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NFL 2020 Week 5 TNF: Backing the OVER in Showdown Between Elite Defenses

Updated: Aug 5, 2021



Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Chicago Bears o44 -113


The Bucs will enter week 5 with the second best overall defense in the NFL, per Football Outsiders Defense-adjusted Value Over Average stat, which compares teams' success on every single play to a League average, adjusted for situation and opponent. By this measure Tampa Bay is number two stopping the run and four defending the pass.


By the same metric the Bears' defense is seventh in the NFL--fifth against the aerial attack and better than average guarding the run.


Against this context, of course, we are betting that scoring surprises to the upside! Makes perfect sense, right?


Before you hit the unsubscribe button, indulge us for a moment...


Consistent with our counterintuitive take on the NFL's week 5 debut, Chicago's meager week 4 offense fits with our expectation for more of a shootout this afternoon. The Bears mustered a lousy 11 points in last week's loss to the Colts.


NFL teams playing outside their division in afternoon or evening action after a low productivity out have been great plays for the OVER when the betting total is no higher than average, delivering a 12% return on investment since 2003.



We hypothesize that several factors drive the profitability of this system. For one, the betting public's recency bias might bid down a team's expected score after very low output a week prior. Meanwhile, embarrassed, the offense coming off the disappointing showing gears up to enter the next contest with a stronger mental resolve to execute. We expect this combination of reduced numerical thresholds, greater fortitude and a general lack of familiarity that non-divisional play entails translates to higher scores (and a compelling cover rate for the OVER)...the tendency especially for games played later in the day to exceed scoring expectations might relate to afternoon/evening games being decided closer to optimal times of day for athlete's peak performance.


This system is 1-1 so far this season.


Separately, we have observed that Thursdays have been particularly fertile ground for OVERs when relatively unfamiliar foes match up.


Bettors have reaped a 12% long-term return on investment backing the OVER in non-division Thursday NFL games.



Perhaps this system works because defenses on short weeks do not enjoy a sufficient amount of time to game plan for relatively unknown opposition.


Whatever the reason, this approach's long-term efficacy is validated by the 2-1 record so far this season.


Also worth reiterating, the OVER is on a tear so far this year (36-26-1,58%).


Happy betting!!


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