5 Winning Strategies for Betting NFL Totals

Betting NFL Totals Football Background

Most NFL gamblers start by placing bets on the point spread. But sportsbooks do a good job setting NFL point spreads, so it’s hard to find value.

It’s not always easier to make profit betting on NFL totals than betting on point spread, but when you learn how to evaluate totals, you have more opportunities to find value every week.

Here are five winning strategies for betting NFL totals. Of course, it’s not as simple as betting the over in games with two top offenses or betting the under in games with two strong defenses.

But you can find value if you learn how to evaluate upcoming games properly.

1. Average Scoring Strategy

The simplest strategy for betting totals is using average scoring. Of course, you need to use average scoring when you look at totals, but you shouldn’t make all of your totals wagers based solely on average scoring.

It’s easy to use average scoring totals in the NFL.

  • First, calculate the average points each offense in the game scores per game and the average points each defense gives up per game.
  • Next, average the points of each offense in the game against the other defense in the game.
For example:
New Orleans is playing against Denver. New Orleans averages 27 points per game on offense and gives up an average of 25 points per game on defense. Denver averages 22 points a game n offense and 17 points per game on defense.

The 27 points per game New Orleans averages on offense and the 17 points per game Denver gives up on defense come out to an average of 22 points. The Denver average of 22 points per game on offense and the 25 points per game New Orleans gives up on defense comes out to 23.5 points.

Using this method:
The expected total score is 22 to 23.5, for a total of 45.5. If the total is 46 or higher, it looks like the under is the value. If the total is 45 or under, it looks like the over is the value. The problem is that the sportsbooks run these same calculations before they set the total lines, and then the books adjust the lines based on other factors. So you’re not likely to make a profit using just average scores.

Average scoring totals are the best place to start when you’re evaluating NFL totals. But you need to use the other strategies in this post in combination with average scoring totals if you want to show a profit.

2. Hot and Cold Strategy

NFL offenses and defenses get hot and cold, just like teams in other sports. You need to look at the total results for the season so far for each offense and defense, but you also need to look at the recent trends for each offense and defense.

For example:
Has New Orleans scored more than their season average the last two weeks or less? If they’ve scored more than their season average the last two weeks, is it because they were facing weaker defenses or because they’re improving and on a hot streak?

Sports gamblers look for a simple reason why a total offers value. But there are no simple strategies for betting on sports that work in the long term. You might get lucky sometimes, but simple strategies tend to lose money in the long run.

You need to look at the recent performances for each offense and defense in a game and then why the recent results might differ from the season averages. When you start looking for reasons why recent results have happened, you’re starting to think at the second and third levels.

If you want to make money betting on NFL totals, you have to use second and third-level thinking. The NFL betting sites set their lines to profit from gamblers who never get beyond first-level thinking. When you learn how to ask why and get to the second and third levels, you have a chance to find lines with value.

3. Key Players and Coaches

The NFL is the most violent sport of all team sports. Players get hurt, and even if they don’t have to miss a game, their performance can still be hurt by an injury in any game. And the coaches in the NFL are also some of the smartest coaches in the world, even if they don’t always look like they’re smart.

When you’re evaluating NFL totals:
You need to take a close look at all of the key players in the game and all of the coaches in the game.

Key players always include quarterbacks, but other players are also important, depending on the team. For example, the running back is a key player for some teams, while other teams rely more on receivers. The same is true for defenses.

The head coach is important in each NFL game:
But the coordinators are often more important when you’re betting on totals. Does one team have a genius offensive mind running the show, and does one team have a great defensive coach?

You have to consider all of these things and how you have to adjust your total prediction based on what you learn.

4. Weather and Travel Adjustments

When you make a bet on an NFL total, do you consider the weather forecast for the game? Do you look at how each team performs at home and on the road?

For Example:
If a team scores 32 points a game at home and 22 points a game on the road, it’s a mistake to think they will score 27 points in a game. You need to use the most accurate data you can find when you bet totals, so you use home and road splits.

It isn’t easy to adjust total lines based on weather because you don’t always know exactly what the weather is going to be in a game. But you have to try to adjust the expected total based o the weather if you want to beat the sportsbooks.

When you start trying to use the weather to make adjustments, do the best that you can.

Eventually, you’re going to learn how to make more accurate adjustments as you gain experience.

5. Opposite Strategy

I didn’t lead with the opposite strategy, even though I think it’s the most valuable strategy you can use when you bet on NFL totals. I didn’t lead with this strategy because you need to use the other strategies listed in this post. And the other strategies help you see when the opposite strategy works and when it might not work.

The opposite strategy for NFL totals is simple.
You look for total lines in games where two high-scoring offenses are playing or two good defenses. Common sense says that the over is a good bet when two teams with good offenses play, and the under is the best value when two teams with good defenses play.

But the value in these games is almost always on the opposite side of the total line. The value in a game with two good offenses is almost always on the under, and the value on a game with two good defenses is almost always on the over.

Never forget that sportsbooks set the lines to take advantage of what most gamblers are going to do. So if you’re a sportsbook and you know most bettors will take the over when two good offenses play, you’re going to set the over higher than you think the final score will be.

The problem is that you can’t just use the opposite strategy and win. In many games, the total line doesn’t offer value on either side. Because many totals don’t offer real value, you need to use the other strategies in this post too. The other strategies help you see which totals offer value and which totals don’t offer value.

Please Note:
Start every total line evaluation with average scoring, use the other strategies in this post to make adjustments, and then see if the opposite value strategy is still in play. Finally, if the opposite still looks like a value bet, make a bet.

But don’t bet the opposite if the other strategies don’t show the bet has value. You can find plenty of other games on the schedule each week, so you don’t have to make any bet that doesn’t have value.


I lost money betting NFL totals for several years because I did what most sports gamblers did. If two teams with good offenses were playing, I bet the over. And if two teams with good defenses played, I bet the under.

I finally learned how to evaluate NFL totals while considering how the sportsbooks set the lines. Once you learn how the sportsbooks set lines, it’s easier to find value on totals.

The best strategy I’ve found is the opposite strategy, but it’s not the only strategy you need to learn how to use. Use all five strategies for NFL totals in this post if you want to win.


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Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

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