Some self-professed experts claim that NFL over/under betting, where the gambler bets on the whether the total points scored between two teams will be over or under a predetermined number, is for suckers. Why, then, don't sportsbooks allow bettors to risk as much on the total of a game as they do on the “side” or outcome of a game?
In fact, the operators of best sportsbooks fear the savvy total bettor, usually limiting that play to one-half or less of what the house will accept on the side. One betting establishment we visited has a limit of $5,000 per bet giving or taking points on an individual NFL game and $3,000 per bet on the game's total.
Stats Tell The Story
From a statistical perspective, the odds of a game going over or under the total are about even. Over the past six years there have been 1,536 regular season games in the NFL. Of those, 757 (49.3%) have gone over the total, 733 (47.7%) have gone under the total and there have been 46 pushes (3.0%). That's about as random a result as you can get.
One way to approach totals is to look to historical tendencies. (For statistical purposes, pushes have been eliminated):
Arizona: With a 48-32 over-under record, the Cardinals have gone over the total as much as any team in the league the past five seasons.
Atlanta: Since 2006, the “under” is 26-14 in Falcons road games.
Carolina: The “under” has a 26-12 mark in Panther home games over the last five seasons.
Baltimore: The “over” is 13-2 the week before the Ravens play the Steelers.
Buffalo: The “under” is 9-0 the week before the Bills play the Dolphins.
Carolina: The “under” is 26-12 in Carolina home games the last five years.
Chicago: The “over” is 14-2 the week before the Bears play on Monday Night Football.
Cincinnati: The “under” is 10-0 the week after the Bengals allow 35 or more points.
Cleveland: The “under” is 9-2 in the Browns last home game of the year.
Dallas: The “over” was 8-0 in Cowboys home games last season and is 24-15 over five years.
Denver: The “under” is 14-1 in Broncos road games that follow at straight up (SU) division win.
Detroit: The “over” is 18-2 when the Lions are non-division double-digit underdogs.
Green Bay: The “over” is 10-1 when the Packers play teams from the NFC South.
Houston: Since 2005, the “over is 25-11 when the Texans play within the division.
Indianapolis: The “over” is an amazing 19-1 when the Colts are on the road versus a non-division foe following a division home game.
Jacksonville: The “over” is 34-22 when the Jaguars play non-division opponents.
Kansas City: The “under” is 17-1 in the Chiefs first home game.
Miami: The Dolphins have gone over the total in nine of their last 10 season finales.
Minnesota: The “under” is 7-1 when the Vikings face teams from the NFC South Division.
New England: The “over” is 7-0 when the Patriots are road favorites of eight or more points.
New Orleans: The “over” is 8-0 the week after the Saints play the Carolina Panthers.
NY Giants: The “over” is 12-4 the week after the Giants play the Cowboys.
NY Jets: The “under” is 11-1 when the Jets are favorites following a bye week.
Oakland: The “under” is 11-0 when the Raiders are road underdogs of three or fewer points.
Philadelphia: Nine straight games have gone over the total when the Eagles are non-conference underdogs.
Pittsburgh: The Steelers have played five consecutive “over” games the week after Cincinnati.
St. Louis: The “under” is an NFL leading 26-14 in Rams road games over the last five years.
San Diego: The “over” is 11-0 the week before the Chargers play on Monday Night Football.
San Francisco: The “over is 12-0 in games following a 49ers bye week.
Seattle: The “over” is 25-14 in Seahawks road games the last five years.
Tampa Bay: The “under” is 9-1 when the total on a Buccaneers game is 44 or more points.
Tennessee: During the last five years, the “over” is 25-14 in Titans home games.
Washington: Since 2006, the “under” is 25-14 in Redskins home games.
In the right circumstances, over/under betting can help the player achieve “total” NFL betting success.