NFL Betting Guide: Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl is nigh, and while the game itself isn't necessarily a can't-miss for a lot of NFL fans, there are still chances to get in on some action to tide us over until the Super Bowl.

FanDuel Sportsbook has odds and a few game props posted for the exhibition game, and there are a few things that stand out.

The over/under is sitting at 51.5, and the AFC is favored by 1.5 points. That gives the AFC side an implied total of 26.0 points and the NFC side an implied total of 25.0.

Where may there be betting value?


This is the first place drawing my attention. The over/under is set at 51.5 points, which feels low for a Pro Bowl. Since 2000, the average total has been 65.4 points in a Pro Bowl, and 6 of these 19 games went for 75 or more points total.

The total actually dipped to 49.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook from an open of 50.5 before climbing back up two points. The public is hammering the over, as 90% of the bets and 92% of the money is coming in on the over, so that trend tracks.

However, two of the three lowest-scoring Pro Bowls since 2000 have come over the past three years (33 points in both 2017 and 2019). The 2018 game (the Pro Bowl for the 2017 season) also would've hit the under with a total of 47 points. This gives the past three years -- coinciding with the return to the AFC-versus-NFC format after the experiment with team captains -- an average point total of 37.7 points.

The trend suggests the under is the right play, and although we have a seemingly significant upgrade in quarterback play this year from years past, the analytics don't fully back that up. The six passers do rank first in combined Passing NEP per drop back this year (0.23) among the three prior years (0.21, 0.18, 0.20), but it's not necessarily enough to chase the over.

Recommendation: Under 50.5

Moneyline and Spread

The AFC is coming in at -120 on the moneyline, and they're favored by 1.5.

The betting action really does support siding with the AFC. Per oddsFire, 52% of the bets are coming in on the NFC, but only 27% of the money is coming in on the NFC. That implies some large bets placed in favor of the AFC, and we should take note. Further, 79% of the money has been placed on the AFC to cover the 1.5-point spread.

Why? Well, part of it could be a significant portion of replacements for the NFC side. Only one of the four voted-in receivers is playing (Michael Thomas), and only two of five starting offensive linemen are actually playing. The AFC is down only one offensive lineman (and two receivers).

The AFC also has two big playmakers at quarterback in Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. Meanwhile, two of the NFC's passers -- Drew Brees (46th) and Kirk Cousins (26th) -- were below-average quarterbacks in downfield attempt rate this season. Jackson (6th), Ryan Tannehill (12th), and Watson (19th) slung it deep frequently. Efficiency isn't really bankable in the Pro Bowl (16 of 27 quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts in the past five years posted yards per attempts marks below 7.0), so big plays could be the differentiator.

Recommendation: AFC moneyline and AFC (-1.5)