The NFL has a vastly different conclusion to, say, football betting on the English Premier League, but it is no less exciting. The games move into a postseason that will decide who wins the Super Bowl. That leaves a few weeks before where teams are desperately scrapping for wins. There are shocks and drama aplenty, and it makes it the perfect time to wager on the sport.
You can get involved if you are new to the sport. Whether you are an experienced NFL bettor, or just looking to join American football excitement, now is the best time to place your bets. You can join the fun as the regular season is coming to an end, and the excitement of the playoffs is leading to the Super Bowl. So there’s no better time to jump in, really!
Ready for a virtual trip to America to bet on football that is as American as apple pie? Read our complete guide to NFL playoffs betting, written by our NFL betting experts at Playright. We’ll include each team’s chances of reaching the playoffs, different bets, and how far sides will likely go in the postseason. As this is written by Brits, for Brits, we will also include the best UK bookmakers with NFL coverage, odds and bonuses to get you started!
What are the NFL Playoffs?
What even are the playoffs? And why should you care about which team gets in them? Well, imagine these as the knockout rounds of the NFL season. Except there isn’t a random draw to decide who faces who. The seeding is based on the number of wins you achieve in a season. There are seven teams on each side of the playoffs. The number one seed on each side of the playoffs will skip the first round of games. After that, the worst team plays the best, so the second seed plays the seventh seed. The third seed plays the sixth seed, and so on. The lowest seed to progress will face the top seed in the next round.
AFC and NFC
There are two sides to the NFL and the playoffs, which are divided by the league’s two conferences: The American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC). The league was split this way when the NFL was formed in the 1970s. There is no noticeable difference between the two divisions other than the member teams, but it is still crucial for the playoffs. Not only does it determine who can play who, but also which teams make the postseason.
Only AFC teams can face off in the playoffs, just like only NFC teams can play each other. The Super Bowl is always played between the team that wins the AFC playoffs and the team that wins the NFC playoffs. This creates a lot of exciting matchups in the playoffs. The two best teams throughout the season could be on the same side of the postseason and end up playing each other in games before the Super Bowl. With these games, you get great odds because they are so hard to predict.
This isn’t just with wagering on playoffs games, but on which teams will reach the playoffs. The basis of which team makes the playoffs is recording the most wins, but it is more complicated than that.
How to Reach the Playoffs
Both the AFC and the NFC are split into four divisions, based on geographical location: North, South, East and West. Each division includes four teams. The team with the best record in each division will make the playoffs and are seeded from one to four. It doesn’t matter if someone else in a different division has a better record. If you win your division, you make the playoffs.
The team with the best record out of those four division winners gets the top seed. It then descends from there. There are still three other spots to make up, and these are called the wildcard places. The wildcards are chosen as the teams with the best records. It doesn’t matter which division the team is in as long as it has a better record than the others. There are many ways this can be decided if there is a tie break, including your record against divisional opponents. It can get pretty complicated towards the back end of the season, which makes the betting so interesting.
The last couple of games in the season can have implications for so many teams. Teams that have already reached the playoffs and are usually a shoo-in for a win can suddenly drop standards. For punters, it makes the NFL more exciting. Teams play above what you would expect to make that final push, and there can be some exhilarating games. That’s all before the playoffs even start!
What makes the Playoffs Race Great?
The playoffs decide which teams reach the Super Bowl, and that’s a big deal because the Super Bowl is the only trophy teams can win. That means this is the culmination of every team’s season. A whole season can be decided in the last few games. Some teams will make the cut, and some won’t. It is heartbreaking for some fans and ecstatic for others. Bettors who put that emotion aside can find lots of betting opportunities as well as some excitement.
Especially for NFL fans in the UK, it can feel like American Football gets glossed over on sportsbooks. When the end of the season rolls around, even UK sportsbooks pay attention. You’ll see more exclusive offers, bet boosts, and other deals. Some sportsbooks even offer live streaming of NFL games. This means you can watch the games unfold before your eyes and make exciting in-play bets.
