Football Totals – How to Bet on Totals

Betting on football consists of many different types of wagers. One of the
most popular types of football wagers is the Totals, also known as the
Over/Under. This bet is placed on the total points scored by the two teams

It’s an exciting betting option, as you don’t have to worry about who
wins or loses, just how many points are scored. The simplicity of this bet makes
it very appealing to casual bettors and experienced bettors alike. However,
don’t let the simplicity of this wager fool you. Just like with any other type
of football bet, there are strategies and risks involved.

How Do Football Totals Work?

Although they’re called Totals, this type of bet is better known as
Over/Unders due to the nature of the wager. In short, you are betting on whether
the total score of a football game goes Over or Under the Totals Line (number).
Let’s take a look at an example:

Seahawks vs Vikings
Over 39.5
Under 39.5

In this example, the Totals Line is set at 39.5 points. This means you are
betting on whether the total points scored between the Seahawks and the Vikings
will be Over or Under 39.5 points. In the 2017 football season, the Vikings had
one of the best defenses in the league. Additionally, the Seahawks were also a
Top 10 defense, which means this hypothetical matchup had all the makings of an
epic defensive battle.

If you were inclined to believe that these two defenses would keep the
opposing offenses in check, then you would bet on the Under (under 39.5 points).
If you had a sneaky feeling that the offenses would surprise the opposing
defenses and score more than 40 points, then you would bet on the Over (over
39.5 points).

The Half Point Is Significant!

So, we all know that there are no half points in football. But in our
example, we see that the Totals Line is 39.5 points. Sportsbooks use the half
point to prevent a push, which is a tie in sports betting. If the Totals Line
was 40 points and the final score of the game was 24-16, then your wager would
be a push, and nobody wins the bet.

How Much Do You Have to Bet?

Take a look at the next important number in the example above: “-110.” This
number means that you would have to bet $110 to win $100. It’s not an even money
wager. This is how sportsbooks make their money no matter who wins the game.
They create appealing lines for bettors on the Over and bettors on the Under
with the hopes of an even amount of betting action on both sides.

Quarter and Half Totals Bets

For the more experienced bettor, some sportsbooks offer Quarter Totals and
Half Totals to wager on in addition to the Game Total. Football has 4 quarters
and 2 halves per game, which allows for 6 more Over/Under betting options:

  • 1st Quarter Total
  • 2nd Quarter Total
  • 1st Half Total
  • 3rd Quarter Total
  • 4th Quarter Total
  • 2nd Half Total

Sticking with the example from above, the Seahawks vs. Vikings 39.5 total
points line, the sportsbook could also have the following Quarter and Half
Over/Unders: Make a table for the following

Quarter/Half Total
1st Quarter 10.5 points
2nd Quarter 10.5 points
1st Half 20 points
3rd Quarter 10.5 points
4th Quarter 10.5 points
2nd Half 20.5 points

With these additional Over/Under wagering options, you could end up placing
several Totals bets on just one game. For example, if you know that the Seahawks
lead the league in 1st Quarter scoring, then you might be inclined to take the
Over for the 1st Quarter Total Line of 10.5 points.

Advantages of Betting on Football Totals

Betting on football totals has its advantages. None are more obvious than the
simplicity of this type of wager. You either bet on the Over or the Under.
There’s no confusion with this type of sports bet. Other advantages are as

  • It’s great for casual bettors or beginners due to how simple it is to
    understand and to wager on.
  • You have a 50/50 chance of winning. But keep in mind that the wagers are
    not even bets. You typically have to bet slightly more than $100 to win $100
    – most likely $105 (-105) or $110 (-110) to win $100.
  • You don’t have to bet on either team to win. You just have to bet on
    total points scored between the two teams, whether it’s per quarter, half,
    or game.

Tips for Betting on Football Totals

As mentioned above, don’t let the simplicity of these wagers fool you. When
betting on sports, there’s always risk involved. If you are looking to jump on
the popular Over/Under betting train, then consider the following betting tips
and strategies:

Examine the Matchups

In your excitement to hurry and place a bet, you might end up making the
biggest Over/Under mistake a bettor can make – overlooking the matchups.

