Betting on the NFL can be profitable if you know what you’re doing. You may be familiar with point spread betting, one of football’s more popular bets, but handicapping totals is also an exciting way to wager on the NFL.
We’ve compiled the best OVER/UNDER betting strategy. If there’s anything we do better than anyone else, it’s sports betting. We’re also pros at yelling at the TV whenever a kicker misses an easy extra point, but that’s neither here nor there nor in between the white lines.
How To Bet OVER/UNDER On NFL Games
Totals are created by sportsbooks to generate equal action on both sides of a bet. To make this type of bet, you’re looking for the total number of points scored by both teams in the matchup. If the total points scored is more than the oddsmaker’s set number, the OVER is a Sportsbook. Likewise, if the teams score fewer combined points than the total, the UNDER wins.
Let’s break it down – betting odds generally look something like this:
New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Chargers = 37.5
What Happens When The Number Hits Exactly?
Some odds will not have a decimal. In the example above, we used 37.5 as the total. However, odds may be a whole number. The same two teams could meet again during the season and the total could be 38 instead of 37.5.
If you think that both teams combined are going to score more than 38 points, you would take the OVER. On the other hand, if you don’t think it’s going to be a high-scoring affair, and believe the points scored by both squads is going to be 37 or less, you would take the UNDER. But, if the joint score is 38 exactly, that is called a PUSH. In this case, you would get your money back since neither the OVER nor the UNDER hit.
How Do Oddsmakers Set The Totals?
When Sportsbooks set odds and betting lines, they look at a variety of factors. Sports betting sites hire odds experts to calculate how much the combined final score between two teams will be. These odds specialists look at previous meetings between the two teams, how each team handles down conversions, their field-goal percentages, rushing yards, and completions and interceptions.
Handicapping Tips: OVER/UNDER Strategy
As a sports bettor, you need to do some homework. Don’t worry, it’s not as intense as anything you had to do in high school – you’re simply handicapping your totals bets enough to make smart NFL picks.
Watch The Odds
Some bettors love wagering on the OVER because they enjoy seeing a lot of scoring action. Oddsmakers take betting behavior like that into consideration when setting the odds. Oftentimes action can come in on the OVER throughout the week leading up to a typical NFL game, which causes the total to climb. In turn, oddsmakers must adjust the line accordingly to keep up with the football betting public.
Keep an eye on the odds and any line movements throughout the days leading up to the game. If you like the OVER, make sure to take it early in the week before the number rises. If you’re leaning toward the UNDER, consider holding off on your bet until closer to kickoff when the total should be at its highest.
Injuries and weather
In the same way you'd pay attention the odds, remember to stay up to date with your team's injury report. The NFL, thankfully, is very diligent with its injury reports, as teams are required to include the full extent of each player's injury and their status for the upcoming game.
For bettors, check to see if your team's skill players (QB, RB, WR) are healthy or not. Backup QB typically means UNDER. The same applies to defense, too. If one team's defensive front is completely wiped with injuries and the other squad has an elite offensive line, maybe there's some play on an OVER bet.
Weather also has an impact on OVER/UNDERs. Heavy rain or snow typically encourage teams to run the football a lot more. As the game gets sloppier due to challenging conditions, it's more likely the UNDER hits. Keep in mind the sportsbooks take that into account, though, so double check the total line to see if it seems suitable for betting.
Betting Trends And Stats
Much like how spread betting is affected if a key player is out with an injury, factors like that can change the totals too. Always make sure to evaluate weather conditions, offensive and defensive stats, and home/away and indoor/outdoor splits before making a call on the totals. For instance, a warm-weather quarterback who usually plays in a dome environment may have a hard time lobbing TDs during a snowy outdoor game.
In addition, routinely take a look at betting trends and the reasons behind why a particular team is cashing the OVER or UNDER with regularity. These trends can tell us which sides bettors generally take. For example, how does the NFL betting public lean when the Jets are playing the Pats at home, or what happens to the total score when the Vikings meet the Packers on the road.
You can also look at the following our pages to handicap your totals picks:
OVER/UNDER Betting NFL Total Scores
Remember that in the National Football League, scores are determined in three- or seven-point intervals. A field goal is three points and a touchdown is six, along with the potential point after touchdown making it seven. There are times when a team will try to attempt a two-point conversion, but don’t bank on this every game. Most coaches will only go for two if they absolutely need to even the score in a do-or-die situation like a playoff game.
Betting On Football
Remember that betting on football, or any sport for that matter, should be fun, like watching a bear try to understand the mechanics of a trampoline. If you’re not having a good time gambling on the combined score between two teams, whether it’s a regular Sunday afternoon game or the Super Bowl, take a step back, call an audible and figure out why.
Are you betting too much of your bankroll and wasting your Bitcoin on NFL bets you’re not hitting? Are you betting too little and not seeing enough of a return? Are you forgetting that the oddsmaker’s set number is a combination of both teams’ scores? Once you determine why you’re faltering, rethink your betting strategy (or adjust your handicapping to include the tips we mentioned above) and you’ll have more fun winning bets than a bear on a trampoline during NFL season.
NFL OVER/UNDER betting Tips for 2022
There have been some notable trends, especially with UNDER betting, to start the 2022-23 NFL season.
Through Week 7 of this season, for example, the OVER/UNDER record for all NFL games sat at 44-63-1, meaning the UNDER cashed 58.33 percent of the time.
Prime Time Betting
Very early in the season, the UNDER was super successful in prime-time games (NFL games played on Thursday evening, Sunday evening or Monday evening). But that's changed a little lately.
Through seven weeks of play, the UNDER was 14-8 in prime-time games, although a large chunk of those wins came from the first few weeks of the season. Lately, we're seeing the pendelum swinging the other direction, with the OVER hitting more and the prime-time O/U regressing to the mean.
Keep an eye on our NFL Prime-Time Games Betting page for updates to this betting trend.
One trend we've noticed is that the UNDER is moderately successful (38-34-1) in divsional games (when two teams from the same division face each other). That 52.7-percent success rate through seven weeks isn't an earth-shattering trend, but it's still a betting angle worth following.
For conference games (when AFC teams play other AFC teams, for example), the UNDER has hit at a 60.9-percent clip through seven weeks. That's a more pallatable trend to latch onto.
This is another thing to take into account. Certain stadiums are better for OVER/UNDER bets. For example, through seven weeks, the UNDER is 4-0 at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins.
This is a more trivial factor, but we'd recommmend checking out the stadium numbers for an extra edge. All this insider info is available at our NFL UNDERs Report.
Can you bet Over Unders per quarter or by half?
Yes! Betting the OVER/UNDER total on NFL action isn't limited to the full game. You can bet the OVER or UNDER for specific quarters of halves, where the totals will be adjusted accordingly.
Can you bet Over Under in props?
The OVER/UNDER points total isn't technically considered a prop since it's tied to the outcome of the game.
OVER/UNDER props do exist, however, for player- and team-specific bets such as the OVER/UNDER on a player's receiving yards in a single game or if a team's defense will record OVER or UNDER 2.5 sacks.