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Football Wagering 101: How to Bet on NFL Win Totals

Spreads and moneylines are still all the rage in NFL betting. But, season win totals are gaining popularity among football bettors since they allow you to predict how many wins your favorite team will get when the regular season is done.

You don’t even have to bet on your favorite team, you can find betting value and great odds on squads you hate. Not everyone is a New England Patriots fan; however, you could net some major coin by betting on their season win totals. There are 32 teams in the NFL and correctly guessing how many victories at least one squad will put up during the season can put some money in your pocket and impress your friends with your ability to beat the odds.

How to Bet NFL Win Totals

NFL season win totals are similar to a traditional OVER/UNDER bet except instead of betting on a single game, you’re betting on all 16 of them at once.

For instance, a traditional totals bet involves you deciding if the total number of points scored by both teams will go OVER or UNDER the oddsmaker’s set number. Let’s say the Los Angeles Rams are playing the New Orleans Saints and the total is set at 58.5. You would pick the OVER if you think the total points will be 59 or more, or the UNDER if you think it will be 58 or less.

For season win totals the odds would look something like this:

Chicago Bears 9.5

OVER -130

UNDER +105

If you believe that the Bears – excuse us, Da Bears! – will win 10 games or more, you would bet the OVER. If you think they’ll win nine or less, you would take the UNDER.

A winning $150 OVER bet would give you a payout of $265.38 – your original $150 is returned along with your prize of $115.38. If you were to bet that same $150 on the UNDER and Chicago won nine or fewer games, you’d get a payout of $307.50 – you get your $150 back coupled with your earnings of $157.50.

Handicapping NFL Season Win Totals

Handicapping is all about looking both ways, like when you’re crossing the street. You’ll need to look to the past and the future to decide if you want to bet the OVER or the UNDER. You can win big money on this type of wager if you do your homework. You’ll also need to ask yourself the following questions:

Is this a team on the rise or the decline?

What does their schedule look like? Are they up against the best in the league?

Have they signed any key free agents or made coaching changes?

Are they a team that tends to be overvalued by the betting public?

First, take a step back and evaluate a team’s previous campaign. If you don’t know what happened last season, you’ll be in over your head this season. Did they get lucky last season? Did they punch above their numbers based on scoring margin and offensive and defensive rankings? On the other side of the coin, were they unlucky and/or the victims of a tough schedule or injury problems?

Let’s break it down further and explore each factor involved in handicapping your season win totals in detail.

Free Agency

Have unrestricted free agents re-signed with their team or have they moved on? What about restricted free agents? Have they accepted their current club’s offer or are they looking at other options for more money? If a team loses a powerful player, odds are it can affect their season win totals.

Training Camps

Is a player holding out like Darrelle Revis did in 2010? The cornerback – considered at the time one of the league’s best – missed the majority of training camp, yet it didn’t keep the Jets from recording 11 wins that season. On the other hand, Le’Veon Bell’s 2018 holdout with the Steelers turned the team into a sideshow and may have even caused them to miss the playoffs.

Offense/Defense

A strong offensive line scores touchdowns, while a strong defensive line prevents the other team from scoring them. Injuries to any player on either line, without a solid backup waiting in the wings, will hinder a team from winning games.

Schedule

A lax schedule will keep a team on top, whereas a string of games against tougher squads will hamper its on-field performance. Let’s say the Dallas Cowboys have an easy schedule that sees them playing lesser teams. This will increase their win totals. However, if they have a rough road ahead of them where they’ll face off against tougher squads, their win odds decrease significantly. Moreover, a team will play the other three teams in its division twice per season. So, if their division is stacked with unbeatable teams, it will affect their totals.

Last Game of the Regular Season

During the preseason, teams may not start their star players in favor of giving backups and new players a chance to show their coaches what they can do. NFL season win totals do not encompass the preseason. But, the last few games of the regular season do count. For example, Bill Belichick may sit Tom Brady for the second half of their last regular-season game to give his celebrated QB some rest. Now, a team like the Patriots has shown time and time again that even if Tommy stays on the bench for a quarter or two, they can still win games. Conversely, a team like the Miami Dolphins may not win their last game if they sit their starters, especially if they’re playing the Patriots.

Mind the Gap

Once you have those elements figured out, look at the gap between last season’s finish and this season’s win total. How sizable is the difference? Can they win more games or are they primed for a setback?

Let’s say the Kansas City Chiefs had a great year and won 11 games. This year, their win total is set at 11.5. If they haven’t had any major personnel changes and their squad is healthy going into the season, that half-game gap isn’t a big deal. However, if the total is set at 8.5, that’s a Grand Canyon-sized gap. You’ll have to look at the other factors we’ve listed above to figure out why there’s such a huge difference between this year and last year’s win totals and why the odds seem to be against them.

Futures vs Season Win Totals

When it comes to making long-term NFL bets, futures are very popular. Like season win totals, futures are bets on events that will happen once the season is done. These two betting types are very similar in the sense that your money will be tied up while the season is going on. For instance, in August, you could bet that the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl. If this comes true, you’ll only be able to collect your winnings once the big game is played. The same goes for season win totals. You’ll need to wait until the last game before the playoffs begin to get paid.

Setting the Totals Number

Keep in mind that a listed season win total isn’t a prediction by oddsmakers done willy-nilly. This number is decided by looking into a team’s past performance and offseason moves – the same way you would handicap your win totals bet. The only other factor that bookmakers add to their decision when setting the totals number is betting interest. They need to create an even betting field to attract equal action on both the OVER and UNDER. If bettors were only taking the OVER, sportsbooks wouldn’t be able to make payouts and they’d go out of business.

Ready to Make Your NFL Win Totals Bet?

Now that you have the tools to make your first bet, visit one of our top picks for NFL betting sites. The sportsbooks we recommend are safe, trustworthy and offer great football odds for your totals bet.

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