The confetti on the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory parade has barely been cleared, but we’re already starting to see 2020 projected win totals roll in at legal, regulated sportsbooks. This bet type is one of the more straightforward futures wagers available. Moreover, since they involve handicapping a team’s outlook for the coming season, they’re appealing even to novice bettors, considering NFL fans typically has strong opinions on each team in the league.
Win totals bets do have an added layer of risk attached at this point in the offseason. Free agency and the NFL draft can naturally bring about significant overhauls for any given club. With that said, there will undoubtedly be action throughout the coming months on these types of wagers. As such, let’s delve into some of the fundamentals of 2020 win totals bets, beginning with a look at the current totals at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
NFL win totals 2020
Check back to this page for more win totals as they are released by sportsbooks.
How to bet win totals
Win totals bets fall under the category of a “futures” bet. As their name implies, futures bets are wagers placed on events that won’t be “settled” until a future date. For example, in the case of win totals bets, the wagers are based on the amount of victories a team is projected to garner in the coming regular season of that particular sport. The wagers are made available before the start of that regular season and therefore require a certain amount of research on the part of the bettor in terms of a team’s prospects before a decision is made.
In a win totals bet, the oddsmaker sets a number for the projected amount of victories a team will garner in the coming season. A bettor then decides whether they want to place their money on the team either failing to meet or exceeding that threshold. Either side of the bet will have odds assigned to it that determine the rate of payout if the wager is successful.
The odds are represented in the form of a number with a “-“ or “+” next to them. These denote the rate at which a bettor will be paid out if the wager is successful. As a rule of thumb, the number with a “-“ next to it represents the amount of money a bettor would need to risk to win $100. Conversely a number with a “+” attached represents the amount of money a bettor would win for every $100 wagered. To further illustrate, let’s use a $10 bet for an example.
Let’s suppose the Miami Dolphins are assigned a projected win total of seven victories for the 2020 season. For this first example, we’ll assume the oddsmakers have assigned either side of the bet -110 odds. That means that whether you bet on Miami falling short of or exceeding seven wins, you’ll have the same rate of payout if your bet is successful. In this case, with the bet having -110 odds all the way around, the $10 bet would pay out a profit of $9.09. The bettor would therefore receive a total of $19.09 in return (the original $10 wagered, plus the profit amount).
Utilizing the same wager, let’s say oddsmakers have instead made the odds for the Dolphins finishing over seven wins at +120 and left the under side of the wager at -110. In this case, bettors putting faith in Miami taking a sizable leap forward next season and exceeding seven wins would realize a $12 profit if their side of the bet is correct. The better would therefore receive a total of $22.00 in return (the original $10 wagered, plus the profit amount).
Where to find win totals bets at online sportsbooks
As mentioned earlier, win totals bets fall under the umbrella of futures bets. They are not difficult to locate within an online sportsbooks.
Typically, a bettor first navigates toward the offseason sport they wish to place a win totals bet for. In the case of NFL wins totals bets, the bettor would then look for a “NFL Futures” tab within the NFL section. The win totals bets are often further segregated under a “Team Futures” tab and a “Regular-season Wins” sub-section.
It’s also worth noting that in the early stages of the offseason, not every online sportsbook has win totals bets readily available. Some, such as DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, wait until the dust settles on important events such as free agency and the draft before rolling out their projected totals. Others, such as FOX Bet, made an initial selection of projected win totals available in early February.
Strategy for betting win totals
As is the case with most any purchase, being a smart and patient shopper when placing a wager can pay off nicely over time. The commodity one is evaluating/looking for the best price on when betting projected win totals is the projected number of wins that is set (likely to have low-to-no variance across most sportsbooks) and its corresponding odds (more likely to have variance across sportsbooks).
As an example, say Sportsbook A sets the Miami Dolphins’ win total at six wins. The odds for under six wins is set at -110, while odds on over six wins is set at +110. Meanwhile, Sportsbook B places the odds of under six wins at -120 and odds on over at +120.
In such an instance, a bettor wishing to bet under six wins would be best served going to Sportsbook A (as -110 odds offer a more favorable payout than -120) and one wishing to bet over six wins would be best served going to Sportsbook B (since +120 odds offer a more favorable payout than +110).
The concept of “recency bias” can be a confounding factor in any endeavor that involves placing money on sporting events (i.e., not just sports betting, but in daily fantasy sports as well, for example). Simply put, recency bias is the concept of allowing the performances of a team/player in the recent past to affect a decision on a current wager.
This concept is straightforward to illustrate with respect to win totals bets. Say a bettor is considering placing a win totals bet on the New England Patriots for the 2020 season at this stage of the offseason. The total for the Patriots opened at 9.5 wins. A bettor allowing recency bias to creep in would go by the Patriots’ long stretch of dominance (17 straight seasons of double-digit wins) in placing a bet on New England exceeding that figure in the pre-free-agency-portion of the offseason.
However, say Tom Brady does what’s been widely assumed as unthinkable and heads to another team once he officially hits the open market. New England is therefore forced to start second-year signal-caller Jarrett Stidham in 2020 and consequently takes a notable step back, falling short of nine wins for the first time since 2002.
In that example, the recency bias engendered by the Pats’ long stretch of success easily coaxed a bettor to assume that another 10-win season at minimum was about as automatic as it gets. However, in this case, not accounting for current circumstances would have cost that bettor money.
The concept of “inflated lines” ties into recency bias to a large extent, as the latter often helps lead to the former. Inflated lines are the byproduct of the betting public heavily favoring one side of a bet over the other. Many times, that’s a result of the public allowing recency bias to affect their betting decisions.
To further explain, oddsmakers initially set a line at a point where they estimate they’ll be able to get close to equal action on either side of the wager. However, once the line is released, its future movement will largely be determined by how much money is coming in on each side. When betting decisions heavily influenced by recency bias are being made by a large percentage of the public, this can lead to inflated lines that can be ripe for exploitation by a smart bettor.
The aforementioned case of the Patriots’ 2020 win total could ultimately prove to be a textbook example over time. And the same could apply to a number of teams that underwhelmed last season (see examples in the first section) or for the last several seasons but are reaching a tipping point of exponential improvement due to their ability to add multiple impact players this offseason and the ongoing development of their existing pieces.
In examples such as these, “fading the public” is a strategy to consider, if the odds and research for the less popular side of the wager justify the investment.