The National Football League is a bettor’s dream. There are so many bet types to target and most games are happening at the same time, making NFL Sunday the best day of the week to lay down some wagers.
It can be unpredictable at times, which means that you need to develop a strategy and refine your process if you want to be profitable over the course of the season.
That’s why we’re here to give you some NFL tips and help break down how to bet on each type of NFL wager. In this article, we’ll focus on totals, also known as over-under. These terms are used interchangeably throughout the industry. With that in mind, let’s dive right in.
What Are NFL Totals Odds & How Do They Work?
The term “totals" refers to the projected points in a given game. Bettors select “Over" or “Under" this projection. They can either be whole numbers, like “48," or decimals, like “27.5." The latter is preferred because you can’t “push," or tie, your wager.
The Over and Under each has odds, usually at -110, but it can move to -115 or -120 if one side is seeing more action. When you see this, there’s a good chance that the total number will increase or decrease.
There are various ways to bet on this market, including:
- Game Totals
- Team Totals
- Quarter Totals
- Half Totals
Game totals are the most popular because you wager on the combined score of both teams for the full match. They’re also easier to project because you don’t need to worry about considering when the points will be scored nor which team will put up the points.
Here’s an example of a game total:
The Packers are facing the Vikings with a 49.5-point total. If I take the Over, I need them to combine for 50+ points. Under bettors would need 49 or fewer.
Team totals require you to only target one of the sides in a given matchup. For instance, I can take the Chiefs to go Over their 30.5 team total. This means that I’d need them to score 31 or more points to win my wager.
Quarter totals refer to the first through four quarters in an NFL game. The second and fourth quarters will have higher numbers because teams need to pick up the pace towards the end. With the first and third quarters, teams maintain possession as time expires, so this isn’t necessary.
I can take the Under 10.5 points in the first quarter as an example. You’re also able to bet on team totals within a given quarter.
Half totals are similar to quarters, except you’re wagering on the first and second halves. The second half tends to have a higher number because one side may need to play at a fast pace to come from behind. You’re able to bet on team totals within each half as well.
For example, I can take the Under 21.5 in the Cowboys and Eagles game.
How to Read NFL Over Unders
Odds can be displayed in three different formats: American (+200), Decimal (3.0), and Fractional (2/1). Over-Under odds are usually -110 on both sides, but can sometimes vary with -115/-105 or -120/+100. If you notice that one side is at -120, there’s a good chance that the number is going to move in that direction. For example, if the Cowboys-Eagles Over 49.5 is at -120, we could see the number at 50 pretty soon. Below you’ll find a description of each format.
How American Odds Work
American odds are written with plus and minus numbers related to $100. The favored outcome has minus odds, while the underdog has a plus moneyline.
Let’s look at an example:
The Cowboys are playing the Buccaneers. The game total is set at 52.5, with the Over at -120 and the Under at +100.
In this case, if I take the Over, I’d stake $120 to win a $100 bet. The Under would pay $100 on a $100 wager.
To calculate your payout using American odds, simply divide the number by 100 and multiply your stake to the result.
For example, if I want to see what -130 risks on a $100 payout, I’d divide 130 by 100 to get 1.3. From there, I’d multiply 100 by 1.3 to get 130. Therefore, I’d risk $130 to win $100 on -130 American odds.
If I wanted to only risk $100 and see how much I could win, I would divide 100 by 1.3 instead of multiplying. That would give me a payout of approximately $76.92.
How Decimal Odds Work
Decimal odds are more popular outside of the United States. The only difference is that they’re represented in decimals instead of with plus or minus odds. In this case, odds are related to $1 instead of $100.
For example, the Over and Under may be listed as 1.91, which would be the same as saying -110 in American odds. This reflects both the stake and winnings of a $1 bet.
For example, if I put $1 on a side with 1.91 odds, I would get back $1.91 if I won ($1 stake plus $0.91 profit).
How Fractional Odds Work
Fractional odds are when you see each side represented in a fraction. This format is more popular in horse racing, but you may see it from time to time in NFL betting.
In order to convert this to American odds, you just divide the numerator by the denominator and multiply by 100. Let’s say that a team that has 2/1 odds. To convert this to American, do the following: 2 divided by 1, which equals 2, multiplied by 100 is 200. That gives us a +200 moneyline, meaning that a $100 wager would pay out $200.
