Total Talk – Week 5

Week 4 Recap

Almost every team has played a quarter of their season and the scoreboard operators have been working overtime so far. handicapper Lee Kostroski of ASA Sports took a closer look at the increase in scoring this season and how it’s affected the totals market.

“Through the first four weeks of the 2017 season, the average total points scored in an NFL game was 43.7 points per game. The yearly average points scored in 2017 ended up at 43.6 PPG, which is slightly lower than the first four-week average. Thus far in the first four weeks of 2018, the average points scored per game is 47.9 PPG, which is a jump of over four-points per game compared to last season,” said Kostroski.

Last week, the ‘over’ produced a 9-6 record and the high side is 34-29 (54%) on the season. While we’ve seen an influx of scoring, the totals market has held steady and most of that balance is derived from the oddsmakers.

Kostroski explained, “Yes, scoring is up this year in the NFL, but so is the average total set by the [...]s. So far in 2018 the average O/U set by the oddsmakers on a game is 45.67. In 2017 through four games that average was 44.2 so you can see how the books are adjusting for the higher-scoring games. The correction in the totals has kept the ‘over/under’ market in check. Bettors should note that the ‘over’ was 32-31 through the first four weeks of 2017.”

2018 Total Results - Game & Halves
O/U Game 1st Half 2nd Half
Week 4 9-6 8-7 6-7-2
O/U Game 1st Half 2nd Half
Year-to-Date 34-29 32-31 27-32-4

2018 Results - Other
O/U AFC-NFC Divisional Indoor Coast to Coast
Week 4 3-1 1-4 3-0 1-0
O/U AFC-NFC Divisional Indoor Coast to Coast
Year-to-Date 10-8 9-10 9-3 3-1

Keep an Eye On

-- Only three teams in the league have watched the ‘over’ cash in all four of their games and it’s clearly related to the great combination of a solid offense and weak defense. The trio include Cincinnati (31.5 PPG, 28.2 PPG) Tampa Bay (28 PPG, 34.8 PPG) and the L.A. Chargers (27.8 PPG, 30 PPG).

-- Arizona has watched the ‘under’ start 4-0 and while the offense has slightly improved each week, the Cardinals defense has been better too.

-- We have five totals sitting in the fifties this week. Through four weeks, the ‘under’ has gone 6-5 in games that have closed at 50 points or higher.

-- Tennessee and Buffalo are staring at a total of 39 as of Saturday morning, the lowest number on the board. The ‘under’ is 2-1 in games that have closed below 40 points this season.

-- Carolina and Washington are both playing with rest this weekend. The Panthers have seen the ‘over’ cash in their last four games ‘off the bye’ while the Redskins have watched their totals break even (2-2) in the first four years under head coach Jay Gruden.

-- The popular “Thursday Night Total” system is sitting at 3-0 this season after the Browns and Raiders played to a shootout last Sunday. The angle calls for finding out who played at home on Thursday in the previous week and playing the ‘over’ in their next game, regardless of the venue. The Rams-Seahawks game fits for Week 5 since Los Angeles played at home last Thursday versus Minnesota.

Line Moves and Public Leans

Listed below are the largest line moves for Week 5 as of Saturday morning per [...].

Atlanta at Pittsburgh: 56 to 58
Minnesota at Philadelphia: 44 ½ to 46 ½
L.A. Rams at Seattle: 48 to 50
Washington at New Orleans: 51 to 53

Listed below are the five largest leans for Week 5 per the betting trend percentages on the VI Matchup Index as of Saturday morning.

Miami at Cincinnati: Under 91%
Minnesota at Philadelphia: Over 83%
N.Y. Giants at Carolina: Over 82%
Baltimore at Cleveland: Under 81%
Green Bay at Detroit: Over 77%

Divisional Matchups

Baltimore at Cleveland: The ‘under’ has cashed in the last three encounters and Cleveland hasn’t scored more than 10 points in any of those games. The Baltimore defense (16.2 PPG) is playing great football so far. Cleveland has scored 21 in each of its first two home games and 39 of those 42 points came in the second-half.

