2022 NFL win total lines are available for 31 of the league's 32 teams at Caesars Sportsbook, with the Cleveland Browns off the board until there's more clarity on how much Deshaun Watson will be available this season. If you're an NFL fan, you've probably been following all the free agency moves, trades, draft picks, injury reports, coachspeak and everything else that makes the offseason nearly as fun as the weekly grind in the fall. Along the way, you probably came to some conclusions about how good or bad certain teams are in the league.
Maybe you've looked at the Atlanta Falcons depth chart on both sides of the ball and are convinced they're not winning more than a few games. That seems to be a popular play, as the Falcons have moved from a line of six wins juiced to the Under to 5.5 wins with close to even odds on both sides. Maybe you're optimistic that the Jets are better than people expect; that's also been a popular market position, with the Over on the Jets' 5.5-win total up to -175.
Whatever the case, you've likely seen the win totals posted at sportsbooks and either taken a position in the market or started planning which moves you're going to make once we get closer to the start of the season. I'm not here to change your mind (there will be plenty of time for that later, when I share my leans and likes on every team throughout the next two months at SportsLine). But what I am going to do is share a piece of my preparation each season that should affect how you're taking your positions in the market.
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Spreads set on every game
After the NFL schedule is released, some books will post lines on every single game throughout the season. While these, like the NFL win totals, are based upon how strong or weak the oddsmakers think each team is, the correlation isn't 1-to-1. And because the correlation isn't 1-to-1, the every-game lines create a secondary market where you can get even better value on your positions.
Here's how it works: the spreads of each game are tied to a historical probability of the team winning the game. For example, the Rams are favored by one point against the Bills in the Week 1 opener, and that line suggests Buffalo has a 48.8 percent chance of winning the game. So I award 0.488 wins to Buffalo for Week 1. The Bills are then seven-point favorites against the Titans, a number that suggests they'll win 75.2 percent of the time. So I award Buffalo 0.752 wins for Week 2.
Once I've gone through every week, I then add up the fractional win totals and get a win total based on those game spreads, which I call a Games win total. For Buffalo, that works out to 11.653 wins.
Comparing the two markets
Once I have Games win totals for every team, the next step is to compare them to the actual win totals in the market. To calculate the true win total for each team, I take the number of wins in their line and add or subtract 0.05 wins for each five cents of juice tacked on in the market.
So back to our Buffalo example. The Bills are listed at 11.5 wins, with -140 on the Over. Since that's 30 cents above the balanced -110 price, I tack on 0.3 wins to the Buffalo line and put them at 11.8 wins in the True win total market. When compared to the 11.653 Games win total, you can see that the Bills are being valued higher in the True market than they are in the Games market.
Note that this does not mean you should rush to hammer the Bills Under 11.5 wins at their current price. What it means is that if you do think the Bills are overrated this year, the Under on 11.5 wins is a fine play. But if you think they're going to go over 11.5 wins, it's smarter to make your plays in the Games win total market, where the Bills are being valued about 0.15 wins lower than the actual win total market.
That means finding games where it makes sense to back the Bills at their current number, with the best options being against teams that are valued higher in the Games win total market than they are the actual win total market. For example, the Bills are favored by seven in Chicago in Week 16 against a Bears team that is valued much higher in the Games market, and that would be a game I'd target in lieu of playing the Bills Over 11.5 wins.
The Cleveland conundrum
At the top, I mentioned that win totals are available for 31 of the NFL's 32 teams, with the Browns off the board until we know more about Watson. That's also the case in the Games market, as lines for Browns games after Week 1 are not available. For purposes of my preparation, I went ahead and projected the win total and game lines for the Browns as if Watson is going to miss the season based on my feel for the situation from what's been reported.
Those projections are based on the Browns being the 20th-best team in the league with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, which is where I have them in my Week 1 power ratings, as well as my power ratings for every other team that plays the Browns during the season. Those matchups set the Browns with a Games win total of 7.67, so I made their projected win total in the actual market 7.5 with -125 to the Over.
Full win total markets comparison
Below you can find the actual Caesars win totals for every team compared to their Games win totals, so you know which market is beneficial to each side of a team's win total. For teams with a positive differential, it's best to play Overs in the Games win total market and Unders in the actual market. For teams with a negative differential, it's best to play Overs in the actual win total market and Unders in the Games market.
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