NFL Over/Under Betting Strategies

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If you are looking for current NFL game over/under predictions. You can find today’s picks here.

There are many ways to bet on an NFL game, with Over/Under betting (also known as Totals betting) being one of the most popular options.

When we are betting an Over or an Under, we are trying to accurately predict the total combined score of the game.

Sportsbooks will provide a total for each game. A bettor will have to decide if the game’s combined score will finish Over or Under that total.

It’s just that easy.

If you already like to bet on NFL totals or you are interested in learning more about NFL totals betting, we have detailed some betting tips and strategies for you to consider below.

Do Your Homework

This piece of advice seems pretty straightforward but needs to be said because spending some time researching teams or players involved in any wager is always important.

There are definitely some surface-level stats that can give us a small glimpse into the capabilities of a team.

If we look at the final scores and see that the Minnesota Vikings had 42 points, we might jump to conclusions about Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and the rest of the Vikings offense.

However, total points scored or allowed is just a small part of the story.

Within that Vikings’ boxscore, what else can we see and learn?

How many attempts did Kirk Cousins have in that game? Were there any special teams or defensive touchdowns scored that could have influenced the final total?

Did the Vikings’ defense force a lot of turnovers, allowing the offense to start with excellent field position multiple times?

Was the opposition healthy and playing to their full capabilities?

These factors are just as important, if not more important, than the final amount of points scored.

When it comes to handicapping NFL over/unders, there are many different ways to do your research. Some will be highly analytical and spreadsheet driven.

Others will rely more on intuition and instinct. It is very possible to be successful with many different betting styles and approaches.

However, you always have to be informed, no matter your style and handicapping approach.

Sportsbooks Shade Lines

With 32 NFL teams, you would expect each season that approximately 16 teams would finish with more overs and 16 teams would finish with more unders.

However, that just isn’t the case.

BestOdds analyzed all the over/under outcomes in the NFL regular season from 2017 – 2021.

We found that 22 of the 32 teams had at least 51% of their games go under the total.

That means only 32% of all teams finished with more overs than unders.

When you combine those stats with the fact that there are more over bets placed than under bets throughout an NFL regular season, you understand that sportsbooks have a slight advantage against the betting public with unders cashing.

If an oddsmaker already knows which side of a bet I would prefer to be on, they can use that information to alter totals slightly in their favor.

Obviously, a half-point on a total for any individual game isn’t likely to be the difference, but over time that edge can result in an advantage for sportsbooks.

When To Bet The Over or The Under

The BestOdds data science team analyzed 1,288 games while researching NFL totals betting.

From those 1,288 games, we had:

  • 618 games finish as an over (48%)
  • 670 games finish as an under (52%)

52% of all games had an under as the outcome.

This is a significant sample size, and although results will always vary year to year, we must understand that unders have cashed better historically.

With this information, we can ensure our bets reflect the historical data.

This isn’t to say that over bets are a bad idea because they are not.

When we are handicapping a whole week of NFL totals, we should note whether we like the under as often as we like the over, if not a little more.

Most casual bettors and football fans would rather cheer for a game to be high scoring.

Watching two great offenses battle it out is often more entertaining than watching two great defenses shut down opponents.

A Tale Of Two Halves

The BestOdds data-science team was also good enough to break down those 1,288 games into first-half and second-half games for us.

The results are again interesting when we study the games played from Week 1 until Week 9 and compare those to games played from Week 10 until the end of the regular season.

Analyzing games from the first nine weeks of the season, we learn that 50.5% of those games resulted in unders.

Analyzing games from Week 10 until the end of the regular season, we learned that 54.3% of those games finished under the total.

Our graph above illustrates how unders have performed the last half of the regular season in the previous five years.

If we had blindly bet on all unders starting at Week 10, a $100 bettor would be up over $4,400 over the last five years.

We can see that four of those five years were profitable.

Unders cashing at 54% over the last five years is an interesting trend.

Is there something about injuries, defensive adjustments, and physical wear and tear of a season that gives the advantage to unders?

I wish I could say either way, but it’s worth noting as the 2022 season begins.

Always Shop Around

When it comes to betting on totals, a sports bettor’s single most important advantage is the ability to shop around for the Best Odds.

Typically, a bettor will be able to find themselves a half-point difference between sportsbooks even late in the week.

However, those who are prepared to do their Sunday bet research earlier in the week, before the lines become sharper, can often find themselves a whole point or even a 1.5-point edge on an over/under.

Chances are that for one specific game, the extra 1.5 point isn’t a deciding factor.

With the majority of games finishing between 40-50 combined points, being able to bet a total at 42 vs. 43.5 can have significant benefits over time.

Of note, most studies on the internet suggest that 41 is the most common combined score of an NFL game, with almost four percent of the games ending with that total.

Finding that game at 40.5 or 41.5 instead of 41 can be a big deal, especially if you bet totals with any type of regularity.