Scoring was down across the NFL in 2022. It was the lowest scoring season since 2017 and it was only the second time since 2009 where teams averaged less than 22 points per game. Oddsmakers continued to try and adjust totals as the season went on, but unders still hit a high rate. During the regular season, unders went 149-119-3, cashing for bettors at an extremely profitable rate of 55.6%.
The wild card round was a change of pace. The first five games last weekend all went over the total. The Monday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would have gone over if not for four missed extra points by Brett Maher and two red zone turnovers from Tom Brady. Overall, overs went 5-1 in the wild card round.
If you thought that trend would continue into the divisional round, you would be mistaken. Despite high-powered offenses being featured in all four games, overs went 0-4 this past weekend. A few games flirted with the total, but others were never close. It was a maddening and disappointing weekend if you were rooting for points.
All four games went under
Bettors like rooting for points and excitement, so it’s no surprise that all four divisional games saw the majority of action come in on the over. Unfortunately for bettors, none of the games actually went over the total.
The highest total of the weekend was in Kansas City, where the total for the Jaguars-Chiefs game closed at 52 points. The game got off to a good start for over bettors, as the Chiefs and Jaguars exchanged first quarter touchdowns with Travis Kelce and Christian Kirk finding the end zone. However, on Kansas City’s next drive, Arden Key tackled Patrick Mahomes and landed on his ankle. Mahomes was clearly hobbled but remained in the game for the drive. On the next drive, Mahomes was replaced by Chad Henne, who led a 98-yard touchdown drive. Kansas City took a 17-10 lead into halftime, meaning over bettors were in decent shape, but the status of Mahomes was imperative.
Mahomes returned to action in the second half, and while he was efficient, he was clearly not his usual self. Both teams punted on their first two possessions of the second half, which was a blow that was going to be nearly impossible to overcome in a game with a total this high. However, the scoring picked up. Kansas City kicked a field goal and then both teams exchanged touchdowns. Kansas City was up 27-17 with just over seven minutes left. Over bettors needed two scores.
It looked like they had a real chance to get it. Jacksonville was driving and had a 1st-and-goal at the nine yard line. Trevor Lawrence found Jamal Agnew in the flat, who looked like he might have had a chance to score. Unfortunately for Jaguars fans and over bettors, Agnew fumbled and the Chiefs recovered. Suddenly, a Jacksonville comeback and the over was on life support. Trevor Lawrence then threw an interception on his next drive. On their final drive, the Jaguars kicked a field goal to cut the lead to seven, which was important to some. However, the ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful and Kansas City held on for a 27-20 win.
In the Saturday night game, it was obvious early that the Philadelphia Eagles would need to carry the load if the game was going to go over 48.5 points. The Eagles went up 28-0 at halftime and it was obvious the Giants weren’t going to put many points on the board. New York scored a touchdown in the third quarter, but that was all the offense they would provide. Philadelphia added ten points in the fourth quarter, but over bettors needed 14 points.
The key point of the game for total bettors was when the Giants were down 28-7 with 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter. They faced a 4th-and-6 at their own 42 yard line and inexplicably decided to punt. Philadelphia took eight minutes off the clock, running 15 plays. However, on first down at the Giants’ 13-yard line, Jalen Hurts hit DeVonta Smith on a bubble screen. Smith gained 6 yards, but the Eagles were flagged for an ineligible man downfield. That put them behind the chains and they settled for the field goal. Settling for three instead of getting seven on that drive ended up being the difference between the over cashing and the under being the right side.
While there was some intrigue in the totals on Saturday, that wasn’t really the case on Sunday.
The meeting between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills closed with a total of 48.5 points. The game was played in snow, and Buffalo’s offense never really got anything going. Buffalo had two turnovers in the fourth quarter which ruined any chances of a comeback and ruined any hopes of this game going over the total.
The Sunday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco Giants closed with a total of 46.5 points. However, the game was a defensive struggle. There was no chance the game was ever going to go over the total in regulation. Over bettors were praying for the game to go to overtime so they had a chance at a miracle, but it wasn’t meant to be as San Francisco won by a score of 19-12 in regulation.
