NFL Win Totals

On a per-game basis, it’s tough to find a sport that receives anywhere near as much attention as the NFL. During the regular season, teams play only once per week for a total of 17 games each. Once that wraps up, the postseason takes off and features some of the most highly scrutinized contests of the year.

The break between games gives each one an event feel. You’ll find a variety of analysis to digest as you work toward making the calls on the bets that you like best. From a broader perspective, you can also take a step back and place some season-long wagers.

The NFL futures market encompasses a variety of wagers, including team win totals. For these bets, you are wagering on whether a team will exceed or fall short of its posted win total for the season. It’s a simple bet in nature, but there also are some key points that you need to know. Here’s a roadmap to betting on NFL win totals.

2021 NFL win totals odds

The odds feed below has current NFL win totals as posted across Pennsylvania online sportsbooks apps. These are the real-time numbers from the industry’s top books. See a number you like? Just click on the odds to go straight to the sportsbook to start betting on the NFL.

Eagles win totals

For the local market, we don’t have to look too far to find the top attractions. The Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers have loyal and passionate followings across the state. As the season approaches, there will be plenty of chatter about what’s in the cards for the two squads that call Pennsylvania home.

Here’s how the Eagles have fared over the last three campaigns in comparison to an estimated win total for each season.

SeasonWin TotalFinal RecordDifference
20209.54-11-1-5.5
20199.59-7-0.5
201810.59-7-1.5

For the last three seasons, under would have been the correct call for bets on the Eagles’ win total. The 2018 and 2019 clubs came close, but the 2020 edition fell woefully short in a dismal campaign. Looking ahead to 2021, most sportsbooks have Philadelphia pegged for 6.5 or 7 wins.

At the books that have set the line at 6.5, over has been the more popular wager, while under has been the pick of choice with a total of 7. In short, oddsmakers seem to have hit the mark.

An offseason coaching change and a new QB at the helm mean the Eagles are going into the regular season with some questions. As such, the public seems to be on the mark. Over 6.5 seems like a fair bet for the 17-game season, but the Eagles may struggle to do much more than that.

Steelers win totals

After cruising through the first three months of the 2020 NFL season, the Steelers closed things out in a disappointing fashion and were one and done in the postseason. Here’s how the win total story has played out over the past three seasons.

SeasonWin TotalFinal RecordDifference
20209.012-4+3
20199.08-8+1
201810.59-6-1-1.5

Pittsburgh was well over the mark last year, and had mixed results the previous two seasons. Heading into the coming season, expectations seem to be in check, mainly due to the disappointing finish and concerns over certain roster spots.

As oddsmakers see it, the benchmark is 8.5 to 9 wins. At 8.5 wins, most books are seeing close to even action, while books that are at 9 are seeing a clear preference for under that total.

While the concerns over the finish and certain positions are fair, there’s a big variable to consider: head coach Mike Tomlin. In 14 years under his watch, the Steelers have won nine or more games 11 times during 16-game regular seasons.

Now that the regular season has extended by an additional game, it’s hard not to see the club at least managing to do so again. In fact, the team has the talent to contend for the postseason once again, so an over bet at either 8.5 or 9 wins seems like a fair call.

How NFL win totals work

A few months before the regular season gets underway, sportsbooks release NFL season win totals. Each team will have a number, such as 8.5 wins. There will be odds on both sides of the equation, as in whether the club will go over or under that amount. The average listing looks like what you would see with a standard total bet.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers regular season wins 2021-22

  • Over    11.5 (-110)
  • Under  11.5 (-110)

Just like a standard over/under bet, there will be the line from the sportsbook — 11.5 in this case — as well as the actual odds for placing the bet. At release, the odds will generally be at the industry standard of -110, but they can shift once betting action develops. For example, the over could move to -115 while the under goes to -108.

To place a bet, you click on the odds that correspond with your choice. Next, add in the amount you want to wager, verify that everything is correct and click submit. The sportsbook will display the potential return, but you can also ballpark it from the odds. At standard odds of -110, you’d have to wager $110 to see a return of $100.

In the case of positive odds like +110, you’d get back that amount for a $100 wager — i.e., $110 — while negative odds like -110 mean that you have to bet $110 for the chance to get $100 back. All legal sportsbooks have house rules in place that you should take the time to review, but there’s one big standard across the industry that you should be aware of:

  • In the event of a complete cancellation of a season, futures markets on that sport will be void and bettors will receive refunds.

Also, keep in mind that sportsbooks will treat NFL over under win totals that land exactly on the listed number as a push. For example, if the Steelers odds have a line of nine wins and go on to finish with a mark of 9-8, the bet will be a push. Since it’s a tie, you will receive a refund of your initial stake.

NFL win total trends

Research is your friend when it comes to win totals. In order to know what to expect in the coming season, you’ll want to spend some time looking back at where teams are coming from. Since it’s the offseason, there’s extra time to work at your own pace. For starters, here’s each division over the past 10 seasons with cumulative records and average wins for each team.

