You’ve probably heard “the game went over” or “the under hit” — two phrases that reference the over under football bet. This sports betting type is one of the most popular among NFL and college football bettors. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about what is over under in football (or point total as it’s sometimes referred to).
Stick with us for five minutes because that’s all you need to really get the jist of NFL or NCAAF over/under betting. After that, you can visit one of the betting sites below and be on your way to making money off this bet type.
What Does Over/Under Mean In Football ?
Many sports bets like the point spread or moneyline betting are concerned with who wins a football matchup. The over/under bet does not care about the final result in terms of who wins or loses, but it does care about the total points between BOTH teams. Online oddsmakers will set a number on total number of points that will be scored and it’s simply on bettors to choose “over” that number or “under” that number. Simple enough, right? You’re just picking between two outcomes.
You’ll find totals betting in all sports, not just the NFL betting and college football. The NBA, NHL, MLB, and even fighting has over/unders too. However, none of those leagues draw the betting attention and money that the NFL does. So it’s extra lucrative to know what is over/under in betting football and take advantage of it.
Over/under bets are most commonly applied to the final total score — as when the football game ends. However, football betting also applies this bet to half time scores (either first half or second) or even individual quarters. It’s on you to pick your battles, but if you hear or read an over/under number pre-game, it’s almost always in reference to the final score number.
The best way to really grasp this football bet type is with an over/under example or two. Let’s say the Patriots and Jets are squaring off. The top betting sites might put the over/under at a modest 46 points. If the final score is 24-21, then you’re looking at a combined score of 45 points. In that case, the under just barely hit with a 1-point difference.
Here’s another example involving the Chiefs and Commanders. In this example, the over/under might shoot up to 52.5 points, which is quite high. You’re probably thinking to yourself, what does that .5 number at the end even mean? Betting sites add these half-points to over/unders and spreads alike. All it means in this context is a minimum of 53 points is needed to hit the over (round 52.5 up), while 52 or less means the under. If that Kansas City-Washington matchup ended 34-21, then the over hit on the account of a combined score of 55 points.
As you can tell, the over/under betting really ain’t that hard in theory. Now, actually making money off total points betting, that’s another topic that we’ll get into later in this article.
What If Bet Ties Over/Under Exactly?
Here’s one of the most common questions bettors have about totals betting — what if it’s a tie? As in the over/under might be 45 points and the final score was 28-17. What happens to your bet, no matter if you gambled the over or under?
Whenever an over/under bet ties, the bet becomes a “push.” Push just means there’s no winning bet or losing result. It’s a tie and whatever money you bet is returned in full. The whole bet becomes a wash essentially. Not an ideal outcome, we know, but not losing money can sometimes be a win when sports betting so no harm, no foul in our book.
Over/Under Betting Odds Explained
Let’s talk about over/under betting and potential payout on wagers made. The odds on this bet type are usually -110 both ways. It rarely matters what the point total even is, betting either the over and under lines will be -110 exactly. Odds of -110 means you would need to risk $110 to profit $100 from a winning wager.
On some rare occasions, a football game might favor one outcome from the over/under more (it happens more in college football than NFL). Therefore, you might see one side jump up to -120 odds, whereas the other will drop to +100. In this case, the minus-numbered bet is favored to hit while the plus sign wager is the underdog. Suddenly, you need to gamble $120 on -120 to make that same $100 come up. On the flip side, an even $100 bet makes you $100 profit with +100 odds. You'll often hear +100 lines called even money because you get paid what your risk exactly — no vig.
Over/unders can also be used in parlays. The parlay could consist strictly of over/under plays or be mixed in with moneyline betting and other football wagers — sportsbooks don't care. Parlay might be a worthwhile option if you're in love with multiple over/under bets in a week.
You might also be wondering how sportsbooks even set over/under odds? Welp, it’s a complicated process that’s largely done by computer models. These models are fed all sorts of scoring information on both teams, which helps set the over/under line. You’ll probably end up surprised at how close these bookies get to hitting the exact final score — many times being a whole point or half a point off the final number.
Most of the time, there’s very little human element going into these point totals, or any football odds for that matter. The betting sites are sourcing odds from the same location — a third-party company that specializes in line-setting — which results in near identical over/under odds across the industry.
Over/Under Betting Advice
Alright, here’s the million-dollar question: how do you actually win over/under bets on a regular basis? Well, there is no silver bullet strategy to consistently winning. However, there are some general principles you want to abide by. Allow us to explain a few of ‘em that could make a world of difference when gambling on over/unders.
Tip numero uno is to research and research some more. We’re always surprised at how little time bettors spend when making a decision on the over/under. It could be a few seconds of “thinking” before a bettor decides what side they’re putting money on. Trust us when we say, “your gut” isn’t the best way to pick an NFL game or NCAA one. No way — not when betting sites are making lines off complicated computer formulas.
A good place to start any research is by factoring in recent scoring performances. You see, things change fast in the NFL or NCAA. A defense that might’ve started off fast early in the season could fade by mid-season thanks to injuries or offenses “figuring them out.” Obviously, that’ll affect how they fare in over/unders. You don’t want to be one of those bettors making picks off old information (how its defense played in Week 2) so weighing recent performances will matter big time.
Here’s one more rule that can apply to football betting in general — don’t bet on anything and everything. Look, weekly over/unders can be intoxicating with so much opportunity. However, you want to be selective about your betting or risk “spreading yourself too thin.” Here again, researching matters. You’re better off “doubling down” on high confidence bet than throwing money all over the place.
What could possibly make an over/under bet a high-confidence one? Finding a mismatch between opponents. If one team has a strong passing offense and is facing an opponent with sieve-like pass protection, welp, you just found a mismatch worth exploiting. Points become more possible and the over might be worth a look. That’s one obvious example, but there are other mismatches that can be spotted with enough research.
How To Bet On Over/Under?
All right, last but certainly not least, how do you even bet over/unders? It’s super easy. Hit up a sportsbook, though, we certainly recommend one of the betting sites we featured at the start of this article. Any one of those bookmakers will offer a full assortment of NFL and college football odds on over/unders, moneylines, and even prop bets. There are even killer promos with hundreds to thousands of dollars in free money. These promos rival what you'll find at DraftKings or BetMGM, for example.
Whichever betting site you end up choosing, you’ll find over/unders for every football game that week — this goes for the full game, half time, and by quarter. “Pick your poison” per se and just bet your side. Between September and February of every year (Super Bowl betting is a hoot), you’ll have ample opportunities to cash in on over/under betting so it’s worth building an expertise at this bet type.