- Scoring in the NFL hit a new high in 2020, with the average team putting up 24.8 points per game.
- O/Us of 50+ points in 2021 have a record of seven OVERS and two UNDERS.
- Sportsbooks have noticed and adjusted their Week 3 O/U odds accordingly.
LAS VEGAS - An O/U line above 50 points in NFL totals betting is becoming a more common eventuality.
Through the first two weeks of the season, nine games out of a possible 32 have had O/U lines above 50 points.
Seven of those games have hit the OVER, while two have hit the UNDER.
In Week 3, there are six games with O/Us of 50+ points. Will this trend regress to the mean or will it continue paying dividends?
NFL Scoring Going Up
In the last 30 years, NFL scoring has gone up dramatically. In 1992, the average points per game an NFL team scored was 18.7, while in 2020, it was 24.8.
It was in 2020, where the average NFL team scored more than 24 points per game but it remains to be seen if this is the beginning of the new normal, or a relic of the pandemic era limiting the defensive impact of crowds.
Still, it is a very significant gap - two teams each scoring 18.7 points means that the average points per game would have been around 37.4.
Two teams scoring 24.8 points per game puts the average around 49.6, which is much closer to the vaunted 50 point O/U.
However, what if the games that get 50 point O/U’s are underestimating the scoring of the teams involved - operating off of yesteryear’s standards, instead of truly adjusting to this new offensive environment?
This could be happening in 2021, as it seems that online gambling outlets have more or less correctly pegged which games would be high scoring but underestimated how high scoring they would be.
NFL O/U Trends In 2021
So far, NFL point total O/Us above 50 points have hit seven out of nine times, for a success rate of 77.77%.
The two 50+ point O/Us to not hit the OVER were the Week 1 matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and the Tennessee Titans, and the Week 2 battle between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Chargers.
Of those, only the Cowboys/Chargers game wasn’t close to covering - the Titans/Cards game hit 51 points but the O/U closed at 54 after opening at 51.
Now, entering Week 3, there are two ways to think about this ongoing trend.
The first is that a 7-2 trend is fairly notable, and it could imply some edge going forward on these O/Us, as scoring has trended up significantly in the NFL in recent years.
The second is that oddsmakers have likely noticed and that it’s not a coincidence that there are 6 games with 50+ point O/Us in Week 3 - it’s a product of the oddsmakers adjusting.
Games that would have had O/U’s set at 49.5 in Weeks 1 and 2 could be seeing a bit of a bump as oddsmakers realize that scoring has continued unabated and are now in the mindset of 50+ point O/Us based on the sample sized data.
The Sportsbooks Have Noticed
The two Super Bowl favorites, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, have been a big part of this trend.
In both Week 1 and Week 2, the two have featured in games that have O/Us above 50 points and the OVER has hit in all four of those games.
In Week 3, the pair are once again involved in 50+ O/U games and could end up continuing a remarkable run for a duo of Super Bowl favorites.
However, both of their games have O/U’s of 55.5 points in Week 3, which are the highest of the year by far.
This seems to indicate that bookmakers have taken note of all of these points. In fact, Week 3 has three games with O/Us of 55.5, where no game had even hit 54.5 through Weeks 1 and 2.
The sportsbooks seem to have noticed this trend which means it could be a good week for some regression to the mean.
The only question for NFL betting fans is whether the sportsbooks have adjusted enough to make OVERs an unsafe bet when it comes to these types of games.