Tips for betting NFL totals
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Our NFL betting record last season yielded a 32-16-2 record on top plays and an overall clip of 44-33-1 while betting more totals than spreads. I don't think it was a coincidence that the approach led to a profitable season.

NFL totals are a great market to bet if you know what to look for. Here are a handful of tips as we near the start of the 2019 season.

Buy low early

Perceptions can shift quickly early in the season. Week 2, for example, is dubbed Overreaction Week, as the public tends to make impulsive adjustments based on four quarters from the opening slate. Did an offense struggle to move the ball on the road? You're ripping apart their coordinator from your couch. The team you bet didn't even come close to covering the spread? It's already on your no-bet list. When your projections go off the rails immediately, it's not easy to stick to your plan.

Last season, when teams were still rounding into form, I decided to buy low on totals. For example, the Texans and Giants met in Week 3, with both clubs coming off consecutive, relatively low-scoring games. But it wasn't all on the offenses. Houston was coming off two tough road matchups against the Patriots and Titans; New York played the Jaguars and Cowboys, who finished No. 4 and 7 in scoring defense in 2018, respectively. Oddsmakers hung a soft opening number of 41 - vastly different than my projections - and the over wound up cashing (on the final play of the game).

That's just one example, and it doesn't mean you should exclusively look to buck trends. There is, however, value in filtering results and asking why a particular offense or defense is either struggling or overachieving. While grabbing the over on two teams that played four combined games under the total didn't jump off the paper initially, it made sense - if you knew what you were looking for. Which leads to my second point.

Disregard box scores and dig deeper

Ironically, point production is not the be-all and end-all when projecting totals, especially early on. Take these two scenarios:

  • Team X is averaging 31 points per game through the first four games while averaging 5.0 yards per play
  • Team Y is averaging 24 points per game over the same sample while averaging 6.0 yards per play

Team X is commonly perceived to be more efficient offensively based on scoring output, but random variables are obviously affecting both teams, whether it's starting field position, turnover luck, and/or scoring via defense/special teams. That's all mostly random - especially in small samples - so it's important to adjust for true offensive performance and not get too caught up in the box score.

Morph into a meteorologist

Nothing will shatter your heart into 1,000 pieces quite like locking in an over on Monday morning only to watch it tumble four points by Wednesday afternoon.

Congratulations: 25-mph winds are in the forecast for the game and now you're holding an Over 47 ticket while the rest of the market is looking at 43.

Wind is one of many weather factors that affect games. Heavy gusts have been marginally profitable for the under, while games played in sub-zero temperatures are on a pretty impressive run for the over.

But the market often overcorrects in the case of wind or precipitation. More pass-happy offenses require a sizable adjustment, but systems that rely more on the run aren't as fazed. If bettors read too much into the weather, softer numbers frequently pop up.

Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AlexKoIodziej.

Tips for betting NFL totals
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