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How To Profit Betting NFL Regular Season Win Totals

Not only are NFL regular season win totals one of the most popular offseason football bets, they’re one of the best to profit off of. That’s because those who stay plugged into the football news – free agency, the NFL Draft and preseason action – can get an edge on the oddsmakers.

While it might feel like a lot of work for one bet, we’ve created a checklist for bettors to serve as a path to profit. Stick with the advice here and you’ll find success with NFL regular season win totals.

NFL Regular Season Win Totals
How To Profit Betting NFL Regular Season Win Totals

Remember That You’re Trying To Beat The Market

The first thing to factor here is that you’re not simply betting on a team to be good or bad. For many football experts, that’s an easy part of it. If a team had four wins last season, didn’t fire their coach and was short on either salary cap space or draft capital, a lot of bettors would be able to deduce that their chances of turning things around are low. On the flip side, if a team made the playoffs and brought back the cast for another run, there’s a good chance they’ll be in a similar position next season.

Generally speaking, football fans have an idea of who should be good or bad, but that’s not what we’re betting on here. What you’re betting on is beating the market.

The oddsmakers will set low numbers on bad teams because we generally know they’ll be bad. Will they underperform what the oddsmakers set the line at, though? That’s what you need to hit the under. It’s the same going the other way. Many people projected that the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick New England Patriots would be a perennial contender but would they surpass the high bar that the oddsmakers put for their win total? That’s the question.

Where you’ll find value here is when there’s a mismatch. You want to find teams that the oddsmakers think will be bad but you’ll believe will be good. Or teams that are projected to be around .500 but you think will be winning teams. You have to beat the market one way or the other; it’s not simply about evaluating which team will be good or bad.

How Did The Team Finish?

Checking in with how a team finished their previous season is always a good starting point. If you’re looking at overs, you would like to see a team that finished positively. That could mean a playoff run or something like wins in four of their last five games to end the regular season.

The flipside is a team that finished poorly. This type of performance can foreshadow more struggles ahead. When that’s the case and when there aren’t a lot of offseason changes, that team could be a good candidate for an under bet.

Handicapping Offseason Changes

Those who do their homework tend to have the most success with regular season win totals. That’s because there’s lots to follow in the offseason and a team can go from outhouse to penthouse in just a few months.

Consider a team that finished 3-14 and fired their coach after the season ended. Then hired a new boss, used their high draft picks to plug some holes and spent lavishly in free agency. That’s a team that could have a huge turnaround. The only way to know this and to get a jump on the rest of the bettors is to be tracking the personnel changes.

A good tip is to follow the team’s beat reporters as not only will they relay the big transactions, they’ll also convey how the roster changes are looking early on. Whether there is team chemistry or a lack thereof, those can tip you off as to which way to go with the regular season win totals.

Handicapping Offseason Consistency, Stagnation

Many bettors look towards lots of turnover to make their regular season win total decisions. Oftentimes, players will want to bet an over after a team makes lots of moves. However, a lack of change can also help bettors handicap this futures bet.

Consistency is often a good thing for a team as it projects predictability. For example, when the Kansas City Chiefs bring back Andy Reid as head coach and Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, we generally have a good idea that they’ll be pretty darn good. That type of consistency is something you want to look for because you can often bank on past performance.

The other type of consistency isn’t necessarily a positive. If you see a team that needs to make some changes but is sticking with the status quo, that might steer you towards an under bet. A team might need to make changes but not be able to do so for various reasons – one being that they’re over the salary cap. Those are teams that are likely a good under bet.

Monitor The Preseason

You’re going to read all sorts of hype about teams in the offseason. If you read local papers, they’ll sometimes paint a picture that every team has a chance to win the Super Bowl. However, our first look at the teams is in the preseason and those exhibition games can provide a lot of supportive evidence for regular season win total bets.

If you’ve been reading about a rookie quarterback who is progressing well in his development, you want to see how he looks in the exhibition games to back that up. On the other hand, if training camp reports and fantasy news sites are suggesting that an offense is much improved, but you don’t see that in preseason games, there’s a disconnect there.

Preseason games offer one more piece of data and you have to add it to the rest of the evidence to assess whether the case supports an over or under bet.

What Is The Coaching Situation?

It’s no surprise that coaching is critical to the success of a team and you have to consider where a team is in the life cycle of their bench boss.

If a team was already debating firing a head coach at the end of the previous season but brought him back for one more kick at the can, that’s not exactly encouraging. There is risk that the players have already tuned him and that can linger until they’re fired. If a coach is in their first year on the job, the whole situation might be something you want to avoid as it could be a wildcard. Oftentimes teams hire defensive coordinators or offensive coordinators to take over, and it’s unclear if they will, in fact, fix the offense or defense or other issues, or if they will simply make things more complex. New coaches are also hard to handicap because we don’t have a sense as to how they’ll handle things like team discipline, in-game adjustments or clock management.

