Sports Betting 101: Breaking Down Over/Under Bets
Although it isn’t quite as popular as betting against the spread or betting the moneyline, “over/under” bets aren’t too far behind. But for all you new sports bettors out there, what doe the over/under mean?
Explaining Over / Under Betting
The over/under signals the combined total number of points expected by both teams. While all sports give bettors the opportunity to beat the over or under, the most money wagered on this type of bet is in football, followed by basketball. Sports such as hockey and baseball offer the over/under, however, they aren’t nearly as popular due to the low number of runs and goals scored in those sports.
Unlike a point spread bet or a moneyline bet in which you are aligning yourself with one team, you are betting on both teams (either their offenses or defenses) when betting the over/under. Let’s look at an example:
Let’s say the Dallas Cowboys are facing the New York Giants and the over/under is set at 42.5 points. If you think that both teams will combine for at least 43 points, you would take the over. If you think that both defenses will play well, resulting in a low-scoring game in which the teams do not combine for 43 points, you would take the under.
How Do Sportsbooks Set The Over/Under?
Most over/unders in the NFL tend to be between 40 and 50 points. Sportsbooks set the over/under based on several factors:
- Recent team history
- Key player injuries / inactives
- Previous head-to-head matchups
- Strength of offenses
- Strength of defenses
Sportsbooks probably use more than what is listed above, but those are the key factors. Maybe two high-powered offenses are preparing to play each other. However, the weather is calling for rain all day. The over/under would see a decrease in total points since it is much harder to score touchdowns and kick field goals in the rain. Similarly, if there are key players unable to suit up, the over/under might increase or decrease depending on the position. Using the example above with the Giants and Cowboys, the over/under would be lowered if Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were out due to COVID-19. However, the over/under might increase if top Giants defenders such as Leonard Williams and James Bradberry were sidelined. Injuries are a double-edged sword when it comes to over/under totals.
The key to betting the over/under is to look at a slate of games without knowing what the over/under is and set what you believe it should be based on your knowledge of those two teams. The ones that differ the most from what you think should be are the ones to place your bets on.
One final note that has been a mantra of those who bet the over/under with some consistency – every game is under until it goes over. If you’re new to sports betting, start with picking and choosing games you’re convinced should go under and get an understanding of how late-game fireworks can botch your plans.
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