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Betting Strategy for NFL Season Win Totals

Betting Strategy for NFL Season Win Totals

Season win totals are certainly not new! Bookmakers and betting sites have offered them for as long as we can remember, and they have always been relatively popular, especially among recreational bettors. Why? Well it’s partly because these are very simple wagers and partly because they keep the entire season interesting.

The popularity of season win totals has increased significantly in recent years, and continues to do so. Nowadays, though, they’re just as popular with the serious bettors as they are with those who bet for fun. It’s tough to know what’s changed in this respect, but for whatever reason there seems to be quite a few more educated handicappers who try to make money from these betting markets.

We’ve always liked season win totals. There’s a couple of drawbacks for sure, such as the fact that they tie up part of our bankroll for an entire season. They’re also hard to get right consistently. There’s no easy way to make money from football betting, and we don’t believe season win totals are any more challenging than any other type of wager. We have actually been very successful when using them.

This is because we put a great deal of time and effort into making our selections. A lot of people throw down some money on season win totals without really thinking things through properly, and that’s not the right approach at all. These wagers require serious analysis of a wide range of factors.

If the extra workload doesn’t scare you, then you should consider betting NFL season win totals yourself. We certainly recommend doing so. They might not be easy, but they can definitely be profitable if you know what you’re doing. By reading this article you can learn exactly how you should approach them.

We start with a quick explanation of how season win totals work. Then we look at the best time to bet them. We explain how to properly analyze them, and provide some example analysis that we’ve done in the past. There are also some additional tips for betting season win totals effectively, along with details of some alternative wagers to consider. On top of that, we’ve supplied historical data for past lines and results too.

Please note that this article focuses solely on betting season win totals for NFL teams. You can bet on college teams too, but we suggest sticking with the NFL for this particular wager. Although the overall strategies are broadly the same, assessing college teams at the start of each season is a much harder task. We’re not convinced it’s an effective use of time.

How Season Win Totals Work

Season win totals are very straightforward. You’re just betting on how many games you think a team will win during the course of a season, and you don’t even have to pick an exact total. Bookmakers and betting sites set a line, and you have to decide whether you think a team’s final total will be over or under that line.

Here’s an example of a line for the 2016 NFL season, for the Chicago Bears.

2016 Season Win Total
Chicago Bears
Over 7.5
-120
Under 7.5
-110

If you thought that the Bears would win eight or more games in 2016, then you’d bet the over. If you thought that they’d win seven or less, then you’d bet the under. It really is as simple as that.

Note that the odds for the over and the odds for the under are very close here. That’s not always the case. There’s often quite a disparity. For example, in the same season the line for the Arizona Cardinals was 9.5. The over was -170, and the under was +140.

Please also note that season win totals are based only on the sixteen games played during the regular season. Postseason games are irrelevant for the purposes of these wagers.

When to Bet Season Win Totals

Before you start thinking about which wagers to place, you need to decide WHEN you’re going to place them. Bookmakers and betting sites typically release their season win lines soon after the Super Bowl, and the markets stay open until after the new season has started. Feel free to bet early or wait until there’s more information to work with. It’s totally up to you.

There are advantages either way. There tends to be better value available early on, as the lines are based largely on what happened the previous season. By giving some serious consideration to how teams are likely to improve (or not) during the off season, we can often find good spots to get some money down. Keep in mind, though, that this is merely speculation.

If we wait until just before the season starts, then we can make more educated judgments about how each team is likely to perform. We’ll know what changes have been made to the rosters and coaching staff, and we’ll have the schedules to study too. We’ll also have seen how teams have played in their preseason games. Trust us, this is all useful information that can be used to help us shape our views.

Everyone else has access to this information too though.

The problem with waiting is that it becomes harder to find value. The bookmakers and betting sites will have adjusted their lines based on the same information that we’ve been looking at in addition to where the money has been going. At this stage the lines tend to be more accurate reflections of what’s likely to happen, so there’s less chance of finding good opportunities to bet.

This can become an even bigger issue if we wait until the start of the new season. This is because there’s obviously more information to work with and after we have seen each team play a couple of games, it’s easy to see how well they are likely to do for that season. The lines continue to be more accurate, which further diminishes our chances of being able to spot value.

When’s the BEST time to bet then?
There isn’t really a best time.

There are pros and cons to betting early, and pros and cons to betting later on. You need to weigh those pros and cons, and think about how you want to proceed. If you feel comfortable betting early with the limited amount of information that’s available, you should go for it. It’s equally fine if you prefer to wait until you have more to go on.

