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NFL Live Betting Week 12: How We Live Bet the Sunday Slate

NFL Live Betting Week 12: How We Live Bet the Sunday Slate article feature image
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Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Hurts.

Thanks to the lack of teams on bye weeks, we had a normal-sized slate on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, despite having three games already played in Week 12.

That was great for us when trying to live bet, as we identified some clear situations to look out for. As usual, we focused on one game in each time slot this week, including Sunday Night Football between the Packers and Eagles.

The Live Bet We Made on Sunday Night Football

Second Half Unders — The Philly Special

We’ve approached nearly every Eagles game the same way this year: Take the first half over pregame, then live unders if and when the Eagles get off to a lead. They play very aggressive early in games, build a lead, then come to a grinding halt once they feel comfortable with their lead.

As home favorites by roughly a touchdown, that was the likeliest scenario again. Everything lined up well here, with the Eagles being beatable against the run but having a top-three pass defense, and the Packers being a better running team that ranks 29th in pace when trailing.

Ideally, we were hoping to be able to catch a total in or near the 50s (the pregame line was 46) with Philadelphia up by more than a score. The Eagles took a 27-20 lead into halftime, with the total soaring to 71.5 at FanDuel. While a seven-point lead isn’t enough for the Eagles to take the air out of the ball yet, the total is high enough to take the live under anyway.

The Live Bets Made (and Considered) Earlier on Sunday

Bengals-Titans: Second Half Unders Was the Plan, Until …

One of the benefits of this point in the season is that we have a reasonably large sample size on all the teams involved. With only a few exceptions, that means every team has spent a significant amount of time playing with a lead, from behind, and in close games.

It also means that we can put more stock in DVOA numbers, specifically how teams fare against the run and pass. Those DVOA splits are the crucial part of this bet.

The favored Bengals should have been able to move the ball through the air against the Titans’ middling pass defense. However, Tennessee ranks first in stopping the run — so Cincinnati’s efficiency will drop if and when they start trying to kill the clock. On the other side of the ball, when Tennessee is forced to throw, they’ll find a tougher matchup against the Bengals defense, while being less efficient themselves.

Of course, pace is a factor here, too. These teams both play considerably slower in the second half of games. Yet with a relatively low scoring first half, there was no value to be found at halftime of Bengals-Titans. The plan instead was to keep an eye on this one and look to pounce if the Bengals were able to build a lead.

But game situations can change quickly, and we called an audible late in this one. The total dropped to 39.5 — with the over at plus money — following the Titans’ fourth-quarter field goal. We were looking for the Bengals to stay aggressive for one more possession and try to make this a two possession game, we took the live over.

We looked to be alive late until a silly Titans penalty on a Cincinnati field goal gave the Bengals a first down, allowing Cincy to kneel out the clock. We might not have cashed anyway, but that one stung a little.

Seahawks-Raiders: Second Half Overs, Especially With a Raiders Lead

This game was set up to play faster in the second half, although most of that was due to the Raiders’ splits — and, at 3-7, that’s more a function of Las Vegas trailing in most second halves than it is intentionally slow play.

However, everything lined up nicely for a high-scoring game with the Raiders out in front. Seattle’s fastest pace (by ranking) is when trailing, while the Raiders play quickest with a lead — which is to say they slow down less than most teams when playing from in front.

Like with the early game, there was some flexibility here between the number we can find and how clean the situation is for us. A slight Raiders lead or a tie game means we need something better than the 47.5 pregame line.

Instead, after a combined 44 points in the second half, this one was in the high 60s or low 70s at half, depending on when and where you looked. I couldn’t in good conscience recommend betting an over in the 70s, so we passed. Given the final score, though, it’s safe to say the analysis was sound, even if we didn’t profit off of it in this extreme, outlier scenario.

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.

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

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