What is the over under bet in football?
With an “over under bet”, all that matters is the total number of points scored between the two teams.
Unlike betting on a point spread, over under betting doesn’t take into account who wins the game.
In a matchup of two teams of near equal ability, it’s often difficult to win a point spread bet – especially in this era of parity in the NFL.
Bookmakers set a “total” that bettors need to determine whether they think the final score will be over or under that number. Remember, this is the total number of points scored between the two teams, even if the game goes into overtime.
Should the total equal the line, the money is returned to the bettor. Neither the bettor nor the sportsbook wins any money in this situation.
When compared to point spread betting, the “over under bet” is a better option if you do your homework on each team’s strengths and weaknesses, weather reports, and recent trends.
Over Under Betting Examples
Let’s look at an example of a hypothetical line between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants:
- Philadelphia Eagles Over 48.5, -170
- New York Giants Under 48.5, + 100
The total is set at 48.5 points; therefore, you should bet under 48.5 if you think the total points scored will be 48 or less and bet over if you believe the total points scored will be 49 or more.
If the Eagles win the game, as they did in this year’s divisional playoff round, 38-7, then those that bet “over” would lose, and those that bet “under” would win.
What are the –170 and +100?
You can think of this as the “cost” of the bet.
In this case, -170 means you would need to bet $170 to win $100. Since the under is the underdog position in this bet, you would only have to bet $100 to earn $100 should the game go under the line.
Let’s take another example: the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.
In this lopsided matchup, one would expect the Chiefs to score a large number of points. Suppose the total is set at 49 and priced at –200, which is an implied probability of 66.7%.
A bettor would have to risk $200 to profit $100 from the bet should it hit. Hypothetically, the Chiefs waste no time getting out to a 35-14 halftime lead (a total of 49 points at half-time). Those who bet over are sitting pretty, as only a field goal or safety in the second half puts money in their pockets.
The one thing bettors love about NFL over under bets is that it keeps you tuned into a game sometimes long after it has been decided.
Even if one team is trouncing the other or your favourite team isn’t playing, if you have a wager on an over under bet, you will want to stick around until the end of the game (or until the teams pass the over under total – if you chose to bet on the over).
When is it best to bet under the line?
When betting on NFL games, it’s always important to find a little advantage against the sportsbook. There are numerous factors to consider in over under betting. Take note of the following:
- Are the teams high-powered passing attacks or dominant run teams that like to win the time of possession battle? If the team likes to run, this eats up the clock and potentially makes for a lower scoring game.
- Pay attention to the weather forecast if the game is outdoors. Games with high winds, dense fog, rain, snow or freezing weather can significantly impact the offenses.
- Perfect conditions are ideal for higher totals, while the more inclement the weather, the lower the totals should theoretically be. The totals will be even lower if the game features two dominating defenses.
Can you bet over under quarterly, by halves, and in props?
A large number of sportsbooks will allow first-quarter totals and spreads.
Look at team trends based on how they start or finish a game. If bettors do their homework on teams with slow starts or fast finishes – using over under betting tactics in the first quarter could result in sizable winnings.
Daily fantasy bettors can also make a killing on player-based over under bets. Sportsbooks will offer bets on individual yards passing, rushing, receiving, touchdowns, and more.
You could also bet on total yards rushing by both teams, total yards passing by both teams, the number of first downs, etc.
If there is a statistic for it, chances are there is an over under bet for it.
Things To Consider In Over Under Betting
Casual bettors generally root for a large number of points being scored and so place money on the over. Therefore, it’s worth your time to look for the under, particularly in national coverage games – such as Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, playoff games, and the Super Bowl.
Betting Punter Tip: Read up on the player injury report late in the week. A star that cannot play or one that was injured and is now due to play can influence the total points in the game.
Also take note of whether or not the game is played indoors. Indoor stadiums have fast turf and create perfect conditions for passing, kicking and running. All of these factors make a higher-scoring match more likely.
Finally, be aware that sometimes “over under” bets become too one-sided. Sportsbooks will move the totals to balance the odds (in their favour).
Betting Punter Note: You can read more about different bets in our “Types of betting explained” guide.