July 05, 2018 - Brad Gagnon
What We Can Learn From the NFL's Overs/Unders in 2017
Now that the Supreme Court has granted states the green light to legalize sports gambling, it’ll be easier than ever for Americans to (legally) bet on NFL games come September (and August if you’re willing to throw some blindfolded darts at preseason games). That probably means point spreads will receive more attention than ever, but the reality is there’s just as much money to be made (or lost) betting on totals. Thus, National Football Post will be providing weekly insight and analysis related to overs and/or unders throughout the season. But with preseason football still a month out, let’s reflect on 2017. Using over/under totals provided by Pro Football Reference and their wonderful team game finder, here’s a look at 13 over/under-related statistical trends and nuggets from last season.
- Only 46 percent of the 256 games played last season went over the total (119). Under was the correct bet 54 percent of the time. This makes sense because scoring was down from 45.6 points per game in 2016 to 43.4 in 2017. It was the lowest-scoring season in the NFL since 2009. Now handicappers and oddsmakers will be forced to try to determine if that was an anomaly or the start of a new trend.
- For what it’s worth, 53 percent of NFL games went over the total in 2016. Combine the last two seasons and you’ve got 50 percent over, 50 percent under. So yeah, the folks in Vegas are good at what they do.
- There were no over/under pushes in 2017, but totals set by oddsmakers were within one point of the final tally 16 times (six percent of games) and within two points 40 times (16 percent of games).
- While it’s not uncommon for games to become lower-scoring as the elements become a factor late in the season, that was especially the case in 2017 and Vegas wasn’t able to keep up. Over/under results by month (with average points per game in brackets):
- September: 50% over, 50% under (43.7)
- October: 52% over, 48% under (43.8)
- November: 50% over, 50% under (45.3)
- December: 37% over, 63% under (41.5)
- Eighteen games had totals of 50 or higher. Only seven went over
- Thirty-six games had totals below 40. Eighteen (exactly half) went over.
- The median and average total was 44. Seven of the 11 games that had totals of exactly 44 went over.
- Teams with the most overs: Packers (11), Rams (11), Lions (10).
- Teams with the most unders: Chargers (12), Bears (12), Falcons (11), Raiders (11), Colts (10), Cowboys (10), Cardinals (10), Bills (10), Texans (10), Giants (10), Steelers (10).
- The highest total of the season was 56.5 for a Week 7 matchup between the Patriots and Falcons. Only 30 points were scored.
- The lowest total was 36.5 for a Week 14 tilt between the Bills and the Colts. Only 20 points were scored despite the fact that game went into overtime.
- The highest-scoring under of the season came when the Patriots beat the Steelers 27-24 with a 52.5 total in Week 15. That was the only game with 50-plus points that didn’t go over.
- The lowest-scoring over of the season? Green Bay 23, Chicago 16 in Week 10. The total was 37.5.