NFL Primetime Unders 2023: Should I Ride This Trend?

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NFL primetime Unders is not a new phenomenon. 62.4% of primetime games have seen the total hit the under over the last five years. However, the question is, should you continue to ride that trend in 2023? 

There are a variety of reasons as to why primetime games are more likely to hit the under. Pressure is on for those two teams playing during primetime, with the whole nation scrutinizing every move. We also have to consider the underwhelming quarterback play, particularly this season. 

A host of new rookie quarterbacks have started in 2023. That is another reason as to why we have seen a lot of primetime games hit the under in terms of totals. Below, I will take you through the key information and statistics you need to know when it comes to primetime Unders and whether you should continue backing this NFL betting trend. 

What The Numbers Say About Primetime Unders

Primetime Unders are a clear, consistent betting trend this season. In total, Unders are 99-64-1 this season (61%). Unders were 22-7 for all primetime games through Week 9. That has now moved to 27-8 (77%) after Week 11. Unders are 12-1 for Monday Night Football (92%), per John Ewing (data from Bet Labs). 

Let’s take a closer at the results from MNF games in 2023: 

  • Week 1: Bills 16 @ Jets 22 (OT)
  • Week 2: Saints 20 @ Panthers 17
  • Week 2: Browns 22 @ Steelers 26
  • Week 3: Eagles 25 @ Buccaneers 11
  • Week 3: Rams 16 @ Bengals 19
  • Week 4: Seahawks 24 @ Giants 3
  • Week 5: Packers 13 @ Raiders 17
  • Week 6: Cowboys 20 @ Chargers 17
  • Week 7: 49ers 17 @ Vikings 22
  • Week 8: Raiders 14 @ Lions 26
  • Week 9: Chargers 27 @ Jets 6
  • Week 10: Broncos 24 @ Bills 22
  • Week 11: Eagles 21 @ Chiefs 17

The most common NFL total is 41. After that, the most likely totals are 43, 37, 44 and 51. However, the most likely score is 20-17, a total of just 37. The average points per game on MNF this season is 37.5. Based on these simple numbers, it is clear as to why the Unders are landing on a regular basis this season. 

How about Thursday Night Football? 

In all honesty, TNF has been awful this season. The short week doesn’t help and, often, offenses will be operating with a reduced playbook. Therefore, teams are looking to run the ball more since they do not have enough time to plan and prepare an extensive offensive scheme. That is another reason as to why primetime Unders are landing a lot this season. 

Sports Hub named TNF as Trash Night Football earlier this season. We have seen plenty of poor matchups between weaker offenses across the league. For example, Panthers-Bears (13-16) on November 9 and Titans-Steelers (16-20) the week before that. We saw limited offenses on display in back-to-back weeks and the under landing in each. 

Check our Thursday Night Football Picks, Odds, and Schedule.

Check out the full list of results for TNF in 2023: 

  • Week 1: Lions 21 @ Chiefs 20
  • Week 2: Vikings 28 @ Eagles 34
  • Week 3: Giants 12 @ 49ers 30
  • Week 4: Lions 34 @ Packers 20
  • Week 5: Bears 40 @ Commanders 20
  • Week 6: Broncos 8 @ Chiefs 19 
  • Week 7: Jags 31 @ Saints 24
  • Week 8: Bucs 18 @ Bills 24 
  • Week 9: Titans 16 @ Steelers 20 
  • Week 10: Panthers 13 @ Bears 16 
  • Week 11: Bengals 20 @ Ravens 34

However, Unders haven’t been as common on TNF compared to MNF. The Under is 6-5 for TNF, with each game averaging a total of 44.6 points. Nevertheless, the most recent weeks have often hit the Under, bar from the Bengals-Ravens game. 

Which teams are the most susceptible to Unders? 

A total of 20 teams in the NFL have seen over 50% of their games hit the Under. The Steelers, Chiefs, Bucs and Raiders have all seen at least 80% of their games go under the total. 

