the Baltimore Ravens are going to shut down their opponent. However, one of their star offensive players is injured as well. So, while you think the Ravens will win, you also believe they will win a low scoring game.

This would be an excellent time to parlay the Baltimore Ravens against the spread, along with the total of the game going under. By taking the Ravens straight up against the spread, and by taking the under straight up, the compensation would be 13 to 5 if you win. So you have to love the odds. However, even if the under were to hit, if the Ravens lose against the spread, the bet is going to lose. That is the catch.

Still, you are taking the two bets correlated to each other. You think that the Ravens defense is the reason they will win. So, if the Ravens do win, the game should go under. With the correlation factor in mind, and getting the odds, it could be a gamble worth taking. Of course, you could do the same if you think a team will win in a shootout. Parlay them with the over and see the benefits.

Standard NFL Parlays

Of course, a parlay does not even have to be correlated. You could take two completely separate games and parlay them together. Let’s say you are betting on the NFC and AFC Championship game. All season you have thought that the Minnesota Vikings will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl. Now, they are both at home in their championship game, one game away from making your prediction right. A big way to cash on that would be to parlay both of them into making the Super Bowl. Now you see some financial compensation for getting your championship picks right.

You could also parlay any two teams on a given Sunday. If you like the Rams to win in a blowout, and the over in the Jaguars-Texans game, parlay them together for an extra payout. It does not have to be correlated. While correlating them together has its benefits, the fact is if you get two right, it is a win. No matter how you do it.

NFL Money Line Parlays

Money line parlays are more exciting and more exotic than your standard parlay. That is because the odds can start to sway even more in this scenario. A standard bet is -110. In that situation you would bet 110, to win 100. That is what would happen in the examples listed where you take a team against the spread and the total, or two sides against the spread.

However, the parlay can be a nifty tool to avoid the spread altogether. Let’s go back to the Baltimore Ravens. Yes, you think they will win because of their defense, but you are not sure if they will win by much. They are banged up on offense, after all.

Then, you look at the spread and see Baltimore laying seven points. A full touchdown without their star wide receiver is tough to win by. You think they might squeeze out a three-point victory, and are not sure that they can cover a big spread.

The money line parlay becomes an option here because you can take on the worse odds of a seven-point favorite on the money line, but also get the boosted odds of a standard parlay. It will essentially even itself to be a standard bet.

These payouts cannot be defined. Depending on the book you are placing your bet, the odds of the money line are going to be different. So, when factoring the differing money line, they will spit out a different payout based on the parlay. Remember, the 13 to 5 payout is assuming 110 to win 100 odds. If the Ravens are -200 favorites, it makes it much closer to a 5 to 5 bet.

That is why parlaying the money line can become an intriguing option. Of course, while you can use this in the correlated manner of the Ravens and the under or the Saints and the over, you can also parlay anything you want together.

If you like the under in the Ravens game, and the Saints to win, you can parlay those two together.

However, another common practice when it comes to parlays is taking two teams and using them as parlay legs together. Let’s say you look at the board and know that the Jaguars and Texans are going to win this week. However, both of them are seven-point favorites. You know they are going to win, but so do most people. The question is can they win by seven?

Again, avoid the spread by using a parlay. Take the Texans and Jaguars on their money line at odds that are close to 2 to 1. However, with the 13 to 5 payout, it becomes a standard bet featuring two teams that you are confident can win. You have just used the parlay to make an even bet out of two heavy favorites.

Parlaying underdogs in the NFL

While the practice is less common, it is more profitable to parlay underdogs on their money line, as they have much better odds. Let’s go back to the Baltimore Ravens. They are playing their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens are banged up but bring in a good defense. You know that despite the Pittsburgh Steelers being underdogs, they are division rivals and every game is close. When adding in the Ravens being banged up, there is a chance the Steelers could go into their division rivals house and win.

This is a great chance to capitalize in a big way on a correlated underdog parlay. The Steelers are going to upset the Ravens because the Ravens will not score enough to win. But, the Ravens are favored to win because their defense is so good that the Steelers will struggle.

The under and the Steelers are correlated. If the Steelers are +200, you will get a payout that is 1.5 times as much as a standard payout would be with two teams. Of course, that means that parlaying two underdogs together would be an even bigger payout. You are taking two teams favored to lose to not only cover against the spread but win the game outright. It is obviously a risk, but with that comes a considerable reward thanks to the odds.

NFL Parlay Strategy

So, the question becomes, when is the time to pull the parlay? At what point does it become an advantage play instead of an exotic wager. Arguably the best path is the correlated parlay. In this regard, you are likely to look for a defensive team that is facing a mediocre offensive team.

If you think they can win in a shutout, a correlated parlay of the favorite and the under is not a bad strategy. You can also fade teams with a correlated parlay. For example, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense is not nearly as good on grass as they are in their dome.

When you get the Saints outdoors against a good defense, taking the other team along with the under could be a smart play, as the Saints are likely overvalued in this situation due to most of their stats coming in domes.

Of course, on the other side, the Saints and the over is an excellent idea for a correlated parlay, along with any star quarterback who does not have a strong defense. The quarterback will keep them in it, but the defense will make it competitive.

Using a parlay to avoid the point spread is another good form of betting parlays in the NFL. Taking two favorites together is an optimal decision. One should watch for taking a road favorite, though. No matter the spread, the road favorite is a riskier proposition than any home favorite. Because you need to hit both bets to win, you should be looking for two home favorites to avoid a big point spread.

