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Last Updated: October 18, 2010

Summary of NFL games from 1983 to 2003

Introduction

Unless otherwise noted, tables in this appendix are based on the 1983 to 2003 NFL seasons. In some cases, Super Bowls are not included, because those tables are cut by home and visiting team, and Super Bowls are played in a neutral field. The tables were created using Mr. NFL, to be particular the $99 Access database.

Season Totals

The following table shows total home and away points going back to 1983. The right column shows the average home team win. The lower right cell shows that home teams score 2.94 more points, on average.

Total Points in the NFL

Year Away Points Home Points Total Points Average Points Average Home MOV
1983 4840 5354 233 43.75 2.21
1984 4629 5227 233 42.30 2.57
1985 4430 5533 233 42.76 4.73
1986 4452 5110 233 41.04 2.82
1987 4561 4958 219 43.47 1.81
1988 4359 5042 233 40.35 2.93
1989 4453 5209 233 41.47 3.24
1990 4257 5195 235 40.22 3.99
1991 4043 4888 235 38.00 3.60
1992 4083 4784 235 37.73 2.98
1993 4098 4811 235 37.91 3.03
1994 4572 5016 235 40.8 1.89
1995 5167 5721 251 43.38 2.21
1996 4619 5673 251 41.00 4.20
1997 4816 5553 251 41.31 2.94
1998 4901 5816 251 42.70 3.65
1999 4979 5817 259 41.68 3.24
2000 4928 5715 259 41.09 3.04
2001 4969 5531 259 40.54 2.17
2002 5484 6173 267 43.66 2.58
2003 5100 6058 267 41.79 3.59
2004 5308 6029 265 42.78 2.72
2005 4999 5948 266 41.15 3.57
2006 5408 5676 267 41.51 1.00
Total 113455 130837 5905 41.37 2.94

Half Time Totals

Table 2-A shows the average total in the first half, second half, and overtime. For betting purposes overtime is part of the second half.

Table 2-A — Half Time Averages by Season

Season Away Half 1 Home Half 1 Total Half 1 Away Half 2 Home Half 2 Total Half 2
1983 9.94 11.59 21.53 10.88 11.33 22.21
1984 10 11.18 21.18 9.88 11.19 21.07
1985 8.91 12.08 20.99 10.14 11.57 21.72
1986 8.96 11.5 20.46 10.14 10.36 20.5
1987 10.33 11.58 21.91 10.4 11.11 21.52
1988 9.47 11.37 20.84 9.25 10.28 19.53
1989 8.84 11.44 20.28 10.12 10.97 21.09
1990 9.08 11.53 20.61 9.03 10.59 19.62
1991 8.27 10.48 18.75 8.85 10.31 19.15
1992 8.05 10.37 18.42 9.32 9.85 19.18
1993 8.84 10.26 19.1 8.55 10.24 18.79
1994 9.68 11.16 20.83 9.75 10.07 19.82
1995 10.54 11.94 22.48 10.02 10.87 20.9
1996 9.13 12.09 21.22 9.26 10.46 19.72
1997 9.39 11.38 20.77 9.78 10.7 20.48
1998 9.67 11.9 21.57 9.8 11.29 21.09
1999 9.48 12.03 21.51 9.73 10.46 20.19
2000 9.33 11.31 20.64 9.64 10.81 20.45
2001 9.48 10.54 20.02 9.72 10.82 20.53
2002 10.02 11.75 21.77 10.52 11.27 21.79
2003 9.64 11.66 21.29 9.43 11 20.42
Total 9.39 11.39 20.78 9.72 10.74 20.47

This chart shows that home field advantage is worth 2.01 points in the first half and only 1.02 in the second half. It also shows the first half outscores the second half by 0.32 points, despite overtime counting towards the second half.

Table 2-B shows a distribution of the total points scored in each half for both teams individually. For this chart overtime is counted in the second half.

