Regardless of sport, the overall team win totals is one of the most popular futures bets out there.
With free agent signings, exciting new draft picks, and the hope that always comes with a 0-0 record, every fan base wants to believe this is their year….but are they willing to put their money with their mouth is?
Picking the total number of wins can provide a nice payout at the end of the year if you’re able to hit on a significant percentage of your picks. In this article, I’ll lay out some tips to help you do just that.
1 – In the NFL, Look at the Schedules
Simply put, when betting the over/under win totals in the NFL, nothing is more important than the team’s schedule.
Each year, nearly all teams will have some games that can be marked as a “W” or an “L” immediately. Yes, this will vary from team-to-team, but the general idea is that you should have at least a half-dozen games where the result is as close to certain as possible.
The key that will separate a winning bet from a losing bet comes down to evaluating the games that could go either way depending on how the season progresses. Things like injuries (especially to a quarterback), or unexpected breakout star players can have a significant impact on the games that might have had a question mark beside them going into the season. Make sure you keep up to date with the latest NFL news.
Before putting in any money on either the over or under number, go through each game on the schedule that you consider to be an “undecided” at the time you’re looking at it. Then try to evaluate whether it’s more likely than not that the team will win or lose. Be sure you aren’t always falling on one side or the other or your entire system will be biased.
Another way to look at it is by simply switching back and forth between wins and losses for the games which can’t be determined before the season. For example, if you’re looking at a good team whose total number is over/under 10.5, you might mark off 8 sure-wins, 2 losses, with 6 undecideds. If you assume the team goes 3-3 in the games you determine to be undecided, you should go with the over.
Don’t get bogged down by trying to mentally play out each game on the schedule.
You should be able to quickly sort the games into one of the three categories laid out above. As a quick rule of thumb, if you can’t confidently mark down a game as a win or a loss in a matter of minutes, it goes in the undecided category. If it goes in the undecided category, it makes up the total number that will be split 50-50 for wins and losses.
While the schedule is obviously a factor in all sports, the number of games in the NFL makes it much more important than in other sports. If you’re betting win totals, or any other futures bets in the NFL, the schedule is without question the determining factor in which way you should bet.
2 – In the NBA, Look at Team Goals
Unlike the NFL, when NBA betting on season totals, not every game matters. I won’t go as far as to say teams are trying to lose games (although some people might argue that tanking is a real problem), but history has shown us that some teams are focused on a goal that’s bigger than simply winning regular season games.
Unfortunately for futures bettors, the fact I laid out above can make the over/under total wins for a season a difficult thing to predict. However, if you’re able to at least recognize the potential for a good team to take some nights off, you’re ahead of the general public.
Keep in mind that bias always plays a huge factor in the odds that you’ll find – regardless of the sport or type of bet you’re making. Even as the sportsbooks roll out their opening odds, betting markets take over and shift the numbers based on what the money coming in says.
For example, each year there are a handful (2 to 4) teams that stand above all others. Though they might have better odds to win the championship, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be expected to have the highest win totals during the regular season.
Teams like the Jazz and Nuggets during the late 2010s, perennially good teams but never real championship contenders, often put up higher win totals than a team like the Rockets (during the same time span) who many expect to compete for a title.
In the end, I would recommend staying away from the top three teams who have the best odds to win the championship. These teams are simply too hard to predict due to the chance that they’ll take games off periodically to rest players for a deep postseason run.
Stick to the middle-of-the-pack teams when betting overall win totals and you’ll avoid losing due to being unable to predict a team’s effort level at various times throughout the course of the year.
3 – In Major League Baseball, Look at Pitching
Major League Baseball is unique in that the worst team in the league can easily win 60+ times throughout the course of a season. Side note: that makes baseball one of my favorite sports to bet on a game-to-game basis, but that’s a topic for another day. When it comes to over/under win totals for the entire season, it’s much more difficult to get it right.
Just as the NFL has a definite place to start – the schedule – MLB season win totals also has a certified first-step in the decision-making process: the projected starting rotation.
It almost feels cliché to point out that Major League Baseball teams are only as good as their starting pitching, but it’s simply the truth. As you go through the list of teams and their preseason over/under win total number, start by looking at which five pitchers are most likely to make up the rotation during the upcoming season.
With 162 games to account for, it’s impossible to take the schedule into account – with one exception: divisional opponents.
Keep in mind that if a team – even a very good team – is in a division with other playoff contenders that could mean reduced win totals for everyone involved. Because MLB teams play so many games within the division, the strength or weakness of a division can have a big impact on the outcome of the season.
When picking the win total number feels like a shot in the dark given a 162-game season, stick with two main factors to use when evaluating: the starting rotation and the strength of the division.
4 – In the NHL, Remember Points and Division Opponents Matter
One quick note on NHL season totals – remember that the most common metric to bet on will be “points.” Teams get two points for a win, and one point if a game goes to over time, regardless if it ends in a win or a loss.
Just as with baseball, one of the main factors for NHL season totals is how strong the other teams are in a team’s division. Teams play each team in their division five times during the long 82-game season, meaning a significant percentage of their games will be against this same set of opponents.
Aging rosters and new breakout stars are the ones who shift the tides in pro hockey, so it pays to stay informed on personnel changes from season to season. More than any other sport, teams go from good to bad, and vice versa, over a short period of time.
If you’re not as familiar with hockey betting as you are with the other major sports, doing your research could give you a real leg up on the other bettors who are shifting the lines based on their biases.
Regardless of which sport you’re betting, there’s bound to be plenty of season preview information out there to use in your decision-making process. Use it to your advantage and you’ll see the benefit come season’s end.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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