As is the case with betting the moneyline in the NFL, new bettors often struggle to understand betting NFL totals. But just like the former, totals betting is quite simple, and a long, complex explanation is certainly not needed.

The first thing to know is that totals betting and over/under betting refer to the same thing. Now let’s continue knocking off the most commonly asked questions about this type of NFL bet.

What is Totals Betting?

When betting totals, you are not concerned with which team is going to win the game. Instead, your concerned with how many points will be scored by the two teams, combined. The sportsbook considers the offenses and defenses playing in the game and places an estimated number of points to be scored; all you have to do is choose whether the actual number of points scored will be higher (over) or lower (under) than the number set by the sportsbook.

Here’s an example:

raiders vs titans totals over / under


If the teams combine for more than 52 points (say Oakland wins 27-26) then the game “hit the over.” If the teams combine for 52 points or fewer (say Oakland wins 26-25) then the under bettors win.

Why Is The Total A Half Number?

As you can see from the example above, the total has been set at 52.5 by the sportsbook. The half-point is referred to as a “hook.” It prevents the possibility of there being a push (tie), since it’s impossible to score a half-point in football. The hook ensures either the over or under will be correct, resulting in the sportsbook collecting money.

What Are Those “Odd” Numbers Next To The Total?

Those are the odds, and we are well-aware how lame our puns are. The odds indicate two things: your potential winnings, and the implied probability.

In the case of totals betting, the latter is a little irrelevant. If too much money is coming in on either the over or under, the sportsbook will just alter the total to encourage money to be laid on the other option. You may see the odds change slightly to -115 and -105, but it’s rare to see a wider range.

Calculating your potential payout is always useful, of course. When using American odds (as used in the example), a negative number tells you how much money you have to wager to win $100. Though you will rarely see it when betting totals, a positive number indicates how much money you would win if you wagered $100.

If you need any clarification on using either decimal or fractional odds, see our Sports Betting Basics.

Why Is The Total Listed Twice?

The total is listed twice so bettors have two options to click on. Bettors who want to wager on the over click on the one with the “o” at the end. Bettors who want to wager on the under click on the one with the “u” at the end.

It’s as easy as that! You’re now ready to start placing NFL totals bets. If you’re ready for some NFL betting strategy tips, we’ve got ‘em here.