Editors Note: Victor King of KING CREOLE Sports is a sports data and research analyst for all of Marc Lawrence's PLAYBOOK publications. Totals plays are a niche that the handicapping team at King Creole Sports has focused on over the last 18 years (since we joined the Playbook family in 2000). In addition to his work in the Football Handicapper's YEARBOOK and the "TOTAL PICTURE" in the weekly Playbook newsletter, he is also the creator and author of the Playbook NFL 'TOTALS TIPSHEET'... A weekly publication now in it's 12th season. It spotlights NFL Totals Play wagering exclusively.
Hello Totals players! Welcome to the 2017 NFL Season. As we have done in the past, this year's Over / Under article for the Playbook Yearbook magazine takes a look at the first four weeks of the season. We'll review the OU results from each of the last seven seasons. Next up, we'll highlight multiple OVER and UNDER situations that are potentially playable in each of the first four weeks. Finally, we'll take a look at the best OVER and UNDER teams during each particular week.
NFL Week One:
NFL Over / Under results from each of the last six seasons during this particular week. The four categories are (1) actual OU results in these games (2) Average total points in these games (3) Average OU line in these games and (4) Average OU margin in these games.
2016 Week One: 7-7-2 O/U 44.8 avg ppg 45.3 avg line -0.5 avg OU margin
2015 Week One: 9-7 O/U 45.2 avg ppg 45.2 avg line . 0.0 avg OU margin
2014 Week One: 7-9 O/U 41.4 avg ppg 45.8 avg line -3.5 avg OU margin
2013 Week One: 8-8 O/U 46.4 avg ppg 45.4 avg line +1.0 avg OU margin
2012 Week One: 9-7 O/U 49.4 avg ppg 44.0 avg line +5.4 avg OU margin
2011 Week One: 11-3-2 O/U 47.0 avg ppg 41.3 avg line +5.7 avg OU margin
2010 Week One: 4-10-2 O/U 36.6 avg ppg 41.6 avg line -5.0 avg OU margin
Conclusions: In the last five years, NFL games have been very consistently split right down the middle when it comes to Over / Under results in Week One. It doesn't get much closer than 40 Overs and 38 Unders in that five-year stretch. Last year's results were therefore not surprising as half of the games went Over and half of 'em went Under. One can also see that the OU lines have not deviated too much during this first week . with a low of 45.2 (in 2015) and a high of 45.8 (in 2014). So with that said, what's the current OU line for this season's Week One games? Remember, this article is being written in late May. But at this time, the average Week One OU line for this upcoming season is right around 47.0 points. That's about a point-and-a-half HIGHER than in previous years. One more thing to note in regards to higher-than-average OU lines. In the last six years, NFL Week One games with a fairly high OU line of 46 or MORE points have gone 24-10 O/U. Last season, these games went 6-1 O/U while Week One games with an OU line of LESS than 46 points ended up going 1-6-2 O/U.
Best 'OVER' situations for NFL Week One
It's actually the SAME-division games in Week One that have produced the highest percentage of Overs in the last few years. This tends to go against the conventional mindset. Normally, a sharp OU bettor would tend to think that division games played in the first week of the season would produce a higher percentage of Unders. After all, we're talking about a fairly conservative offensive game plan against an opponent that you will be playing a SECOND TIME later in the season. But that has not been the case. In the last five seasons, NFL Week One DIVISION games in which the host is favored by > 1 point have gone 10-1 O/U (91% Over) when the OU line is in the range of > 39 points and < 53 points. Last season, there were two such games in the Week One schedule and they both went Over the Total. Those games were: Atlanta -2.5 at home vs Tampa w/ an OU line of 47 points. Final score was 31-24 (Over cashed by +8 pts) and Kansas City -6.5 at home vs San Diego w/ an OU line of 46 points. Final score was 33-27 (Over cashed by +14 pts). So for this upcoming season, we're going to keep our eye on potential Over results in the following Week One same-division games: NYG @ DAL PHIL @ WASH NYJ @ BUF BALT @ CIN JAX @ HOU and LAC @ DEN.