Sportsbooks for NFL Betting
Although American Football isn’t quite as popular over here as other sports, it is steadily growing a following. Games being held in Wembley help, and many people in the UK now have an NFL team and a football team. With that, there has been a demand for more varied betting options.
Some UK sportsbooks have answered that call. For example, Sky Bet offers many different markets during the whole NFL season and gives odds on every game. These aren’t just markets for game winners either. You can bet on touchdown scorers and other unique markets. If you’re feeling very American, you can even bet on the point spread, something not many British punters use on their other favourite sports.
Sky Bet goes further by offering weekly price boosts on NFL games. This will usually be on touchdown scorers from multiple games or whether a QB will pass a specific stat line. These are great ways to boost your chances of winning. Sky Bet’s coverage of the NFL becomes even more significant as the season comes to a close, so be sure to keep an eye on this sportsbook.
This isn’t the only sportsbook offering good odds and unique markets on which you can bet. Betiton is another that offers good coverage of American Football for you to enjoy. Each of our sportsbook reviews will include whether a sportsbook has American Football betting or not, so check that out to find the best American Football betting sites.
Betting Tips for the NFC Playoffs Race
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay has already wrapped up its division, ensuring its place in the playoffs. The team will still want to wrap up the top seed, so don’t expect too much of a drop-off.
This season, the Cowboys have been transformed into one of the most defensively resolute teams in the league. The defence has covered even when the Dak Prescott-led offence has failed. Wrapping up its division title should be a formality. Considering how many games the Cowboys have won, it’s not favoured highly for the Super Bowl. This NFL bet could be a chance for some nice winnings.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Probably the most recognisable team to UK players thanks to the man under centre. Tom Brady is one of the few NFL stars genuinely famous in the UK. His side has been strong this year and is on the cusp of confirming a division title. After all 22 starter returns from last year’s Super Bowl winning squad, many will back the Bucs to do it again.
The Cardinals’ place as division leaders is by no means secure. The Rams are right on its tail. However, its record means it should still qualify for the playoffs. Although the Cardinals’ form is bad, this team can beat anyone if Kyler Murray can start playing like he was earlier in the season. As soon as Murray starts throwing dimes, you may want to check the Cardinals’ Super Bowl odds.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are packed with star talent from back to front and could be in with a chance of winning its division. Although the Cardinals sit above, the Arizona team’s head coach has a terrible record during the latter stages of seasons in his career. The Rams could take advantage of that, and that’s what we would take a punt on.
San Francisco 49ers
Two of the 49ers last three games are pretty tough and could have major implications for its playoff hopes. Jimmy Garropulo is playing well, and so is Deebo Samuel. The 49ers have created just enough breathing room for themselves that the sides below them have no margin for error. We’re pretty confident it will make the playoffs.
How are you feeling, Vikings fans? This whole season has been a rollercoaster for the Vikings, with so many close games and missed opportunities. The team needs a strong end to the season if it hopes to qualify. Kirk Cousins is right off the boil, and we advise not to wager on the Vikings.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have some pretty winnable games left and maybe a pretty clear choice to make the playoffs. Sean Payton has done an excellent job with this team mid rebuild, but inconsistency has marred the season. Certainly a contender for an NFL playoff bet, but you should only make bets you are confident in. If you are a beginner bettor, remember to wager within your limits.
Washington Football Team
Washington’s chances of reaching the playoffs took a significant blow after losing to the Eagles. It still has another game against the Eagles and a very winnable game against a down and out New York Giants. There is also a tricky game against the Cowboys. Winning all of those games should be enough. This would be a massive achievement since starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been injured since the start of the season, but we wouldn’t place an NFL wager on it.
With Jalen Hurts back running the ball for this team, it could be a serious challenger for a wildcard spot. With a crunch game against Washington on the horizon, its playoff future is very much in its hands. Nick Siranni’s midseason pivot to a run-heavy offence has worked a treat, and this team would be our tip to take the final wildcard spot.
Stuck somewhere between a rebuild and winning now, the Falcons have ended up with neither. Kyle Pitts was an excellent choice in the draft, but this team hasn’t shown enough to make us think it will make a last gasp attempt at the playoffs.