What to Look for When Placing an NFL Over/Under Bet
There are a number of factors to consider when placing an NFL Over/Under Bet.
Pace of play is one of the most important. Teams that play fast are able to run more snaps, which can lead to more scoring opportunities. This will often be reflected in the line, as the total will be higher. However, there are some teams that played slow but were so efficient that they still scored a lot of points, like the Packers last year.
The weather is also huge. Windy, rainy, or snowy conditions can affect the passing game and lead to run-heavy play-calling. Rushing plays lend well to Unders because they are less efficient and aren’t as explosive as airing it out.
You also went to check to see how a team has performed in relation to market perception. For example, a team that has gone Over their total at a high rate means that they’re being underpriced by the market. You can take advantage of a trend like this, as long as the line is not too high or low.
It’s important to take a look at the offenses and how they match up with the opposing defenses. Teams with efficient passing games will fare well against defenses that struggle to play against the pass. For Overs, remember to focus on passing because rushing slows the game down. If you’re looking at an Under, run-heavy teams are preferred.
Be sure to examine the point spread as well because that gives you a sense of the projected game script. For example, imagine the Chargers are favored by 10.5 points in a game with a 50.5 point total. There’s a chance that the game turns into a blowout, which would be bad news for the Over. This is because Los Angeles would take their proverbial “foot off the gas" if they have a large lead, meaning they’d slow it down and eat up the clock.
Lastly, the line movement is a key factor because you’re witnessing how the market is reacting to any changes. This can be because of weather concerns, player injuries, or heavy money placed on one side. Always be sure to monitor the shift in odds.
Best Sportsbooks to Place NFL Over Under Bets
There are a number of sportsbooks betting options that are great for Over-Under betting, but here are a few of our favorites:
Caesars has earned a terrific reputation in the sports betting industry due to its lucrative welcome bonuses and robust VIP Rewards System. Users are able to redeem points for cool perks like hotel stays at Caesars properties. You’re even able to make reservations at some of the finest restaurants around.
The totals market features everything you’ll need, from full game totals to quarters and halves. There are also odds boosts on selected events, where the moneyline is enhanced to give you a better payout.
Join Caesars to be a part of one of the best user experiences in iGaming.
BetMGM has built a reputable brand that carries the prestigious MGM Resorts name, making you feel safe and secure when putting money into your account. There are several banking methods along with a helpful customer support team that will address any potential issues.
You’ll enjoy betting on traditional totals bets like the full game along with alternate options, where you can choose higher or lower numbers to change up the odds. If you want a safer pick, you can “tease" the total down, while bettors looking for a larger payout can bring the total up at a higher moneyline.
Sign up for BetMGM to enjoy an expansive live-betting platform that features live-streaming options.
PointsBet has been able to establish a foothold in the U.S. market despite originating in Australia because of its innovative style. The site has created its own bet type, known as “PointsBetting," which offers greater risk with more rewards. If your selection has a greater winning margin, you win more. The opposite is true if it loses by more.
This type of wager works well with Over-Under bets. If you bet on the Over and it goes way past the number, you’re going to win more money. While there’s some obvious risk if you lose by a lot, it’s a thrilling way to bet that really raises your upside.
Register for an account at PointsBet to enjoy their innovations in sports betting.
FanDuel is an impressive operator for the way they were able to transition from a leader in daily fantasy into a juggernaut in sports betting. The site has a user-friendly app that makes the experience accessible for all types of players. They created Same Game Parlays, allowing users to build combinations of their favorite bet types for larger payouts.
Same Game Parlays work well with totals, as you can put your favorite Over with a few player props to correlate your bets and give you a higher probability of winning. Beyond that, you’ll also find the traditional bet types and alternate totals here.
Be sure to add FanDuel to your portfolio of sportsbooks.
DraftKings was well-known in the daily fantasy space before expanding to include a sportsbook as well. The site boasts a sleek aesthetic and organized layout, making it easy to navigate to place your wagers.
You’ll find odds boosts and other useful promos at DraftKings, giving you more value on your bets. The totals market includes everything you’ll need, from game and team totals to quarters and halves.
Check out DraftKings when placing your Over-Under bets.
