# Monday Night Football Picks: Eagles vs. Redskins Total Pick

Jason Lake

Sunday, September 8, 2013 1:12 PM UTC

Sunday, Sep. 8, 2013 1:12 PM UTC

Everyone’s expecting the scoreboard to light up when Chip Kelly makes his NFL coaching debut onMonday Night Football. But are they driving the NFL odds totals too damn high?

Funny how just about everything seems to fall on a bell curve. Funny, and highly profitable if you like to bet on NFL totals. Here’s the short version: The lower the posted total, the more you should bet OVER. The higher the posted total, the more you should bet UNDER. And we’ve got a relatively high total in store Monday night (6:55 p.m. ET, ESPN) when Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles land at FedExField.

The Way of Curve

Since we’re at the start of a new season, here’s a quick NFL totals refresher/crash course for those who need it. I sure needed it last year; it wasn’t until about halfway through the 2012 season that I started really wrapping my head around the probability distribution for NFL totals. I know, statistics, ewwww. But I managed to scramble back and finish the year at 26-21-1 on totals. Kinda like the way Robert Griffin III elevated his game during the second half of the season.

Anyway, I digress. I don’t always digress, but when I do, it’s away from something called a univariate Gaussian distribution. The bell curve is the most common example of this kind of distribution; the probability of something extreme happening at either end is small, while the most common occurrences are found right in the middle.

Scoring in the NFL is pretty much the same. Looking at the 10-year sample of regular season games at Sporting Charts, the most common combined score at the end of an NFL game was 41. It’s not a perfectly smooth curve, since most scoring in football comes in chunks of three and seven points - the second most common score was 37, followed by 44. Things start to get quite less common once you get below 37 points or past 51.

52 Shades of Green

Conveniently enough, the NFL odds board at press time was giving us a total of 52 points for Monday night’s game in Washington. That’s up from 50 points back when training camps opened; our consensus reports show nearly 60 percent support for the OVER, and given the NFL betting public’s preference for the OVER, we could see that total climb even higher before kick-off.

This bias toward high scoring is what makes betting football totals so (potentially) lucrative. It isn’t just that NFL teams have a lot of work to do to reach 52 points – it’s also the betting market creating inflated scoring expectations. You’ll see this as well at the other end of the spectrum, where too many bettors make their NFL picks the UNDER when there’s a low total on the board, pushing it even lower. But mostly you’ll see it at the high end.

Be sure to go back and check out my picks on the Spread!

[gameodds]16/226882/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Also, see whats happened since the Odds Opened for this Game~