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Heading into Monday night’s game between Atlanta and Denver the theme over the first two weeks of the season has been the relatively high scoring games we have witnessed.

Point of fact: Through this past Sunday night, the first 31 games of the NFL season have produced an average of 48.6 combined total points.

To put this in perspective, that average is 4.2 points more than the 44.4 average total points per game scored over the entire 2011 regular season, which was the highest average total points per game in more than a quarter century!

Yet despite the high scoring thus far OVERS have outnumbered UNDERS by just 3 at 17-14. Part of the explanation for what seems to be a contradiction is that the games that have gone OVER thus far have done so by a large margin.

The 17 going OVER have been by an average of 13.9 points, the 14 UNDERS by an average of just 7.4. The lesson to be learned here is that while we will hear from the talking heads about all the high scores being posted we should not blindly look to the OVER.

In fact, it might serve us well to look play UNDER. With all the high scoring there will be a couple of points of added value from inflated totals. This will make UNDERS more attractive.

Home Favorites are just 10-8-2 against the spread in the early going. However, home underdogs are a nice 8-3 ATS with 7 of those 11 winning outright.

Aside from the two games that pushed against the line (Cincinnati’s win over Cleveland and the Giants’ win over Tampa Bay, both in Week 2), the point spread has mattered in just 4 games. Philadelphia has been involved in 2 of those, winning each by a single point while being favored by more than that number.

Detroit’s win over St. Louis in Week 1 and Minnesota’s victory over Jacksonville, also in week 1, were the other two such games in which the points came into play.

Bet the team you think will win the game. In about 5 of 6 NFL contests either the favored team both wins and covers or the underdog wins outright (and obviously also covers). In roughly just 1 in 6 will the favored team win but lose to the line.

Double digit favorites are just 1-1 ATS. Houston defeated Miami by 20 points in Week 1 as a 13-point favorite. The lone ATS loss was New England this past week. The Patriots, also favored by 13, lost outright to Arizona.

Here’s a preview of Week 3 games.

Thursday, Sept. 20

Giants -1 at Panthers (52): The Giants staged one of the greatest comebacks in their history with 25 fourth quarter points to defeat Tampa Bay 41-34. That draining effort could take a toll with the short week to prepare for a Carolina team that lost at Tampa Bay 16-10 in their opener. PANTHERS.

Sunday, Sept. 23

Rams +8½ at Bears (44½): The Bears have had several extra days to recover from the beating last Thursday in Green Bay. They should be well prepared for a motivated effort here against a Rams team off of a home upset of Washington. Expect a better effort from Chicago’s defense. BEARS.

Rays +7 at Cowboys (45½): Tampa appears much improved over last season but the second most talented team in this game. This is Dallas’ home opener and the ‘Boys should benefit from the electrified environment. COWBOYS.

49ers -7 at Vikings (43½): The 49ers are vulnerable for a letdown against the rebuilding Vikings, who struggled against a pair of very weak teams to open the season. With a trip to New York on deck to face the Jets, the Niners could be flat and might be hard pressed to win, let alone cover. VIKINGS.

Lions -3 at Titans (47): Tennessee faces a Detroit team that still plays undisciplined. The Lions commit penalties at key points in games that often shift momentum. It’s hard to justify Detroit as a road favorite. And the 0-2 Titans nearly made the playoffs last season, going 9-7 but losing on tiebreakers. TITANS.

Bengals +4 at Redskins (48): Look for both teams to establish the run before turning to the passing game with each just as comfortable using the clock in time consuming drives as in looking for the big play. UNDER.

Jets -3 at Dolphins (40½): The Dolphins are seeking an identity whereas the Jets are a much more veteran team with a defense capable of confusing and frustrating Miami rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. JETS.

Chiefs +9 at Saints (54): Both are 0-2 and desperate for their first win. Both defenses have been torched in their first two games. Both teams have offenses capable of making the big play and in the pristine conditions of the SuperDome. It’s a high total but sometimes the obvious play makes sense. OVER.

Bills -3 at Browns (43½): This is one of the few winnable games on Cleveland’s schedule and with road games on deck at Baltimore and the Giants a loss here almost certainly signal an 0-5 start. Buffalo still must prove its worthiness for being a road favorite against even the NFL’s weakest teams. BROWNS.

Jaguars +3 at Colts (42½): The questionable status of Jags’ QB Blaine Gabbert keeps this game off the boards at many books. Indy was able to kick a last second FG to get rookie QB Andrew Luck his first win. The Jags are not much different from the Vikes and Indy has the greater potential for progress. COLTS.

Eagles -3½ at Cards (44): The winner of this game will be 3-0. Arizona has won 9 of 11 games dating back to last season, including a shocking upset win at Philly as 13½ point dogs. Philly is the better team and plays to avenge that loss that might well have cost them a playoff spot. EAGLES.

Falcons +3 at Chargers (47): Atlanta is off of Monday night’s game vs. Denver and has a short week to prepare for this cross country trip to face 2-0 San Diego Atlanta has gone to a more up tempo pace, emphasizing greater use of their talented group of receivers. Play this one early. The total is likely to rise. OVER.

Texans PK at Broncos (46½): Denver returns home after what was expected to be a Monday night shootout in Atlanta. Houston has won each of its first two games by 20 points. Now the defense steps up both in class and altitude to take on Peyton. A favorable spot for the home side. BRONCOS.

Steelers -4½ at Raiders (44): Oakland had been a popular choice in each of its first two weeks but disappointed their backers in both games. When the public is selling, that’s the time to buy. RAIDERS.

Patriots +3 at Ravens (48½): Baltimore is not intimidated by New England and the Pats no longer have the swagger they’ve had in the past. The Giants took care of that, once again, in last season’s Super Bowl, providing a blueprint for opposing defenses to frustrate New England QB Brady. RAVENS.

Monday, Sept. 24

Packers -3½ at Seahawks (47½): Seattle has always been a tough place for visitors with the crowd impacting the ability of the opposing offense to communicate at the line of scrimmage. Green Bay is clearly the more talented team but the difficulty of the venue suggests the Packers’ offense may not operate smoothly. UNDER.

Andy Iskoe and his Logical Approach is one of the most popular statistical breakdowns in sports betting. Andy is also a longtime baseball and football columnist at GT.

Contact Andy at Andy­[email protected] 

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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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