Table 2-B — Half Time Totals

Half Time Total Number First Half Number Second Half Number Both Halves Probability First Half Probability Second Half Probability Both Halves
0 1138 1292 2430 11.19% 12.7% 11.94%
1 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
2 7 20 27 0.07% 0.2% 0.13%
3 1222 918 2140 12.01% 9.02% 10.52%
4 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
5 23 17 40 0.23% 0.17% 0.2%
6 630 520 1150 6.19% 5.11% 5.65%
7 1520 1735 3255 14.94% 17.06% 16%
8 11 77 88 0.11% 0.76% 0.43%
9 168 242 410 1.65% 2.38% 2.02%
10 1475 1220 2695 14.5% 11.99% 13.25%
11 8 48 56 0.08% 0.47% 0.28%
12 71 90 161 0.7% 0.88% 0.79%
13 562 571 1133 5.52% 5.61% 5.57%
14 1002 1200 2202 9.85% 11.8% 10.82%
15 19 77 96 0.19% 0.76% 0.47%
16 138 184 322 1.36% 1.81% 1.58%
17 756 626 1382 7.43% 6.15% 6.79%
18 12 46 58 0.12% 0.45% 0.29%
19 33 54 87 0.32% 0.53% 0.43%
20 271 247 518 2.66% 2.43% 2.55%
21 405 429 834 3.98% 4.22% 4.1%
22 15 32 47 0.15% 0.31% 0.23%
23 53 58 111 0.52% 0.57% 0.55%
24 267 199 466 2.62% 1.96% 2.29%
25 7 14 21 0.07% 0.14% 0.1%
26 13 16 29 0.13% 0.16% 0.14%
27 79 50 129 0.78% 0.49% 0.63%
28 133 114 247 1.31% 1.12% 1.21%
29 4 7 11 0.04% 0.07% 0.05%
30 20 8 28 0.2% 0.08% 0.14%
31 55 29 84 0.54% 0.29% 0.41%
32 0 5 5 0% 0.05% 0.02%
33 4 1 5 0.04% 0.01% 0.02%
34 10 3 13 0.1% 0.03% 0.06%
35 23 12 35 0.23% 0.12% 0.17%
36 1 4 5 0.01% 0.04% 0.02%
37 1 2 3 0.01% 0.02% 0.01%
38 6 4 10 0.06% 0.04% 0.05%
39 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
40 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
41 4 1 5 0.04% 0.01% 0.02%
42 2 0 2 0.02% 0% 0.01%
43 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
44 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
45 3 0 3 0.03% 0% 0.01%
46 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
47 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
48 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
49 1 0 1 0.01% 0% 0%
50 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
51 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
52 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Total 10172 10172 20344 100% 100% 100%

Quarter Time Totals

Table 2-C shows a distribution of the total points scored in each quarter for both teams individually. Overtime is not counted towards any quarter.

Table 2-C — Quarter Time Totals

Quarter Time Total Number Quarter 1 Number Quarter 2 Number Quarter 3 Number Quarter 4 Number All Quarters Probability Quarter 1 Probability Quarter 2 Probability Quarter 3 Probability Quarter 4 Probability All Quarters
0 4342 2545 4084 3074 14045 42.69% 25.02% 40.15% 30.22% 34.52%
1 0 0 0 0 0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
2 29 13 23 45 110 0.29% 0.13% 0.23% 0.44% 0.27%
3 1766 1836 1633 1370 6605 17.36% 18.05% 16.05% 13.47% 16.23%
4 0 0 0 0 0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
5 11 18 7 17 53 0.11% 0.18% 0.07% 0.17% 0.13%
6 222 507 297 492 1518 2.18% 4.98% 2.92% 4.84% 3.73%
7 2457 2192 2550 2604 9603 24.15% 21.55% 25.07% 25.6% 24.09%
8 1 15 61 127 204 0.01% 0.15% 0.6% 1.25% 0.5%
9 42 105 61 116 324 0.41% 1.03% 0.6% 1.14% 0.8%
10 547 1165 557 864 3133 5.38% 11.45% 5.48% 8.49% 7.7%
11 3 16 24 38 81 0.03% 0.16% 0.24% 0.37% 0.2%
12 5 29 10 38 82 0.05% 0.29% 0.1% 0.37% 0.2%
13 50 253 78 186 567 0.49% 2.49% 0.77% 1.83% 1.39%
14 535 835 568 768 2706 5.26% 8.21% 5.58% 7.55% 6.65%
15 2 6 24 39 71 0.02% 0.06% 0.24% 0.38% 0.17%
16 8 36 13 31 88 0.08% 0.35% 0.13% 0.3% 0.22%
17 76 301 82 170 629 0.75% 2.96% 0.81% 1.67% 1.55%
18 0 4 3 7 14 0% 0.04% 0.03% 0.07% 0.03%
19 0 6 3 4 13 0% 0.06% 0.03% 0.04% 0.03%
20 6 46 11 22 85 0.06% 0.45% 0.11% 0.22% 0.21%
21 62 174 69 124 429 0.61% 1.71% 0.68% 1.22% 1.05%
22 1 4 2 7 14 0.01% 0.04% 0.02% 0.07% 0.03%
23 0 6 1 3 10 0% 0.06% 0.01% 0.03% 0.02%
24 3 26 6 13 48 0.03% 0.26% 0.06% 0.13% 0.12%
25 0 0 1 1 2 0% 0% 0.01% 0.01% 0%
26 0 1 0 1 2 0% 0.01% 0% 0.01% 0%
27 0 2 0 0 2 0% 0.02% 0% 0% 0%
28 4 22 4 10 40 0.04% 0.22% 0.04% 0.1% 0.1%
29 0 0 0 0 0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
30 0 1 0 1 2 0% 0.01% 0% 0.01% 0%
31 0 6 0 0 6 0% 0.06% 0% 0% 0.01%
32 0 0 0 0 0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
33 0 1 0 0 1 0% 0.01% 0% 0% 0%
34 0 0 0 0 0 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
35 0 1 0 0 1 0% 0.01% 0% 0% 0%
10172 10172 10172 10172 40688 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%

