Bettors Banking Money on High-Scoring NFL Games

Posted on: September 28, 2020, 10:45h. 

Last updated on: September 28, 2020, 01:03h.

With most of Week 3 complete, scoreboard operators have been among the busiest people at NFL stadiums.

Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson led the Seattle Seahawks to a 38-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. (Image: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports)

Through two weeks, teams had scored 186 touchdowns and 1,556 points, by far the most in NFL history. The scoring assault continued this week. Of the 15 games played through Sunday, 14 of the 30 teams scored at least 30 points.

That’s meant sportsbooks have taken a beating on the over/unders.

Bet the Over

Only the Monday night game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens — arguably the most explosive teams in the NFL — remains on this week’s docket. If bettors had taken the over in every game thus far, they’d be 29-18.

No matter the number, the over is almost always the popular play,” said Patrick Eichner, PointsBet’s director of communications, to “It makes sense intuitively. People want to root for an exciting football game that has a good amount of points. So, you almost always see more tickets and more handle on the over.”

The over is 9-6 this week. Will defenses, once they settle in after abbreviated training camps, swing the pendulum back the other way? Or will offenses continue to score at a record-setting clip? And if that’s the case, will sportsbooks have to adjust their over/unders accordingly?

In terms of setting that total, sure, recent events and recent state of play is certainly a factor. But we have our own internal systems when it comes to how we feel teams rank and how we set a side on a game, how we set a total, how we set a moneyline,” Eichner said.

“We’re a process-driven organization and trust our process and post our lines, and then move off sharp action and staying in line with the global market.”

It’s worth noting that teams are averaging 24.80 points through three weeks. Since 2000, four of the five highest-scoring starts to the season have come the last six years.

‘50/50 Split’

Week 1 was a good one for sportsbooks. Week 2 was a good one for the public. Week 3 provided mixed results.

For Eichner, one noteworthy outcome was the Seattle Seahawks’ 38-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, who posted a monumental, come-from-behind victory last week over the Atlanta Falcons. Seattle covered as a 5.5-point favorite at PointsBet. The tickets and handle on the spread were split almost evenly, though Seattle had most of the action on the moneyline.

We were pretty even across the board in terms of good results, bad results,” Eichner told “In particular, that Cowboys-Seahawks game, we went into that basically 50/50 across the board, and that one took a lot of live-in-play action, especially as the Cowboys seemed like they were mounting a comeback, and recent memory of what they did last week vs. the Falcons.

“Granted, the Falcons proved this week that might be a consistent thing for them. But that helped mitigate that loss because we did take a lot of live action on the Cowboys.”

One good result at PointsBet was the tie between the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles. Philly had 80 percent of the spread money. Another good result was the Chicago Bears’ come-from-behind victory at the Falcons. Atlanta led 26-10 entering the fourth quarter. But Chicago scored 20 unanswered to win 30-26. The Falcons were 2.5-point favorites.

Also, the Arizona Cardinals were 5.5-point favorites against the Detroit Lions, but lost 26-23. About 80 percent of the spread money was on the Cardinals.

On the other side of the coin, 77 percent of the spread money came on the New England Patriots in their home game against the Las Vegas Raiders. New England, which was a 7-point favorite, won 36-20. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 6-point favorites at the Denver Broncos, with 70 percent of the spread money on the Bucs. Tampa Bay won, 28-10.