Honorable Mention - In addition to the hot and current DIVISION O/U pattern that has emerged as of late, here's another potentially high-scoring situation to keep your eyes on: NFL Week One games played on a MONDAY have gone 12-2 O/U since 1982 when the home team is favored by > 3 points. At last look, this season's Week One MONDAY games currently have both hosts favored by -3.5 points. Those games are the Saints @ Vikings and Chargers @ Broncos.
Best 'UNDER' situations for NFL Week One
I've covered this 'road chalk' aspect for the first week of the season in each of the last five Playbook Yearbook Preview Magazines. The results are still pretty solid for a low-scoring outcome although BOTH situations from LAST season failed to cash. For the record, here's the actual query from our Playbook Pro Football database: 3-23-2 O/U since 1986 (88% Under): NFL Week One NON-division road favorites, when the OU line is 44 or more points. That's a pretty solid Under percentage (88%) when you factor in that we are going all the way back to a 31-year period, with a nice sample size of 28 games. With that said, there were two games in this situation that occurred last season. Those two games were Green Bay (-3.5 on the road) vs Jacksonville and Pittsburgh (-2.5 on the road vs Washington). And NEITHER of those games cashed. So we are potentially at a point in which the OU results may have tapped out for Under bettors. However, given the fact that this situation has gone all the way back to 1986, I still think that there is some 'juice left in the squeeze' We'll keep our eye out for potential Under results in these Week One games: Colts @ Rams Panthers @ Niners Raiders @ Titans and Falcons @ Bears.
Honorable Mention - In addition to the situation mentioned above, here's another potentially low-scoring situation that you might be able to capitalize on. It's active in Week One non-conference games. Since the 1998 season, Week One AFC teams on the ROAD against a NFC opponent have gone 5-17-1 O/U when the OU line is 48 or fewer points. In 2017, there is only one game that fits into this potentially low-scoring scenario in Week One. And that is Indianapolis Colts @ Los Angeles Rams.
BEST Week One 'OVER' teams (most recent trends):
DETROIT 6-0 O/U GREEN BAY 6-0 O/U CINCINNATI 6-1 O/U NEW ORLEANS 5-1 O/U LA CHARGERS 3-1 O/U DENVER 3-1-1 O/U NY GIANTS 6-2 O/U PITTSBURGH 11-4 O/U OAKLAND 6-3-1 O/U.
BEST Week One 'UNDER' teams (most recent trends):
BUFFALO 0-4 O/U CAROLINA 0-4-1 O/U BALTIMORE 0-3 SAN FRANCISCO 0-3 O/U NEW ENGLAND 1-4 O/U TENNESSEE 1-4-1 O/U MIAMI 2-8 O/U ARIZONA 3-7 O/U LA RAMS 3-7-1 O/U.
NFL Week Two:
2016 Week Two: 9-7 O/U 45.3 avg ppg 45.2 avg line +0.1 avg OU margin
2015 Week Two: 7-8-1 O/U 47.8 avg ppg 45.2 avg line +2.6 avg OU margin
2014 Week Two: 7-9 O/U 42.6 avg ppg 45.6 avg line -3.0 avg OU margin
2013 Week Two: 8-8 O/U 43.0 avg ppg 45.0 avg line -2.0 avg OU margin
2012 Week Two: 7-7-2 O/U 47.8 avg ppg 45.0 avg line +2.8 avg OU margin
2011 Week Two: 11-5 O/U 46.9 avg ppg 43.4 avg line +3.5 avg OU margin
2010 Week Two: 9-7 O/U 42.1 avg ppg 41.1 avg line +1.0 avg OU margin
Conclusions: Week Two OU results have almost mirrored those of Week One particularly in the last five seasons. And so have the actual lines as well. Since the 2012 season, Week Two games have ended up with 38 Overs and 39 Unders. That's not too different from the Week One results of 40-38 O/U. The average OU line in this 5-year stretch has not gone lower than 45.0 or higher than 45.6. Since the beginning of this decade, the average Week Two OU line has risen four points (41.1 in 2010 to 45.2 in 2016) and the overall scoring has also risen, but not by the same margin as the line (42.1 in 2010 to 45.3 in 2016).
