understanding parlays

Is there any correlation between a favorite or underdog covering and the total going over or under? Logic would lead you to believe so, but I wanted to find out for myself. I took a look at the four major spread sports and ran the numbers. This is what I came up with.

College Football

I went back to the last 9,516 games a favorite covered the spread and found in that situation the over was 1222-1112 (52.4%). In the 8,452 games when the team was favored by a field goal or more the over was 1,110-976 (53.2%). If the team was favored by a touchdown or more the over was 795-684 (53.8%).

The overs really started picking up when we look at double digit favorites. The over then hit 56.4% of the time on a record of 652-505. When a favorite of two touchdowns or more covers the over went 480-358 (57.3%). A favorite of 20 or more covering leads to a 287-198 record for the over (59.2%).

When a team is favored by 28 points or more and covers the over has hit 111-67 (62.4%) of the time, but when you stretch it out to 30 point favorites or higher the number jumps up to 92-46 (66.7%).

If a team is favored by 35 points or more and covers the over went 48-23 (67.6%). There have only been 43 40 point favorites in recent years with a lined total, but the times the favorite covered the over went 23-10 (69.7%).


So let’s take a look at the same parameters in the NFL. Here you won’t find nearly the same correlation. NFL favorites of a field goal or more are just 1,117-1,067 for the OVER (51.1%). If you go up to a touchdown or more you will find the over was 461-424 (52.1%). However, stretch it out to double digits and when the favorite covers the over only went 176-171 (50.7%).

Favorites of more than two touchdowns that covered also went over the total 55.8% of the time at 43-34.


In the NBA you’ll find the opposite occurring. My gut tells me this is because if a big favorite is up towards the end of the game both teams kind of give up and start killing the clock. Here is the data that I found.

Favorites of 5.5 or more that cover go UNDER 51% of the time at 2,466-2,369. If you stretch the number up to double digit favorites who hit, the UNDER lands 52% of the time at 795-733. If you go up to favorites of 15 points or more that cover the under has hit 54.5% of the time at 91-76.


There doesn’t seem to be as much correlation with NCAA basketball. When a team covers as a favorite of six or more the under went 2,889-2,652 (52.1%). Favorites of eight or more that covered went under 2,185-1,930 (53.1%) of the time.

However, once you went up to double digits the numbers started dropping. Double digit favorites went under 52.1% of the time (1538-1412) and 13 or more chalk that covered only went under 889-853 (51%) of the time.


The problem with the correlated parlays is finding a place that will take your action. Most of the online books know about these statistics and do not allow you to take a favorite of two touchdowns or more with the over in the same parlay. So, you either need to find a square book or just pair up the smaller spreads that you really like with the corresponding total.

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