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Odds and Ends

Total adjustments cause spike for NFL Unders

by Sam Panayotovich
Updated On: October 21, 2020, 12:07 am ET

There are thousands upon thousands of new sports bettors across the country this football season. The industry grows every single day and only more consumers will enter the party when more states legalize. 

A friend of mine signed up for a betting account right before the NFL season opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. He's always loved football and finally decided to try out his luck since you know, it's actually legal in Illinois now. 

He fired his first bet on Over 53 points because he expected lots of fireworks with offenses led by Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. The game was a dead Under most of the way, but the two teams combined to score 23 points in the fourth quarter and Harrison Butker kicked a "meaningless" 19-yard field goal with 30 seconds left. 

34-20 Kansas City. Over 53 points. Boom. 

"Offenses are too good these days," the bettor said.

This logic paid off quite a bit in the first two weeks when NFL totals flew Over at a 63 percent clip. But I actually wrote the following at the end of that column: 

Eventually, this stuff will all even out. The 2019 NFL season finished with 134 Unders, 132 Overs and one push. That’s about as close to the middle as it gets for bookmakers.

Riding hot trends can definitely be beneficial for your bankroll in the short team. Be careful and tread lightly though, because all good things eventually come to an end. You just have to know when to take your surfboard and go home.

So guess what happened? The average point total rose from 45.5 in Week 1 to 50.5 by Week 5. Five points might not sound like a lot, but that's five points per game. That's a whale of an adjustment. 

"Teams are scoring like crazy and bettors love it," PointsBet Sportsbook senior sports analyst Andrew Mannino told NBC Sports in early October. "We’re just trying to keep up and adjust as best we can."

Go figure, Unders went 8-and-4 yesterday and are on a 24-and-17 (59%) run over the last three weeks. Detroit and Jacksonville scored 50 points and even that game went Under (53). 

That "offenses are too good" crowd has certainly slowed their roll too. It's tougher to cash at a high success rate when totals are 52 instead of 47 and 55 instead of 50. Offenses are still pretty damn good, but bettors aren't as pleased because they're not flying over these inflated totals. 

PointsBet is dealing the total for both Monday Night Football games at 55 tonight. 

The lesson here for all bettors is that oddsmakers always find a way to adjust to the hot trends. Please remember that when you think you've reinvented the wheel. You truly have to learn how to take the surfboard and go home when the waves flatten. 

"It all comes out in the wash," Mannino told me this morning. "There are huge runs, but everything evens out eventually. We're starting to see that come back down to earth with the totals."

Sam Panayotovich

Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst from the South Side of Chicago. He'll probably pick against your favorite team a lot. Follow him @spshoot