TeamRecordAverage Wins
New England Patriots118-4211.8
Buffalo Bills80-808.0
Miami Dolphins73-877.3
New York Jets59-1015.9
TeamRecordAverage Wins
Pittsburgh Steelers102-57-110.2
Baltimore Ravens97-639.7
Cincinnati Bengals77-80-37.7
Cleveland Browns48-111-14.8
TeamRecordAverage Wins
Indianapolis Colts83-778.3
Houston Texans80-808.0
Tennessee Titans74-867.4
Jacksonville Jaguars44-1164.4
TeamRecordAverage Wins
Kansas City Chiefs100-6010.0
Denver Broncos90-709.0
Los Angeles Chargers75-857.5
Las Vegas Raiders63-976.3
TeamRecordAverage Wins
Dallas Cowboys86-748.6
Philadelphia Eagles81-78-18.1
New York Giants66-946.6
Washington Football Team63-96-16.3
TeamRecordAverage Wins
Green Bay Packers105-53-210.5
Minnesota Vikings82-76-28.2
Chicago Bears73-877.3
Detroit Lions71-88-17.1
TeamRecordAverage Wins
New Orleans Saints101-5910.1
Carolina Panthers81-78-18.1
Atlanta Falcons80-808.0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers60-1006.0
TeamRecordAverage Wins
Seattle Seahawks105-54-110.5
San Francisco 49ers80-79-18.0
Arizona Cardinals78-80-27.8
Los Angeles Rams76-83-17.6

By examining the above divisional tables, we walk away with a few takeaways that can help us to further understand the NFL as a whole. Keep in mind, though, that all of the above numbers came in 16-game seasons.

  • Just six teams — the Patriots, Packers, Seahawks, Steelers, Saints and Chiefs — have averaged double-digit wins over the span.
  • Only three clubs — Jets, Browns and Jaguars — have averaged fewer than six wins over the time frame.
  • Eighteen teams have averaged between seven and nine wins per season, which is a further testament to league parity.
  • Teams that haven’t been consistently solid can rise. See the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and their average of six wins for reference.

Next, let’s take a look at win totals over the past 10 seasons and the number of teams that fell into specific categories, along with the highest and lowest number of victories.

SeasonDouble DigitsUnder Six7 to 9 WinsMost WinsFewest Wins
20201397141
201910812142
20181179133
201710811130
201610713141
201511710153
201412710122
201311812132
20121379132
20119713152

From this step in the research process, we may be able to glean additional insight. Here are some points to note:

  • Ten to 13 teams per year have pulled off double-digit wins in nine of 10 seasons with a 16-game schedule.
  • There are consistently between seven and nine teams that fail to crack the six-win barrier.
  • In seven of 10 seasons, 10 or more clubs have finished in the middle range of seven to nine wins.

Moving forward, the regular season has been bumped to 17 games, so the number of double-digit teams could be on the rise. For now, benchmarks to consider are 10 teams or a couple more at double-digit wins, fewer than 10 teams at six wins or lower, and everyone else in between.

Beyond the trends, there are a few key stats that can have a big impact on a team’s improvement or decline in the coming campaign. Here are three to take a look at:

  • Turnover margin: Balls bounce funny in the NFL at times, and some teams are just the victims of bad luck in this regard. A turnover can change the course of a game, so look for solid teams that have negative turnover differentials as potential candidates for further improvement.
  • Yards per play differential: YPP is a favored stat of seasoned handicappers, and for good reason. It’s a great measure of the overall offensive and defensive efficiency of a team. For the prior season, subtract defensive YPP allowed from offensive YPP and look for those with positive values as teams with a solid base to build on.
  • Scoring differential: A simple stat, but one that reveals a lot. Simply take the difference between average points scored and allowed from the previous year. Next, compare the difference to the number of wins. Teams with a large number of victories and a tight difference could be candidates for regression.  

Lastly, you won’t be lacking for options when it comes to opinions on NFL futures total wins. There’s a lot of free advice and analytics out there, as well as plenty of paid resources. It’s perfectly fine to examine the sources you trust, but be wary of those promising immediate and complete success for a fee or subscription.

NFL win totals — 3 tips

NFL win totals and other futures open some additional time for wagering on the most heavily bet sport, hence their growing popularity. Whether you’ve been active with win totals for years or you’re new to the concept, here are three ways to sort through the league’s teams in a hurry:

  1. Overall team trajectory: In a nutshell, you’ll want a sense of the vibe surrounding a team. Did it close out last year strong? Is there optimism for better days ahead? Any negativity to be concerned about? Little clues such as these can provide a sense of whether the arrow is pointing up or down.
  2. Offseason activity: For starters, be sure not to overreact to every solid move a team makes. One signing or draft pick may be a missing piece, but there’s no guarantee of that. Instead, look at the sum of the parts and determine the answer to this question: Has the team gotten better or worse?
  3. Coaching change: This can be a positive or a negative, and it really depends on the overall trajectory of the franchise. If it’s a situation where a team needs a kick in the pants and it’s hired a master motivator, improvement could be coming. Clubs that are rebuilding with an unproven commodity, meanwhile, may have a rough road ahead.

