Divisional games in the NFL are always a little more heated than those contests outside of a team’s grouping. The wins count for more and the stakes are much higher, so the intensity is ratcheted up.
Giving up an inch seems like budging a foot, which could be why defense is the name of the game for divisional matchups this season. And it could also be why 20 of the 28 divisional games so far have played Under the betting total.
If you bet the Under in each divisional contest so far in the 2017 season, you’d be celebrating a 71 percent winning clip like Von Miller celebrates a sack. And the victim on the other end of this trend, your bookie, would be peeling himself off the ground and picking grass out of his facemask. A $100 wager on the Under in each of those games would have returned $1,020 – given the standard opening -110 juice on Over/Under wagers.
Heading into Week 7, divisional games have averaged just 38.9 combined points – 4.5 points fewer than the average scoring pace in the NFL right now. Measure those up against an average betting total of 44 points for divisional matchups and Under bettors have plenty of overhead when it comes to cashing in on low-scoring grudge matches.
This trend is a swing in the other direction compared to last season, when NFL divisional games finished with a 53-42-1 Over/Under mark – playing Over the number in 56 percent of those games. You could look for a connection between this stunning 8-20 Over/Under record and the success of underdogs in divisional matchup this season. Teams getting the points against divisional foes are 15-12-1 ATS – covering more than 56 percent of the time. Generally, underdogs aren’t the sharpest offensive clubs and that dialed-up intensity on defense - as well as a familiarity with those opponents - could be helping keep those scores closer than the oddsmakers expect.
This uptick in Under results for divisional meetings has been a steady winner for total players just about every week – save for a 3-2 Over/Under divisional game record in Week 3. The 2017 schedule opened with seven divisional games on the board, with those matchups going 1-6 Over/Under and producing an average combined score of 34.5 points against an average closing total of 43.6 in Week 1. Week 2 had only three divisional games and posted a 1-2 O/U mark. After the aforementioned 3-2 O/U Week 4, divisional games went 2-5 O/U with an average of 39 points per game versus an average closing total of 43.2. Both divisional contest went Under in Week 5 and just this past weekend, Week 6 games between divisional rivals finished 1-3 O/U with only the Monday nighter between Indianapolis and Tennessee playing Over.
Heading into Week 7, there are seven games between divisional opponents on the schedule. Here’s a look at those games and their current line:
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (+3, 47)
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-3, 38.5)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (+3, 43.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5, 47.5)
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5, 41)
Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers (-1.5, 42)
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5, 48.5)
The average betting total for those games is 44 points – the exact same average Over/Under number for divisional games this season.