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One of the most popular trends early in the season was prime-time games consistently going over the total. The NFL couldn't be happier to have action-packed games in front of a national audience. As sports betting becomes integrated into the public fan experience, over bets are a popular choice. It's just more entertaining to bet on overs considering so many casual fans are already invested in scoring from a fantasy football perspective.
The first three weeks of the season saw the over cash in eight of nine prime-time games despite unders hitting in 71.7% of the early games. Regression was inevitable and came last week with all three night games going under the point total. With scoring dipping below the 24 points-per-game average of the first two weeks, should we expect prime-time overs to return in Week 5? The three games feature five of the NFL's top-10 scoring offenses and justifiably high totals. Let's find some winning overs for Week 5.
TNF: LA Rams at Seattle (Over 54.5)
Matt Stafford versus Russell Wilson is enough to get me immediately looking at the over. The Rams' totals are 4-0 to the over this season, with combined scores of 57 and 58 the last two weeks. That's against two of the top teams in the NFC. The Seahawks have put up 28 or more in three of their four games this year. Both of these teams average 6.6 yards per play, which is the second-best mark in the league behind only the Chiefs.
Two factors that derail overs are red zone scoring failures and turnovers. The Seahawks score touchdowns at the third-best rate in the red zone. The Rams have struggled in that area but they are now facing a Seattle defense that ranks 25th in defensive DVOA. Sean McVay hung 30 on the Seahawks with Jared Goff in last year's wild-card round, so I doubt he is worried about the Seattle defense. Turnovers shouldn't be an issue as both teams are excellent at protecting the football. Bring back the prime-time overs on Thursday night. Over 54.5 is my favorite play in this game.
SNF: Buffalo at Kansas City (Over 56.5)
The Chiefs' 2-2 start ignited by their defensive dropoff has caused many to forget how elite they are on the other side of the ball. If this total holds at 56.5 it will be the second-highest total of the season. The highest total this year was 58, when the Chiefs traveled to Baltimore in a 36-35 thriller.
The Chiefs are the No. 1 offense in DVOA, Passing DVOA, EPA/Play, yards per play, and many more advanced metrics. They are 3-1 to the over with an average total of 55.5. These high totals are nothing new to Patrick Mahomes and he is a great bet to soar right past them. The Bills scored 35, 40, and 43 in the last three weeks and the Chiefs defense has been allowing teams to get touchdowns in the red zone at will. It will be an exciting game that comes down to the wire, but my over bet should be money in the bank well before the end.
MNF: Indianapolis at Baltimore (Under 45.5)
The Colts' offensive troubles have masked the issues they are having in the secondary. Indianapolis' defense allows 7.9 yards per pass attempt, more than all but four teams. I do believe the Ravens look to open the offense up and attack the Colts downfield with their speed. I'm just not sold that's going to be enough to carry this total. Carson Wentz is a nightmare when pressured and the Ravens defense will attack when it smells blood.
Both of these offenses are ranked outside of the top 20 in pace and I can see Baltimore going run-heavy with a comfortable lead. The Ravens won 24-10 last season. A similar game wouldn't surprise me. The 45.5 point total with a 7-point spread implies a score of 26.25-19.25. Indy averages 20 points a game and is facing a top-10 rush defense. The value bet is the under.
Stats provided by football outsiders and rbsdm.com