By walking through these three steps, you should have a sense of where all 32 teams stand. From there, you can break down your findings and place the clubs in one of three tiers: contenders, mid-range and also-rans. Afterward, compare to listed win totals and dig a little deeper on the ones that really jump out to you.

When is the best time to bet on NFL win totals?

As with all other aspects of NFL handicapping, there are several schools of thought on the best approach to betting on win totals. A large part of the debate revolves around the best time to place these wagers. There are three timeframes to consider, each of which has its merits and disadvantages.

Initial release

Once oddsmakers begin releasing win totals, you can place bets right away.

  • Pro: Bet on the freshest possible odds and lines without worrying about market reaction.
  • Con: Additional information can develop as the season approaches that impacts a team’s chances.

Before training camp

Following the NFL draft and right before camp, the vast majority of major moves have happened and the market has had time to weigh in.

  • Pro: You have a clearer picture of how teams are shaping up for the coming season.
  • Con: There could still be some surprises to come that impact the numbers — player injuries, etc.

Following the preseason

Teams are getting set for the games that matter, and the betting public has had ample time to weigh in, with oddsmakers adjusting accordingly.

  • Pro: All of the information that can impact a team for the coming season is now part of the equation.
  • Con: Betting action and sportsbook reaction will have altered the numbers, potentially lessening the appeal of some wagers.

Interestingly, the answer to the question of when is the best time to wager on win totals can vary by team. For example, a team that you’re high on may not receive much respect from oddsmakers at the initial release, so that could be a perfect time to pounce on the over before the market catches on.

Following the NFL draft, rampant enthusiasm from fans about the prospects of their favorite team can lead to a flurry of action and open the doors to some appealing under bets. Lastly, by the time the preseason is done, there’s inevitably a team or two that has seen its bandwagon reach maximum capacity.

This makes for a fantastic time to tune out the noise and really examine those squads in full detail to determine if they are actually for real or just another preseason darling that will fall flat.

Who sets NFL win totals?

As with the odds and lines for all NFL games, individual sportsbooks set their own win totals. And at each sportsbook, the people who set the totals are oddsmakers. While there may be a single person with whom the buck stops, there’s also a team behind the scenes helping to craft the totals.

Once upon a time, the numbers may have come down to manual calculations. Today, computers and algorithms are valuable members of the team. These will crunch and analyze scores of data points, with oddsmakers sifting through the results. Among the key points considered when crafting win totals are:

  • Team performance from prior season.
  • Positive or negative momentum from close of prior year.
  • Efficiency in all facets of game in comparison to results.
  • Additions and subtractions on the player front.
  • Coaching hires and any attrition on key parts of staff.
  • Schedule for the upcoming season and strength of opponents.

While these are some of the big pieces of the puzzle, there’s a lot more to consider, as well. If you can think of anything that could impact a team’s performance in the coming season in a positive or negative way, it’s likely already part of the sportsbook’s equation.

This may make it sound as if it’s impossible to make any headway with NFL win totals, but remember this: Oddsmakers aren’t always right. When you can learn to spot where they may be wrong or have possibly under- or overvalued a team, you’ll be on the path toward finding some success.

Lastly, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of similarity across the industry when it comes to win totals. You might see a half-game difference in a variety of spots at release, but a full game or more of difference is rare. Why is that? Here are the main reasons:

  • Many processes across the industry are standard and lead to similar conclusions.
  • There can be some copycatting by which sportsbooks look to stay in line with the shops that they perceive as sharp.
  • Seriously skewed numbers will be pounded by heavy hitters and quickly brought back into line with the overall market.

Similar to building a successful NFL team, there’s a whole lot going on behind the scenes at sportsbooks as they work to put out optimal numbers. While they won’t always be right, you can rest assured that a ton of thought has gone into the process.

More NFL futures odds

NFL win totals are a very popular bet on the futures wagering menu, but it’s far from the only option you’ll find. The NFL is the most heavily bet sport in the US, and sportsbooks are all about keeping customers happy. As such, you’ll find futures bets on the following:

  • Super Bowl winner
  • AFC and NFC champions
  • Division winners
  • Teams to make or miss playoffs
  • Award winners — MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.
  • Season-long leaders — passing yards, TDs, etc.
  • Player benchmarks — yardage, scoring, etc.
  • Team with best or worst regular season record
  • Team to go undefeated or winless
  • Starting QB for Week 1 for select teams
  • Top seeds for playoffs
  • First pick in next NFL draft

If you love the NFL, you’ll find more than enough to keep you occupied in the offseason. For those new to the game or looking to enhance their skills, the futures market can serve as a fantastic research tool as you get set for an upcoming season. Regardless of your experience level, you’ll find that there’s a lot to like about NFL futures.

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