National Lacrosse League Betting Odds & Picks: NLL Week 1 Bets for Thunderbirds vs. Wings, More
Via Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Rambo of the Philadelphia Wings.
The National Lacrosse League returns this weekend with six opening-week matchups. I’m eyeing three NLL games in particular, with the first being a Friday matchup between the Halifax Thunderbirds and Philadelphia Wings and the other two on Saturday. Let’s dive into which bets I’m placing on the moneyline, side and total.
If you’re an avid bettor who’s new to lacrosse or a lacrosse fan who’s new to betting, check out my guide on how to bet on lacrosse for some tips to use when placing a lacrosse bet.
Halifax Thunderbirds (-1.5) vs. Philadelphia Wings
|Halifax Thunderbirds Odds||-145|
|Philadelphia Wings Odds||+125|
|Time||Friday, 6 p.m. ET|
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
The 2022-23 NLL season kicks off with a matchup between East Conference rivals in Halifax. The Halifax Thunderbirds open as 1.5-point favorites after defeating the Philadelphia Wings 10-8 in both meetings last season. The total varies between 21.5 (bet365, Caesars) and 22.5 (DraftKings).
Ironically, these are two teams whose 2023 NLL championship odds have the best value, with the Thunderbirds +1100 on FanDuel and Philadelphia Wings +1200 on Caesars. Both teams will be contenders this season and boast rosters that can compete with the other East Conference favorites, Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock.
Despite a heartbreaking first-round exit last year, the Thunderbirds still have a roster that is built to win now. Most of the Thunderbirds’ corps remains intact, even with the losses of Shawn Evans and Stephen Keogh to free agency and Stephan Leblanc and Scott Campbell to retirement.
They hope to replace some of the production lost with the acquisitions of forwards Randy Staats and Ryan Benesch. The latter returns to a Thunderbirds team where he was the second-leading scorer in 2020.
However, the Philadelphia Wings are in a similar situation. While Corey Small and fan-favorite Kevin Crowley both departed in free agency, the Wings made one of the biggest free agency signings this summer when they acquired last season’s leading goal scorer Joe Resetarits.
They will also get a full season out of former Thunderbird forward Kyle Jackson and added Chad Tutton to bolster a defense that struggled at times last season while putting too much on goaltender Zach Higgins’s shoulders.
These teams are comparable on paper, which is why I think this game should be closer to a pick ‘em on the moneyline. Instead, the Wings are being priced as high as +125 to win a game that I make a coin flip. While you could also bet the Wings +1.5 at -125, I like taking a stab on the moneyline.
I recommend betting the Wings on the moneyline at +125 at Caesars and would bet this down to +115.
Pick: Wings Moneyline +125 (Caesars)
New York Riptide vs. San Diego Seals (-1.5)
|San Diego Seals Odds||-135|
|New York Riptide Odds||+105|
|Time||Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Both the San Diego Seals and New York Riptide enter this season after generating a lot of preseason buzz. The Seals had one of the biggest offseasons in recent memory, acquiring not one but two top free agents in Curtis Dickson and Kevin Crowley—just one season after adding 2019 MVP Dane Dobbie to the roster.
The Riptide return top forwards Callum Crawford and 2022 Rookie of the Year Jeff Teat as they have their sights on the playoffs. They look to further the significant jump they took last season after improving from being the league’s worst team two years ago to a six-win team with the NLL’s second-highest scoring offense last year.
It’s no surprise that the Seals open as favorites after losing to the 2022 NLL Champion Colorado Mammoth in the West Conference Finals last season.
After a busy offseason, the Seals are favored to win the NLL Championship as they try to win captain Brodie Merrill his first NLL title in potentially his last season. The Seals are just 1.5-point favorites and -135 on the moneyline on Saturday.
On the flip side, the Riptide were 6-2 as 2.5-point underdogs against the spread last season but were only 2-6 when getting 1.5 points, according to Bet On Lacrosse Report. To open this season, they’re 1.5-point underdogs in a matchup with the league’s version of a super team with very little holes. The Riptide are also without defenders Dan MacRae and Brent Noseworthy, who are opening the season on the injured reserve.
The Riptide could be a sneaky-good team to back as underdogs once again this year. However, this isn’t the spot to back them, especially at just +120 on the moneyline while the juice is at best -130 to back them on the spread.
This line should not be as close as it is, and I think -135 (DraftKings) is still a great price to back the Seals on the road. The Seals opened at -130, so once they start to get into -145 territory, I’d be more inclined to pass or take them on the spread instead.
I’m also eyeing the total, which sits at 22.5 on Caesars. Both teams have a ton of offensive firepower and should find the back of the net, particularly in transition.
While preseason exhibition games should be looked at with a grain of salt, the Seals managed to drop 18 goals in both of their preseason games, and the Riptide scored 10 and 13 in their respective matches. Given the defensive absences on New York’s end and two offenses that feature a handful of 70+ point scorers from the 2022-21 season, there’s value on Over 22.5.
Picks: Seals ML (DraftKings) | Over 22.5 (Caesars)
Georgia Swarm (-2.5) vs. Rochester Knighthawks
|Georgia Swarm Odds||-240|
|Rochester Knighthawks Odds||+200|
|Time||Saturday, 8 p.m. ET|
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
The Rochester Knighthawks and Georgia Swarm are both in transitional periods.
The Swarm saw veterans Jordan Hall, Joel White and netminder Mike Poulin retire while defender Chad Tutton departed in free agency. However, they bolstered their roster by trading for forward Andrew Kew and transition player Jeremy Thompson while adding defender Mike Manley. Second-overall pick Ryan Lanchbury could also be a contender for rookie of the year.
The Knighthawks further added by making some big trades, acquiring presumed starting goaltender Riley Hutchcraft and former Bandits Connor Fields and Jordan Stouros. Additionally, they re-signed many of their top scorers, including Holden Cattoni and Curtis Knight, as they hope to make a big leap this year.
While I think the Swarm are still the slightly better team, the Knighthawks have played them competitively in prior seasons, with their most recent matchup being a 16-17 overtime loss. The Knighthawks should be better while returning most of last year’s squad, while the Swarm are very much in a transition period, even with the best player in the world, Lyle Thompson, and their new offseason acquisitions.
Ultimately, I don’t think the Knighthawks are outmatched enough to be drawing +2.5, and they are capable of keeping this game close and even winning. I suggest betting Knighthawks +2.5 (-120) at Caesars.
Expect this game to see plenty of scoring, with the offense being the strength for each team. Both offenses should find the back of the net against both Craig Wende and Riley Hutchcraft in a fast-paced matchup. While most books have 23.5 posted as the total, DraftKings has Over 22.5 available, and I’d bet that up to -130.
Picks: Knighthawks +2.5 (Caesars) | Over 22.5 (DraftKings)