Here’s a list of the top teams to look at when it comes to Unders: 

  • Raiders (9-2)
  • Steelers (8-2)
  • Chiefs (8-2)
  • Bucs (8-2)
  • Bills (8-3)
  • Giants (8-3)
  • Vikings (8-3)
  • Rams (7-3)
  • Jets (7-3)
  • Patriots (7-3)
  • Chargers (7-3)
  • Saints (7-3)
  • Titans (7-3)
  • Panthers (7-3)

It’s no surprise that most of the aforementioned franchises have had issues at quarterback this season. The Raiders have struggled, even when Jimmy Garoppolo has been able to take the field. Kenny Pickett hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards since Week 7. Daniel Jones has been poor all season and can’t stay healthy. And the Jets have been dealing with the pain of Zach Wilson under center since Week 1. 

Not forgetting to mention Mac Jones’ woes in New England, rookie signal callers in Carolina and Tennessee, and play-calling troubles in Buffalo. It’s a recipe for disaster on offense across the league. 

Now watching the NFL from afar, Tom Brady has even stated that he hasn’t been impressed by what has been on show in the league this season. He has criticized the standard of coaching, the development of players, and the schemes that are being used. These are all perfectly reasonable explanations as to why primetime Unders have been so common this season. 

Why Are Primetime Unders So Common? 

I have already mentioned a fair few simple reasons as to why we have seen a lot of primetime Unders, especially in 2023. It’s easy to succumb to the pressure when you know that the eyes of a whole nation are on you. 

But, why is it happening so much this season? Well, for starters, we have seen plenty of underwhelming quarterback play in 2023. Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts is the current favorite to win MVP this season (+175). Yet, he has a TD:INT ratio of just 15:9, with a passer rating of 94.8. That is a significant downgrade on his passer rating of 101.5 last season. 

The likes of fellow MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes have also not been up to standard. He has a TD:INT ratio of 19:9, but a passer rating of just 93.8 – his lowest since becoming the starting QB in Kansas City.

The impact of injuries and rookies

Injuries to plenty of starting QBs have affected offensive play too. For example, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Fields – injured in Week 6 and missed four games between Week 7-10 – and Kyler Murray’s first game this season was Week 10. Kirk Cousins was carted off during Week 8, whilst Deshaun Watson has now been ruled out for the season too. 

We have also seen a lot of rookie QBs this season. The likes of Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Tyson Bagent, Will Levis, Aidan O’Connell, Clayton Tune, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Tommy DeVito have all started games this season. Even though Richardson had a promising start to his NFL career for the Indianapolis Colts, he suffered a season-ending injury during Week 5. 

Rookie quarterbacks need time to adjust to the step up from college football to the NFL. They also need to get accustomed to their new schemes, players and coaches. We have seen an abundance of new offensive coordinators this season as well. Offenses need time to adapt to the new playbooks and schemes that these coordinators want to use. 

There’s enough pressure on rookie QBs and new offensive coordinators as it is. That pressure is amplified when it comes to primetime games. It is a combination of a multitude of causes as to why primetime Unders have been so prevalent. 

How Will Sportsbooks Adjust To These Trends? 

Bookies aren’t stupid. They know the numbers and will be fully aware how regular the Unders are hitting this season, particularly the primetime Unders. Of course, they will continue to adjust their lines in accordance to the stats. 

However, public betting has a huge say in how lines and odds are created. The public love to back the over as they prefer to see high-scoring and entertaining games. In spite of the overwhelming figures that favor the under, many bettors continue to target Overs. 

As a result, bettors will still be able to find good value when it comes to Unders. Primetime games are more likely to see an increase in the number of bets placed. For example, sportsbooks are set to receive a surfeit of bets for the Thanksgiving games. 

For these games, the public are largely backing the favorite and the over. We have seen a 50% rate for Overs on Thanksgiving since 2005, so the public aren’t necessarily wrong to back it again this year. However, when looking at trends for this season, it may be wiser to look to Unders.