Our approach is usually to look at the early lines and see if anything stands out to us as offering real value. If we think that the bookmakers have seriously misjudged any of the teams, then we’ll bet accordingly. Given the speculative nature of betting at this stage, we only risk relatively small amounts.

Shortly before the new season begins, we then carry out some more in-depth analysis of each team. This allows us to form solid opinions about how each one is likely to perform. We then look at the lines again, and see if there are any bets worth placing. There often are, and this is when we put down larger sums of money.

We rarely bet on season win totals after the season starts, although there are occasions when we consider this. A good example is when a team we rate has an especially tough schedule to start with. If they don’t get many wins from their early games, it’s likely that their season win line will be adjusted accordingly. If we’re confident that they’re going to start winning as soon as the difficult games are out of the way, then this may be the perfect opportunity to bet the over.

Now that we have a better understanding of when to bet season win totals, it’s time to take a look at the kind of analysis associated with season win totals.

How to Analyze Season Win Totals

Analyzing season win totals is primarily about assessing the relative strength of each team and comparing it to their projected total. If we feel that a team is stronger than their projected win total suggests, we bet the over. If we feel that a team is weaker than their projected total, we bet the under.

This is simplifying things, but we want you to get the big picture. We’re essentially looking for spots where we have a different view to the bookmakers. If we’re confident enough that our views are accurate, then it makes sense to back our judgement with a wager.

The important thing here is to make sure that our views our based on sound reasoning. We can’t simply look at a team and guess how many games they’re going to win. We obviously need to consider their overall quality and depth, but that can only tell us so much. There are several factors that we need to take into account. The following are especially important when it comes to forming an opinion about how team is likely to perform in an upcoming season.

  • Performance in previous season
  • Season on season trend
  • Close season changes
  • Overall team quality and depth

A team’s performance in their previous season is a good indicator of where they’re at right now, so this is a good place to start. We need to do more than just look at how many games they won though. It’s also important for us to consider how well they were playing, the quality of their opposition and which players/ how many players were injured or suspended. Knowing these details will give us a more rounded view of their potential for the following season.

Example:

Imagine a team had won seven of their games in the previous season. The initial thought would be that they were an average team. Capable of winning on their day, but probably not capable of putting in a sustained challenge over the course of an entire season. That’s a reasonable conclusion in the absence of any other information. However, it is that missing information that will give us a more accurate representation of how that team is performing.

Let’s say that this team had been without several key players during the early part of the season, due to a combination of injuries and suspensions. They had mostly faced easier opposition in that period, but had failed to get positive results. Then, in the later part of the season, they were able to field their strongest team each game. Despite facing tougher opposition in that period, they managed to win the majority of their games. Has your opinion of this team changed since these new facts came to light? Chances are you now see how truly talented they are, despite their spell of bad luck early in the season.

Once we’ve properly studied a team’s performance in the previous season, we then need to take a look at any season on season trend that might be apparent. Have they been steadily improving over the last two or three years? Or steadily declining? Have they made a sudden and significant improvement? Or suffered a big drop off? Have they maintained a similar level of performances across a few seasons? Or have they been wildly inconsistent?

Understanding the general direction a team is heading in is obviously useful when trying to predict their performance in the upcoming season. If there have been signs of an upward trajectory, then it’s reasonable to expect that to continue. The same goes for a downward trajectory. Consistent teams are likely to remain consistent, while inconsistent teams are of course hard to judge. Sudden improvements or major drop offs are difficult to interpret, but we can certainly analyze them and try to understand why they’ve happened. There are often good reasons.

Now, keep in mind that teams don’t stand still between one season and the next. That’s why it’s important to look at what changes have been made, and try to assess their likely impact. If a team has done very well in the draft and free agency, addressing key weaknesses in the roster, then it’s reasonable to assume they’ll show some improvement in the following season.

If a team has failed to address their weaknesses, then improvements are probably unlikely. We also have to think about any players they’ve lost, and what effect that might have. Coaching changes should be factored in too.

It’s vital that you take time to consider how many changes have been made. A high turnover of coaching and playing personnel has the potential to be disruptive. Drastic changes like that tend to have positive long-term effects. However, it might take the team awhile to adjust to the new lineup, which can have a negative impact on the team’s overall performance early on.

For example, a new head coach may look to implement an entirely new style of play that takes some getting used to, while new players need time to learn how to work together. On the other hand, a team making very few changes is likely to be more settled. They should be ready to hit the ground running as soon as the season starts.

Once we’ve formed an initial opinion on a team based on the above information, there are still more factors left to consider including the ones listed below.

