Does high-scoring NFL preseason give value to Week 1 Overs?
If the high-scoring preseason storm clouds are any indication, NFL teams will be raining down points during the 2013 regular season.
The NFL’s exhibition schedule has produced an unusual amount of high-scoring games in August, helping fans of the Over cash in at a near 60 percent rate (60.32%) during the preseason. That flood of “overs” has caught the eye of one NFL handicapper, who is bracing for a surplus of scoring this season.
“First impression from the preseason is that with a plethora of scoring, a new standard will likely be set on NFL totals this season,” Covers Expert Marc Lawrence says. “In a pass-happy league, the oddsmakers were forced to raise the bar last season. With other teams now toying with the pistol, the roof could be blown open this season.”
Scoring has steadily climbed the past few seasons, from teams averaging 21.5 points per game in 2009, 22.0 in 2010, 22.2 in 2011, and 22.8 in 2012. More NFL teams are turning to up-tempo, pass-heavy attacks, leaving only three teams that ran more than passed last year. Eleven teams threw the ball on more than 60 percent of their plays, compared to just three the previous season.
Oddsmakers are making the necessary adjustments to the 2013 totals. The average over/under on the 2012 Week 1 board was just below 44 points, with teams posting a 9-7 over/under count in the opening slate. This season, the average Week 1 total is almost 45.5 points.
“Totals have gone up quite a bit overall,” Mike Perry of Sportsbook.com tells Covers. “This is the first season that I can remember that every game has a total of at least 40 points. Main reason behind this is that more and more teams are pass-first type offenses.”
Perry says the eye-opening Over trend in the preseason doesn’t have any impact on the regular season totals, stating that these results are coming with third and fourth-string players on the field. He also notes the common belief that Week 1 totals are usually lower compared to the rest of season, due to the fact that many offenses are still working out their timing in the opening weeks of the schedule.
“We do consider that some teams are still fine tuning their offense, so we may not have the total as high as you may think,” he says, pointing to the New York Jets’ QB troubles.
New York hosts Tampa Bay in Week 1 with a total between 39.5 and 40 points on the board – the lowest Week 1 number. The highest over/under goes to the NFC South showdown between Atlanta and New Orleans, which has garnered a total of 54 points.
According to Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker with CarbonSports.ag, there hasn’t been a significant lean toward the Over when it comes to the early Week 1 action. Of the 16 games on the board, only seven have taken more money on the Over than the Under with one game split down the middle.
The New England Patriots were the top Over bet in the NFL last year, posting an 11-5 over/under mark. The Patriots passed the ball on 57 percent of their offensive plays and ran a league-high 74.3 plays per game with their no-huddle offense. The total is set at 49 for their opening game against the Buffalo Bills, despite the Bills QB issues this summer.