There's money to be made in the NFL totals market
Did you know that NFL favorites are currently 37-37-3 against the spread this season? That means that if you laid the points in all 77 games played through five weeks, you’d be picking at a rate of 50%.
Not bad, but after you factor in the vig, you would find yourself operating in the red heading into Week 6.
Cam Newton and the Panthers have been involved in plenty of shootouts already this season. But will the trend continue in Week 6?
In our never-ending quest to find an edge, it may be time to start paying more attention to NFL totals. Through five weeks, OVERS have cashed in 48 games (62.16%) while UNDERS have hit 28 times (36.84%). As league-wide scoring continues to rise, Las Vegas oddsmakers find themselves trying to keep pace by setting numbers more likely to bring in balanced action, as the public has had some early success backing OVERS.
I had the pleasure of talking with Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) of Sharp Football Analysis.com this week about finding value in NFL totals. Warren is a professional engineer who spent five years developing a computer program that would predict NFL outcomes with a greater accuracy than oddsmakers. His website has been up for six years and his NFL totals are currently hitting at a rate of 65% during that time span (350 plays issued), so I felt he was more than qualified to help shed some light on a few of the intriguing NFL totals listed for Week 6.
“An often ignored aspect of NFL betting is the value present in betting on totals, Sharp told me earlier this week. “Many bettors are unsure if games will be high or low scoring and therefore prefer betting on sides. But using Week 5 as an example, by Thursday, 11 of 13 games (85%) saw their total move at least one point, whereas the sides in those games saw movement of one or more points in only 6 of 13 games (46%).
Sharp continued, “What this means is that the oddsmakers are more comfortable with their line setting ability for sides, but are more willing to adjust totals because they fear sharp totals bettors. There is a tremendous advantage betting totals early in the week. But not many handicapping services are willing to release plays this early, nor do they have successful track records. I release totals each Tuesday morning and have hit a lifetime 65% on totals.”
Here are Warren’s thoughts on four intriguing NFL games on the Week 6 schedule:
CLICK HERE to check out all of the sides and totals for Week 6.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (1-4, 1-2 road) at WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-1, 2-0, home)
Time: 1:00pm eastern
Opening line: O/U 47.5
Current line: O/U 47.5
Betting Trends: 77% of the public is currently betting the OVER.
Philadelphia: Over is 4-1 in five games played this year.
Washington: Under is 3-1 in four games played this year.
1. The OVER is 6-0 in Philly's last six games as a road favorite.
2. The UNDER is 5-1 in Philly's last six games on grass.
3. The UNDER is 5-1 in the Redskins' last six games overall.
4. The UNDER is 4-1 in the Redskins' last five home games.
5. The OVER is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams in Washington.
ICONWill Vick and the Eagles roll up the points again in Week 6?
Warren Sharp says: "This line opened at 48 and has been bet down to 47.5 or 47, depending on the sportsbook. In the last ten years, the Redskins haven't seen a home divisional game set above 44 and this one came in four points higher. No team in the NFL has seen more UNDERS at home since 2008. And the Redskins may have one of their best defenses in decades.
This series hasn't seen a total set above 44.5 until now and when set above 42 on Sundays, the UNDER has gone 6-1. The Eagles defense has been exposed all season, but the Redskins offense is more conservative than most. Teams like the Eagles—off of three+ losses and headed into a bye with a total set above 42—have gone UNDER 8-0 since 2007, as the focus is on shoring up their defense."
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (0-5, 0-2 road) at CINCINNATI BENGALS (3-2, 1-1 home)
Time: 1:00pm eastern
Opening line: O/U 38.5
Current line: O/U 41
Betting trends: 94% of the public is currently betting the OVER.
Indianapolis: OVER is 4-1 in five games played this year.
Cincinnati: OVER is 4-1 in five games played this year.