Best 'OVER' situations for NFL Week Two
Our database search for the best Over situation in this particular Week of the Season starts in NON-division games. From that set, we're looking for teams that are priced as home UNDERDOGS in these games. And from there, we are looking at games in which the OU line is in the mid-low to high range. The official query from our database therefore looks like this: 19-5-1 O/U since 2007 (78% Over) for all Week Two NON-division home underdogs of 2 > points with an OU line of 39 > points. This is one that has been getting stronger for Over players in the more recent seasons. For instance, in the last three years, these games have gone 6-1 O/U. We also note that if these home teams are getting MORE than a field goal (+3.5 or more), the results improve to a PERFECT 12-0 O/U! The games that we will be looking at for potential high-soring results in THIS season's Week Two will be New Orleans hosting New England (in which the Saints will probably be a home dog) and Denver hosting Dallas (in which the Broncos will probably be a home dog too).
Honorable Mention Just like in Week One, NFL games involving SAME-division opponents have been relatively high scoring as of late when the OU line is on the low side. Since the 2008 season, NFL games have gone 80% Over the Total (8-2 O/U) in Week Two in DIVISION games in which the host is favored and the OU line is 42 or less points. Keep your 'Over RADAR' finely tuned for these three games in Week Two (depending on the point spread and OU line): Browns @ Ravens Titans @ Jaguars and Niners @ Seahawks.
Best 'UNDER' situations for NFL Week Two
Here's another 'chalky' aspect that applies to the second week of the NFL season that I have also covered in each of the last five Playbook Yearbook Preview Magazines. File this one away and be prepared to GO LOW if and when a team is laying more than a TD in their second game of the season. These teams tend to get out to a big lead and then they put it on Cruise Control in the 2nd half of the game. Since 1982(!), NFL Week Three BIG home favorites of -8 > points have gone 16-41 O/U (72% Under) when the OU line is > 38 points. This low-scoring situation has been very strong for Under bettor for 35 freakin' years and it's done even better in the last ten (1-8 O/U since 2006 / 89% Under). Of course, at this stage we don't know who is going to be a big 'chalky' favorite in Week Two. But here are two possible qualifiers that might be laying more than a TD at home in their second game of the season (based on the 'look ahead' lines that Sportsbooks posted way back in May): Seattle at HOME vs San Francisco and Oakland at HOME vs NY Jets.
Honorable Mention The Over / Under line will play a KEY role in Week Two DIVISION games. I just covered the potential high-scoring results in division games when the OU line is on the low side (80% Overs since 2008). But here's the flip side: In the last four seasons, NFL same-DIVISION games in WEEK TWO have gone 88% Under the Total when the OU line is > 42 points. The official results are 2-14 O/U. So once we get to Week Two and it's a DIVISION game let the OU line in that game decide whether you are going Over (line of 42 < pts) or Under (line of > 42 pts).
BEST Week Two 'OVER' teams:
CHICAGO 4-0 O/U JACKSONVILLE 3-0 O/U LA CHARGERS 10-1 O/U BUFFALO 5-1 O/U CLEVELAND 5-1 O/U OAKLAND 5-1 O/U SAN FRANCISCO 5-1 O/U MIAMI 4-1 O/U CAROLINA 4-1-1 O/U.
BEST Week Two 'UNDER' teams:
CINCINNATI 0-4 O/U DETROIT 0-4 O/U TAMPA BAY 0-4 O/U NY GIANTS 0-3 O/U PITTSBURGH 1-11 O/U MINNESOTA 2-12 O/U ARIZONA 1-5 O/U SEATTLE 1-5 O/U DALLAS 1-4 O/U.
NFL Week Three:
2016 Week Three: 9-7 O/U 46.9 avg ppg 45.2 avg line +1.7 avg OU margin
2015 Week Three: 10-6 O/U 48.2 avg ppg 45.0 avg line +3.2 avg OU margin
2014 Week Three: 9-7 O/U 45.9 avg ppg 45.6 avg line +0.3 avg OU margin
2013 Week Three: 7-9 O/U 46.3 avg ppg 45.1 avg line +2.2 avg OU margin
2012 Week Three: 6-10 O/U 45.9 avg ppg 45.5 avg line +0.4 avg OU margin
2011 Week Three: 6-10 O/U 40.3 avg ppg 44.3 avg line -4.0 avg OU margin
2010 Week Three: 9-7 O/U 43.4 avg ppg 41.6 avg line +1.8 avg OU margin
Conclusions: The worm is turning. After a three-year period with significantly more Unders than Overs from 2011 to 2013 (19-29 O/U / 60% Under), the results have made a 180-degree turnaround as of late. In the last three seasons (2014-2016), Week Three NFL games have gone a combined 28-20 O/U (58% Over). The average of 46.8 ppg is three points higher than Week One games (43.8) and two points higher than Week Two games (44.6).
