Learn the basics of prop betting including how to read NFL odds, what props are, strategies & tips for prop betting, and more to make the best...Read more
Learn how NFL over/under betting works, including how to read NFL odds, differences between moneyline & spread bets, and tips for the best NFL picks.
In addition to the more popular spread betting on NFL games, there is also a fun alternative when it comes to playing wagers on the National Football League, and that’s over/under betting on the NFL. The premise is simple—oddsmakers will set a number, and you can bet on whether the combined score of both teams will be either over or under that number. The NFL odds in over/under wagers are usually similar to each other, so it’s close to an even-money proposition.
But despite the apparent simplicity of the wager, there’s quite a lot of information that goes into setting the total, and it’s important to approach the wager strategically if you’re going to place a bet on the over/under for an NFL game.
As we mentioned, over/under bets are either an even-money bet or close to it. If it’s a true even-money bet, the odds on each side of the wager will be -110. This means that you have to bet $110 to win $100. The reason that you don’t win a truly even amount of money on an “even-money” bet is because of the vigorish (AKA the vig or the juice). This is the fee that the house takes for taking and paying out your bet. If an even amount of money is placed on both sides of the over/under, the house profits from the vig after paying out the winning bets that are in essence funded by the losing wagers.
Occasionally, an over/under bet will cheat a few points in either direction, but you will pay for that in odds. If the house is looking for more action on the under, they may set the odds at -100 or so, meaning you only need to put up $100 to win $100. On the other hand, a popular side of the over/under bet may be pushed up to -120 or so, which would force you to put up some extra money in order to win $100 (in this case, you would have to bet $120 to win a hundred bucks).
For a real-world example, the opening game of the 2021 season pits the Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The over/under for this Week 1 matchup is set at 53. The odds for each side are -110, but with the over/under being an even number, that means that there can be a push if the total is exactly 53, meaning all bettors get their money back. Occasionally, you will see the over/under be a number with a half-point in it, so there will be no pushes with that number.
When oddsmakers set over/under totals for NFL games, they start by taking common scores. Scores divisible by three and seven are most common in the NFL, so a 24-20 final would equate to an over/under total of 44. The most-common scores in the NFL are, in order, 37, 44, 41, 42, 51, 40, and 47. It’s rare to see a total set at under 37 or so or higher than 55.Oddsmakers take several factors into account when setting the number, as they’re trying to get an equal amount of betting on both sides. In addition to how the teams perform on offense and defense, other factors include the teams’ histories in prior meetings, field-goal percentages, and even stats like rushing yards vs. average pass attempts per game because if teams run the ball more, the clock is running and can lead to lower scores in the game.
There are many different ways you can try to gain an edge if you’re trying to be a serious over/under bettor. Some strategies require research and others are simple math. Let’s take a look at five of them.
With the NFL season upon us, now is a great time to study the over/under numbers, see if you can determine any advantages, and put our strategies and tips to good use to see if you can make some money this season. Check out the upcoming games here, and use Sidelines to place your next bet!
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