NFL Live Betting Week 1: How We Live Bet Monday Night Football
So far this season, we've been able to pick our NFL live betting spots with teams that were relatively unchanged from 2021. That makes analysis easier, since playcalling and pace of play should be relatively stable.
Such was not the case tonight, with the Broncos and new quarterback Russell Wilson traveling to Seattle to take on his old team, where the Seahawks held on for a 17-16 win as 6.5-point underdogs.
The Broncos also feature a new coaching staff in addition to their new quarterback, with former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett at the helm. The Seahawks offense, conversely, is now led by Geno Smith with Wilson gone.
Projecting the two teams, particularly the Broncos' offense, under different scenarios was going to be a bigger challenge than our first few live betting forays this season, given all those changes. Yet there were a few things we could keep in mind heading into this game, as well as some data to look to at halftime.
So let's break down how we were live betting on Monday Night Football between the Broncos and Seahawks, shall we?
How We Live Bet Broncos-Seahawks on Monday Night Football
Live betting is an ongoing battle where you're always looking for opportunities, and halftime can provide a great opportunity to assess how things are going.
On Monday night, my predictive analytics colleague Nick Giffen was live with his live betting advice on "Bet What Happens Live With Dr. Nick!" at half of Broncos-Seahawks.
Without a doubt, the story of the first half was the stunning performance of Geno Smith and the Seahawks. According to Dr. Nick's model after the first two quarters, the Seattle QB was expected to hit over 291 passing yards for the game, and that live line was just 273.5 at FanDuel and DraftKings, so Dr. Nick decided to get in a live bet on the over at the half.
While that didn't pan out, it was just his first bet of the halftime window. And the rest aligned well with how we'd adjusted based on our pregame thoughts, with one slight exception on a live Smith prop bet we made:
The 3 Live Betting Scenarios We Watched For — And How We Bet Them
1) Player Props
This was the most applicable situation we prepared for, even if it played out the opposite of how we expected.
Our props tool wasn't giving us a ton to love pregame, but there were a couple spots I was interested in. First, if Smith looked rough in the first drive or two, taking the under on some of his props that already showed value — even if the line dropped — could have given you multiple paths to success.
Pass attempts is generally my favorite live bet in this scenario, but it depends on where the markets go throughout the game. That's something to keep in mind in general, and something we felt acutely on Monday Night.
Because instead, Smith came out looking like Joe Montana, completing his first 12 passes for 98 yards and a TD, as the Seahawks took a 10-3 lead. Books were being cautious with adjusting his live player prop lines, but at that point, I was eyeing unders if those lines went up.
With 5:34 minutes remaining in the second quarter of a 10-10 game, Smith's live passing attempts number hit 29.5, with the under -110, and we sprinkled a bit on that live bet.
It was a sweat, to be sure. A couple of long Denver drives in the fourth quarter got us to the pay window when Smith finished with 28 attempts, though!
We were also showing a slight value on overs on Melvin Gordon rushing attempts and yards before kick, but not enough to make a move on. Getting Gordon below his pregame lines of 9.5 attempts or 42 yards was going to be appealing under the right circumstances, however.
And at halftime, Gordon's live rushing total over/under was 33.5, with Dr. Nick projecting the Denver RB to get to 41.9 rushing yards on average. That made Gordon over 33.5 rushing yards Dr. Nick's second live bet. In short order, Gordon had tallied 58 yards on the ground for the game, and we had another cash.
That bet was largely based on the model's projection that the Broncos would still run fairly heavily, even though they trailed at the half. As a result, Dr. Nick also hit Jerry Jeudy's under of 100.5 receiving yards, since that live bet was highly correlated with the Broncos running more and, naturally, the Gordon over above.
Unfortunately (for us, anyway!), a big drive for Jeudy in the fourth got him just over the number at 102 receiving yards. Close, but no cigar, although we'll trust the process every time.
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2) The Game Stays Close
This was the only scenario — based on either Denver or Green Bay's pace stats last year — where a faster-than-expected pace of play would have been possible. (Remember, the 2021 Packers matter in our analysis here because their former O.C. is now the Broncos head coach.)
Given the potential faster pace in a close game, betting live total score overs was where I had planned to look in this situation. The perfect scenario was both offenses struggling to score touchdowns at the start — perhaps Wilson needs a quarter or two to gel with his new receiving cast.
Once again, though, the actual game made us take a different route. After Seattle's second touchdown made it 17-10 with just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter, we pounced on the live under at 53. It felt like the Broncos might be broken, and we were pretty sure Geno Smith couldn't keep playing like this forever.
With 33 total points scored in Seattle's 17-16 victory, this one ended up being a fairly easy win for us.
3) Broncos Take Control
The likeliest pregame scenario here was the Broncos getting off to an early lead. But, you know. Best laid plans and all that.
Based on Hackett's play-calling in Green Bay, I'd have expected the game to slow down considerably in such a scenario. Green Bay ranked 29th in pace of play with a lead of seven or more last season. That was roughly in line with their overall pace, but still a slow down.
More importantly, Seattle remained committed to the run almost regardless of game script last season. They ranked lower in pace of play when trailing than leading. Additionally, they ranked well below average in passing rate while trailing, and 30th in passing success rate while trailing. Their offense was — and likely still will be — heavily predicated on play-action passing, and that threat is less believable when chasing points.
Essentially, I was looking for any opportunity to bet a live under here if Denver takes over. The best way to get there would have been a quick Broncos score or two driving up the total, but sometimes, things go astray. That's why we try to plan for multiple scenarios.