  • Strength of division
  • The schedule
  • What the public think

The strength of the rest of a team’s division is more important than many people think when it comes to analyzing season win totals. They’re going to be playing each one of their divisional rivals twice during the season. That’s a total of six games, which is a significant percentage of the regular season (37.5% to be precise). So we clearly need to think about their chances in those games. If their division looks especially weak, or especially strong, that’s definitely going to affect the prospective win total.

We need to look at a team’s entire schedule for the same reason. Sometimes teams get a schedule that puts them up against mostly tough opposition, and sometimes they get a schedule that puts them up against mostly easy opposition. Again, this has the potential to affect their likely win total. And it’s not just the quality of their opposition that matters either. We need to look at the amount of travelling they’re going to have to do, who they play at home and who they play on the road. Believe us when we say this information is relevant and can be used to your advantage.

Finally, we need to consider what the public think, because everyone knows that public opinion has a significant impact on the odds and lines that the bookmakers offer. They always factor in how the majority of people are going to bet. If they’re confident that the public will mostly be betting the over for a specific team, for example, they’ll push that line a little higher than it should be. If more people back the over than expected, they’ll push it even higher.

So when you’re looking at the lines, try to think about how other people are likely to be betting. If a team has gotten an extensive amount of media coverage, then the betting public can be expected to react to that. Their line will probably be higher as a result. The same applies, in reverse, to teams that have been talked down in the media.

Public opinion is especially relevant when looking at the most popular teams in the NFL. These teams will regularly be backed to go over, regardless of their real chances, simply because they’re favored by so many people. As one might imagine, they are often overvalued as a result.

Example Season Total Analysis

By following all the advice we offer in the previous section of this article, you should have no problem making close to accurate estimates for the season win totals for each team. For those who need a little extra assistance, we have provided a brief overview of the analysis we did for each team just before the 2016 NFL season. We’ve detailed the bets that we made, and why we made them. If we chose not to bet, then we’ve explained why.

Please note that these aren’t overly detailed. We’ve just highlighted the main points that we considered. This will help you get in the right mindset.

Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals
Season Total: 10.5
Our Bet: N/A

The Cardinals just had a great season. They won 13 games during the regular season, a franchise record, which was enough for them to win the NFC West. In the Divisional Playoffs they beat the Packers, before losing the NFC Championship game to the Panthers.

There was little reason to think that the Cardinals would suffer any kind of major drop-off. So we were tempted by the over here. However, we were conscious that everything had run smoothly for the Cardinals during the previous season. We couldn’t be sure how they would react to any adversity they might face in the upcoming season. We were also a little concerned by the postseason form of quarterback Carson Palmer. With all that taken into account, we decided not to put any money down here.

Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
Season Total: 7.5
Our Bet: N/A

The 2015 season had started off well for the Falcons, as they won six out of their first seven games. Four of those were against fairly weak divisional opponents though, which perhaps painted a false picture of how good this team really was. In the second half of the season they won just two more games, finishing with an 8-8 record.

We figured that the Falcons could go either way for the 2016 season. Their offensive line was looking good, but they were very reliant on youth in their defensive front-seven. It was too hard to predict how well they could perform in the upcoming season, so we decided this was yet again not a bet we would be placing.

Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens
Season Total: 8.5
Our Bet: N/A

The Ravens had it tough in the 2015 season. They earned just five wins and got nowhere near the playoffs. There were certainly some unforeseen circumstances that got in their way though. Their starting quarterback, their best running back and their best wide receiver all missed a lot of games due to devastating injuries.

We felt that a better season in 2016 was likely, and that nine or ten wins was definitely achievable. However, the best odds we could find for the over were -140. At -110 we’d have probably placed a bet, but we didn’t see any value at -140.

Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
Season Total: 8
Our Bet: Over at -115

We felt that the Bills had done about as well as could be expected in 2015. It was their first season under new head coach Rex Ryan, who likes his teams to play in a very specific way. Teams don’t ordinarily click with new coaches right away, which is why their 8-8 record was more than respectable.

Their quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, had done better than expected, and we figured there were further improvements to come. We felt the Bills would probably improve as a whole too, with Ryan’s methods likely to have a greater impact. So we decided to go with the over at -115.

Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers
Season Total: 10.5
Our Bet: Over at -120

This was one of our easier decisions. The Panthers had just had an excellent season in 2015, right up until they lost to the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Although we didn’t expect them to do as quite as well in 2016, we were confident that they would win more than ten games.

We were actually a little surprised to see the line so low here. It was probably due to the Panthers having such a weak secondary. Although we knew they wouldn’t be as strong defensively, we were happy enough to back the over at -120.