Following are the average points scored by each team by quarter:

  • Quarter 1: 4.04
  • Quarter 2: 6.35
  • Quarter 3: 4.39
  • Quarter 4: 5.73

Margin of Victory

Table 3 shows the distribution of the margin of victory over all games from 2000 to week 4 of 2010.

Table 3 — Margin of Victory

Margin of Victory Sample Total Probability
0 2 0.07%
1 97 3.58%
2 97 3.58%
3 431 15.89%
4 127 4.68%
5 82 3.02%
6 139 5.12%
7 259 9.55%
8 86 3.17%
9 48 1.77%
10 163 6.01%
11 76 2.80%
12 40 1.47%
13 97 3.58%
14 131 4.83%
15 35 1.29%
16 40 1.47%
17 102 3.76%
18 59 2.17%
19 35 1.29%
20 67 2.47%
21 84 3.10%
22 27 1.00%
23 25 0.92%
24 63 2.32%
25 32 1.18%
26 14 0.52%
27 45 1.66%
28 46 1.70%
29 14 0.52%
30 12 0.44%
31 33 1.22%
32 13 0.48%
33 8 0.29%
34 16 0.59%
35 14 0.52%
36 4 0.15%
37 10 0.37%
38 14 0.52%
39 2 0.07%
40 2 0.07%
41 9 0.33%
42 2 0.07%
43 1 0.04%
44 1 0.04%
45 3 0.11%
46 2 0.07%
47 0 0.00%
48 1 0.04%
49 2 0.07%
50 0 0.00%
51 0 0.00%
52 0 0.00%
53 0 0.00%
54 0 0.00%
55 0 0.00%
56 0 0.00%
57 0 0.00%
58 0 0.00%
59 1 0.04%
Total 2713 100.00%

What I hope to convey with this table is how uneven the distribution of margin of victories is. For example the margin of victory is 3 or 7 23.42% of the time. This shows why sport books are slow to change a point spread to or away from 3 or 7. It also has practical applications in teasers, parlay cards, and buying a half point. In teasers it is good to cross over the 3 and 7 point margin of victories, for example teasing an 8 point favorite to a 2 point favorite. With parlay cards it is good to cross the 3 or 7 point spreads, for example if a team is -2.5 on a parlay card but moves to -3.5 that shows a lot of action is falling on the favorite and is a good bet at only -2.5. With buying a half point it shows the value of buying off of a spread of 3, for example moving a line from -3 to -2.5, although this is seldom allowed off the 3.

Home Underdogs

Table 4 shows how well home underdogs have done against the spread. The fifth column shows the probability of a win, assuming no tie. The sixth column shows the player advantage under the usual 20-cent line (player lays $1.10 to win $1.00). The seventh column shows the player advantage against a 10-cent line (player lays $1.05 to win $1.00).

