Here's a quick run down of how to read the lines from my book (which are formatted slightly differently than Mookie's). Mookie normally posts these, but I'll cover the lines for him whenever he's unavailable.
08/06/05 Falcons(Atlanta) +250 +3 Over 42
05:00 ET Colts(Indianapolis) -150 -3 Under 42
08/06/05 05:00 ET
- This is the date and time of the game to be played. This will always be listed in the Eastern Time zone when I post.
- Visiting Team/Home Team.
- This is the moneyline value. This value pays out a variable amount set by the book, and a team may win by any amount. OFF means that this line has not been set, or that the game is too uncertain to set. This could also be a value such as -150/+250. The moneyline or dimeline is always based on a value of $100. The negative amount is how much a bettor must pay to earn $100. The positive amount is how much a bettor will earn on a bet of $100. For instance in the +250(Atlanta)/-150(Indi) scenario a bettor must place $150 on Indi beating Atlanta (by any amount) in order to earn $100. On the other hand, if a bettor placed $100 on Atlanta beating Indi (again, by any amount) they would earn $250. Money line bets are generally either very safe but with low earning potential (if you bet on the negative line) or very risky but with extremely high earning potential (if you bet on the positive line).
- This is the point spread and is the most commonly made bet in NFL betting. The payout on betting against the spread is almost universally even. The team with the positive value is the underdog, and the positive value is added to their score when determining whether you win or lose the bet. The team with the negative value is the favorite, and the value is subtracted from their score in determining whether you win or lose the bet. As an example, say the line were posted as Atlanta +3/Indi -3. If the final score were Atlanta 24 and Indi 26, and you were to bet on Atlanta+3, the adjusted game score would be Atlanta 24(+3)=27 and Indi 26, resulting in a winning bet. If you had bet on Indi in the same game, the final adjusted score would be Atlanta 24 and Indi 26(-3)=23, resulting in a lost bet. These bets are frequently fractional values, and tend to hover just slightly before the 3 and 6 point plateaus.
Over 42/Under 42
- This is the Over/Under Line, and is another common bet for serious gamblers. When you bet on the Over/Under Line you are betting on the added scores of both teams at the end of the game. In the above example the Atlanta/Indi games has an O/U Line of 42. If Atlanta scores 24 and Indi scores 26, the end score is 24+26= 50. An under bet on the O/U of 42 is a losing bet. An over on the O/U of 42 is a winning bet.
As an additional note, the BOTTOM line is always the home team. The lines are read as follows : Atlanta +250 (+3) AT Indianapolis -150 (-3) with an Over/Under of 42.
Additional sports betting terminology is described in the stickied FAQs thread.