When betting point totals, there is a lot to process and understand before diving right in. Jumping in blind without understanding the spread, and how valuable it is could cost you money and turn you off to gambling altogether. So, why does the total matter when betting?
The total of a game is the total number of points scored between the two teams in an NFL game. For example, if you think a game will finish 24-20, the total would be 44. When betting on the point total, you are betting on whether or not you believe the final score will go over or under that point total. So, if you think the game will finish at 44 points, and the total is 47, you should bet under. If the total is 40, you should bet over.
Like the point spread, there are key numbers to look into and make sure that you get. However, with the new scoring rules, and the incentive to go for two more often, point totals generally do not have as many individual key numbers.
Still, most games will sit somewhere between 41-55 with some extremes on each end. These are two of the key numbers because a lot of scores in the NFL can generally fall on those numbers. 24-17, 21-20, 31-10, 27-14 are all common NFL scores that fall on 41. 28-27, 31-24 35-20, and 34-21 are some higher scoring outcomes. Still, other key numbers in between can be 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, and 51. As mentioned with scoring the way it is, there are so many key numbers that rest in between. However, it is always important to watch where the extra 0.5 may lie on either side of the key number, and it may be worthwhile to buy off of that additional 0.5.
For example, you would be a lot happier pushing a bet that goes 27-20 on a total of 47 than losing a bet because the total was 47.5 and you went over. That extra half-point will matter around these keys numbers over a long period.
Emphasis on Scoring
As mentioned, the NFL is shifting to a higher scoring lead. It is adding more variance in how many totals land on key numbers, but also is increasing scoring. The 2018 NFL season has seen totals go from 56-60. These totals used to never be seen, as NFL scoring was just not that high. However, with less hitting and a higher emphasis on passing, offenses are taking advantage and scoring in bunches.
This is also a valuable lesson to apply to betting totals. Oddsmakers will always catch up to the trends. While scoring is up, so are totals, and with that unders are hitting at a higher pace in 2018 than any other season. Oddsmakers adjusted, hung up lines that were inflated to the over, people still bet over, and the unders cashed.
That is why every half of a point matters, and why you can not blindly bet teams or games over or under. The total is adjusted for the specific situation.
This can be the same with teams. Just because Drew Brees is playing in a dome, the total will not always go over. You have to factor in the total and the opponent. If the other team cannot keep up, and the total is inflated for Brees as it is, the actual value bet is the under.
While two poor quarterbacks could cause an under candidate, you also have to factor in turnovers. Is the quarterback going to throw a pick six? Even multiple turnovers could lead to short fields and multiple scores for the offense. If you see a turnover-prone quarterback against a turnover-forcing defense, there once again may be value on the over thanks to a low total.
Through understanding totals, you can then parlay them with the point spread to see a payoff. Let’s go back to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. In this scenario, they are heading on the road, outside of the dome where they tend to struggle. However, they have been a high scoring reputation, so once again there is value on the under. Still, you think the Saints will win the game. This presents a chance to parlay the under with the Saints to get a higher payout.
When paying totals, it is typically a good idea to correlate to the team that you are betting on or against. The total coming through with the outcome you expect regarding a winner is a strongly correlated outcome.
You can also you a tease to get an extra six points on each of the correlate sides. Like a parlay, both sides need to cash, but instead of a better payout, you get six points on each side. Still, in the Saints case, if you think they will at the very worst lose by a touchdown, and they are an underdog on the road. Teasing them up over a touchdown, and teasing the total up six points higher when you already see it as inflated is a great strategy.
However, when parlaying or teasing a total, there is a small rule of thumb. Totals that are high tend to come with more variance, and therefore are less likely to come home in a correlated teaser or parlay.
Overs mean a back and forth nature of the game. It says both teams can put up points. It may mean turnovers. If both teams are putting up, but one team is also scoring off of turnovers, you could see a blow out in one side or the other with the over cashing easily.
With low totals, games typically are played within a certain standard. An offense is either incapable of blowing a team out, or the offenses are conservative enough to where neither will lose because of the turnover battle. Therefore, it is a safer overall play to look to unders when it comes to teases and parlays.
If you would like to read about point spread strategies in the NFL then visit our NFL Point Spread Strategy page for free tips and secrets.