NFL Week 7: Over and Under Best Bets

NFL Week 1: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’ll offer up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos

Total: 43

Neither defense is what it used to be, and I think this total has yet to account for that — especially with Seattle. The Legion of Boom is no more, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are gone and star safety Earl Thomas is nowhere to be seen. Von Miller is still Von Miller on the other side of the ball, but the Broncos and Seahawks will be relying on a lot of unproven players, especially in the secondary. And it’s not as though either unit fared great last season anyway.

Meanwhile, the Broncos offense should be much better with new quarterback/running back duo Case Keenum and Royce Freeman. The former was the league’s seventh-rated passer last season, the latter looks like an offensive rookie of the year candidate. And while Seattle has fewer weapons on that side of the ball, that offense looks to be more balanced with Chris Carson crushing it in the backfield this summer. 

I’m expecting Keenum, Freeman, Carson and Russell Wilson to put on an offensive exhibition in Colorado. 

Predicted score: Broncos 27, Seahawks 24 

Under of the week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints 

Total: 49.5

With Ryan Fitzpatrick as their primary passer, the Bucs scored just 10 points on their last trip to New Orleans. The Saints defense has since gotten better on paper, and Fitzpatrick will once again start for the suspended Jameis Winston in this tilt. 

Watch for the Bucs defense to show some improvement too. New Orleans can light up the scoreboard, especially at home, but Tampa Bay has a newly-stacked defensive front that resembles Philadelphia’s famous line. That unit could put together a respectable performance against a New Orleans offense that actually started rather slow last season (they scored more than 20 points just once in the first four weeks). 

Throw in that the Saints won’t be at full power without suspended running back Mark Ingram and 49.5 feels far too high. 

Predicted score: Saints 24, Buccaneers 14 

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

An Early Look at Week One Totals (Best Bets)

Now that we’re one week removed from the start of the 2018 NFL regular season, it’s finally time to start breaking down specific games from a betting perspective. This year, we’re making a point to analyze often-neglected totals, so here some initial over/unders to size up for Week 1. To see how the total began and for some tips on wagers, check out our history of the total

Let’s go game-by-game from high to low.

51 — Houston Texans at New England Patriots: It feels as though this one will come down a little between now and game day. The Pats have been known to start slow and will be far from comfortable on offense, while it’s tough to tell how Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will look in his return from a major knee injury. Both defenses struggled at times last year, but Houston has J.J. Watt back and New England always has Bill Belichick. Only 17 games had totals of 51 or higher last season, and only six of those went over. Stats say: Bet the under. 


49.5 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints: This was in the 50s earlier in the offseason and still has room to come down. The Saints defense is underrated, the Bucs will be using a backup quarterback and New Orleans will also be without a key offensive weapon in Mark Ingram. When these teams met in New Orleans last November, they combined for 40 points.


49.5 — Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders: You should probably wait for clarity on both Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack before pulling the trigger here, but the under would be a no-brainer at 49.5 if both play. There’s a very good chance these offenses fail to live up to the hype out of the gates.


47.5 — Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers: These teams scored a grand total of 77 points in their two meetings last season, and now the Chiefs have a less proven quarterback. Buying this line is buying Patrick Mahomes, and I’m not ready to do that yet.


47.5 — Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers: This looks like one of the least bettable totals of the week, just because we don’t know what to expect from a new-look Chicago offense. I’d wait a week or two before putting big money on or against the Bears under Matt Nagy. Wouldn’t touch this unless it dropped dramatically, and the under seems risky considering the firepower both teams possess.


46.5 — Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns: Nobody knows what to make of the new-look Browns, and let’s remember that Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh offense started slowly after Bell’s holdout last year. The last five matchups between the Steelers and Browns that have involved regular starters have all contained 41 points or fewer.


46 — San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings: This might be inflated by the fact there’s hype surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers scored 78 points in their last two games in 2017. The Vikings have one of the best defenses in the league, and they’ve had months to study Garoppolo and the San Francisco offense. Thinking this should be in the low-40s.  


46 — Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts: So much has changed with the Colts that you’d be better off waiting here, especially since this total is basically in toss-up territory and the Bengals are pretty erratic.


45.5 — Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles: Last year’s season opener was one of the highest-scoring games of the year, but I’m digging the under here. The Eagles have questions at quarterback regardless of who starts, the Falcons offense hasn’t been right since 2016 and both teams are stellar on defense. I’m expecting big things from a young and fast Atlanta D in 2018, and that could start here.  


45 — Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins: Miami is going to be really bad this season and the Tennessee offense still has a lot to prove. This total should be lower.


44 — Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals: Alex Smith and Sam Bradford can light it up when they’re right, and both are healthy entering the regular season. Neither defense looks great, so it wouldn’t be shocking if this were a shootout.


44 — New York Jets at Detroit Lions: Too many variables with the Jets for this to be predictable, which is why the total is basically the NFL average. The median and average total last season was 44.


43.5 — Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants: Both of these offenses have the ability to explode this season, but both teams are stronger on the other side of the ball. This isn’t the week to get cocky regarding Eli Manning or Blake Bortles.