The best scenario for overs with a team that has a coach with a track record of success. That’s something you can bank on. Almost all other situations tend to offer more risk, so you then have to consider whether under is the way to go.

Strength Of Schedule

One of the most important aspects to evaluate is a team’s strength of schedule. This metric looks at who a team has to face in the coming season and ranks how difficult that schedule will be. Of course, a team that plays in a division where three teams made the playoffs last season figures to be more challenging than a division where all four teams were 8-9 or worse.

What’s critical to remember here is that this is a backwards-looking metric and teams can change dramatically from season to season. Also, there are more modern models that evaluate a team beyond just wins and losses from the previous season. They might factor how the offense ranked, turnovers and many other statistical categories to project how strong they were in the previous season. Using these in conjunction with the traditional strength of schedule metric might paint a more complete picture.

Lookahead Lines

Lookahead lines are mostly unreliable as it’s hard to really trust lines in Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4 before Week 1 has even taken place. The NFL is a fast-changing league and an injury, a trade or a coach’s firing can change the landscape quite drastically from week-to-week. At the same time, the fact that the oddsmakers post these types of lines early can offer another data point for regular season win totals – even if the data point is a bit flimsy.

A good way to use these is to cross-reference the odds with the early part of the schedule and gauge how a team might start. If they’re a 10-point favorite in Weeks 1, 2 and 3, then that might suggest that the squad has a good opportunity to start 3-0. At the same time, if the team is underdogs in the first three weeks, they might be in for a rough start. Evaluating their early schedule with the help of the odds can guide you as to whether over or under might be the way to lean.

Miscellaneous Dynamics

Beyond simply looking at the schedule in terms of opponents, you have to evaluate if there are any other dynamics in play. Some things to think about could include:

  •       A dome team having to play several games outside in the winter
  •       A team losing a home game as they have to travel to London or Mexico City to “play host”
  •       Teams dealing with short weeks after playing on a Sunday and then having to play on the Thursday right after
  •       Teams having an early bye week

These are just a few undercurrents to keep in mind but you really have to dive into the schedule to see if there is anything funky in there.

For example, the Miami Dolphins play the Buffalo Bills twice per season. They’re a warm-weather team, though, so visiting Buffalo in an early-season September matchup when it is late summer is a better situation for them than visiting Buffalo in the dead of winter when wind and snow come into play.

Or if you’re looking at a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars and they have to host a game in London instead of in their home stadium, that’s something you have to factor.

Make sure you comb through the schedule beyond just the strength of it. Some of these odd dynamics can tip the scales towards and over or an under.

Track The Futures Market

One good indicator to monitor is a team’s Super Bowl futures. They can be a good tell on how a team might perform versus their regular season. The Super Bowl futures are the first set of odds that open up as they’re usually posted before the previous season is even finished. It’s good to take a snapshot, so you can see where the oddsmakers project the teams from the get-go. Later on in the offseason, you can check-in a few times to see if a team’s odds have gone up, gone down or stayed the same.

For example, if a team opened at 20/1 to win the Super Bowl in February but dropped to 15/1 or 12/1 in July, you can glean that bettors and oddsmakers believe this team is on the rise. Sometimes the regular season win totals don’t adjust in a similar fashion and you can connect the dots to bet the over. Tracking the futures market can point you in the right direction for win totals, so keep an eye on those line movements.

Bet Unders Early, Overs Late

While it doesn’t have to be an axiom to live bet, it does help to keep this maxim in mind: bet unders early and bet overs late.

The main reason you want to keep this top of mind is because of injuries. If you bet the Kansas City Chiefs over for their regular season wins and a key player happens to get hurt in training camp or preseason action, the entire bet can be derailed. One player – especially a quarterback – can have that type of impact on a team’s season.

At the same time, when it comes to unders, this bug becomes a feature. That’s because with unders, you want the team to lose more. That means that if you bet an under in May and the team loses key players in July or August, your bet will only look better.

For overs, you’d ideally wait until the eve of the regular season to place your bet. That way, you know everyone is healthy. With unders, betting early can work to your benefit.

Win With NFL Regular Season Win Totals

NFL regular season win totals are not only a place to profit for sharp sports bettors, they’re also great entertainment for casual fans. One bet can go a long way in terms of weekly excitement as you track the progress of your team for months. At the same time, these types of wagers can really pay off if you follow the guidance. Do your offseason homework and you’ll be cashing in come the regular season.

Outlier Team
August 2, 2023
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