NFL Live Betting Week 1: How We’re Live Betting Sunday Night Football
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: CeeDee Lamb (left) and Dak Prescott (right).
Week 1 is a tricky time for live betting. Plenty of teams have new head coaches, offensive coordinators or quarterbacks, which could significantly impact their pace of play. Pace is the basis or our analysis here, as certain teams and coaches behave predictably different in terms of play calling under certain situations.
Of course, there's more than enough teams with continuity from year to year. We'll be careful to mostly target those teams, as we don't need to force anything this early on in the season.
With that said, here are the games we're targeting for live betting heading into kickoff of Week 1 — but we'll be sure to update this post if something else pops up once the games are underway.
Sunday Night Football Live Betting Scenario to Watch For
Cowboys vs Giants: Overs With a Giants Lead — NO LIVE BET MADE
Given the blowout nature of this game, we'll be avoiding a live bet here. But if you're interested, here's how we analyzed the live betting scenarios for SNF pregame:
This Sunday Night Football matchup mercifully features two teams with offenses that should largely resemble their 2022 counterparts. That's a big help for live betting, as we can rely on 2022 stats to power our decisions.
Also fortunately, their pace tendencies line up nicely to give a clear angle to pursue here. Dallas played a bit faster than average in all scenarios, but considerably faster when trailing. The Cowboys wanted to be a running team to some extent last season, but were frequently forced out of it due to the inefficiencies of the now-departed Ezekiel Elliott.
When trailing by seven or more points, the Cowboys played at the second-fastest clip last season. While the departure of Elliott probably speeds them up overall, they're likely to continue to be aggressive when playing catch up.
On the other hand, the Giants played a hair faster than average from in front last season, but slower than average when trailing. Dallas is the bigger driver of the combined pace splits, but it helps to have the Giants working along the same lines
This is one where we'll be unlikely to play the inverse, for a couple of reasons. First, Dallas plays quick enough even from in front and should be less willing and able to take the air out of the ball with Tony Pollard as the top back. Second, New York had the league's worst run defense by DVOA last season, so Dallas could still move the ball even while trying to kill clock.
As always, we'll be waiting to get a number better than the pregame 45, but we're more concerned with meeting the scenario than picking off an improved number.
The Live Bets We're Targeting on Sunday in NFL Week 1
Vikings vs Bucs: Second Half Overs — LIVE BET MADE, OVER 43.5 (-120 at DraftKings)
While the late touchdown from the Bucs obviously drove the total up, which we don't want, it helps in other ways. The closer game should keep the Vikings aggressive later into this one, and it's a good sign that the Bucs can move the ball. Both teams have moved the ball better than the score would indicate, with a pair of trips to the red zone ending in field goals.
Read more below for our pregame live betting analysis on this game:
At first glance, this game violates our rule of only targeting teams with coaching and quarterback carryover. The retirement of Tom Brady should have a huge impact on how the Bucs call plays, especially given the massive downgrade at quarterback.
However, the Bucs are returning the same offensive coordinator and head coach, and it's likely their pace tendencies remain somewhat consistent. Tampa had the biggest difference between first half and second half pace of any NFL team last season, playing considerably faster late in games. We'd expect that from bottom-feeding teams — but Tampa was a respectable 8-9.
Even with Brady, they played at a snail's pace early on, then attempted to beat teams late. If anything, that tendency should be exacerbated as they try to protect Baker Mayfield as long as possible.
The Vikings also contribute to the cause, playing somewhat slower than average in the first half but faster in the second. That's especially notable given their 13-4 record last season. Most teams with similar records played slower in the second half, with the three slowest teams (Philadelphia, San Francisco and Cincinnati) in second-half splits all fellow division winners.
We'll be fairly picky in this one, waiting for a situation in or around halftime where the total is lower than the pregame 46. We'll also pass on this one if the Vikings have a commanding lead, as we don't want to be relying on the Mayfield-led Bucs to get us over the mark.
Eagles vs Patriots: Unders in the Second Half/With an Eagles Lead, Unless … — LIVE BET MADE, OVER 50.5 (-110 at DraftKings)
After the Eagles jumped out to an early lead, this one got much more competitive closer to halftime. The trailing Patriots have scored the last two touchdowns, and they get the ball to start the second half. They’ve moved the ball well all game, and would have even more points on the board if they didn’t commit two first half turnovers.
That, plus the fact that Philadelphia will need to remain aggressive is enough to push me to the over, with the best line at 50.5 (-110) on DraftKings.
Read more below for our pregame live betting analysis on this game:
Late unders in Eagles games was one of our favorite spots to target last year. Philadelphia consistently got out to a big lead early in games before switching to an extremely slow, fun-heavy approach once they got up by a few scores. The numbers bore this out too, with the biggest difference between their first half and second half pace outside of the Bucs (but in the other direction.)
Obviously, most of the first and second half differences were due to the Eagles being in control of games. They didn't spontaneously switch gears at half time, but that was frequently roughly when their lead got out of hand. As such, we were going to be picky here, waiting until this one potentially got close to halftime AND the Eagles had the lead.
In that scenario, much of the scoring would have to be driven by the Patriots, which we'd be happy to bet against given their questionable passing game and Philly's stout defense. Ideally, we'd able to catch it well above the pregame 44.5 line. Of course, the Eagles are just four-point favorites here, so there's no guarantee this scenario would come to pass.
If it didn't, the opposite angle was slightly interesting as well. If the game stays close — or especially if the Pats jump out to a lead — the Eagles should stay aggressive deep into this one. We'll be a bit more cautious here, as the numbers don't point to as much of an edge. That means needing more movement from the pregame line, and perhaps extenuating circumstances pushing scoring down.
How We Approach Live Betting in General
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. The broad assumption is that the pregame line is roughly efficient, so we want to target spots where we're getting a better number in the direction that fits the scenario.
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.
Take a look around various books before placing bets, though. There tends to be more variation between shops in live markets than there is pregame.