Many novice bettors are told to stick only to straight bets.  However, we have found teasers and parlays can both be profitable in certain situations.  Today we are going to talk about one of the best spots to be parlays.  When there is a correlated side and total in a single game.

Is there such a thing as correlated parlays?  Specifically, is there any correlation between a favorite or underdog covering and the total going over or under?

You would think that a favorite of -35 covering would mean it likely for a game to go over 40 total points.  So, logic would lead you to believe these situations occur, but I wanted to find out for myself.  And when exactly.

So what would it take for a correlated parlay to be profitable?  If you are hooking up two teams the payout is typically 2.5-to-1.  That means that you have to win 28.6% of your two teamers to turn a profit.  That is figured by the return of 3.5 divided by your risk which is 1.

Now a few books like 5Dimes will give you a 2.64-to-1 payout.  In that case you only have to win 27.5% of your two-team parlays in order to turn a profit.

Let’s assume one side of your parlays hits at 50% of the time.  How probable does the second event need to be in order for the parlay to be to your advantage?  For the typical two-team parlay payout it needs to be 57.2% (.572 * .5 = 2.86).  If your payout is 2.64-to-1 then it’s 55% (.55 * .5 = .275).

I took a look at the four major spread sports and ran the numbers. I was trying to find any situations where if a favorite or underdog covered then the total hit more than 57.2% of the time.  Here is what I found.

College Football

I went back to the last 3,732 games a favorite covered the spread.  What I found was the over had a record of 1,959-1,773 (52.5%). In the 3,361 games when the team a field goal or more favorite the over was 1,793-1,568 (53.3%). If the team was laying a touchdown or more the over was 1,328-1,082 (55.1%).

The over percentages started picking up when we look at double digit favorites. The over then hit 57.4% of the time on a record of 1,090-808. When a favorite of two touchdowns or more covers the over went 838-582 (59%). A 20+ point favorite covering leads to a 547-321 record for the over (63%).

When a team 28+ point favorite covers the over has hit 261-122 (68.1%) of the time.  When you stretch the line out to 30 point favorites or higher the number jumps up to 216-92 (70.1%).

If a team a 35 points or more chalk and covers the over went 127-51 (71.3%). There have only been 95 favorites of 40+ points in recent years with a lined total.  In those games if the favorite covers the over was 65-29 (69.1%).

If instead of looking at the hard numbers you go with percentages then the magic number seems to be about 35%.  The spread has to be 35% of the total for you to take the favorite and the over or the underdog and the under.

Overall this system has seen the over go 572-333 (63.2%) when the favorite covers.  Keep that in mind when taking a look at the college football odds every week.


So let’s take a look at the same parameters in the NFL. Here you won’t find nearly the same correlation.  Looking at all favorites the over has gone just 1,576-1,532 (50.7%).

Let’s see if the over hits at a higher rate as we increase the number.  A field goal or more favorite covering means a record of just 1,289-1,245 for the OVER (50.9%).  Move up to a touchdown or more you will find the over was 527-487 (52%). However, stretch it out to double digits and when the favorite covers the over only went 203-194 (51.1%).

Favorites of more than two touchdowns that covered also went over the total 56.2% of the time at 50-39.

There is no magic number with percentages here either.  That makes sense.  There aren’t going to be as large of favorites in the pros v. college.  There are only 16 games that have seen a spread at 40% or more of the total.

Bottom line is you can’t rely on any sort of correlation to beat the pro lines each Sunday.

In basketball you’ll find the trend reverses. This makes sense.  What happens when a big favorite is up at the end of the game?  Both teams kill the clock and try to get out of there.  Here is the data that I found.


Favorites of 5.5 or more that cover go UNDER 51.1% of the time at 3,368-3,224. If you stretch the number up to double digit favorites who hit, the UNDER lands 52.5% of the time at 1,006-912. If you go up to favorites of 15 points or more that cover the under has hit 56.2% of the time at 122-95.


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 4,309-3,954 (52.1%). Favorites of eight or more that covered went under 3,264-2,865 (53.3%) of the time.

However, once you went up to double digits the numbers started dropping. Double digit favorites went under 52.8% of the time (2,318-2,072).  13+ point chalk that covered only went under 1,371-1,231 (52.7%) of the time.


The problem with the correlated parlays is finding a place that will take your action. The reputable sportsbooks that we use know about these statistics.  They won’t allow you to take a favorite of two touchdowns or more with the over in the same parlay.

You will need to find a square book to take the action.  Or, just pair up the smaller spreads that you really like with the corresponding total.