Welcome back! This is Part 3 of the NFL trends series. If you haven’t, check out the Part 2 article on Basic Total. Here we’ll look at how divisional games affect the total. As you’ll see, taking this into account can make a big difference! First, let’s look at how often divisional games hit the under, opposed to non-divisional.
Excuse the rather brand bar-graph, but the difference is stark. Non-divisional games hit the under about 48.5% of the time, while divisional games hit the under 51.6% of the time. Right of the bat, it appears betting divisional games on the under could be a good strategy. Let’s take a closer look at how this changes with the total line.
Similar to the under percentage plot looked at in Part 2, the odds of hitting the under increase as the total line increases. For divisional games, however, it is quite a bit higher. With a total line of at least 35 for divisional games, betting the under appears profitable. Somewhere around a total of 47-50, betting the under give us nearly a 60% win rate! If that holds, it is an outstanding rate of return.
This begs the question, why do divisional games hit the under so much? My best guess is because the teams play each other often, the defenses are more prepared than they are against non-divisional opponents. The coaches are more aware of the schemes presented by their opponent as well. This, combined with the books getting even bets on both sides, may result in a large trend like this.