Best 'OVER' situations for NFL Week Three
Highlighting the Top Over situation in this week of the season starts with undefeated teams. Getting off to a great start (in this case. A 2-0 W/L record) tends to lead to some pretty high-scoring games for teams that are favored at home in Week Three. 23-9 O/U since 2007 (72% Over): All Week Three UNDEFEATED home favorites. When favored by more than a field goal (-3.5 >), the numbers improve to 16-4 O/U (80% Over). In the last two seasons, these games have gone a perfect 5-0 O/U. Last year, there was only one qualifier in this subset. That was the NEW YORK GIANTS, who were favorites of -3.5 points against Washington after starting out the season with a 2-0 record. The OU line in that division game was 47 points, and the final score was 29 to 27 an 'OVER'-easy winner by +9 points.
Honorable Mention - Expounding on that last sentence, I also ran a query for all DIVISION games during this week of the season. The results were even stronger for Over bettors than our lead situation. In the last four years, Week Three same-DIVISION Games have gone an amazing 16-2 O/U. That's 89% Over the Total. These games went a perfect 4-0 O/U last season, and 5-0 O/U in 2015. With FIVE division games scheduled for Week Three THIS season, we'll be looking to follow this hot, recent high-scoring pattern (SF/LAR CAR/NORL NYJ/MIA PHIL/NYG LAC/KC).
One more situation that has led to a lot more Overs than Unders during this particular week that is worthy of noting: NFL Week Three teams who went Under in EACH of their first two games of the season have gone 26-9 O/U (74% Over) since the 2007 season. So keep your eyes on the teams who start the 2017 season with a 0-2 O/U record and then be prepared to go the other way (as in Over) in Week Three.
Best 'UNDER' situations for NFL Week Three
In our Top OVER situation, we learned from the database that undefeated 'home chalk' teams led to pretty extreme high-scoring results. But what about the exact opposite side of the coin? How about teams taking to the road in their third game of the season after starting out 0-2 SU? These teams tend to go Under at a very high percentage. NFL Week Three WINLESS road teams have gone 2-18 O/U (90% Under) in the history of our database against NON-division opponents when the OU line is > 43 points. The average game for these winless teams has gone Under by almost double-digits (-9.1 points per game).
Honorable Mention - It makes sense that teams off back-to-back Unders tend to go Over at a high percentage in their 3rd game of the season. But the OPPOSITE is also true. NFL Week Three teams who went Over in EACH of their first two games of the season have gone 3-15 O/U (83% Under) when playing at home against any non-division opponent since the 2009 season.
And finally, we wrap up this week with another 'totally' (pun intended) OPPOSITE situation. NFL Week Three UNDEFEATED road favorites of -3 > points have gone 5-16 O/U since 2003 including 0-4 O/U in the last five years. So let the site and the spread dictate which way us Totals Players will be betting in regards to undefeated teams. OVER for home favorites but UNDER for road favorites.
BEST Week Three 'OVER' teams:
MIAMI 5-0 O/U ATLANTA 4-0 O/U CLEVELAND 4-0 O/U DALLAS 3-0 O/U NY GIANTS 3-0 O/U WASHINGTON 3-0 O/U NY JETS 10-2 O/U CINCINNATI 4-1 O/U BUFFALO 10-3 O/U.
BEST Week Three 'UNDER' teams:
SAN DIEGO 0-6 O/U MINNESOTA 0-3 O/U PHILADELPHIA 1-6 O/U CAROLINA 2-7 O/U OAKLAND 2-7 O/U DETROIT 1-3 O/U HOUSTON 1-3 O/U NEW ENGLAND 1-3 O/U TENNESSEE 1-3 O/U.