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
Season Total: 7.5
Our Bet: N/A

We were so close to backing the over here. The Bears had only won six games in the previous season, but we felt there was the potential for a significant improvement. They’d addressed a lot of their weaknesses during the close season, and their roster looked a lot stronger overall.

The only thing that stopped us was their quarterback, Jay Cutler. Cutler has the talent to be one of the best around, but he’s frustratingly inconsistent. If we had been able to count on him to perform his best, then we wouldn’t have hesitated to bet the over. Since we didn’t feel that way, though, we had to let this betting opportunity go.

Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
Season Total: 9.5
Our Bet: N/A

The Bengals had continued their extended run of making the playoffs in 2015. Had it not been for the loss of quarterback Andy Dalton, they might have progressed beyond their first playoff game. In reality, they lost to the Steelers, making it five straight playoff defeats.

We were reasonably confident that they’d have a decent chance of making the playoffs again, but not assured enough that they’d win ten or more games. Although this was a marginal decision, we decided not to put any money down.

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
Season Total: 5
Our Bet: N/A

This line presented us with a dilemma. We weren’t expecting much from the Browns at all, as they’d looked pretty poor the previous season and had notched up just three victories. There wasn’t much reason to think they’d show any significant improvement, and the under was a very realistic option for us.

However, we also felt that five wins wasn’t beyond this team. Had the line been six, we’d have probably gone with the under. This was too tight though, so we left it alone.

Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
Season Total: 9.5
Our Bet: Under at -140

The Cowboys are a great example of a team that routinely gets overvalued due to their popularity. At the time of doing this analysis, they’d gone 20 years without winning a Super Bowl. In fact, since their previous Super Bowl victory in 1995, they hadn’t once made it past the Divisional Playoffs. Despite their lack of ability to produce results, they are still one of the most popular teams around.

Their popularity was the main reason why the line was set so high here. The bookmakers knew that there’d be plenty of people backing them to go over out of hope rather than expectation. A more balanced line would have been 8.5, or maybe even 8 or 7.5. This was a team that had won just four games the previous season.

Now, you can rarely say that the Cowboys have no chance of a strong season. And we knew there was a chance they’d improve significantly on a season where they’d been hit hard by injuries. Winning ten or more games was pretty unlikely though, so we decided to bet the under at odds of -140.

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
Season Total: 9
Our Bet: N/A

It’s often difficult to know how a team will react to winning the Super Bowl. Sometimes they come back just as strong the next season, or even stronger, with real determination to repeat their success. Sometimes they suffer a drop-off, and struggle to show the same form.

We struggled to make a call about how the Broncos were likely to react following their Super Bowl win the previous season. There were a few reasons to think a drop-off was possible, since they did have a few key departures. Regardless, their roster still looked good, and they kept their excellent secondary intact. So there was also a good chance that they’d be a top contender again.

After a lot of consideration, we decided not to bet here. We just couldn’t make a prediction that we were confident in.

Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
Season Total: 7
Our Bet: Over at -130

The Lions had been disappointing overall the previous season, winning a total of seven games. However, six of those wins came in the second half of the season following some significant coaching changes. That strong finish gave them something to build on for 2016, and the line would probably have been higher had the Lions not just lost Calvin Johnson to retirement.

Despite the blow of losing Johnson, we felt that eight or more wins was very achievable for the Lions. This was a close call, and we nearly decided against betting at all. Since the Lions had made some good moves to improve their roster, so we backed the over at -130.

Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
Season Total: 10.5
Our Bet: Under at +120

This was another spot where a popular team looked overvalued. The Packers had managed to win ten games the previous season, but most of those wins were early on. To be exact, they won six out of the first six in 2015. Then just four more in the following ten games. Although they were far from terrible in the playoffs, there were signs that this was a team on the decline.

The Packers hadn’t made any especially notable moves to strengthen their offseason, so it looked as if the line was quite a distance higher than it should. It was an easy decision to go with the under at +120.

Houston Texans
Houston Texans
Season Total: 8.5
Our Bet: Over at -115

The Texans had started 2015 poorly, winning just two of their first seven games. They turned things around though, and finished with nine wins and a place in the playoffs. It was a short adventure in the postseason, with a heavy loss to Kansas in their first game, but there was plenty to be optimistic about for the upcoming 2016 season.

They had a fairly well balanced roster, and had made some good moves to strengthen areas where they’d been week. Another tilt at the playoffs was a distinct possibility. Nine wins certainly seemed doable, so we went with the over at -115

Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts
Season Total: 9
Our Bet: N/A

The 2015 season was supposed to have been a good one for the Colts. They were the favorites to win their division, and had looked more than capable of doing so. So they’d have been disappointed to have only won eight games, and finished second in the AFC South behind Houston. It must be noted, though, that they were very unlucky with injuries.

