The National Football League (NFL) point spread is a betting term that refers to the margin of victory in a game. It is set by sportsbooks or oddsmakers and is used as a margin to handicap the favorite team. The stronger team or player is favored by specific points, depending on the perceived gap in ability between the two teams. A minus sign (-) indicates that the team is the favorite.
For example, if the spread is set at +7, this means that for the underdog to cover, they must either win the game outright or lose by fewer than seven points. For the favorite to cover, they must win by more than seven points. If you bet on a favorite, they must win by more than the assigned spread. If a spread is (-7.5) points, your team must win by eight or more. If you bet on an underdog, they can lose by less than the assigned spread or win outright for you to win.
Professional bettors often calculate their own spreads on games, then compare them with what sportsbooks have posted and attempt to find and exploit discrepancies. The point spread - also called "the line" or "the spread" - is predicted by the oddsmaker that the favored team will win by a certain number of points. This number of points is the point spread.