Another thing to watch for is teaser juice. Some lines in the NFL get juiced up to seven because sports books are protecting themselves from teasers. Teasers are similar to parlays in that they give you six points on each side, but both sides need to hit. If you think a line should be four and or five, and it is seven, that is because the six points of a teaser does not give the favorite points on the other end in this scenario.

With that in mind, some teams laying seven points are going to be overvalued. If you like a seven-point favorite, a better value play would be to pair them with a slight favorite, or even your favorite underdog bet of the week.

NFL Stats To Look For

Every site across the internet is going to spit out points per games, yards per game, and tell you meaningless trends. These are not nearly as predictive as one would think, and that typically lends into Vegas getting the better of the everyday bettor. So, what are stats to look into?

More predictive stats come on a play by play basis. Think about it; the Ravens could have a great defense. However, this week their offense gets the worst defense in the NFL. The Ravens go up 31-0 at the half. However, the defense gets soft in the second half and gives up 28 points. They gave up 7, 10, and 14 in their first three games and now are giving up and now are giving up over two scores per game. This happens in legitimately every NFL season.

A player who fumbles once every 200 carries had his one fumble. It turns into a touchdown. The stats skew significantly in that small sample size, but over the long term, you know that player will not fumble again.

On top of that, there is the idea of factoring in the opponent. A 4-2 team who lost to a couple of one-win teams and has no proven wins is not as good as a 3-3 team who has three hard-fought losses to contenders and has two division wins under their belt. Schedule and situation matter.

This makes things like yards allowed per game and points allowed per game flawed. A play-by-play outlook is more predictive than common stats because it is a bigger sample size. A website such as is also able to use their play-by-play statistics to weigh schedules played.

They also factor in the situation. An 11-yard reception on third down and 24 is not as impressive as an 11-yard reception on third down and nine. They look at each play regarding success and staying ahead of the sticks. On first down and ten, four yards gained is a successful play. Otherwise, you are statistically in a passing situation based on down and distance. On second down, the ball needs to get inside of four yards on third down. Statistics show third down, and four is converted at a much higher rate than third and five or higher. On third down, no play is successful if it does not get a first down.

When looking at how efficient teams are in staying ahead of the sticks and by breaking it down to a per game basis to increase the sample size, you can begin to get an idea as to who may or may not have a deceiving record. This gives an advantage as a gambler.

Positional Value

When a specific player is out of the game, everyone wonders how much of an impact it will have on the NFL game. The fact of the matter is that every position has to be looked at individually.

The first factor to come in has to be positional value. Not every position is the same. A quarterback holds the ball every play on offense. They control the flow. They are the most valuable player in football. They will have a much more significant impact than a tight end, who catches four or five passes and blocks every once in a while.

When it comes to positional value, the idea is that quarterback dictates the game and is the most important. Understanding the value of each quarterback is the most important factor. The next most valuable position is the player who can attack the quarterback. Everybody is less accurate with someone bearing down on them and to get pressure in a quarterbacks face is the only way to stop receivers from running free in open space.

Most bettors value edge rushers more than interior rushers, as edge rushers have to loop around tackles to get to the quarterback. It is much more rare to find someone so fast and athletic, but also physical to fight with tackles. This makes edge rushers the next most valuable position.

Interior rushers would be next because they can move quarterbacks off of their spot in the pocket. They can also clog step-up lanes and force the quarterback to leave the pocket and run into the arms of the edge rushers.

While attacking the quarterback is the next most important to quarterback, protecting said quarterback obviously has to be just as important. Tackles are similar to edge rushers in that they are rare in quantity and skill set. However, centers likely have more value on the point spread to bettors because they touch the ball every single snap, and have to lead communication with the quarterback and the rest of the line. Guards are still valuable, but tackles and centers are the most important line spots.

Yes, that means the skill player positions are least valued. Cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers are all more valuable than receivers, tight ends, and running backs. They are the people who have to stop the receivers, tight ends, and running backs. The receivers and running backs have an advantage in that they know where they are going; the defender does not. So, to find players who can shut down opponents without knowing where they are going becomes valuable.

So while your favorite fantasy player is out for the week and everyone panics, that team likely just got line value in the betting market. When the center you have never heard of goes down, and your star running back has a bad game, the betting market can explain why.

With that in mind, who the replacement player is also has to matter. For example, Aaron Rodgers to his backup will be a more significant drop off than Joe Flacco to his back up. Especially if that team has a reliable backup.

The Dallas Cowboys consistently got burnt by Sean Lee getting hurt. Despite the linebacker not being the most valuable position, their lack of a backup player ended up costing them. The team drafted a first round pick at linebacker, and you did not see a drop off when he went down this season.

Finding the right stats, knowing which positions matter the most, and knowing how much equity was spent on the back up at that position will take you a long way as a sports bettor.


A parlay is a standard tool that any bettor can use to obtain an advantage in the NFL. You can correlate two bets together to find a better payout. You can take two games against the spread of any variety you want. Even with the money line added into the mix, odds can even out or become even better thanks to throwing the money line in a parlay.

Of course, gambling is never easy. One bet is hard, let alone cashing two. However, if you have the confidence, the odds do become intriguing to take a chance or two by playing a parlay.