We felt that 2016 would probably be a better season for the Colts, especially if they could keep their quarterback (Andrew Luck) fit. If the line had been 8, or even 8.5, we’d have probably gone with the over. Still, we didn’t think there was any value with the line at 9, so we skipped this one.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars
Season Total: 7.5
Our Bet: Over at -120

This was a challenging one. The Jaguars had picked up just five wins the previous year, but on occasion they had looked like they were close to making a breakthrough and really stepping up a level. Although they never quite delivered, there were some really promising signs. Quarterback Blake Bortles had showed real improvement, along with wide receiver Allan Robinson.

There was a lot to suggest that 2016 was the season the Jaguars would push on, and we thought that eight or nine wins was a real possibility for them. We were a little reluctant to bet the over though, because they hadn’t yet proved they could be consistent. In the end it was their acquisitions that swung it for us. They’d brought in some good players that were very capable of making an immediate impact. The over represented value at -120, so that’s where our money went.

Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
Season Total: 9.5
Our Bet: N/A

The Chiefs had shown great ability to dig deep during the previous season. They started badly, winning just one of their first six games. But they turned things around in style, and won their next ten to make the playoffs. Once there they beat Houston 30-0, before losing out to the Patriots.

They were definitely capable of taking their good form into the following season, especially after they retained some key players that they’d been expected to lose to free agency. The line was probably about right though, and we figured nine or ten wins was the most likely outcome. There was no real value, so we chose not to place a bet here.

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams
Season Total: 7
Our Bet: N/A

The Rams kicked off the 2016 in LA, feeling more confident than ever. They had just added a future star quarterback to their roster, signing Jared Goff as the first overall pick of the draft. If he could make an immediate impact, and their defensive line was as good as it appeared to be, the Rams were more than capable of a good season.

We were really tempted by the over here, and came very close to backing it. The only thing that stopped us was a feeling that eight wins was probably the very best the Rams could hope for. There was no margin for error here, so we reluctantly passed.

Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins
Season Total: 7
Our Bet: N/A

Everyone thought the Dolphins were destined to improve in the previous season, but they had failed to live up to those expectations. With just six wins to their name, they had never really looked like a team that could challenge. Their quarterback Ryan Tannehill had been especially disappointing.

Things were looking better for the 2016 season though. They had made some vital improvements to their roster, and hired a new head coach in Adam Gase. Although this was his first head coach position, Gase was very well respected. He was expected to make an immediate impact on his team.

We weren’t fully convinced that the improvements would happen quickly enough though. This was likely to be a season of transition for the Dolphins in our opinion, and we couldn’t really predict how it turn out. We chose not to place a bet here.

Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
Season Total: 9
Our Bet: N/A

Thousands of people everywhere expected the Vikings to be legitimate contenders for the Super Bowl this 2016 season. They had just won the NFC North ahead of the almighty Packers, and despite their disappointing performance in the playoffs, they had proven themselves to be a team on the up rise. They looked very well balanced and quality players could be found on every inch of the field.

The biggest concern was that they didn’t look especially strong in any area. They were balanced, but no part of their team was exceptional. Their schedule also looked tougher than the previous season, so we figured ten wins was going to be too much to ask. It could happen, but we still don’t feel like betting the over would be a wise decision.

New England Patriots
New England Patriots
Season Total: 11
Our Bet: Over at -115

The Patriots had just won 12 games in the previous season, winning the AFC East in the process. That had made it six seasons in a row where they’d won at least 12 games, and there wasn’t much to suggest that they wouldn’t do it again. They looked like a team that could go all the way.

Everything wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. Quarterback Tom Brady was finally going to serve his four game suspension as a result of the Deflategate scandal. So we had to question how big of an impact that would have. This was tough, but we decided that the Pats should be able to cope. We went with the over at -115.

New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
Season Total: 7.5
Our Bet: N/A

If football games were won and lost by the offense alone, the Saints would have had a much better 2015 season. As it was they went 7-9, for the second year running. Their strong offensive line, led by quarterback Drew Brees, simply couldn’t mask their defensive problems. They did make some necessary changes in the offseason to diminish these problems, but we don’t feel like they did enough to guarantee an improvement.

Our thinking here was that the Saints would probably win seven or eight games in 2016. With the line right between those numbers at 7.5, neither the under nor the over was a viable option for us.

