Mastering the NFL Rules for Better Betting

When attempting to become a consistently successful bettor, it’s essential to be as well informed as possible. Read on for more information on the rules for the NFL. Build your knowledge of the game from our tips to be able to understand how the game is playing out. When you’re finished, you will be better educated on the structure of NFL games, and this will make you a more intelligent football bettor.

Basic NFL Rules

There are several basic rules and regulations for the game that every football bettor should know. These concern information about the players, the essential maneuvers, and how the game is scored. Below we have given you a brief explanation of all the basic rules for an NFL game.

The Field of Play

The play of an NFL game consists of two teams of 11 players. Each team will attempt to move the ball to the opposing team’s ‘end zone.’ The field is marked with visible yardage lines. We explain the necessity of these further on. The lines at the opposite ends of the field are the goal lines. There are two upright posts on each goal line, which are also used for scoring points.

Run or Pass

Players have two options when moving the ball. They can run with the ball as far down the field as possible before they are tackled. Otherwise, they have the option to pass the ball to a teammate further down the field.

Four Tries to Move Ten Yards

This rule is also known as ‘downs.’ The team who has possession of the ball has four tries to move the ball forward at least ten yards. If they manage this, then the count resets, and they have another four tries to advance a further ten yards.

If the team in possession fails to move the ten yards, then the defending team gets their chance to play offense.


There are several ways to score in American football, and each is awarded a different amount of points. We have listed the different ways of scoring below.

  • Touchdown (6 Points) – This happens when the team catches the ball in the end zone or manages to cross the opposition’s goal line.
  • Field Goal (3 Points) – This is where the player in possession of the ball manages to kick the ball through the upright posts at the end of the field. This will often be attempted on the fourth down.
  • Extra Point (1 or 2 Points) – An extra point is earned by kicking the ball through the upright posts after a touchdown. An additional two points can be won if the team manages to reach the end zone again. Most teams will opt for the one extra point.
  • Safety (2 Points) – The team on defense can gain 2 points if they tackle the player with the ball in their own end zone.


There are several inappropriate practices that can earn a player a penalty. This will involve a penalty yardage of 5, 10, or 15 yards, depending on the NFL rules. The following is a list of all the penalties possible:

  • Encroachment
  • False Start
  • Offside
  • Holding (offensive or defensive)
  • Pass Interference
  • Helmet to Helmet Collision
  • Horse Collar Tackle
  • Face Mask
  • Roughing the Kicker
  • Roughing the Passer
  • Personal Foul
  • Delay of Game

NFL Game Time Structure

The game itself lasts for 60 minutes, with four 15-minute quarters of play. However, the average NFL game takes on average 3 hours and 12 minutes to finish. This is for a few reasons.

The clock is stopped for changes in possession, and during this time, there will usually be an advertisement break. An average game will often involve around 12 possessions for each team. This is where a lot of the additional time comes from.

Some other reasons for variation in game length can come from whether the teams use all of their allocated time outs for a game. There may also be overtime included at the end of a game. 

NFL Overtime Rules

Overtime is played when the four quarters end in a tie. Traditionally, a coin is tossed to decide which team will take possession first. Whoever wins the coin toss has the choice to either give or receive the ball.

The scoring team will win if the first possession ends with either a touchdown or a safety. 

The game will go to sudden death when the receiving team fails to score or loses possession. At this point, the first team to score wins the game.

However, if the first possession results in a field goal, then the other team also gets a chance at possession. This team can then win with a touchdown, go to sudden death for loss of possession, or score a field goal to end in a tie.

Regular Season Overtime Rules

During the regular season, the teams will play one overtime. Each team will receive the option for two timeouts during this period. If the teams are still tied after ten minutes of overtime, then the game officially ends as a tie.

Overtime Rules for the NFL Playoffs

For the NFL Playoffs, overtime of 15 minutes is given. Other than this, the overtime period is carried out the same as during the regular season.

Sports Betting Notes for NFL Overtimes

Whether you need to pay attention to the overtime play will depend on what bet type you have placed. Particularly for win bets, these will either be for the result after the 60 mins or include the result after overtime has been played. Make sure you know whether your bet type takes overtime into consideration.

Conclusion: How knowing the rules will help you place better bets!

Now that you know more about the game structure, scoring, and rules for NFL, you will have a much better understanding of the game. Knowing the different ways that players can score means that you can judge the likelihood of points scoring and how a team is performing. Use this knowledge to your advantage, and you can become an expert of betting on NFL tournaments.

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