How to Pick NFL Totals Betting Sites
Remember to consider the following factors when choosing your NFL Totals betting sites:
- Bet Types: Every site will have traditional choices like full game totals, but alternate lines are great, especially if you’re able to parlay them since that would offer a nice payout.
- Odds: You want your odds to match with the rest of the betting market. You don’t want to be paying -125 for an Over when the standard price is between -110 and -115.
- Interface: It’s important that your site is organized, making the bet types easy to find. You don’t want to experience any technical issues like lagging or crashing.
- Payment: There should be several banking methods for both deposits and withdrawals. Payment should be on time with minimal delays.
- Bonuses: New-player offers are great because they add bet credits to your account. First-deposit matches are preferred because you’ll be able to use them immediately and won’t have to lose your first wager. Other promos like odds boosts add more value to your selections, so they’re beneficial as well.
Why Should I Bet NFL Totals?
There are a number of reasons why betting NFL totals is a good idea, such as:
- They’re easy to understand — simply select Over or Under the assigned number.
- You can project NFL totals by looking at a team’s recent performance, head-to-head matchup, and pace of play.
- You don’t have to worry about winning margin like with point spread wagers — just focus on whether or not the game will finish with more points than the assigned number.
Why Shouldn’t I Bet NFL Totals?
However, there are some drawbacks to betting NFL Over-Unders, like the following:
- Since the odds range from +100 to -120, you’ll have a limited return on investment.
- Totals can lead to bad beats, especially with turnovers. You can handicap the game correctly, only to watch your quarterback lose a fumble, resulting in zero points on the drive and killing your Over.
- When the points occur in a game can vary, so betting on quarters or halves can be difficult.
NFL Totals Betting Strategies
Betting on totals can be fun and profitable, but I prefer to narrow down my selections to game totals. It’s too difficult to project when the points will occur, so I steer clear of quarters and halves. Team totals aren’t as challenging, but it’s best to just stick with the combined score of both teams.
From there, I’d look at each of the key factors explained in the section above: pace, weather, scheme, market value, line movement, and projected game script. If I notice that the projected total is a bit mispriced in relation to each of those factors, I’ll make a move on either Over or Under.
I’d stick to straight bets to minimize my risk. I don’t want to drain my bankroll with longshot parlays, so single wagers are the way to go. You could sprinkle in a parlay here and there, but be sure to allot fewer units to this type of play.
My next piece of advice would be to avoid betting the Under in games with lower than 40-point totals. You may see a number like this when it’s in a game between two abysmal offenses. However, there’s always a chance that a pick-six or ill-timed fumble can result in more points and ruin your bet. There are too many things that can happen to risk betting the Under in such a low bar.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t avoid betting the Over in 50+ point totals. This is because you’ll often see two high-flying offenses with this type of number they may fly over this total if it gets into a shootout. A good example of this was when the Rams and Chiefs played a couple of years ago. The total was around 58 points, but the game ended 54-51. Essentially, with game environments like this, there’s a chance that no number is too high. Keep this in mind.
The main takeaway here is to make an informed decision when placing your Over-Under wagers. Consider each of these factors and think about how a team’s recent performance. This will guide you on a path to success in NFL totals betting.
NFL Over-Under Betting for Beginners
Beginners seeking to dip their toes in the pool of Over-Under betting should narrow their focus. Target game totals with teams that are highly skilled on one side of the ball.
For example, if you’re looking at an Over, take a team that has an elite offense, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Make sure that the opposing defense is average to mediocre, as you don’t want to take them when they’re facing a top-tier unit.
On the other hand, if you’re searching for an Under, take a strong defense that’s facing an erratic passer. Quarterback play is the most important factor in the NFL. A good example of this would be Zach Wilson and the Jets going on the road to take on the Patriots. Make sure that the total is at least 40 points, as it’s too risky to bet the Under on a lower number than that.
Lastly, make sure to allocate most of your wagers on straight bets. Throw in a totals parlay for fun, but only sprinkle these types of wagers. Keep track of your record so you know how you’re doing throughout the year. This way, if you notice any struggles, you can make the necessary changes to your process to lead to improvement.
Additional Types of NFL Bets Available
There are several additional NFL bets available, with each of them having their own NFL betting odds. You’ll find an explanation of each below.
Point Spread Betting
Each game has a point spread, which is the projected winning margin. The favorite is minus the points, while the underdog is plus the points.
