Sport by Sport Betting Breakdown: Part Two

Sport by Sport Betting Breakdown: Part Two

In part one of this sport by sport breakdown, we looked at how well bettors would have fared betting favorites and dogs on the moneyline for the four major pro sports, college football and basketball, and the CFL and WNBA.

Below are several tables breaking down winning percentages and return on investment (ROI) when betting on spreads and totals for the sports listed above. The data goes back through the 2005 season for all of the sports except the NFL, which goes back until 2003.

Generally speaking, you’d have somewhere between a -2% and -3% ROI if you were to blindly bet all of the sides and totals. That is why sportsbooks are quite successful businesses as a group (and why they should be legalized, regulated, taxed,etc.).

Here is the breakdown. The data goes through July 17th, 2017 and is graded using Pinnacle’s closing lines.

Spread Favorites

SportFavorite RecordUnitsROI
WNBA1307-1274 (50.6%)-31.9-1.2%
MLB*12503-16908 (42.5%)-470.4-1.6%
NHL*4910-9311 (34.5%)-364.6-2.6%
NCAAF4455-4452 (50.0%)-228.2-2.6%
NFL1723-1748 (49.6%)-96.8-2.8%
NBA7488-7547 (49.8%)-425.8-2.8%
NCAAB20487-20554 (49.9%)-1191.0 -2.9%
CFL391-468 (45.5%)-98.6-11.5%

*Runline & Puckline

Spread Dogs 

SportSpread DogsUnitsROI
CFL468-391 (54.5%)+57.7+6.7%
NFL1748-1723 (50.4%)-55.2-1.6%
NHL*9311-4910 (65.5%)-238.6-1.7%
NBA7547-7488 (50.2%)-297.8-2.0%
MLB*16908-12503 (57.5%)-595.6-2.0%
NCAAB20554-20487 (50.1%)-957.7-2.3%
NCAAF4452-4455 (50%)-232.2-2.6%
WNBA1274-1307 (49.4%)-90.6-3.5%

* Runline & Puckline

Like I said in part one, the books are pretty damn good. Obviously, the CFL really sticks out, but the rest of the spread sports are all within a fraction of 50%. Note that the two professional spread sports, the NFL and NBA, both lean towards underdogs. In this data sample, the favorite has received the majority of the spread bets four times more often than dogs in the NFL and 3.5 times more often in the NBA. Although sharper bettors may often place larger bets on the dogs, it will be beneficial in the long run for dogs to hit at a higher rate in order to combat the overwhelming public support on favorites.

We saw in part one that dogs in both college sports did very poorly on the moneyline and should essentially be avoided at all costs. In these tables, we can see that those results didn’t translate over to the spread, as both NCAAB and NCAAF are almost spot on 50%.


SportOver RecordUnitsROI
NFL1771-1749 (50.3%)-60.3-1.7%
WNBA1299-1302 (49.9%)-69.6-2.7%
NBA7512-7599 (49.7%)-463.0-3.1%
MLB14330-14721 (49.3%)-894.1-3.1%
NHL6273-6779 (48.1%)-482.3-3.7%
NCAAB19423-19569 (49.8%)-1484.2-3.8%
NCAAF4312-4430 (49.3%)-366.9-4.2%
CFL395-475 (45.4%)-99.2-11.4%


CFL475-395 (54.6%)+58.2+6.7%
NHL6779-6273 (51.9%)-63.9-0.5%
MLB14721-14330 (50.7%)-437.0-1.5%
NBA7599-7514 (50.3%)-257.3-1.7%
NCAAF4430-4354 (50.4%)-151.5-1.7%
WNBA1302-1299 (50.1%)-56.1-2.2%
NCAAB19569-19423 (50.2%)-1164.5-3.0%
NFL1749-1771 (49.7%)-117.8-3.3%

I sound like a broken record, but Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick, books really have no idea what is going on up in Canada, eh? Those CFL unders need to be taken advantage of.

As expected, the under hits slightly more often than the over does. This is just the books’ way of exploiting public bettors who love taking the over. It does appear that they have had trouble adjusting to the increase in NFL scoring, though. The NFL is the most popular sport to bet on and possibly the most public sport, too. It could be the last sport they would want in which the over has a winning record.

The NHL may stick out, but remember that hockey totals are often heavily juiced on the under. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see the juice between -130 and -140. This past season we looked at the ever-changing state of NHL totals. Although the under has fared very well up until this point, it’s tough to tell whether that will continue going forward.

Did these statistics surprise you? Will you have a different gambling mindset going forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below and feel free to ask us any questions by contacting

Want your own data to purge through? Download a historical database in Excel and start crunching the numbers!

Mark Gallant

I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy.

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