When it comes to betting on the total points scored, you have to seriously
consider the teams playing and how they match up against each other. For
example, the Cincinnati Bengals have the best running game in the league, but
they’re going up against the Denver Broncos, who have the top defense against
the run. The concern here is that the Bengals could be limited on offense due to
their strength being nullified by the Broncos strength. If that happens, then
you can expect it to affect the total points scored in the game.

Another example would be that those same Bengals are playing against the
Cleveland Browns, who have one of the worst rush defenses in the league.
Cincinnati would most likely run the ball all over the Browns, which would allow
them to chew up the game clock and prevent Cleveland’s offense from having
enough offensive opportunities to score.

In addition to the teams’ strengths and weaknesses, there are many other
factors to consider when examining the matchup:

Points per Game:

How many points does each team score per game? But don’t stop here in your
matchup examination. Too many beginners and casual bettors will look at the PPG
for each team, add them up, and then think it’s a lock that this game will hit
that total. Remember, PPG is a good indicator that team has potential to score
points. It’s not the definitive factor.

Yards per Game:

Another good stat to consider is how many yards per game each team
accumulates. If one team has a hard time moving the ball, then it might be a
good indicator that they won’t score many points, especially if it’s against a
defense that doesn’t allow a ton of yards per game.


Does the home team play well and score more at home? How does the visiting
team fare on the road? The location of a game could affect the on-field success
of the teams involved. In football, home field advantage is profound for the
majority of teams.

Time of Season:

The time of the football season could be a huge factor in your desired
betting matchup. For example, if it’s late in the season and one of the teams is
already eliminated from making the playoffs, they might lay down and get
steamrolled by the other team who’s still trying to win their division.

Another example could be teams that start off slow at the beginning of the
season. Over the last decade, the Chargers have been a notoriously slow starting
team who typically begin the first quarter of the season with a losing record.
Not only do the Chargers have to dig themselves out of a hole each year, but
they also don’t put up many points on the scoreboard during this dismal opening

Past Matchups:

Looking over previous encounters between the two teams can help shed light on
the potential outcome. For example, the Saints and Falcons have played in
shootouts 7 of the last 8 games against each other. Odds are that this trend
would continue, especially since both teams have a higher PPG average.

Speaking of divisional foes, these games are almost always tough. Both teams
know each other really well, and it typically leads to close contests. With
divisional opponents, you have more data of past matchups to analyze. This helps
you more than the Bears playing the Jets once every 4 years. More data equals
more insight.

Coaching Styles:

Unless you really follow football, you might not understand the impact that a
head coach’s style has on a game. There are some coaches that are more
aggressive than others who like to play it safe. An aggressive coach may go for
it more on 4th and short than a safe coach would. Additionally, aggressive
coaches also like to go for 2-point conversions, onside kicks, and fake punts.
These all equate to the potential of scoring more points. Safe coaches would
prefer to punt, play the field position game, and allow their defense to dictate
the game. This tends to lead to fewer points scored in a game.

Over/Under Record:

One last factor to examine between the two teams is their Over/Under record
on the season, on the road, at home, or against each other. If the Rams
currently have a 2-6 Over/Under record, it means that their scoring outcomes
have gone Under the Totals Line 6 of 8 times. Conversely, if their opponent, the
Cardinals, have a 7-1 Over/Under record, then that means they’ve hit the Over in
7 of their 8 games.

If both teams come into the matchup hitting the Over or the Under in the
majority of their games, then the odds are these two teams will continue that
trend. For example, if the Titans and Colts each have a 1-7 Over/Under record,
it’s a good indicator that they’re more likely to hit the Under in this betting

Weather Forecasts

Always check the weather before any football bet. The weather can have a
significant impact on a football game and the betting lines. If the game is
being played in inclement weather like rain or snow, then it will limit the
offense’s ability to move the ball.

Bills vs Colts Game in the Snow

For example, high winds and heavy rains will
affect the passing game by making it harder to throw the ball down the field.
Snowfall will make it hard for players to run, cut, and juke. If a team can’t
throw effectively and the players can’t stay on their feet, then it’s going to
severely limit the number of points scored.