New York Giants
New York Giants
Season Total: 8.5
Our Bet: Over at -120

2015 was the Giants third losing season in a row, continuing their drop off since winning the Super Bowl back in 2011. Could they start to turn things around in the 2016 season? We felt that they probably could. They still had some good players on their roster, and they had made plenty of moves to address their weakness. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was taking over as head coach, which gave us another reason to be optimistic.

With their division looking a little weaker than previous seasons, we felt nine wins or more was a distinct possibility for the Giants, so we backed the over at -120.

New York Jets
New York Jets
Season Total: 7.5
Our Bet: Over at -110

The Jets had just completed their first season under head coach Todd Bowles, and had managed ten wins. This looked like an overachievement when considering the quality at their disposal, which explained why their line was down at 7.5 for 2016.

There was certainly no guarantee that the Jets would continue their improvement, but a three game drop off seemed very unlikely to us. We confidently picked the over here, at -110.

Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders
Season Total: 8.5
Our Bet: Over at -115

2015 was a good year for the Raiders. They seemed to have finally turned a corner after a lengthy period of transition. Seven wins was a big improvement on their previous returns, and they looked like a team on the up rise. Could we expect even more from them in 2016?

We thought so. They had a good group of young talent, plus they had made some big free agency moves. There was a strong argument that the Raiders were now the best team in the AFC West. Nine wins was certainly not going to be beyond them, so we bet the over at -115.

Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
Season Total: 6.5
Our Bet: N/A

The Eagles had regressed in 2015, winning just seven games after two winning seasons. They’d looked to rectify that with some coaching changes, but there were some glaring weaknesses in their roster. They looked poor offensively, which made it difficult to see them scoring many points in 2016.

We didn’t believe they would regress even further though, so the under wasn’t really an option for us here. The over was a possibility, but in truth we didn’t really know what to expect from the Eagles. It was an easy decision to simply leave this one alone.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
Season Total: 10.5
Our Bet: N/A

Ten wins for the Steelers in 2015 was especially impressive when considering the injuries they had to deal with. Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell had both been sorely missed, and if they could stay fit for the 2016 season, then an improvement seemed almost inevitable.

The line was just a little too high for us to go with the over though. 11 or more wins seemed possible for sure, but we couldn’t be confident enough to back this outcome. So there was no bet for us here.

San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers
Season Total: 7.5
Our Bet: N/A

The 2015 season was not season for the Chargers. They racked up just four wins, and looked poor on both sides of the ball. There were weaknesses in every position, with the exception of the quarterback. It was clear that major changes were needed if 2016 was to be any better.

Improvements had definitely been made during the offseason, and the Chargers looked to be in much better shape overall. We couldn’t confidently predict how things were going to play out for them, though, so we decided to not to bet.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
Season Total: 5.5
Our Bet: N/A

This was one of our easiest decisions of all. There was no way we were going to place a wager here, as there was just too much uncertainty surrounding the 49ers. They were starting again with another new head coach, their third in three seasons, and it was impossible to know what to expect.

The line probably undervalued the 49ers a little, and the over was quite possibly the way to go. We prefer to avoid truly unpredictable situations, so it was a clear no bet.

Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks
Season Total: 10.5
Our Bet: N/A

Very few NFL teams stay at the top for sustained periods in the modern game. The Seahawks had done well again in 2015, with ten wins, but there were a few signs that their time of dominance may be coming to an end. Although they were obviously still a strong contender, they hadn’t looked as impressive in the past.

Could they still go and win 11 games in 2016? Absolutely, but we couldn’t be sure of it. Nine or ten wins seems just as likely to us, possibly even more so. The under was a little overpriced at +110 in our opinion, so that was probably the way to go. With everything considered though, we played it safe and chose not to bet here.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Season Total: 7.5
Our Bet: Over at +130

The Buccaneers had shown glimpses of what they were capable of during the 2015 season. At times they were very impressive offensively, although their defense ultimately let them down. Head coach Lovie Smith paid the price for that and was fired. Although that seems harsh, it’s just the way things tend to go down these days.

Smith had been replaced by offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, and we felt this was probably a good move. The Buccaneers didn’t have a great deal of talent in the defensive positions, so it made sense to focus on making the team’s offense as effective as possible. But would this approach pay off in 2016?

We believe so. This was perhaps a risky selection, but we went with the over at +130. There was enough value at this price to warrant the risk in our opinion.

Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans
Season Total: 5.5
Our Bet: Under at +120

The Titans only won three games in 2015. That was a marginal improvement on their two wins in 2014, but they still looked like a poor contender. Although there was some potential in the roster, it looked a way off being fulfilled. We felt that the Titans could probably take another small step forward in 2016, and notch an extra win or two, but enough improvement to win six seemed very unlikely.