Public struggles on Saturday, rebounds on Sunday
A lot of bettors use “fading the public” as a big part of their handicap and betting strategy. The thought process is that most bettors lose money, so if you’re on the opposite side of the majority, and therefore on the same side as the oddsmakers, you will win more than you lose. Of course, it’s not that simple. Bettors lay -110 on every bet they make, while the house gets +110 on every bet they take. Nevertheless, fading the public has been a strategy for years.
If you faded the public on Saturday, you had a great day. However, if you faded the public on Sunday, you gave it all back and a bit more.
At BetMGM, 54% of bets were on the Kansas City Chiefs to cover as 9.5-point home favorites against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs were up ten points late, but the Jaguars kicked a late field goal to cut the deficit to a single score. Jacksonville ended up losing the game by just seven points and covered the spread. It was a bad result for a majority of bettors. One bettor at BetMGM risked $500,000 on Jacksonville to cover a 10.5-point spread. They ended up winning $400,000 in profit.
In the Saturday night game, the New York Giants were a popular public underdog. At BetMGM, 57% of bets were on the Giants to cover as 7.5-point underdogs. If you had the Giants, you could have gone to bed at halftime as the Eagles came out to a 28-0 lead and it was obvious the Giants were never going to really be in this game. That’s another loss for the betting public. If you faded the public to this point, you were 2-0 and probably thought you cracked the code.
However, that all turned on Sunday. The Cincinnati Bengals were an extremely popular underdog. At BetMGM, 67% of bets were on Cincinnati to cover. Despite all of that action on Cincinnati, the line moved from 3.5-points to 5.5-points in favor of Buffalo over the course of the week. All of that ended up being noise, as the Bengals won outright by a score of 27-10. The public was right and the oddsmakers were wrong. That happens too.
In the night game, 63% of bets were on San Francisco to cover the spread as a home favorite against the Dallas Cowboys. Once again, the line moved the other way. The 49ers opened as 4.5-point favorites, but by kickoff, that line was down to 3.5 points. Again, the public was right as the 49ers won the game by seven points and covered as favorites.
Two of the more popular prop bets for this weekend’s slate featured key members of the Buffalo Bills’ offense. With the Bills struggling mightily on offense and only scoring ten points, it’s no surprise both failed to hit.
At BetMGM, 99% of bets were on Stefon Diggs to go over 6.5 receptions. Diggs finished with just four catches before he ripped his quarterback on the sidelines late in the game. Speaking of his quarterback, bettors expected Josh Allen to have a big game on the ground. Allen had just 26 rushing yards despite the fact that 95% of bets were on him to go over 48.5 rushing yards.
Quarterbacks using their legs was a popular angle for bettors. Dak Prescott rushed for 22 yards, which cashed the over for 99% of bettors who took him to go over 15.5 yards. At BetMGM, 97% of the action was on Daniel Jones to go over 42.5 rushing yards. He finished with just 24 yards on the ground.
The betting public was right about Travis Kelce having a big game. Ninety-nine percent of the action was backing Kelce to go over 6.5 receptions. Kelce obliterated that number, finishing with 14 catches.
Speaking of public bets, bettors cashed in when Boston Scott found the end zone for the Eagles against the Giants. Scott was the most popular anytime touchdown bet in that game at +325 odds. The Eagles’ third-string running back has now scored in all nine career games against the Giants.
Current Super Bowl odds and conference championship lines
The Philadelphia Eagles are the current favorites to win the Super Bowl, but there’s not much separation at all between the four teams at BetMGM:
Philadelphia Eagles (+260)
Cincinnati Bengals (+270)
Kansas City Chiefs (+270)
San Francisco 49ers (+300)
In the NFC championship game, Philadelphia is now up to a 3-point favorite over the San Francisco 49ers. In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs are 1-point favorites at home over the Cincinnati Bengals.