NFL Totals Betting

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People have been betting on NFL totals for nearly as long as they’ve been betting on the Super Bowl – and it gets a little more popular every year. The total (also known as the over/under) is one of the easiest ways to bet on NFL football; it’s a number that oddsmakers have predicted will be the combined score of both teams in a game. All you have to do is bet on whether the combined final score will go over or under the oddsmakers’ prediction. If you win, you get paid out at even money, minus the juice the sportsbook receives for handling your wager.



An Example of NFL Totals

Let’s look at the first-ever Super Bowl total, which went on the NFL betting board at Super Bowl II (still known at the time as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game) following the 1967 regular season. The defending champion Green Bay Packers played the Oakland Raiders at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Here’s how the total would be listed today:

Packers 43  (-110) o
Raiders 43  (–110) u

In this case, the AFL-champion Raiders were the designated home team, so they’re listed at the bottom of the NFL totals line. The total itself isn’t actually assigned to either team – it will always be the same on the top and bottom. The top line represents the over in over/under betting, while the bottom line represents the under. As with NFL spread betting, the 110 you see represents the juice. Most totals have the standard –110 line attached, meaning you bet $110 to win $100 (or any multiple thereof).

When the Packers beat the Raiders 33-14, the final score went over the 43-point total. If Green Bay had instead won 21-14, the under would have cashed in. Any final score where the two teams combined for exactly 43 points (say, 23-20 for Oakland) would have resulted in a push. This doesn’t happen as much with totals as it does when you bet NFL spreads, but when the game ends in a push, all monies wagered are once again returned to the bettor.



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How Does Betting on NFL Totals Work?

Total betting in the NFL is set up to work pretty much the same as spread betting. The sportsbook collects the wagers from everyone betting the over and everyone betting the under. If there’s more money on one side, the oddsmakers can move the total higher or lower to encourage more action on the other side. That way, the book can pay out the winners with the money wagered by the losers, and keep the juice without risking exposure.

The oddsmakers can also move the line instead of the total, if they only need to do a little fine-tuning to achieve the balance they’re looking for. With NFL spreads, this will happen most often when the line is 3 points, since that’s the most common winning margin in football. With NFL totals, the most common final scores for both teams are 37 and 41; historically, these have each occurred a little more than 4% of the time, although they’re a bit more rare these days with offenses geared more toward the pass than the run.


NFL Totals Betting Strategy

While betting on NFL totals works a lot like betting on the spread, there are some important differences from a strategic perspective – weather conditions being the most important. Both teams have to play in the same conditions, so weather (or lack thereof for indoor games) doesn’t factor heavily into picking a team against the spread. But it can make a big difference with betting the over/under. It’s harder for both teams to score when they’re playing in inclement weather; inside a climate-controlled dome, the opposite is true.

Most people understand this when they bet on NFL totals, but they don’t always appreciate the differences between playing in one kind of “bad” weather or another. It’s more difficult for an offense to operate in the rain than the snow – unless there’s a lot of snow. Cold temperatures are also not that big a deal for offenses to handle – unless it’s really cold. On the flip side, playing in very hot weather can make it surprisingly difficult to score. Whatever the temperature, wind is always an issue when it comes to betting NFL totals at outdoor games.

Aside from the weather, there’s a general trend for the over to cash in more often as the total gets lower, and for the UNDER to cash in more often as the total increases. This should be obvious, but it’s particularly important when you’re dealing with very low and very high totals. Make sure to keep these things in mind when you get ready to bet on NFL totals at Bovada.

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