NFL Scoring through Week 4
The NFL has been on a record scoring pace in the first 4 weeks of play, so much so that the NFL has been consistently outperforming the Vegas estimate by a margin ranging from 31 points to 115 points each week.
Looking at this, it would be easy to infer that one could blindly bet overs and be profitable. And while this would be true for the first 3 weeks of action, Week 4 marked the first time this season where more unders hit than overs; even though the NFL outscored the Vegas estimate by 43 points.
So why is this increase occurring and is there a leading indicator that can help determine which games are likely to hit on overs? Is it due to better quarterback play? Possibly, but quarterback play to me feels more like a slow growth area that would lead to more points over time, not necessarily a huge lift in a single season. Is it due to injuries? Week 2 did see some critical injuries while recording the highest scoring week since at least 2015; but injuries are an issue every season, and there have been both high profile offensive and defensive players taken off the field. My personal belief is that this has to do with defensive fatigue (which of course be affected by the previous 2 items mentioned). The view below details points scored as a percent of the total points in a game by quarter. What is clearly visible is the increase in 4th quarter points.
While 3rd quarter points are below average for this season, they are closer to the average than the increase in 4th quarter points.
Looking at this at a team level, it can be inferred that the teams that are hitting their overs aren't necessarily scoring more, but they are allowing more points in the second and fourth quarters.
Data provided by www.pro-football-reference.com