NFL Week Four:
2016 Week Four: 7-8 O/U 43.8 avg ppg 45.3 avg line -1.5 avg OU margin
2015 Week Four: 5-10 O/U 43.5 avg ppg 44.6 avg line -1.1 avg OU margin
2014 Week Four: 13-3 O/U 53.4 avg ppg 45.8 avg line +7.6 avg OU margin
2013 Week Four: 9-7 O/U 46.3 avg ppg 45.4 avg line +0.9 avg OU margin
2012 Week Four: 8-7 O/U 47.3 avg ppg 44.8 avg line +2.5 avg OU margin
2011 Week Four: 10-6 O/U 47.4 avg ppg 43.8 avg line +0.6 avg OU margin
2010 Week Four: 8-6 O/U 41.3 avg ppg 42.5 avg line -1.2 avg OU margin
Conclusions: Things change drastically in Pro Football. Especially OU results. The savvy Totals Bettor doesn't always know when a pattern or tendency is about to change drastically from what happened the previous year. Who would have thought that after going 2-14 O/U in 2015 that the ATLANTA FALCONS would go 16-2-1 O/U the next season? Or that the NEW YORK GIANTS would go from 11-5 O/U (in 2015) to 4-12 O/U (in 2016)? The same holds true for the fourth week of the season. Prior to 2015, Week Four games were easily the highest scoring in the first month of the season. It topped out with amazing 53.4 combined PPG average in 2014. But those numbers have gone down by almost TEN full points per game in the last two years (43.6). And as a result, Week Four games have gone 12-18 O/U (60% Under) in those last two years.
Best 'OVER' situations for NFL Week Four
Taking the lead spot in the highest-scoring patterns during Week Four requires us to once again visit with the teams that have started out the season with wins in each of their first three games. These undefeated teams tend to be riding high, and they bring their A-Game to Week Four at least from an offensive perspective. 27-12-1 O/U (70% Over): All Week Four UNDEFEATED favorites. And the higher the pointspread, the better the Over results. When favored by -4 or more points and playing at HOME, these undefeated teams have gone 14-3 O/U including 9-1 O/U (90% Over) in the last eight seasons.
Honorable Mention: 6-1 O/U last five years for Week Four NON-division games with a HIGH Over / Under line of greater than (>) 49 points 12-2 O/U since 2011: All Week Four NON-CONFERENCE games when the AFC teams is a 'pick em' or underdog 15-3 O/U since 2000: All Week Four home favorites who have a BYE the following week, when the OU line is > 40 points.
Best 'UNDER' situations for NFL Week Four
Another LOW-scoring situation for teams who have a big-fat ZERO in their win column. We're once again talking about WINLESS teams. The OU results for winless teams in this week of the season basically mirrors that of Week Three. 6-17-1 O/U (74% Under) last eight years: All Week Four WINLESS teams playing at home or on the road. In fact, these teams have actually gone a PERFECT 0-7 O/U when playing at HOME. Like the Chicago Bears last year. Their home game versus Detroit in Week Four went Under by -16.5 points after they started out the season with a 0-3 SU record. The only time we do NOT want to go Under for these winless teams is if they are playing in one of these funky NEUTRAL site games 'across the pond'. Those games have actually gone a perfect 4-0 O/U (like Jaguars / Colts last season).
Honorable Mention NFL games in which the road team is favored by more than a field goal have led to some pretty low-scoring results during this week of the season. In the last six years, Week Four road favorites of -3.5 or more points have gone 90% Under the Total (1-9 O/U).
BEST Week Four 'OVER' teams:
ATLANTA 6-0 O/U SAN DIEGO 5-0 O/U CLEVELAND 3-0 O/U KANSAS CITY 3-0 O/U TENNESSEE 8-1 O/U CAROLINA 5-1 O/U NEW ORLEANS 5-1 O/U INDIANAPOLIS 9-2 O/U HOUSTON 4-1 O/U.
BEST Week Four 'UNDER' teams:
BUFFALO 0-4 O/U DETROIT 0-3 O/U SAN FRANCISCO 0-3 O/U NY GIANTS 1-4 O/U GREEN BAY 1-3 O/U JACKSONVILLE 2-5 O/U MINNESOTA 2-5 O/U OAKLAND 2-5 O/U.
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