NFL Live Betting Week 1: How We Live Bet Sunday So Far
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers.
The first main Sunday slate of the 2022 NFL season has mostly come and gone. Yet with the return of the NFL comes some of my favorite betting opportunities: NFL live betting markets.
The NFL is perfect for live betting, with the pauses between plays providing plenty of time to get bets in. This season, I’ve built a model to project the pace of play under a variety of in-game scenarios. These include first vs. second half, as well as which team is leading or when the game is within a touchdown.
The primary benefit is for betting totals. If the game is going to be faster or slower than was assumed pregame, the application is obvious. Faster-paced games tend to produce more points.
Player props also present some interesting opportunities. Sportsbooks are offering a variety of live player props, and faster or slower than expected games create obvious opportunities.
After a decently successful Thursday night of live betting, we were back for Week 1 Sunday. Here’s what you need about how we approached live betting today.
The NFL Live Betting Scenarios We Were Watching For Sunday
Vikings-Packers: Unders if Green Bay Falls Behind
The NFL average seconds per play when trailing by seven or more was just under 26 seconds in 2021. The Packers‘ average was over 30 seconds.
While Green Bay didn’t slow the game down when behind, they sure didn’t speed things up either. Their average seconds per play was above 30 in every scenario.
Conversely, although Minnesota played fast in every scenario, they slowed things down by almost two seconds (relative to their overall pace) once they got a lead.
The combination of those factors meant this one was primed to slow down considerably with the Vikings out in front, a ripe opportunity to bet the live under.
In fact, after Minnesota’s first score, BetRivers posted a live over/under of 49.5 for a brief moment. By the end of the first quarter, that number was down to 41. With Minnesota up 17-0 at halftime, the live total was 39, juiced to the under, and it only trended down from there.
So, if you were ready to pounce, you might have gotten really solid value early in a game that ended with 30 total points.
In addition, my primary player prop interest was on Vikings unders in this scenario. We expected the Packers offense to be slow but highly efficient, meaning the Vikings wouldn’t have many bites at the apple once they were out in front.
Since we were showing a slight pregame value on Kirk Cousins’ passing yards total, I started looking at live unders, especially with a strong first half that drove the number up.
Credit to Cousins, though. That initial Minnesota score had Cousins’ passing yardage total rise to 291.5. At half, the number had ballooned to 302.5. And with just a few minutes remaining in the third quarter, Cousins had passed for over 220 yards.
It was a sweat, but the Vikings’ big lead helped us cruise in with a Cousins passing total of 277, under our number with room to spare.
Bengals-Steelers: Second Half Overs
Live betting on overs in Steelers games last season was an excellent strategy. Pittsburgh scored a pitiful 6.7 points per game in the first half — and a very respectable 13.2 points in the second half.
This came down to their pace of play. They played at the slowest pace in the league in the first half, but were 13th fastest in the second.
Against Cincinnati, there were some Bengals trends that contributed to the potential value on the live over. The Bengals did play at a fairly slow pace in all situations in 2021, yet their quickest (by ranking) pace came when leading by seven or more.
With the Bengals as 6.5-point pregame favorites, this appeared to be the most likely scenario for the game. Of course, that was before Cincinnati fell behind 17-6 in the first half.
At the half, the live over/under had moved to 45.5, a slight uptick from the pregame number of 44.5. After a few snaps in the second half, that number came down to 42.5 at some shops. As always in live betting, make sure you shop around!
That line shopping was particularly important here, as a blocked extra point by the Steelers on a last-second Bengals touchdown sent the game to overtime at 20-20 — meaning anyone who got the live over at 42.5 seemed to be in great position, barring a tie.
And then, well, overtime happened. And it kept happening. And it felt like this was going to be a live sweat that didn’t pan out … only for the Steelers to seize victory for us from the jaws of defeat.
That, friends, is why we try to find the best price — something that is a whole lot easier with the Action Network app.
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Jets-Ravens Second Half Overs
Last season, the Jets sped things up by more than three seconds in the second half relative to their first half pace. Most of that was due to almost always trailing in the second half of games, but they were a quick-paced team overall.
The Ravens also tended to speed up in the second half of games last season. While the splits were less dramatic, they still picked things up by about two seconds per play after half time.
My real interest here was if this one remained close or if the Jets somehow got off to a lead. In that scenario, the second-half over was going to be an excellent option, as was looking at overs on player props, particularly on the Baltimore side.
At half, with the Ravens up 10-3, the total scoring over/under for the game had plummeted to 32.5 from its pregame total of 44.5. That’s quite the difference. And thanks to a late Jets touchdown with the game already out of reach, we cashed the over on this 32.5.
Trust the process, especially when it leads to such solid results.