Football over/unders are one of the simplest type of football bets you can make. A sportsbook takes a particular game and predicts what the total score of both teams will be. Then you, as a bettor, can now bet whether that score will be over or under the predicted number. If it is higher than the posted number, then ‘over’ wins. If it is lower than that predicted number, then ‘under’ wins.
Some of the most common total scores you will see in football are 37 and 41. In fact, these are the most common scores in the last 10 years in the National Football League (NFL). In a game where the total is 37, you will likely see a score of 20-17 or 27-10. In a game where the total is 41, you will likely see a score of 21-20. Of course, total scores could differ considerably from 37 and 41. Compared to baseball and soccer, football has a lot more points scored in a game and the totals could differ considerably. Thus, you can see a total score as high as 55 or as low as 24, although those totals are not very common.
* Please see illustration below to help understand over/under bets, text explanation follows.
Calculating Over/Under Bets
Let us say Baltimore Ravens are playing against Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL. Our recommended online sportsbook predicts that the total score of the two teams will be 37 points in this game. The odds will look like this:
37.5 total score
In this case, if you are betting that the total score will be over 37, then you will need to bet $125 in order to win $100. The (-) sign shows that this is a likely outcome –a favorite outcome on this type of game or specific match-, so you have to pay more to win less. If you are betting that the total score will be 37 points or less, then you would only need to bet $100 to win $105. The (+) sign shows that this is a less likely outcome –the underdog in this situation-, so you actually get better odds here and have to pay less to win more.
A “Push” and a Concept Of ‘0.5’
The ‘0.5’ element is used so that you can have a possibility of betting that the score will be exactly 37 or lower. So, if ‘0.5’ is not used and the score ends up being 37 points, then a “push” happens – which is when nobody wins and a sportsbook has to return the bets. Sometimes though, you will see over/under bets without the half-point element.
Tips and Strategies to Help You Win
Generally speaking in football betting, totals are one the easiest markets to beat. This is because much like football prop wagers a lot additional factors are involved. You see almost every handicapper starts with a simple system that “uses points” for and “points allowed” weighed against league averages for both teams to come up with a number and then starts making adjustments. The adjustments are however heavily researched and also subjective. For example if you’re seeing the Patriots should beat the Rams by 13.5 points this might be a game where the total needs be inflated, if you also notices the Patriots rarely let up once having a lead, and tend to play a lot of prevent defense at the end of the game.
Other adjustments that can be made relate to weather; an important factor is wind. Strong wind can make it harder for players to run and score touchdowns. It will not make a job of defenders much harder though as they typically do not have to run as much, but it will for the quarterback’s throw If anything. Thus, strong winds might help to lower the total scores of the teams. On the other hand, snow and rain will not affect the score as much. It might slow down offensive players, but it will also affect defensive players. Both types of players can slip and make mistakes in those weather conditions. Thus, it will not be as predictable when it comes to rain and snow.
Really the best at handicapping totals are the bettors who best get inside the coach’s heads and understand tendencies. John Fox and Jeff Fisher coached teams are not going to score as many points as a favorite as other teams will, due to their much more conservative and by the book approach. These are coaches that would much rather attempt to pin an opponent deep than attempt a long field goal and risk field position should they miss. Also they’re much more likely to take the 3 points in a close game than to go for it on a high probability 4th and an inch from the 15. I could go on and on and on some more about this topic but by now I’m sure you’re getting my point. Much deeper analysis is needed than simple math.
Best Way to Beat Football Totals
Perhaps the best way to beat football totals is to realize for reasons covered in my article on Fade the Public, the betting markets at PinnacleSports.com (No US Players) are pretty close to efficient. From here what you should know is that a lot of amateur bettors tend to bet on the ‘over’. They typically expect and hope for an interesting game with a lot of points. As a result, even though betting markets are efficient, you’ll find US friendly recreational sportsbooks such as www.bovada.lv often shading the line such a way that the under becomes the much better bet.
Finally, perhaps the best way to profit from totals is to use them in correlated parlays. Please understand though, in all but rare cases totals should not be used in football teasers. However, as you can read about in my article on parlays there are times where parlaying a total with a spread make absolutely great sense.
Author & Professional: Jim Griffin