Green Bay at Detroit: The last five games in this series have gone ‘over’ and Detroit has averaged 27.8 PPG during this span. Going back to last season, Green Bay has watched the ‘over’ go 8-1 in its last nine road games and the Packers have surrendered 30-plus points in six of those games.

Oakland at L.A. Chargers: Four of the last five and seven of the previous nine meetings in this series have watched the ‘under’ connect. This is a high total based on the weak defensive numbers for both the Raiders (30.8 PPG) and Chargers (30 PPG). Since the Bolts moved to Los Angeles, they’re averaging 26.7 PPG at the Carson venue.

Arizona at San Francisco: The ‘under’ is on a 4-1 run and that includes a streak of three in a row to the low side. The Cardinals had their best offensive effort (17 points) last week but are still ranked last in scoring (9.2 PPG). SF posted 27 points behind backup QB C.J. Beathard last week but one touchdown came from the Niners defense and another on an 82-yard pass play.

L.A. Rams at Seattle: The ‘under’ has gone 9-3 in the last 12 meetings but that was when defense was stressed in the NFL and both clubs rolled out top units. This week’s number could close in the fifties and the last time this matchup saw a number that high was in 2005 when Marc Bulger and Matt Hasselbeck were quarterbacks for the Rams and Seahawks respectively. Los Angeles blasted Seattle 42-7 on the road last season and the ‘over’ is 7-2 in the last nine games away from home for the Rams. The Seahawks offense (21.2 PPG) hasn’t shown much pop this season and the books are hoping they can do enough to cover with so much risk pending on Los Angeles.

Under the Lights

It’s literally been ‘under’ the lights this season and the guys behind the betting counter have to be happy with the results. Through 14 games, the ‘under’ stands at 8-6 and that includes last Thursday’s ‘over’ result between the Colts and Patriots, which was helped with a 35-point second-half - 28 in the fourth quarter.

SNF – Dallas at Houston: The Cowboys cashed their first ‘over’ ticket last week as they rallied past the Lions 26-24 at home. Despite the rare outburst, Dallas (311 YPG) is ranked 27th in total offense. Meanwhile, Houston (413 YPG) is ranked fourth offensively and its issue is putting points (24 PPG) on the board. The Cowboys have been solid defensively (306.2 YPG) and Houston has had issues keeping QB Deshaun Watson (17 sacks) off his back. Watson has the ability to run and Dallas is 0-2 versus versatile QBs so far (Newton, Wilson). For what it’s worth, these teams have only had four all-time meetings and the ‘under’ has cashed in all four games. Lastly, the ‘under’ has gone 3-1 on Sunday Night this season and that record could easily be 4-0 if Aaron Rodgers doesn't put on a show in the second-half of Green Bay's Week 1 win over Chicago.

MNF – Washington at New Orleans: Something will have to give here as the Redskins defense (14.7 PPG) faces their toughest test to date against the Saints offense (34.2 PPG). Coming off the bye, you would believe the advantage goes to Washington. The jury is certainly still out on the Redskins attack (21.3 PPG) through three games but the New Orleans defense (30.2 PPG) remains suspect. The Saints will get back running back Marc Ingram and that will only make the offense more dangerous. Historically, this matchup has been a great ‘over’ bet with the high side going 9-1 in the last 10 encounters and that includes a wild finish between the pair last season. Washington dropped a 34-31 decision at New Orleans in overtime as the Redskins blew a 31-16 lead in less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The ‘under’ has produced a 3-2 mark on MNF this season.

Fearless Predictions

Fading the Bills provided two clear-cut winners but we couldn’t catch breaks in two other wagers as too many field goals doomed us in the Saints-Giants matchup while we got the Trubisky treatment in the teaser. Bankroll (+165) remains in the black despite dropping 10 cents ($10) on the weekend.  As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck! 

Best Over: Green Bay-Detroit 51
Best Under: Arizona-San Francisco 40
Best Team Total: Over Minnesota 20 ½

Three-Team Total Teaser (+7.5, +105)
Under Baltimore-Cleveland 53
Over Denver-N.Y. Jets 35
Under N.Y. Giants-Carolina 51

Chris David can be reached at

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