NFL Live Betting Week 16: How We’re Live Betting Raiders vs Steelers on Saturday Night
Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images. Pictured: The Grinch, apparently a Steelers fan.
Christmas came early for NFL fans, with 10 games to unwrap on Christmas Eve in Week 16. As usual, we've been picking off our favorite spots to live bet while
ignoring our families enjoying the holiday.
Last but not least, we're on to a little Saturday Night Football. Here's how we're live betting Raiders vs. Steelers.
The Live Betting Scenario to Watch For on Saturday Night In Week 15
Raiders-Steelers: Second Half Overs, Ideally With a Raiders Lead
This is a remarkably similar pick as in the Lions game earlier. Both teams play faster in the second half of games, and while that's partially explained by their usual game scripts, they're both in the bottom half of the league in first half pace.
The Raiders' fastest split is while leading as well, while the Steelers are within three spots in the rankings in every score-based pace split. This isn't a huge bump up to pace based on Las Vegas controlling the game, but it's better than nothing.
Perhaps most importantly, Las Vegas ranks 31st in the NFL in passing defense by DVOA. Pittsburgh has been better in the passing game with Kenny Pickett under center. He's clear of the concussion protocols and will get the start on Saturday.
The Steelers have a slight negative pass rate over expectation on the season, so them being forced to the air is also a good thing for the scoring expectations here.
This is also another game where the weather should have a mild impact, but unless the forecast changes, one that can certainly be overcome. The pregame line is around 38; we'll be looking to pick off something better than that around halftime. We'll be more flexible on the number we're looking for the bigger/more secure the Raiders lead is, but a close game is acceptable as well if the total falls enough.
The Live Bets We've Already Made on Saturday
Panthers-Lions: Second Half Overs With a Lions Lead — LIVE BET MADE
There were a few factors that contributed to this angle. First was the teams' combined pace splits. They both play faster in the second halves of games, with the Panthers an especially extreme case. Carolina ranks dead last in first half pace, but eighth in the second half.
While the difference between their first and second half splits can be explained by their record – mostly negative game scripts leads to playing faster in the second half – the fact that they play at the league’s slowest pace when the game is tied at 0 tells you how they want to play early in games.
We base a lot of our analysis under the assumption that the pregame total — in this case 43.5 — is more efficient than the live line at various points. Therefore, it stood to reason that the bulk of the scoring in this one will come late, and live lines will fall too far.
There would have been even more value with a Lions lead. Carolina's pace splits are fastest when playing from behind, while the Lions are fastest with a lead. The Lions run defense is also better than their pass defense. Since Carolina will pass more while playing from behind, that boosts offensive efficiency.
Our target number here was a live line better than the pregame 43.5, ideally one within 21 of the current score (assuming a bet around halftime). We were looking for situations with the Lions up a touchdown, but a smaller lead when they have possession or are set to receive the second half kickoff is acceptable as well.
Instead, of course, the Panthers controlled the game in the first half, getting out to a 24-7 lead. The live total has soared to 54.5 (-115 at DraftKings), but it's hard to believe in these offenses given the conditions. We'll take the under, even if it's with a Carolina lead instead of a Detroit one.
Eagles-Cowboys Second Half Unders — LIVE BET MADE
Usually, Eagles second half unders are our favorite live betting spot. That's thanks to their usual game plan of attacking early, and then playing at a snails pace with a lead.
However, with Jalen Hurts out for this one, the Eagles were underdogs as they traveled to Dallas. It seemed unlikely they'd get a big enough lead to take their feet (wings?) off the gas here.
Still, if we saw the Eagles with a big lead at some point in or after halftime, the live under was in play. Their number two-ranked pass defense is still intact, so opponents have a hard time closing the gap when Philadelphia gets out in front.
The pregame line was 46.5; we'd need something at 50 or more before even considering this one.
And we got there early! The Eagles showed why their pass defense is ranked second by DVOA in the NFL, picking off Dak Prescott and returning it for a touchdown shortly in to the first quarter. While it's way earlier than we were planning, the Eagles were up double-digits and the total was all the way up to 55.5 (-120 on DraftKings). That could be the highest we see it all day, so we're going to jump on this under early.
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 there is pregame.