How to Bet on NFL Total Lines
Betting on sides with a pointspread may be the most popular way sports bettors wager on the NFL, but betting on the “over” or “under” on a game’s total line can offer some tremendous opportunities to build a solid return on investment over the course of a season.
The concept of betting the total line is very simple in nature. The Oddsmakers set a betting line based on the expected combined score of both teams. Bettors in turn wager on whether the actual combined score of a game stays under that number or it goes over. Most times the lines have a half point added to avoid what is known as a “push” to avoid a tie where no money exchanges hands.
There are many factors that can have an effect on scoring in a NFL game such as weather, key injuries and field condition so they must all be taken into account when handicapping any matchup for a total bet. Some of the easier scoring trends to follow are each team’s average points scored on offense and the average points a game its defense allows. Obviously if you have a matchup between two defensive-minded teams that have trouble scoring points then the total for that game will be set low. The opposite is true if you have a game between two high-scoring ball clubs that have trouble keeping opposing teams out of their own end zone. In that case you can expect a very high total line.
Recent betting trends are also an important and easy thing to follow. Some teams tend to score more points on their home field then on the road. Sometimes a dome team that can light things up on artificial turf may get slowed down playing on grass. These types of factors might be reflected in a team’s recent betting results on the total line.
You also have to keep in mind that the sportsbooks are fully aware that the betting public as a whole tends to favor the over in a game, especially if it features two high-powered offenses in a nationally broadcast matchup. The total line in this case will probably be set artificially high. These types of scenarios often times create a solid edge for a play on the under.
Tracking line movements from the time a total line is initially released right up until kickoff is vital to your overall success with these types of bets. If the early money from the betting public is heavy on the over, it could push that line up a point or two. When this is the case, you really want to take a closer look at a play on the under. If an opening total line moves downward then this could reflect some early action by a few sharps, who are betting heavy on the under. In this case, you would probably still want to lean towards the under as long as the line has not dropped too much.
It is always important to remember that the betting public’s perception of what is going to happen in a game is what drives total lines, not necessarily the facts on the table. That is why it is so important to analyze the facts, stats and figures of any matchup that you are looking to bet to come up with your own conclusions independent of the betting odds. You also have to avoid relying on your gut instinct and initial thoughts about a game until you do your homework. Many times you will uncover certain factors that go against the grain of your first impressions.
The bottom line when it comes to long-term success betting NFL totals is to take each matchup at face value with no preconceived notion of the outcome. After thoroughly digging into the pertinent information for any games you are looking to bet, the next step is to develop a confidence factor in your actual pick.
Many times professional handicappers will release their unit plays and the higher the units the higher the confidence they have in those picks. A solid strategy for the casual sports bettor is to keep your betting amount constant and only bet the games where your confidence level is the highest.