Overtime used to be either the most intense betting experience or a chance to flip the channel when it came to NFL total bettors.
Depending on whether the number had already been hit, under bettors could be praying for a field goal while over backers cheered on a touchdown. Or the total simply had no chance of changing its fate and over/under ticket holders could relax and just watch the dramatics unfold.
With the NFL’s new overtime rules, that has all changed. Fans of the over now have a better chance of winning their wagers when the game goes to extra time.
The NFL introduced the new overtime rules this spring with the biggest change being to the “sudden death” format. In the old rules, the game was pretty much decided by which team won the coin toss to start the added period with goal being simply to kick a field goal.
In the new rules, both teams are guaranteed a possession - granted the team that won the toss doesn’t score a touchdown on its first go (for a full breakdown of the new OT rules go here). That means NFL bettors could see as many as 12 points scored in overtime, depending on if teams kick field goals or score touchdowns.
While it is impossible to predict an overtime affair, games with close spreads hold the most potential for additional minutes – and additional points - and a good chunk of the week-to-week games are tagged with spreads of three points or less. Oddsmakers, however, won’t be adding a few extra points on the totals for those predicted nail-bitters.
“You can’t anticipate that. If it occurs, it occurs,” Jay Rood, sportsbook director at the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas, told Covers. “Whatever extra points (teams) do score (in overtime) will skew their point total going forward, anyways.”
“If that were the case, in every soccer match you’d have to factor in the extra-time goals into the total,” he adds. “These are things you just can’t factor in.”
From 2002 to 2012, there were 891 regular season games with spreads of three points or less. Of those 891 games, just 60 went into overtime. And of those 60 OT tilts, 37 played over the total – 37-20-3 over/under - or just under 62 percent.
Looking at the larger picture, there have been 147 overtime regular season games from 2002 to 2012. The final score has topped the total in 90 of those overtime affairs – 90-51-6 over/under – which is par for the course, when compared to games with spreads of three or less, at 61.2 percent.
This season, under the new rules, there has been one overtime game coming in Week 1 when the Minnesota Vikings edged the Jacksonville Jaguars 26-23, playing over the 38-point number just before the whistle blew on the fourth quarter. Minnesota struck first in overtime with a field goal then held Jacksonville off the board for the win.
As for Week 3, nine of the 16 games currently have spreads of three points or less. The average total for those contests is 46.2 points. The other seven games, with spreads above three, have an average number of 45.9 points.
The over/under count through the first two weeks of NFL action is 17-14-1.