1. The OVER is 7-1 in the Colts’ last eight road games.
2. The OVER is 6-1 in the Colts’ last seven games as an underdog.
3. The OVER is 4-1 in the Bengals’ last five games vs. a team with a losing record.
4. The OVER is 4-0 in the Bengals’ last four games vs. the AFC.
Warren Sharp says: "This game opened at 38.5 and has been bet all the way to the key number of 41. Indy has been dealt several defensive injuries and with Curtis Painter starting the last two contests, the passing game has been much more aggressive (164.0 pass ypg. without Painter, 266.5 pass ypg. with him). The Bengals have a great defense, but aside from a battle of the "up and coming defenses" when they played San Francisco, Cincinnati has allowed 20.3 pts/gm to mediocre offenses such as Cleveland, Denver and Jacksonville.
Jay Gruden has his young quarterback and wide receiver corps working well together and they’ve only gotten better as the season has progressed. It doesn't hurt that teams playing the Colts are scoring an average of 27.2 pts/gm, but on the year average only 17.0 pts/gm when not playing the Colts (a substantial 10 pts/gm increase when playing Indy). Between these two teams, this game should see more than the 38.5 points set at open."
CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-4, 0-2 road) at ATLANTA FALCONS (2-3, 1-1 home)
Time: 1:00pm eastern
Opening line: O/U 51
Current line: O/U 51
Betting trends: 56% of the public is currently betting the UNDER.
Carolina: OVER is 4-1 in five games played this year.
Atlanta: OVER is 3-2 in five games played this year.
1. The OVER is 5-1-1 in the Panthers’ last seven road games.
2. The UNDER is 11-5 in the Panthers’ last 16 games following an ATS win.
3. The UNDER is 8-2-1 in the Falcons’ last 11 games in Week 6.
4. The OVER is 3-0-1 in the Falcons’ last four games as a favorite.
5. The OVER is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings between these two teams in Atlanta.
ICONRyan and the Falcons managed just 14 points in Week 5.
Warren Sharp says: “With Mike Smith at the helm, the Falcons have seen just three home totals set above 50 points and all have ended up going way under the total (44 points scored on average). This is the worst the Falcons offense has looked since Smith took over, primarily due to absences along the offensive line. Since 2000, this divisional series has not seen a total set above 43.5. There are a lot of injured players on both sides of the ball, so determining their status may be wise.
This is another divisional battle that saw the oddsmakers set a high total based on YTD (year to date) scoring, but they ignored the typically defensive nature of this series."
MIAMI DOLPHINS (0-4, 0-2 road) at NEW YORK JETS (2-3, 2-0 home)
Time: 8:35pm eastern (Monday night)
Opening line: O/U 41
Current line: O/U 43
Betting trends: 90% of the public is currently betting the OVER.
Miami: UNDER is 3-1 in four games played this year.
NY Jets: The OVER is 4-1 in five games played this year.
1. The OVER is 4-0 in the Dolphins’ last four Monday night games.
2. The UNDER is 8-2 in the Dolphins’ last ten road games.
3. The OVER is 7-1 in the Jets’ last eight games vs. a team with a losing record.
4. The OVER is 4-1 in the Jets’ last five Monday night games.
Warren Sharp says: “This line opened at 41—which is the most frequently occurring key number in totals—and was very quickly bet up to 42 and now 43 or 43.5. If you have a 41 ticket in your pocket, you’re a lucky guy. Only one time in the last 24 meetings between these two teams did a game close at or above 41.
This opener was a bad number from the oddsmakers. Matt Moore is an adequate backup and—conducive to OVERS—is aggressive and a risk taker, something “Checkdown” Chad Henne was not. In 2009 and 2010 in Carolina, Moore started ten games. Carolina averaged 18 points per game in his starts vs. 15 points per game without him while winning 50% of Moore’s games (vs. 23% without him). Oddsmakers overcompensated for his loss."
Interested in checking out more of Warren’s terrific work? Go to his website Sharp Football Analysis and enter the promo code “GetSharp” for 10% off of his Week 6 selections. Warren was kind enough to offer this discount to all NFP readers.
Follow Warren Sharp on Twitter: @SharpFootball