NFL over/under season win totals are probably the most popular preseason prop bet for any sport in this country. Bettors love them because you can bet on a team to exceed expectations during the regular season without needing them to win the conference title or the championship (which is what you need with traditional futures). In addition, they give you the unique opportunity to bet against a team.
So how do you attack these? Let me guess: you look over your favorite team’s schedule and say, “that’s a win…that’s a loss…that’s a win…that game’s a coinflip…oh, here’s another coin flip so they’ll split those, so that’s three wins…and so on.” Hey, I’ll admit it, we’ve all done it that way.
But I’ve found a better approach the past few years. The CG Technology books here in Vegas released their NFL Week 2-16 lines last week. I go through each team’s schedule and convert the projected point spread to a money line and then to an estimated straight-up winning percentage; add them all up and I come up with my Money Line Estimate (MLE) and compare it to each team’s posted total. Granted, it’s just one oddsmaking company’s projections for the point spreads throughout the season, but it gives us an objective opinion instead of just going off the top of our head.
In addition, I also go through each team’s schedule for their W-L-T record, which is similar to the random exercise described above except we use the actual projected point spread to give a “win” for each time a team is favored, a “loss” for each game as an underdog and a “tie” for each pick ‘em. An important thing to note is that CGT doesn’t include Week 17 lines because we/they don’t know which teams will be resting starters for the playoffs or playing out the string, etc. For these purposes, I’m using pick ‘em for all Week 17 games since they’re such toss-ups. You can certainly handicap those situations yourself, especially if you believe a given team will more likely than not be in wildcard contention the final week and probably a big favorite; or maybe you think a team will definitely have a bye wrapped up by then and giving an easy win to another team. While we’re on the topic, if you’re willing to do the work, you could certainly go through the CGT Week 2-16 lines at https://www.vsin. com/odds/cg-technology-nfl-betting-sheets-forweeks-2-16/ and make your own adjusted MLEs if you think the lines are off, or get the current spreads from the CGT app to see which lines have been moving from early bettors.
But here are my “takes” (and some passes) and other general observations using the CGT openers:
• The highest Over/Under win total is the Patriots at 11 (11.5 at William Hill, with the vig at Over 105/ Under -125) with the Rams at 10.5 (Over 115/ Under -135). It might be tempting to take the Unders despite the high vig, but beware that while their MLEs (Patriots 11.2 and Rams 10.4) are slightly lower than their totals, the Patriots’ W-L-T is 14-1-1 with their only underdog role being 1 at Philadelphia in Week 11 and the obligatory pick ‘em in Week 17. The Rams’ W-L-T is 13-0-3 as they’re not a dog in any game. Unless you really think the Pats or Rams are going to underachieve or want to gamble that they have a ton of injuries, it might be hard to keep them Under.
• It seems everyone is on the Browns’ bandwagon, but beware about betting them Over 9 wins. The Browns’ MLE only adds up to 8.5 while the W-L-T is 6-8-2, so they’re not even favored in half of their games. In my opinion, an 8-8 record is more likely than a 10-6 record that would be needed to go Over.
• NFC East: All four teams have MLEs within half a win of their win totals. The play I like the best is the Giants Over 6 ( 110 at William Hill). When we add up the MLE, it comes to 6.5. The Giants’ W-L-T is 4-10-2, so that means they’re favored in four games, underdogs in 10 and pick ‘em in two. If they win the games they’re favored and split the pick ‘ems, that gets them to 5 wins and they just need to pull two upsets in those other 10 games (plus an extra upset for each game if they lose as chalk). So, yes, I really like the Giants Over 6 ( 110). For those with a DraftKings mobile account in Jersey, they were still dealing the Giants at 5.5 (and reasonable vig of -121 on the Over) as of Tuesday night, which means a win instead of a push if the Giants land right on 6 wins.
• NFC North: The best bet looks like the Bears Over 9. Their MLE is slightly higher at 9.2, but they’re also favored in 11 games, so unless they suffer a lot of upsets, the 9 wins (and a push) looks like a worstcase scenario.
• NFC South: There are two Under candidates here. The Falcons’ MLE is 8.0 compared to their win total of 8.5 and have a W-L-T of 6-9-1, so that would make it tough to get to 9 wins. The Buccaneers’ MLE is 6.0 compared to their win total of 6.5 and their W-L-T is 3-12-1, so that looks even harder for them to find 7 wins. Personally, I like the Falcons (as I have the last few years), so I’m going to pass on that Under, but gimme the Bucs Under 6.5.
• NFC West: I’m passing on all four teams.
• AFC East: The Jets Under 7.5 is my only play here. Their MLE adds up to only 7.3, which isn’t a big difference, but their W-L-T of 4-9-3 makes it hard for them to get to the 8 wins it would take to beat us as they’re only favored in four games (-3.5 vs, the Bills in Week 1, -3.5 vs. Giants in Week 10, -3 vs. the Raiders in Week 12 and -6 vs. the Dolphins in Week 14) and would need four more wins from those 12 games as dogs or pick ‘em (and that’s assuming they don’t lose a game as chalk).
• AFC North: Passing on all four teams (see early warning about the popular Brown Over).
• AFC South: This is shaping up as a tough division and we have the Jaguars with the biggest discrepancy from their win total of 8 and their MLE of 7.2. In addition, their W-L-T is 3-9-4 (that’s a lot of pick ‘ems!). It’s very possible they get to 8 wins for a push, but I see 7-9 as much more likely than 9-7.
• AFC West: Count me on the Chiefs’ bandwagon (and not just because I have Patrick Mahomes at $1 in an auction league). Their win total is 10 and their MLE is 10.7 with a W-L-T of 13-2-1. You can play this one of two ways: Over 10 at -110 or Over 10.5 at plus-money ( 130 at Westgate).
Good luck with however you choose to use all these numbers.
TULEY’S TAKES ON NBA/NHL PLAYOFFS
We’ll keep this short this week as we’re waiting for the Bucks-Raptors series in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals and for the lines and prices for the Blues-Bruins Stanley Cup Finals now that St. Louis has wrapped up the Western Conference Finals.
The NBA conference finals haven’t been treating me too well as my recommended plays have dropped to 21-21-1 ATS mostly due to underdogs not being able to hold onto big leads (or at least cover). I expect to be on the Raptors at 7 or more in the pivotal Game 5 on Thursday night in Milwaukee. When the NBA Finals matchup is set, I’ll post a Tuley’s Takes EXTRA! article at VSiN.com for all-access subscribers and in the daily newsletter.
As for the NHL, I cashed in my Blues 200 series price I gave out after they lost Game 1 to the Sharks. I’ll also give my takes on the Stanley Cup Finals later this week.