Scoring is up but NFL totals cashing around 50/50

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It may seem hard to believe but the midpoint of the NFL season is almost here as after this weekend 121 of the 256 regular season games will have been played. 

There have been many more competitive games this season than there have been blowouts with 38 games decided by four points or less (or by a TD in overtime) as compared to just 18 games decided by 21 or more points. 

Scoring is up this season with an average of 48.1 points per game with an average score of 29.4-18.7, producing an average margin of 10.7 points per game. 

These early season results compare to an average total points over last season’s 256 game regular season schedule of 43.4 points per game with an average score of 27.6-15.8, an average margin of 11.8 points per game. 

Despite the increased scoring overs have exceeded unders by a very slim 55-52 margin. What had been a larger margin through six weeks was trimmed considerably this past weekend when there were 10 unders and just four overs. 

Whether last week’s one-sided results were the product of improved defensive play, poor execution by the offenses, adjustments made by linesmakers, a combination thereof – or just a one week aberration – remains to be determined. 

Thursday 

Dolphins (+7.5) at Texans (Over/Under 44.5): Neither team’s offense has been functioning at a high level in recent weeks. Houston has won four in a row but the Texans have scored more than 22 points just once in their seven games. The short week of preparation generally favors the host. TEXANS

Sunday

Eagles (-3) vs. Jaguars (41.5) at London: Those who believe in karma will point to Jaguars coach Doug Marrone rubbing it into the Jets in their 31-19 Week 4 win over the Jets that improved them to 3-1. The Jags have lost three in a row since, being outscored 90-28. EAGLES 

Browns (+8) at Steelers (51): These teams played a 21-21 tie to open the season. The Steelers were the better team for most of that contest and had a 472-327 edge in total yards and led most of the way. STEELERS 

Broncos (+10) at Chiefs (55.5): Prior to their first loss of the season at New England in Week 6, the Chiefs came closest to losing two weeks earlier on a Monday night in Denver where the Chiefs rallied from a 10 point fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Broncos 27-23. This spot would favor a play on the rested underdog following last Thursday’s 45-10 win at Arizona that should have built confidence on both sides of the football. But how do you buck a Chiefs team that is 7-0 ATS? UNDER 

Jets (+7) at Bears (46): Jets QB Sam Darnold continues to learn while showing his potential. Bears second season QB Mitchell Trubisky is also showing a nice upside while also learning on the job. Both defenses have played well on a yards per play basis and both offenses have been prone to turnovers. UNDER

Redskins (-1) at Giants (42): . In years past this would be a good spot for the Giants. But right now one team is in fine rhythm while the other is anything but. REDSKINS

Seahawks (+3) at Lions (49.5): Detroit has played better than expected with a running game that is much improved over recent seasons, taking pressure off of QB Matthew Stafford to be the big playmaker. Seattle QB Russell Wilson is also having a fine season and the Seahawks’ running game has been explosive. SEAHAWKS 

Buccaneers (+5) at Bengals (54): Despite dominating their game against Cleveland, Tampa Bay needed a 59 yard FG in overtime to defeat the Browns and even its record at 3-3. Cincinnati has lost two straight after a 4-1 start but both losses were to Playoff teams Pittsburgh and Kansas City. The Bengals are the better balanced,more talented team and has the better defense. BENGALS

Ravens (-1.5) at Panthers (43.5): Both teams have played well for much of the season and each appears on pace to make the Playoffs. Baltimore leads the NFL in allowing just 4.5 yards per play and held the Saints to just 4.8 yards per play. RAVENS

Colts (-3) at Raiders (50): These teams are headed in opposite directions. The Raiders continue to tear their team down before rebuilding after Monday’s trade of QR Amari Cooper to Dallas for a first-round draft pick, Oakland’s third in next year’s draft. The Colts are a much better team with franchise QB Andrew Luck continuing to round into peak form with each game. The defense is still a concern and Oakland does return from its Bye week. It may still be a bit too early to trust the Colts as a road favorite although the line is understandable. RAIDERS 

49ers (Pick) at Cardinals (43.5): Both teams are a disappointing 1-6. Arizona’s lone win was 28-18 in San Francisco in Week 5. Their win in their first meeting marked the only game in which the Cardinals scored more than 17 points. UNDER

Packers (+9) at Rams (57): Much is being made this week about the line for this game making the Packers the largest underdog they’ve been when QB Aaron Rodgers was starting. The Packers are off their Bye week which gave them additional time to break down the Rams and prepare to take away their strengths as best as possible. And Rodgers relishes this type of challenge. PACKERS

Saints (+1) at Vikings (52.5): This is a rematch of last season’s remarkable Playoff game won by the Vikings after the Saints had rallied to take a late lead. Both teams are playing well over the first half of this season despite a slow start by the Vikings and there is much to like about each. Forget about any revenge factor for the Saints as this is a game that might impact this season’s Playoffs. OVER 

Monday

Patriots (-13.5) at Bills (44.5): This game does not handicap as being very competitive considering Buffalo’s lack of offense and New England’s offense finding its traditional mid-season rhythm. The relatively low total for this game reflects some respect for a Buffalo defense that has generally played well. That provides some support for not laying double-digits on the road. BILLS 

Last week: 6-8

Season: 51-53-3

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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