NFL Live Betting Week 13: How We Live Bet Colts-Cowboys on Sunday Night Football
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: CeeDee Lamb (left), Isaiah Rodgers (right).
Week 13 is here, and with it came some solid live-betting opportunities. There were 12 games in the two main windows, plus Sunday Night Football.
As usual, we’ve been picking a game in each time slot to focus on, so we can be sure to get the best lines available. We’re down to Colts-Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Here’s how we’re live betting that one, plus how we’ve approached the Sunday slate so far.
The Live Bets to Watch For on Sunday Night Football
Any Excuse For Unders (BET MADE)
We had what would seem to be another rough primetime game tonight, with the Cowboys double-digit favorites over the Colts. This ond has a pregame total of 44.5, which felt optimistic considering the teams at play.
Dallas has the league’s top overall defense by DVOA, while the Colts offense ranks 31st. Indy is better on defense, too, coming in at 13th. With the Cowboys offense ranking 15th, it’s not exactly a smash spot for them, either.
Therefore, we were hoping for a few quick or fluky early scores. If this total got driven up much from the opening mark, it was going to be an excellent under spot. Ideally, those scores would come from the Cowboys. With the best pass defense in the league but “only” the 10th-ranked run defense, forcing the Colts to pass should further suppress scoring.
After the Cowboys’ second touchdown, this total moved all the way to 54.5. The combination of the inflated total and the Cowboys lead is more than enough for us here, so we’ll take the live under of 54.5 at -110 on FanDuel.
The Live Bets We’ve Already Made Sunday
Second Half Unders — The Philly Special (LIVE BET MADE)
This is a bet we’ve been making all year. The Eagles play very aggressively early in games as they try to build a lead. Once they get there, they shift to a running team and kill as much clock as possible.
However, things have been getting shakier the past few weeks. Philadelphia hasn’t been blowing their opponents out of the water the way they did early in the season. They were moderate pregame favorites against the Titans in Week 13, though, so it was a strong possibility in this one, though.
Philadelphia is strong against the pass, and Tennessee is strong against the run defensively. They’re two of the most heavily split defenses in terms of DVOA against run/pass.
Which brought us to the scenario we’re usually looking for: A commanding Eagles lead. With the Eagles going up 11 at half — and the total up to 54.5 — this one was the exact situation we were looking for. We’ll take the under, even with the Titans getting the ball to start the third quarter. Eleven points is enough of a margin of safety. The best line is at FanDuel, where under 54.5 was -114.
Chargers-Raiders: Watch The Game Flow (PASS)
The Chargers-Raiders game seemed like our favorite type to live bet on — a game that could play much faster or slower than expected, depending on which team was in the lead.
That’s hard for sportsbooks’ live betting algorithms to account for. Those usually take into account the score — both total points and amount of the lead — but don’t adjust with a certain team leading or trailing. (As far as we can tell, at least. How these lines are built obviously isn’t public knowledge.)
Therefore, we should have had a solid edge depending on which way it goes. Notably, though, a close game doesn’t produce much of an edge in either direction.
If the underdog Chargers took a significant lead, this was an under spot. Los Angeles plays significantly slower with a lead than in all other scenarios. They rank 15th in pace of play when up by seven or more, but second overall and first in situation neutral pace.
Remember, the pregame total — 49.5 — largely accounted for both teams’ overall pace. So even though the Chargers’ pace with a lead is in the top half of the league, it’s considerably slower than the expected pace overall. The Raiders contribute a bit here, too. They play at the 25th-fastest pace when trailing, compared to 22nd in close games and 21st overall.
Alternatively, this was a tremendous over spot if the Raiders got ahead by seven or more. They have the fourth-fastest pace of play when leading (though there’s some sample size issues there).
Even if we don’t believe the Raiders splits, the Chargers play fast from behind, with a top-three pace. This also set up nicely from a matchup perspective, with the Raiders having the league’s worst pass defense by DVOA, and the Chargers bottom-three in rushing.
As always, we were hoping for a better number than the 49.5 at open, but we have some flexibility here. We could also consider betting on the Chargers spread if it gets out of hand — the Raiders’ awful pass defense makes holding leads a challenge.
While there might have been a few fleeting moments where a live bet might have potentially made sense, there weren’t any real scenarios that offered value by the game script. Las Vegas did take a double-digit lead late in the third, but by then, the line was between 57 and 58. That’s too high for me to suggest a live over.
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