If I took the Rams -7.5, that would be that I need them to win by eight or more points to win my wager.
I might take the Broncos +3.5, which means that they can either win outright or lose by three or fewer.
Each side usually has -110 odds. Try to stick to decimal spreads because whole numbers can push, resulting in a void bet.
It’s also important to consider key numbers. Since points are usually in multiples of three (field goals) or seven (touchdowns), that means there’s a significant difference with a 3.5 and 2.5 point spread as well as 6.5 and 7.5 points.
With 2.5 points, you only need your team to win by a field goal. There’s a low chance that they’ll lose by two or one, so you won’t get burned. On the other hand, you can definitely have a bad beat with 3.5 because your team may only win by three. There’s a lower chance that they win by four to six points. Chances are that if they cover the 3.5-point spread, they’re winning by seven or more.
The same goes for 6.5 and 7.5. If a team covers 7.5, there’s a high probability that they’re winning by double-digits. You won’t see many winning margins by eight or nine points. That means that even though 7.5 is only one point more than 6.5, it makes a huge difference.
Each game is assigned a moneyline, based on the implied probability. The favorite has minus odds and the underdog has plus odds. All you need to do here is select the winning team.
Favorite: The Eagles are -170 favorites against the Commanders. I would need to stake $170 in order to win $100 on this bet.
Underdog: The Patriots are +140 underdogs against the Bills. I would win $140 on a $100 wager in this case.
In the NFL, most moneylines are expensive on favorites, so it’s better to stick with underdogs in this market. Upsets happen frequently, so you can always find some value.
Props can be team, game or player-based outcomes. They may have their own moneyline or you could have the option to bet Over or Under.
- Team Prop: I can choose the Saints to get Over 3.5 sacks in a game against the Falcons at -140 odds.
- Game Prop: You can go with the Over 3.5 field goals for both teams in a game between the Jets and Dolphins.
- Player Prop: I can place a wager on Ja’Marr Chase to have the most receiving yards in Week 13 at +650 odds. You can also bet the Over 87.5 rushing yards for Jonathan Taylor against the Titans.
Player props are best because they are easier to project. You can look at a player’s recent usage, examining their rush attempts and target share. You also can consider the game environment by viewing the total and point spread. Projected shootouts are good news for Overs on player props, but keep in mind that the lines will reflect that.
Futures are wagers that are settled at the end of the season. Like props, they can have moneylines or totals with attached odds. You also have both player and team futures.
- Team Futures: Take the Chargers to win the Super Bowl at +1400 odds, or go with the Jaguars Over 5.5 wins for -120.
- Player Futures: I can select Justin Herbert to win MVP at +1200 or take Justin Jefferson Over 1300.5 receiving yards at -125.
Remember that futures require a portion of your bankroll to be tied up for several months, so it’s best to focus on longer shots for a chance at higher payouts.
Parlays are combinations of two or more wagers that can offer higher payouts, depending on the odds and number of selections. There are also Same Game Parlays, which allow you to focus on one game. You can mostly use any bet type here, but it depends on the site. Some sportsbooks only let you parlay props in a Same Game type of bet.
Parlay: Example 1
Cowboys (-200) + Chiefs (-300) + Chargers (-200)
Here we have a three-teamer of heavy favorites. In this case, my parlay will pay at +200 odds, giving me $200 on a $100 stake.
Parlay: Example 2
Giants (+200) + Texans (+300) + Raiders (+200)
This time, we have a three-game parlay of underdogs. This one pays at +3500 odds, providing $3,500 on a $100 risk.
Even though both parlays have three games, the second one pays significantly more because you have three underdogs.
Here’s what a Same Game Parlay may look like:
Lions +7.5 (-110) + D’Andre Swift Over 4.5 Receptions (-110) + T.J. Hockenson Anytime Touchdown (+200)
This would pay +993 odds, giving me $993 on a $100 stake.
How to Use the Odds Comparison
Our Odds Comparison Tool is helpful because it helps you shop around different sportsbooks. The tool does the leg-work for you, finding the best lines across the industry. Here’s how to use it:
- Click our NFL Odds page.
- Select Totals to see the Over-Under lines and odds.
- Find the Best Bet. The sportsbook will be listed there for you.
- Click the icon to access the site’s home page.
- Place your wagers!