2020 NFL Win Totals: Should Bettors Expect Regression With Balitmore Ravens’ Over/Under?
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens were one of the surprise teams in 2019. Baltimore was sparked by unanimous MVP Lamar Jackson (youngest quarterback to ever win award), who set a record for rushing yards (1,206) by a quarterback and led the league with 36 passing touchdowns.
The Ravens were the only team that ran more than it passed and accumulated 3,296 rushing yards — most in the Super Bowl era. The team had 12 players selected to the Pro Bowl and five All-Pro picks.
John Harbaugh’s team finished first in offensive and fourth in defensive DVOA. The Ravens went 14-2, which included a 12-game winning streak and earned the top seed in the AFC. The season didn’t end with a Super Bowl parade, but there is plenty of reason to believe Baltimore will be competing for a championship this fall.
Oddsmakers at PointsBet have listed the Ravens’ win total at 11 games. Last season, Baltimore’s win total was 8.5 games. The 2.5-game increase is the biggest year-to-year gain of any team from 2019-20.
The Ravens will be a popular over bet given the team’s championship potential (+700 to win Super Bowl 55), but should bettors expect the Lamar & Co. to go over the win total of 11?
2020 NFL Win Totals: Baltimore Ravens
To find out, I pulled win total records from SportsOddsHistory.com for every NFL team since 2002 — hen the league expanded to 32 teams. This gives us a sample of 604 teams.
The first thing to know is that teams don’t often see big changes in their win totals from one season to the next. Since 2002, 386 of 604 (63.9%) teams had a win total that was within one win of the previous season and 487 of 604 (80.6%) teams saw their win total change by fewer than two games.
Baltimore’s 2.5-game increase is an outlier.
From 2002 to 2019, 267 NFL teams have seen their win total increase by at least one-half game. Of those 267 teams, 116 (45.5%) went over the higher win total. It has not been profitable to blindly bet the over when a team’s win total increases from the previous season.
Bettors might expect the over to be even less profitable the larger the win total increase, but that hasn’t been the case. Since 2002, 59 teams have seen their win total increase by two or more games. Overs went 34-23-2 for those teams.
This is a small sample. As a result, it would be unwise to draw significant conclusions from the data, meaning bettors shouldn’t rush to a ticket window to wager on Baltimore’s over.
At the same time, we shouldn’t dismiss this trend completely either. Perhaps the record shows that oddsmakers are able to identify teams that will improve from one season to the next but don’t go far enough with those that are expected to make a big leap, like the Ravens.
Baltimore is a Super Bowl favorite and oddsmakers have adjusted the team’s win total by 2.5 games. As a contrarian bettor, my instinct was to take the Ravens’ under but history suggests there may be value on the over.