Don’t Overreact to Injuries

Injuries are a part of the game. However, there are some injuries that can be
more detrimental to a team than others. When Packers QB Aaron Rodgers went down
for most of the 2017 season, Green Bay was an awful team. Their scoring average
went down per game, and the offense was atrocious. Many bettors jumped on the
Under bandwagon, thinking that since Green Bay couldn’t score points, the
combined point total would have to be Under the game’s Totals Line. And they
were wrong!

This was a classic case of overreacting by bettors, because the opposite
happened. Although Green Bay lost most of their games when Rodgers was out, the
Total Points scored actually hit the Over more times than not. The Packers
finished the season hitting the Over 11 times, with a 7-3 Over/Under record
after Rodgers was injured and made a brief late-season cameo. What ended up
happening was that the Packers defense started giving up more points and the
Packers offense turned the ball over at a higher rate during Rodgers absence.

Don’t overreact to an injury. If you are unsure how an injury may affect a
team, then give it a week to see how the team plays.

Look at the Schedule

For many casual bettors, a team’s schedule is the last thing on their mind
when placing an Over/Under bet. However, it might just be the one factor that
makes or breaks your wager. Bye Weeks and short weeks can impact a team’s
overall level of play and on-field success. If the Oakland Raiders are playing
on a Sunday night game, then have to travel to Kansas City for a Thursday night
game, then this short week between games can affect their on-field product and
the total points scored in the game.

Another factor is when a West Coast team like the 49ers has to travel across
the country for an early game against the New York Giants. There’s a growing
trend over the last decade that these West Coast teams traveling to the East
Coast lose more often than they win. And let’s also not forget how bad some of
the football games are between the two teams playing in London. Keep an eye on
the schedule and see if there are any potential factors that could contribute to
one or both of the teams’ scoring output.

Check the Line Movement

Whether it’s a big or small movement, betting lines almost always move
throughout the week. This is due to sportsbooks making adjustments based on
news, injuries, and betting action. For example, a Totals Line could open at
41.5 points, but go up to 43 points by Friday if there was a lot of action on
the opening line’s Over.

Keep in mind that the majority of bettors like to take the Over in most
situations. And when there are high-scoring teams playing against each other,
the majority of bettors will take the Over regardless of the Totals Line. This
could force the sportsbook to bump the Totals Line up by the end of the week to
compensate for the betting action. That’s great news for football bettors who
are patient because it could force the sports betting site to place a Totals
Line higher than they normally would. This would be an example of great value
for those who take the Under.

Shop for the Best Over/Under Lines

One area where beginners and casual bettors fall short is in having multiple
online betting accounts. The purpose of this is to improve your chances of
getting the best lines possible. We strongly recommend that you open several
accounts with our
top rated sports betting sites

When it comes to betting on football, a 1/2 point can make all the difference
between winning and losing your bet. This is why you shop around for the best
lines available.

Let’s say you believe the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens are
going to score below the opening Totals Line of 40.5 points. You go to your
favorite betting site, and they have it listed at 40.5 points. You then check a
few other top rated sites that you have accounts with, and you find one that has
the Over/Under listed at 41.5 points. This one point is a huge difference, and
here’s why:

  • Getting another full point to the total gives you slightly more
    wiggle room with your bet
  • 41 is a popular scoring total in the NFL, and getting that half
    point is to your advantage

If multiple sites are carrying the same Totals Line, then check to see what
the payout odds are. For example, if Site A has the Over at -105 odds and Site B
has the Over at -115 odds, it would be best for you to go with Site A. You only
have to risk $105 to win $100 with Site A, where Site B requires you to risk
$115 to win $100.

Another example could be that Site A has the Under at -105 and Site B has the
Under at +105. You would have a chance to win more money with Site B than Site A
because you are betting $100 to win $105, where Site A wants you to spend $105
to win $100.

Just like shopping at a store for the best deals on food or clothing, make
sure you shop around different sports betting sites to get the best Totals Line
and Odds. Don’t settle for what your favorite online bookmaker offers. Spend the
extra time it takes to scan the lines and odds from different sites to improve
your chances of winning, how much you risk, and how much you might win in