Army vs. Navy Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Should You Bank on Another Under Hitting?
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jaylon McClinton
- The 120th Army-Navy game gets underway at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, and the latest betting odds make Navy quite a big favorite (spread: Navy -11) with the over/under at 40.5.
- Navy has gotten a steady stream of betting action this week, as most books opened the line around Navy -10.
- Our betting experts analyze the matchup and make their betting picks below, covering both the updated over/under and whether you should trust Navy to cover this big spread.
Army vs. Navy Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions
- Odds: Navy -11
- Over/Under: 40.5
- Moneyline: Navy -500 | Army +370
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
- Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
College football’s regular season is coming to an end, but there’s still one treat left — Army-Navy on Saturday afternoon from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Army has won three straight in this rivalry, twice as an underdog, after Navy won every year from 2002-2015.
Things are back to normal this year as the Black Knights regressed following a 10-win season and the Midshipmen bounced back from an ugly 3-9 campaign.
Who has the edge on Saturday? Let’s dive in.
How The Odds Have Moved for Army-Navy
After Army was favored for the first time in 16 years last season, it’s back to business as usual in 2019. Navy is listed as a 10.5-point favorite on Saturday, and most bettors have been comfortable laying that spread.
Fifty-seven percent of bettors have taken Navy, and have accounted for almost the same percentage of actual money (58%). The number has ticked up a bit from its opener of -10, which is worth noting given the importance of that number.
As for the total, it’s dropped quite a bit from the earliest opener of 45, though most books didn’t open the line until it was already down to 41 or 42. Even from there, it’s inched down a bit to 40.5 — likely a result of the historical nature of this game with 13 straight unders.
Bettors are split down the middle on the total, with 51% (accounting for 58% of money) landing on the over. — Danny Donahue
Odds as of Saturday afternoon and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Wilson: Is It Time for an Over?
No matter how deep you dive into the numbers, this rivalry has more supporting trends than any matchup in college football. Army-Navy has totaled 41 points or fewer all but twice since 2006.
Service academy games have hit the under to the tune of a 34-9-1 (79.1%) record, and Army-Navy is riding a 13 game under streak, last going over in 2005.
Weather for this game calls for 40% chance of drizzle, a perfect backdrop in another iteration of a great college football rivalry.
With weather, historical trends and two teams that bleed clock, the under would seem to be the way to go.
Army and Navy rank 120th and 115th respectively in seconds per play, and both teams rank in the top three in offensive run rate.
Regardless of Navy’s improved front seven or Army’s ability to limit possessions for opponents, the clock will only stop so CBS can get advertisements broadcast.
However, is this the year things change?
There are a few advanced statistics as to why I am going to go against a 13-year trend.
Red zone touchdown percentage is a category for consideration when taking a total. Coaching and execution play a large factor in whether a team can finish a drive with a touchdown, fails to score or settles for field goal.
Army and Navy have historically been in the top 25 in red zone touchdown percentage, but this season they rank No. 6 and No. 1 respectively.
Last season’s game may have ended 17-10, but there were almost a dozen drives that crossed midfield. The scoring opportunities were deflated by missed field goals, interceptions and turnover on downs near the end zone.
Not only do these teams rank top six in red zone touchdown scoring this season, this is the best combination of offensive finishing drives compared to previous versions of this game.
Navy is the best team in the nation in finishing drives, a measurement of points per trip past the opponent’s 40 yard line. Army is no slouch in the category with a rank of 14th. In previous seasons their ranks in offensive finishing drives were the following:
- 2018: Army 17th, Navy 20th
- 2017: Army 9th, Navy 38th
- 2016: Army 30th, Navy 4th
- 2015: Army 30th, Navy 71st
These teams have never ranked this high in the same season in finishing drives and touchdown scores in the red zone.
The game will be slow, but like 2018, the scoring opportunities will be there. — Collin Wilson
Pick: Over 40
Miller: The Model Breakers
I make Navy a 13-point favorite in this historic game, but I can’t look too much into that number in particular. Triple option teams break models. Power ratings don’t always apply and advanced stats should be looked at skeptically.
All that matters when these two teams matchup is who can consistently stop the run.
Navy has a massive advantage in that department as it ranks 10th in defending rushing success rate and 11th in line score while Army is just 64th and 93rd. The Midshipmen are going to be able to move the ball down the field consistently and I don’t believe Army can do the same.
The X-factor for me in this game is Navy’s ability to pass. The Midshipmen are much more willing to go to the air this season when they need to and that balance will keep Army’s defense on their heals.
So I’ve told you to fade double-digit favorites and be skeptical of advanced stats and power ratings in games involving service academies, yet I’m still backing Navy this weekend.
I do make Navy a 13-point favorite, but it’s their advantages in defensive rushing success rate and defensive line sore that have me betting on the Midshipmen.
Go Navy, beat Army. — Kyle Miller
Pick: Navy -10.5
Stuckey: Has Market Over-Adjusted?
If you are a loyal listener of our podcast, you would have heard us talk ad nauseam about service academy unders. Triple option teams are model breakers as they love to go for it on fourth down and just bleed the clock with limited possessions.
And when they face each other, they lose the unfamiliarity advantage they normally have against non-triple option teams, who don’t practice against the triple option every day in practice.
So, does that mean you should blindly bet this under?
No. Like all good things, this trend looks like it might be coming to an end as oddsmakers and the market look to have fully adjusted (maybe even over-adjusted at this point).
Just take a look back at this 13-year under streak. The average total has been set at 49.8 over that span but the past two years has been right around 40. (And remember these are the closing totals…many times they open higher and get bet down).
You can even just see the natural progression of lower totals over the years and it’s not like these teams have changed much from a scheme perspective over time.
That said, the average total points scored in those 13 games has been just a touch over 35 points and only four of the games would have went over the current total of 40.5.
That’s still a solid clip at 9-4. So, maybe one could argue the market is still a tad too high, but my numbers show we’ve seen the edge priced out.
There is heavy rain in the forecast all weekend in Philly which introduces some increased fumble variance for two-run heavy teams that pitch the ball a good amount. However, depending on where these potential fumbles occur, it could help or hurt the under.
I personally see a tiny touch of value in the over at 40 but it’s nothing I’m rushing to bet with this wet forecast in the city of brotherly love. This game could very well go under but just know that the market has seemingly adjusted to this trend that has been extremely profitable in the past.
In regards to the side, a triple option team is always tempting as a double digit dog in a game with fewer possessions. Not many have talked about it but Army has been hit hard with the injury bug across the board this season which I think has something to do with them underperforming expectations and potentially now being undervalued in the market. For me, it’s either Army or nothing.
Regardless if you bet this or not, take at least some time of your day to enjoy the game if you don’t have any other plans. These are kids who are willing to sacrifice everything so you and I can do things like freely bet on college football on a Saturday. — Stuckey