It used to be that betting the Unders in September in the NFL was a winning angle, but scoring jumped considerably last season, and we do not see that turning around in 2009.
It used to be that sharp NFL bettors could make a profit by almost blindly betting the Unders in September, as the defenses were almost always ahead of the offenses at the beginning of the season.
After all, from 1985 until 2007, the Under was a fairly lucrative 646-548-18, 54.1 percent in all September games, with an average combined total score of 40.8 points per game. Furthermore, that Under percentage could have easily been improved upon with some simple filters. However, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changin’!”
Last September, the Over suddenly turned in a 35-24-1, 59.3 percent performance. Now our first intuition was that the books caught up to the sharps that had been pounding the Under in previous seasons by posting lower totals, but the truth of the matter was that scoring was indeed up for the month at 45.2 points per game, a whopping five-point jump from the previous 23-year average.
What made that scoring binge somewhat more surprising was the fact that September games averaged 42.2 points the previous 2007 season, meaning that scoring jumped a full field goal for the month in just one year. There were even four teams that went a perfect 4-0 for the Over in September 2008 – the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.
Now no doubt, several rule changes and more sophisticated offensive schemes played a big hand in the increase, but we see no reason why this September will not be a carbon copy of last year, meaning that if the books are slow to adjust, the value in September may have now swung to the Over after the Under was so profitable for so long.
Now this may seem counterintuitive, but take a close look at the Over in games that have a posted total of 40 or more, as the Over was 23-14, 62.2 percent in those games last season compared to 12-10-1 in games with posted totals of less than 40. This may be due to the fact that the books were somewhat reluctant to inflate their totals after seeing the Under hit with such regularity in previous Septembers, so the somewhat higher totals may actually be deflated.
It goes without saying that one must stay one step ahead of the bookmakers to be successful, and we say do not fall into the trap of playing more Unders this season anticipating a correction for last year, as we feel that the increased scoring in the NFL will continue for the long haul.