43.5 — Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers: I get why this is a bit low because both defenses look as though they’ll be strong and there are questions regarding both offenses. Still, this is a game with Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. You might want to take advantage of the fact Vegas hasn’t shaded the over in a game involving America’s Team.


42 — Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos: I don’t think Vegas has accounted for how much worse the Seahawks defense has become and how much better the Denver offense has become. The Seahawks also look strong (and balanced for once) on the offensive side of the ball, so I’m expecting 45-50 points here. If you want to bet an over, this is a good game.


41 — Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens: Vegas rightly went low here. This is a Ravens team that surrendered just 10 points in the first two games of the 2017 season, and the Bills have a strong defense and a questionable offense. I don’t see this going over 41 unless there’s a bunch of scoring on D or the Baltimore offense goes off. Would prefer a slightly higher total for an under bet, but I think this one is still higher than it should be.


To recap: With each new year, hope springs eternal as we have all offseason to talk ourselves into new offenses. So do oddsmakers. 10 of these games are over the average and median total of 44 last season. While the over is always bettors favorite, in Week One, smart money will find the unders.

NFL Win Totals Best Bets With Research

There is no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to sports gambling. After sorting through a decade of U/O win data, though, we have a few that are as close as you’ll get. First, it’s important to point out that the biggest choice you face for the 2018 NFL season isn’t what to bet, it’s which to bet.

By that, we mean to say that identifying the few teams you think are most likely to either go over or under their win projection is the most efficient way to go. Don’t bet on every single team. If you try to guess the U/O on all 32 NFL teams this season, you’d be lucky to break even.

However, if you educate yourself on the select few teams you’re really confident in, you could make out quite nicely. After combing through teams who, over the last 10 seasons, have over or underachieved consistently, we have a few bets that make the most sense in 2018. We in fact, have just four “best bets” for U/O win totals in the 2018 NFL season.

Our best bets to exceed their win projections are:

Atlanta Falcons – 9

Denver Broncos – 7


Our best bets to fall below their win projections are:

Los Angeles Chargers – 9.5

New York Giants – 7


If you’ve read our other two articles talking about the biggest over and underachievers in the NFL over the last 10 seasons, you’ll remember the Falcons and Broncos consistently outperform their projections. There’s reason to believe they’ll do so again this season.

Over: Atlanta – 9

Atlanta plays in a tough division, so getting to nine wins won’t be easy, but their divisional foes face a tougher road. The division-rival Saints have the second-toughest schedule in football based on 2017 team records. Tampa Bay, who will be without QB Jameis Winston for the first four games of the regular season, has the fourth toughest road.

The Panthers and Falcons have equally tough schedules, ranking No. 12 and 13 respectively. A key reason the win total of nine provides great value is that the Falcons could finish at 9-7 and push (earning you your money back). It’s hard to imagine a world where Atlanta finishes with just eight wins unless a key player suffers a major injury.

Over: Denver – 7

Denver seems like an even better bet than the Falcons for a couple reasons. To start, their status as an overachiever was diminished by the fact they greatly underachieved last season. Without 2017 in the 10-year data set, they would have been among the top three overachieving teams in all of football.

Why did they underachieve last year? The simple answer is quarterback play. This offseason,
they acquired Case Keenum, who helped lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game last
year. He is not an All-Pro, but he is a significant upgrade over Brock Osweiler/Trevor Siemian at the most important position in sports.

Denver has a defense strong enough to keep them in most games and now they have a gunslinger
who can help them win a few close games they didn’t a season ago.

Add to that the fact the Chiefs will be playing with a rookie quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and
the Raiders will be adjusting to life under new head coach Jon Gruden, and there’s reason to
believe the Broncos may reign supreme in the AFC West once again. The one team standing in their way is Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Speaking of them…

Under: Chargers – 9.5

Oddsmakers love the Chargers this season. They have the Chargers at a 9.5 win projection, which seems high, especially given their 10-year trend of underachieving relative to their win projections.

The Chargers haven’t won more than nine games since 2009 when they won the AFC West with 13 victories. However, they’ve won exactly nine games four times in that span, including last year.
The Chargers were one of the hottest teams in football to end the season, but we’ve seen this
from them before. They’re a team that starts incredibly slow and finishes strong. With an
improved Broncos team in the division, it’s just hard to bank on L.A. winning 10 games this year.

Under: Giants – 7

Finally, there are the Giants, the perennial beneficiaries of East Coast bias. Somehow, this team
that went 3-13 and didn’t significantly improve, is projected at seven wins. Yes, they added
Saquon Barkley to their backfield and Odell Beckham will be back from injury, but Eli Manning struggled mightily last year so Barkley could face a lot of eight-man fronts. Remember when that happened to Todd Gurley in his sophomore NFL campaign? He really struggled.

In a division that generally feasts on itself and, at times, has featured four teams in the 6-9 win
range, the Giants seem to be the worst team of the four. They also have the eighth hardest
schedule in football and it really is hard to see them going at least 8-8 to win you an overbet.
Just like the Falcons are good value, because they can earn you your money back with a 9-7 season, the Giants are good value because they can overachieve at 7-9 and you would still only
push. If they play anything below that level, which is very possible, then you’re in the green.