Table 4 — Home Underdogs Against Spread

Season Loss Win Tie Pct win EV dime line EV nickel line
1983 33 31 1 51.56% -1.54% 0.66%
1984 35 42 2 45.45% -12.89% -10.97%
1985 42 35 2 54.55% 4.03% 6.33%
1986 38 36 2 51.35% -1.91% 0.25%
1987 38 32 0 54.29% 3.64% 5.99%
1988 30 29 1 50.85% -2.88% -0.71%
1989 35 36 1 49.3% -5.81% -3.7%
1990 33 32 3 50.77% -2.94% -0.84%
1991 42 36 5 53.85% 2.63% 4.82%
1992 44 39 0 53.01% 1.2% 3.5%
1993 37 33 4 52.86% 0.86% 3.02%
1994 30 28 4 51.72% -1.17% 0.92%
1995 42 37 1 53.16% 1.48% 3.75%
1996 40 25 0 61.54% 17.48% 20.15%
1997 36 33 3 52.17% -0.38% 1.79%
1998 39 33 3 54.17% 3.27% 5.52%
1999 54 40 5 57.45% 9.18% 11.54%
2000 39 37 1 51.32% -2.01% 0.19%
2001 41 35 6 53.95% 2.77% 4.94%
2002 51 36 1 58.62% 11.78% 14.29%
2003 37 34 4 52.11% -0.48% 1.65%
2004 40 40 2 50% -4.43% -2.32%
2005 27 48 3 36% -30.07% -28.57%
2006 46 32 2 58.97% 12.27% 14.76%
2007 45 43 2 51.14% -2.32% -0.16%
Total 974 882 58 52.48% 0.18% 2.38%

This table is rather remarkable, in my opinion. It shows that home underdogs have covered the spread 52.48% of the time, not counting ties. Betting home dogs in every game against a dime line would have yielded a 0.18% profit, and 2.38% against a nickel line.

Away Underdogs

Table 5 shows how well away underdogs have done against the spread. The fifth column shows the probability of a win, assuming no tie. The sixth column shows the player advantage under the usual dime line (player lays $1.10 to win $1). The seventh column shows the player advantage against a nickel line.

Table 5 — Home Favorites Against Spread

Season Loss Win Tie Pct win EV dime line EV nickel line
1983 86 72 7 54.43% 3.75% 6%
1984 81 70 1 53.64% 2.39% 4.7%
1985 63 83 2 43.15% -17.38% -15.54%
1986 82 70 3 53.95% 2.93% 5.22%
1987 81 61 3 57.04% 8.71% 11.13%
1988 85 80 2 51.52% -1.63% 0.57%
1989 82 71 4 53.59% 2.26% 4.52%
1990 70 89 2 44.03% -15.75% -13.87%
1991 70 79 1 46.98% -10.24% -8.22%
1992 72 72 3 50% -4.45% -2.33%
1993 86 70 3 55.13% 5.15% 7.49%
1994 88 75 4 53.99% 2.99% 5.28%
1995 85 76 5 52.8% 0.77% 2.98%
1996 82 95 3 46.33% -11.36% -9.39%
1997 88 72 12 55% 4.65% 6.87%
1998 72 94 8 43.37% -16.41% -14.61%
1999 83 74 3 52.87% 0.91% 3.15%
2000 94 79 5 54.34% 3.63% 5.91%
2001 82 80 9 50.62% -3.19% -1.11%
2002 90 82 3 52.33% -0.1% 2.12%
2003 89 93 4 48.9% -6.5% -4.43%
2004 95 80 5 54.29% 3.54% 5.82%
2005 80 101 6 44.2% -15.12% -13.27%
2006 103 77 4 57.22% 9.04% 11.46%
2007 77 86 9 47.24% -9.3% -7.36%
Total 2066 1981 111 51.05% -2.47% -0.32%

This table shows that home favorites have covered the spread 48.82% of the time, not counting ties. So tables 4 and 5 show that dogs in general have been better bets regardless of whether the dog is at home or away. Betting on visiting dogs against a dime would have resulted in a house edge of 2.23%, and against a nickel line of 0.07%.

Home Team Bets

Table 6 shows the results of all home teams against the spread. The win percentage ignores ties.

