NFL Over/Under: Odds & Line Movement

Betting on the over/under or total has been a relatively new concept in sports betting. Betting on totals wasn't a thing until the 1970s and didn't take off until the 1980s and 90s. Now, the over/under is a staple in sports betting. The goal is to accurately predict the combined number of points scored in a game. Over/under betting is when a player places a wager on how points will be scored in a game. If the bettor takes the over, then they believe that more points will be scored than what is listed. If they bet the under, then they think the game will go under the listed total. The over/under is one of the most popular plays an NFL bettor can make.

If oddsmakers set a total for an NFL game at 46. If a bettor bets the over, then they will need both teams to score more than a combined 47 points or more to get a payout. A final score of 27-24 will cash an over bet. If the total is 46 and the final score is a combined 46 points, then it is considered a push, and the bettor will get a refund. A score of 26-20 will push if the total is 46. If the final score is 45 points or less, then the bettor loses. Unless they bet under 46 points, in that case, they would earn a payout.

ML = Moneyline Line Movement = displays the odds line changes per book and per bet from the opening odds to the live odds. Diff = Change in Sportsbook live odds & live odds

Over/Under 101

How Over/Unders Are Calculated

Oddsmakers have many factors when calculating the over/under for a game. A team's talent level, the pace of play, weather, and other factors play into a total. Typically the total has -110 juice on both sides, meaning a bettor has to pay an extra 10 percent extra for every dollar he bets.

Talent Level

The first thing bookmakers are going to do when setting the total is how well a team's offense goes up against their opponent's defense. This is a fundamental way to understand how a total will be set. If a team with a high scoring offense plays a defense that allows a lot of points, then the total will be higher. If the defense has the edge over the offense, then the over/under is set lower.


One thing casual bettors might not factor in is a team's tempo. Tempo usually refers to how fast or slow a team plays. Some teams like to use all 40 seconds in a play clock while other teams run much faster offenses and only use 20. The tempo of an offense will dictate how the over/under listed.


Weather is an essential factor to remember when betting on a total. When the NFL season kicks off in September, the weather is a rare issue as it is still relatively warm out that time of year. Rain is the biggest issue a bettor needs to factor in if the forecast calls for it. Slick surfaces slow down players and affect how many points will be scored.

When it comes to frigid temperatures later in the season, snow and wind have an impact on the total. First, windy games play a big part in the total. With today's NFL becoming a passing league, it is much tougher to throw the ball in windy conditions. Places like Buffalo and Chicago deal with the wind often playing along the Great Lakes, and bettors must factor in the wind depending on the forecast.

One misconception about the weather is during snow games. When the forecast on gameday calls for snow, casual bettors instantly think that fewer points are scored. However, the snow doesn't have the same effect that rain and snow do. Games often play at a normal pace in the snow as long as it isn't windy. Bettors will instantly think under, which creates value on the over.


In the NFL, injuries have a significant impact on a game. If a star player is injured, then the over/under will be affected. A quarterback injury will have the biggest impact on a total. The team has to start a player that isn't as great handling the football on every play. The offense usually moves slower, and the team plays more conservative. Slowing down the game means fewer points on the board, and oddsmakers will be sure to adjust accordingly.

Looking for Value in the Over/Under

After oddsmakers set the over/under for a game, it is the bettor's job to decide whether or not the total has value. Some bettors use statistical analysis to bet on a game where others will use situational analysis to find an edge. Handicapping is the best way to understand why a total is listed as it is. When bettors handicapping, it means they are researching a game to determine if there is value in a line.

Using Statistics

A fundamental way to determine the total of a game is by looking at stats like points per game or yards per play. Both stats give a better idea of how efficient offense is at moving the ball and scoring. Also, bettors should look at the opponent's defense. If they are as skilled in stopping offenses, then this is something to take into account.

Also, finding efficiency statistics will help determine how good an offense or defense is. Some stats like yards per game are deceiving. However, if a bettor can determine that a team has a worse yard per game average but more efficient, then this gives the bettor an edge in understanding that the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Tempo also plays a factor in statics. Today, there are stats like plays per game available to bettors to know how many play an offense is running per game. This will play into how well an offense can move the football along with how fast they move. Quicker paced offenses often score more points.

Situational Handicapping

Situational handicapping is when certain aspects of a game change how it will be played. For example, bookmakers might list a total for an NFL game that is still five days away. Leading up to the game, forecasters call for rain during the game. As the week goes on, bookmakers will adjust the total to fit the situation that has come up. Good handicappers will jump on the total quickly before oddsmakers change it giving them more value.

Injuries are another factor that plays into a total. A bettor might realize that the week before, a quarterback took a big hit and was listed questionable the following week. The team tries to cover up the injury, so they don't give their opponent an edge. Veteran bettors will take note and use that information to find value in the total. A weaker quarterback means a less efficient offense, which could lead to a lower-scoring game.

Also, scheduling could factor into the total. If a team is coming off an important Monday night win, then they have less time to prepare along with trying to refocus the following week. The team could come out sluggish the next game, which will put the value on one side of the total.


Overall, there are many ways to find value in a total. The best bettors do their homework and understand the situation and teams to know if oddsmakers put out a good total or not. They pay attention to injuries and understand how teams are playing to know whether or not they'll have a good performance. After doing some homework, a bettor should fire away on the bet that makes him most confident.

Over/Under FAQ

Should beginners bet total

Yes. Totals are an easy way to understand odds and how an over/under bet works. Also, for some bettors handicapping the over/under might be easier to understand than handicapping the spread. The goal is to figure out how many points will be scored in a game compared to how much a team will win or lose. Beginning bettors should stick to totals along with spread bets.

How much should beginners bet

A beginner should only bet as much as they are willing to lose. With totals, the odds are -110 similar to the point spread, and payouts are the same. A bettor should not overbet on totals similar to any other type of wager they place.

What if the game ends in a push

If a game ends in a push, then it means the final score landed on the total oddsmakers listed. If a total was recorded at 46, and 46 points are scored, then that is considered a push. The bettor will get a refund for the money he placed on it.

What if the game goes to overtime

If the game goes into overtime, then the total bet is still on. Depending on the side a bettor took, overtime can be a stressful situation. If the player bet the under, then overtime is their worst nightmare. However, over bettors love over time as it gives the teams extra time to score over the listed total.

What sports can a bettor play totals

Almost every sport will have an over/under. The total has become a popular bet to place, and everything from the NFL to Soccer will have a total next to the matchup. Some individual sports like golf might not have totals for their events. However, there could be prop bets where bettors can place over/under wagers.

Can someone bet a total for one half

Yes, almost all bookmakers offer halftime bets, including totals. Some teams are better at scoring in the first half than others. Also, bettors can place wagers on a second-half over/under bet after seeing how the teams performed in the first.

Final Thoughts

Over/Under wagers are an excellent way for novice bettors to understand odds and lines. A bettor new to the game might find it easier to predict how many total points will be scored in a game instead of how much a team will win or lose. Betting a total makes a player look at both sides and gets an early understanding of why oddsmakers set lines where they do.

Betting totals isn't easy. However, betting totals gives a player another type of bet to play while also finding an edge in a line. Moreover, bettors will understand the situations as to why over/under lines move and what causes it. As long as beginning bettors don't overexpose themselves, then over/under bets are a great thing to start betting.