So it was the under here for us. +120 seemed generous to us, and this was a relatively straightforward decision.

Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins
Season Total: 7.5
Our Bet: N/A

The 2015 season saw the Redskins unexpectedly win the NFC East. This was an excellent achievement for a team that no one expected to be a challenge. Having won just four games in 2014, and just three the year before that, they’d clearly improved significantly. The question, though, was whether or not it was sustainable.

They’d made some good moves in the offseason, so there was an argument that they could be even better in 2016. They certainly looked really strong in some areas, but there were a couple of weaknesses too. It was difficult to know how badly those weaknesses would hinder them, so we decided not to bet here.

More Advice for Betting NFL Season Win Totals

We know you’re probably starting to feel a little overwhelmed at this point, but we’re not quite done yet. There’s some more advice we have to offer for betting NFL season win totals. They’re all pretty simple, but we definitely recommend following them. These are listed for you below.

  • Choose your spots carefully
  • Consider the odds as well as the total
  • Allow margin for error
  • Try to be contrary
  • Protect your bankroll

Let’s expand on each of these tips with a little more detail.

FootballChoose your spots carefully

A lot of bettors, especially recreational ones, will bet on the season win total for each and every team. This is fine when betting for fun, but it’s not a good way to make money. It’s incredibly unlikely that ANYONE could make the right prediction for all 32 teams. We don’t even think it’s likely for someone to get most of them right. Betting on every single team will almost certainly result in a loss; it’s as simple as that.

If you went through our example analysis above, you may have noticed that there were quite a few teams that we chose not to bet on. In fact, we only placed 13 wagers. This is actually a little more than we usually make. In a typical season, we generally only find around ten spots that we really like. Sometimes it’s even less.

This is because our goal isn’t to place as many wagers as we can, but to place the BEST wagers that we can. We only want to get our money down when we’re confident in a prediction, so we have to be selective. You should be too.

FootballConsider the odds as well as the total

There are two components to season win total lines. The total itself, and the odds for each possible selection. Many people look only at the total, and ignore the odds. This is a mistake, as it’s important to consider both. We should only be betting when the odds represent real value. If we only marginally like the over, but the odds are something like -140, then it’s hard to justify a wager. We’d need to really like the over to take those odds. If they were higher, at say -110, then there’s more of a reason to bet.

FootballAllow margin for error

It’s unlikely that you’ll accurately predict EXACT totals consistently. So this shouldn’t really be your objective. Instead, you should try to predict a range of likely wins. For example, you might decide that a team is likely to win between seven and nine games in the season.

Once you’ve assigned a range, you should only bet if the entire range is above or below the line. This then gives you some margin for error. If the line sits somewhere in between your range, then that means that you have a similar view to the bookmakers. When that’s the case, there’s no real reason to place a bet.

FootballTry to be contrary

We talked earlier about the effect that public opinion can have on the lines for season win totals. It’s because of this effect that you should ideally be looking for spots where you have a contrary view to the public. Generally speaking, this will result in better value for your selections.

Of course, you can’t force this. Don’t try to be contrary for the sake of it. It’s fine to go WITH public opinion when there are good reasons to do so. It’s just that the value more often lies in going against it.

FootballProtect your bankroll

One of the biggest drawbacks of betting season win totals is that these wagers tie up part of your bankroll for a whole season. We mentioned this right at the start of the article. You won’t be getting a return until the season is over, or at least until a wager is a definite winner. That’s if you even get a return at all of course.

That’s why it’s important to avoid risking too much of your bankroll on these types of wagers. You don’t want to have to limit your wagers for the entire season. This is another reason why it’s advisable to pick your spots carefully, and not bet on too many teams. It’s also why we recommend keeping your stakes relatively small.

Alternatives to Consider

We firmly believe that season win totals are great wagers that have the potential to be profitable if approached correctly. That’s why we suggest that they should be part of your overall football betting strategy. It’s worth spending some time analyzing each team at the start of a season, and trying to predict how well they are going to do.

This will not only enable you to find good opportunities for betting season win totals, it will help you with other bets you make during the early part of the season too. For example, you’ll find it much easier to predict the outcome of individual games if you’ve already assessed each team extensively.

It’s also worth noting that there are some alternatives to consider. All the analysis you need to do for season win totals can also be used for betting on NFL team futures. Once you have an idea about how each team is likely to perform, you can also look for opportunities in the following markets.

  • Super Bowl Winner
  • Conference Winners
  • Divisional Winners
  • Teams to Make Playoffs

By considering wagers in these markets too, you can potentially find additional value without doing any extra work. That’s a very effective use of your time. We explain more about betting NFL futures in the following article.