Home Bets

Season Win Loss Tie Pct. Home Win Return (-110) Return (-105)
1983 106 119 8 47.11% -9.72% -7.75%
1984 106 124 3 46.09% -11.86% -9.89%
1985 129 100 4 56.33% 7.41% 9.81%
1986 110 118 5 48.25% -7.73% -5.68%
1987 100 116 3 46.3% -11.46% -9.48%
1988 112 118 3 48.7% -6.94% -4.86%
1989 109 119 5 47.81% -8.54% -6.52%
1990 124 106 5 53.91% 2.86% 5.15%
1991 121 108 6 52.84% 0.85% 3.08%
1992 117 115 3 50.43% -3.68% -1.52%
1993 109 119 7 47.81% -8.47% -6.46%
1994 108 119 8 47.58% -8.86% -6.87%
1995 123 122 6 50.2% -4.06% -1.94%
1996 139 109 3 56.05% 6.92% 9.32%
1997 111 125 15 47.03% -9.6% -7.68%
1998 134 106 11 55.83% 6.3% 8.61%
1999 128 123 8 51% -2.56% -0.42%
2000 120 132 6 47.62% -8.88% -6.87%
2001 124 119 15 51.03% -2.43% -0.35%
2002 134 127 4 51.34% -1.96% 0.23%
2003 132 126 8 51.16% -2.26% -0.11%
2004 120 139 7 46.33% -11.24% -9.29%
2005 128 129 9 49.81% -4.75% -2.67%
2006 125 136 6 47.89% -8.38% -6.35%
2007 133 122 11 52.16% -0.41% 1.75%
Total 3002 2996 169 50.05% -4.33% -2.22%

So this shows that home teams have done slightly better than away teams.

Underdog Bets

Table 7 shows the results of all games against the spread the dog winning, the favorite winning, or a tie. The percent columns ignore a tie.

Underdog Bets

Season Win Loss Tie Pct. Underdog Win Return (-110) Return (-105)
1983 119 103 8 53.6% 2.25% 4.49%
1984 116 112 3 50.88% -2.83% -0.66%
1985 105 118 4 47.09% -9.93% -7.93%
1986 120 106 5 53.1% 1.34% 3.59%
1987 119 93 3 56.13% 7.06% 9.46%
1988 115 109 3 51.34% -1.96% 0.23%
1989 117 107 5 52.23% -0.28% 1.93%
1990 103 121 5 45.98% -11.95% -10%
1991 112 115 6 49.34% -5.66% -3.58%
1992 116 111 3 51.1% -2.41% -0.23%
1993 123 103 7 54.42% 3.78% 6.07%
1994 118 103 8 53.39% 1.87% 4.1%
1995 127 113 6 52.92% 1% 3.23%
1996 122 120 3 50.41% -3.71% -1.55%
1997 124 105 15 54.15% 3.17% 5.37%
1998 111 127 11 46.64% -10.48% -8.55%
1999 137 114 8 54.58% 4.07% 6.36%
2000 133 116 6 53.41% 1.93% 4.18%
2001 123 115 15 51.68% -1.26% 0.85%
2002 141 118 4 54.44% 3.87% 6.19%
2003 126 127 8 49.8% -4.77% -2.68%
2004 135 120 7 52.94% 1.04% 3.27%
2005 107 149 9 41.8% -19.52% -17.77%
2006 149 109 6 57.75% 10.02% 12.46%
2007 122 129 11 48.61% -6.9% -4.89%
Total 3040 2863 169 51.5% -1.64% 0.53%

This shows that dogs against the spread have done significantly better than favorites over the years. Betting all dogs against a dime line would have resulted in a house edge of 1.07%. Betting all dogs against a nickel line would have resulted in a player advantage of 1.12%.

Terminology

Density: Probability that a random variable will be exactly equal to a given value.
Dime Line: The usual sport book standard requiring a bet of $1.10 to win $1.00
Distribution: Probability that a random variable will equal or less than a given value.
Dog: Short for underdog. A team with a probability of losing greater than 50%.
EV: Expected value. How much per unit bet the player can expect to win.
Nickel Line: When the bettor must bet $1.05 to win $1.00. Some casinos offer a nickel line during a "happy hour" and the Pinnacle off-shore sport book offers a nickel line on the NFL all the time.
Pick: A game with two evenly matched teams with a point spread of 0.

Sources

My source for all scores and point spreads is MrNFL.com, in particular the Access database.

The value of the home dog bet is also treated in Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong.

Appendix

Appendix 1 lists the various families of Las Vegas sports books.
Written by: Michael Shackleford