Scoring by Quarter in the NFL

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I’ve been doing a little bit of research into handicapping first and second halves of NFL games. The reason is to further understand the sport and also to see if there are any weaknesses in these lesser bet lines that I can exploit.  I went back over the last 5,760 NFL games and here is what I found to be the average scores by quarter.

Score By Quarter & Half Breakdown

Home Score
Visitor Score
1st Quarter
4.6
3.7
2nd Quarter
6.9
5.9
3rd Quarter
4.5
4.2
4th Quarter
6.1
5.6

That means the scoring by half broke down like this:

Home Score
Visitor Score
1st Half
11.5
9.6
2nd Half
10.6
9.8

I then was curious as to if those numbers had changed over time, so I went back to the 2001, 2006, and 2010 seasons to find more data:

Since 2001 (2960 Games)

Home Score
Visitor Score
1st Quarter
4.7
3.8
2nd Quarter
7
6.2
3rd Quarter
4.6
4.3
4th Quarter
6.2
5.8

 

Home Score
Visitor Score
1st Half
11.7
10
2nd Half
10.8
10.1

Since 2006 (1633 Games)

Home Score
Visitor Score
1st Quarter
4.9
3.8
2nd Quarter
7.1
6.3
3rd Quarter
4.7
4.4
4th Quarter
6.2
6

 

Home Score
Visitor Score
1st Half
12
10.1
2nd Half
10.9
10.4

Since 2010 (565 Games)

Home Score
Visitor Score
1st Quarter
4.8
3.9
2nd Quarter
7.1
6.4
3rd Quarter
5
4.6
4th Quarter
6.7
5.9

 

Home Score
Visitor Score
1st Half
11.9
10.3
2nd Half
11.7
10.5

 

First Half Lines

My original assumption was that the first half lines should be approximately half of the line for the full game, but it appears from the data that home teams win by nearly two points per game in the first half and only one point in the second.  Thus, the lines should be higher than more than simply half the odds for the entire game. In fact, it should be closer to 2/3rds the odds for the entire game.

Quarters

Both the first and the second quarters are nearly a full point advantage!  I originally assumed it would be close to 25% advantage to the winning team in each quarter, but that does not appear to be the case.

Betting on who is going to win the first quarter is something I almost feel uncomfortable with unless I know who is going to get the ball first. It just seems to me that with such a short 15 minute time frame that whoever receives is going to have a significant advantage.  However, I might have to reconsider that strategy from this point forward and start looking at first quarter lines.

Totals

There are more points scored in the first half on average than the second.  This really shouldn’t come as any surprise.  If a team is ahead in the fourth quarter they are going to kill the clock, whereas in the second quarter they are going to keep trying to put points on the board.  There should be about a point extra given to the first half total compared to the second half total.

However, it appears that over the last two seasons this tendency has evened out.  I’m not sure if that’s due to the league going towards more pass heavy offenses, or if it’s just a smaller sample size.

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About the Author: Jimmy Boyd is known for his consistency. He's a proven winner in college and pro football, college and pro basketball and pro baseball. He finished as the No. 1 ranked MLB handicapper in 2007 by earning $1,000/game bettors $50,050. He also finished as the No. 1 ranked basketball handicapper in the 2008-09 season, profiting $1,000/game bettors 38,530. His basketball plays have banked $1,000/game bettors nearly $80,000 the last five years. Check out Jimmy's premium picks for tonight!
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