You can never rule out Russel Wilson, but after suffering a broken finger earlier in the season, this looks like too much of a stretch even for him.
The heralded return of Cam Newton was supposed to give the Panthers a chance to make the playoffs. Now that hope is all but gone.
New York Giants
This team is only not ruled out by technicalities. It would take an astounding string of results for the Giants to make the offseason. Even winning its remaining three games would most probably not be enough. Don’t expect this team to start pulling off miracles.
Betting Tips for the AFC Playoffs Race
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are pretty much assured of winning the AFC West. That’s pretty impressive, considering the panic around its poor start to the season. Don’t rush off to bet on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. The opposition it has played in its winning run hasn’t been incredible, so this team could be flattering to deceive.
New England Patriots
A run of excellent form midseason has assured the Patriots of a playoff spot. Whether it can win the division against the Buffalo Bills is another question. The Bills have been in poor form, but the Patriots rookie QB Mac Jones is new to the pressures of the late season.
The Titans’ season has been at a standstill since Derrick Henry was injured. Could this team slip out of the playoffs? It’s doubtful with the Houston Texans left in the schedule, but it could prove a huge winning bet if it comes in.
The Bengals have some really tough games coming up but have been in good form. The dual-threat of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase should be enough to scare any team. Even if the Bengals slip from winning the AFC North, bet on them to make the playoffs.
You know how the Colts are going to make the playoffs. They’re going to keep running it with Johnathan Taylor. The question is whether the Colts can overtake the floundering Titans as division leaders. This could be a good option for a bet.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have no chance of winning the division but are almost assured of reaching the playoffs. With Justin Herbert commanding one of the most explosive offences in the NFL, this could be an outsider to wager on winning the Super Bowl.
The Bills should make the playoffs with the quality of players it has. It also has an outside chance of winning its division if it beats the Patriots in the upcoming game. Punters may want to back this because there are not many better players in the NFL when Josh Allen is on form.
The chances we give to the Ravens all depend on Lamar Jackson. If the star quarterback returns from injury, we wager on them to make the playoffs. If not, this long season may just peter out for this team.
The Steelers have been relying on the fading talents of Ben Roethlisberger all season. We don’t think the defence has enough to cover for his poor athleticism in a stretch of challenging games. If you’re a Steelers fan who wants to bet on its playoff hopes, check out Unibet. The bookmaker is the official sponsor of the team. So, you may get exclusive odds and markets on the team by using this site.
Las Vegas Raiders
This is a team fighting off the pitch trouble and remains within touching distance of the playoffs. Who knows what will happen next with this team, and we wouldn’t be betting on such an uncertain prospect.
We don’t think Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa has shown enough to suggest a team that will make the playoffs. The Dolphins are one of the form teams in the NFL, but its schedule has been kind. This is a punt we wouldn’t back ourselves. With NFL betting, anything can happen.
The Browns can still make the playoffs, but it needs to win all its remaining games and hope for a bit of luck. It plays two of its three divisional rivals in the Steelers and Bengals but would also need the Ravens to slip up. With the way the Browns have been stalling offensively this season, we’re not backing the team to do it.
Vic Fangio has done well to get this team close to the playoffs. Issues at QB persist, and the Broncos have a demanding schedule left. Don’t be tempted by the long odds on this team. For those looking to bet on this team, check out Bet365. The UK operator also works in the US in states like Colorado, home of the Broncos. Use the sportsbook to get the great odds and market variety on this team’s game.
The Other Teams
Some teams have already been knocked out of the running for the playoffs. These teams are the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, and Jacksonville Jaguars.
NFL Playoff Picture Betting
Whether you’re a seasoned NFL supporter or someone just trying to get into the sport, wagering on the NFL can bring you a lot of fun. The race to reach the playoffs brings the NFL to an exciting conclusion that will have plenty of surprises left.
To get in on the action, make sure you visit one of PlayRight’s recommended sports betting sites. Use these to find the latest odds on individual matches or outrights on who will make the postseason.
You can build accumulators on which teams you think will reach the playoffs and more. Go out there and enjoy betting on this unique, American sport! And don’t forget to claim a welcome bonus to get you started on your NFL betting journey!