Historical Lines & Results

The table below shows the lines for each team’s season win totals over the last few seasons, along with the results. This information doesn’t tell us that much by itself, but it’s interesting to look at nonetheless.

It shows us where the bookmakers got it right, and where they got it wrong. This helps us to see if there are any teams that they routinely misjudge. For example, we can see that the Arizona Cardinals were consistently underestimated. There are other trends and patterns that we can look for in this data too.

Team 2013 2014 2015
Line Result Line Result Line Result
Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals

6 Arrow GreenOver (10) 7.5 Arrow GreenOver (11) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (13)
Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons

9.5 Arrow RedUnder (4) 8.5 Arrow RedUnder (6) 8.5 Arrow RedUnder (8)
Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens

8.5 Arrow RedUnder (8) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (10) 9 Arrow RedUnder (5)
Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills

6.0 Push IconPush (6) 6.5 Arrow GreenOver (9) 8.5 Arrow RedUnder (8)
Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers

7.5 Arrow GreenOver (12) 7.5 Arrow RedUnder (7) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (15)
Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears

8.5 Arrow RedUnder (8) 8.5 Arrow RedUnder (5) 6.5 Arrow RedUnder (6)
Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals

8.5 Arrow GreenOver (11) 9 Arrow GreenOver (10) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (12)
Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns

6.5 Arrow RedUnder (4) 6.5 Arrow GreenOver (7) 6.5 Arrow RedUnder (3)
Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys

8.5 Arrow RedUnder (8) 7.5 Arrow GreenOver (12) 9.5 Arrow RedUnder (4)
Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos

11.5 Arrow GreenOver (13) 11.5 Arrow GreenOver (12) 10 Arrow GreenOver (12)
Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions

8.5 Arrow RedUnder (7) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (11) 8.5 Arrow RedUnder (7)
Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers

10 Arrow RedUnder (8) 10.5 Arrow GreenOver (12) 11 Arrow RedUnder (10)
Houston Texans

Houston Texans

10.5 Arrow RedUnder (2) 7.5 Arrow GreenOver (9) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (9)
Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts

8.5 Arrow GreenOver (11) 9.5 Arrow GreenOver (11) 10.5 Arrow RedUnder (8)
Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars

5 Arrow RedUnder (4) 5.5 Arrow RedUnder (3) 5.5 Arrow RedUnder (5)
Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs

8 Arrow GreenOver (11) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (9) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (11)
Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins

8 Push IconPush (8) 7.5 Arrow GreenOver (8) 9 Arrow RedUnder (6)
Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings

7 Arrow RedUnder (5) 6.5 Arrow GreenOver (7) 8 Arrow GreenOver (11)
New England Patriots

New England Patriots

11 Arrow GreenOver (12) 10.5 Arrow GreenOver (12) 10.5 Arrow GreenOver (12)
New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints

9 Arrow GreenOver (11) 10.5 Arrow RedUnder (7) 9 Arrow RedUnder (7)
New York Giants

New York Giants

8.5 Arrow RedUnder (7) 7.5 Arrow RedUnder (6) 9 Arrow RedUnder (6)
New York Jets

New York Jets

6 Arrow GreenOver (8) 7 Arrow RedUnder (4) 7.5 Arrow GreenOver (10)
Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders

5 Arrow RedUnder (4) 4.5 Arrow RedUnder (3) 5.5 Arrow GreenOver (7)
Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles

7.5 Arrow GreenOver (10) 9.5 Arrow GreenOver (10) 9.5 Arrow RedUnder (7)
Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers

9 Arrow RedUnder (8) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (11) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (10)
San Diego Chargers

San Diego Chargers

7.5 Arrow GreenOver (9) 8.5 Arrow GreenOver (9) 8 Arrow RedUnder (4)
San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers

11 Arrow GreenOver (12) 10.5 Arrow RedUnder (8) 6.5 Arrow RedUnder (5)
Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks

10.5 Arrow GreenOver (13) 11.5 Arrow GreenOver (12) 11 Arrow RedUnder (10)
Los Angeles Rams

St. Louis Rams

7.5 Arrow RedUnder (7) 6.5 Arrow RedUnder (6) 8 Arrow RedUnder (7)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7.5 Arrow RedUnder (4) 7.5 Arrow RedUnder (2) 6 Push IconPush (6)
Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans

6.5 Arrow GreenOver (7) 7.5 Arrow RedUnder (2) 5.5 Arrow RedUnder (3)
Washington Redski

Washington Redskins

8 Arrow RedUnder (3) 7.5 Arrow RedUnder (4) 6 Arrow GreenOver (9)
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