Scoring was back up around the league in Week 3, but we’re still seeing a bunch of smaller totals on the Week 4 NFL odds board. Where does the OVER fit in our betting plans?
Not everything went according to plan in Week 3. We had the Arizona Cardinals (+3.5) for Monday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, hoping to catch some of that contrarian betting magic that saw underdogs go 12-3 ATS over the previous seven days. The logic held up; Ezekiel Elliott had just 3.6 yards per carry – but he also scored the final touchdown in a 28-17 win for the Cowboys. Well played.
Monday’s game also went UNDER the posted total of 46.5 points, once again sticking out from the crowd after the OVER went 11-4 heading into the final game of Week 3. Which brings us to this week’s schedule. The scoring woes from earlier in the season are still resonating; at press time, there isn’t a single total of 50 points or more on the NFL odds board. That’s not normal. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers and see if we can find a juicy OVER or two.
It’s become de rigueur in recent years for sharp bettors to jump on the OVER as soon as the lines open up in the NFL odds board, with little regard to the matchups themselves. Public bettors love the OVER, too, and their weekend action typically bumps up those totals, so the best prices on the OVER are usually available at the open. This strategy makes, even more, sense when the league saw average team scoring rise every year from 2009 (21.5 points per game) through 2013 (23.4 points).
Scoring has leveled off since then. But the strategy remains; Sportsbook Review has early consensus numbers available on 12 of Sunday’s games, and the OVER was a unanimous choice among first responders in five of those games, with heavy support in a sixth. Bettors were split fairly evenly in four other games, leaving just two where the UNDER was drawing heavy interest.
That includes Sunday’s early matinée (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. The total opened at 45 points for this contest, then fell as low as 43 under pressure from early bettors. That is a significant line move. If you wanted to buy your way down from OVER 45 to OVER 43, you’d be willing to pay about 30 cents in vigorish, according to the NFL numbers at Wizard of Odds. Maybe we should swoop in and grab that OVER now that the sharps have done their work.
It’s a Slobberknocker
There’s some obvious appeal to taking the UNDER whenever the Steelers (UNDER 3-0 this year) and the Ravens (UNDER 2-1) get together. This is a smashmouth AFC North matchup, one that’s been dominated by defense and running, and the UNDER is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings between these rivals. Three yards and a cloud of dust, yadda yadda.
Then you have all the injuries these teams have suffered on their offensive lines. The Ravens are in deep trouble without Pro Bowl LG Marshal Yanda, who broke his ankle in Week 2 and is gone for the season. The Steelers saw LG Ramon Foster leave last week’s 23-17 overtime loss to the Chicago Bears (UNDER 43.5) with an injured left thumb; RT Marcus Gilbert also missed that game with a bad hamstring.
Foster and Gilbert are important enough to Sunday’s contest that we highly recommend waiting for an update on their Week 4 status before betting this total. But if they’re good to go, the OVER looks like a viable pick at these new and improved odds, on what promises to be a beautiful day at M&T Bank Stadium. Well, the weather should be beautiful, at least. The football? Maybe if you’re into pain.
Free NFL Pick: Over 42 +130
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle