NFL Live Betting Week 17: How to Live Bet Sunday Night Football
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Mitch Trubisky (left), Kenny Pickett (right).
Happy New Year! 2023 kicks off with the NFL's main slate of games back to Sunday. With no teams on bye we have a 13-game Sunday slate, giving us plenty of options to pick through for our favorite live betting spots.
This week was especially tricky, as plenty of teams have had nothing left to play for. We've tried to suss out spots where key starters might be pulled, or teams will take a more conservative approach.
As usual, we were targeting one game during each window — including Sunday Night Football. Let's get to Ravens-Steelers.
The Live Betting Scenarios to Watch For on Sunday Night Football In Week 17
This game had a hilariously-low 35-point pregame total. Which makes sense, considering the starting quarterbacks are Tyler Huntley and Kenny Pickett.
Pittsburgh I was still technically alive in the playoff hunt and would be tied for the final spot with a win and a Dolphins loss. Baltimore has clinched a playoff spot but could earn a division title with a win and some help from some Bengals losses.
Pittsburgh's two fastest scenarios are with a lead and in the second halves of games. The half splits have been the norm for the Steelers the past two seasons, far beyond what their record and time spent trailing would suggest. It's hard to say why they pick it up later in games, but we're fairly confident that they do.
The Steelers are also a bit of a pass funnel, with the league's number-six ranked rushing defense but 17th against the pass. That's less of a factor when facing the Ravens with Huntley, but it's still at play here.
The Ravens took a 10-3 lead into halftime, in a game that has played as slow as expected in the first half. Counting the 48-yard missed field goal as a successful drive by the Steelers offense (48 yards is very makable in today's NFL) these teams have combined to "succeed" in 4 of 6 drives. The total has fallen all the way to 30.5, so if that continues, they should clear it easily. Especially if some of these field goals turn into touchdowns. We'll take the over 30.5 at -105 on DraftKings.
The Live Betting Scenarios We Watched For Earlier
Packers-Vikings: Overs with a Vikings Lead, Unders With a Packers Lead — LIVE BET MADE
This was a game where both teams should be playing to win. Minnesota is a game out of the NFC's top seed, and with the Eagles missing Jalen Hurts in a Week 17 loss to New Orleans, the Vikings have a real shot at catching Philly. Green Bay is half a game out of the final playoff spot.
Therefore, we knew we could trust both teams here to play how they normally do. The pace is roughly equal regardless of which team gets in front, so the defensive DVOA splits were key here.
The Packers feature a top-10 unit against the pass, while ranking dead last in run defense. Minnesota has less extreme splits, but are moderately worse in passing defense.
Thus, a situation where the Vikings could run the ball but Green Bay continued to throw would help the over, and the inverse would be better for the under. Ideally, we were also looking to find a total on the correct side of the pregame 47.5.
We also knew we'd be quicker to pull the trigger on unders, asboth teams play on the slower side, it's the second game between divisional opponents, and it's outdoors at Lambeau in January.
That's in fact where we ended up. The Packers raced off to a 14-3 lead behind a kick return for a touchdown and a pick-six. Besides meeting our pregame criteria, those aren't generally repeatable methods of scoring. Look for the Vikings to continue to struggle against the Packers pass defense, while Green Bay takes the air out of the ball. We were all over the live under of 57.5 (-115 at DraftKings).
Dolphins-Patriots: Unders With a Pats Lead
Tua Tagovailoa was out of action for the Dolphins this week, as he suffered another concussion and remains in the protocol. That was the major appeal to this pick, as the Dolphins have averaged 16.5 points without Tagovailoa and over 25 points with him (including games he exited early).
The Patriots are averaging just over 21 points overall and have the league's number three defense by DVOA, so there was already some value on the pregame total of 40.5.
We figured we could do even better in the live markets, though. New England's defense is better against the pass, so forcing the Tua-less Dolphins to the air should slow scoring even further. Miami is better against the run, ranking ninth in DVOA but 25th against the pass.
In theory at least, the Patriots should have found some offensive success early but struggled to move the ball once they get off to a lead. Both teams needed this game for their playoff hopes, so motivation isn't an issue as well.
Additionally, the pace splits line up nicely for this angle. Miami ranks 26th in pace while trailing, with New England 17th with a lead. That's roughly similar to the Patriots' overall pace, but a big step down for the Dolphins.
We were looking for a multi-score Patriots lead at any point, or the Patriots up seven with possession in the second half. Unfortunately, we never quite got there.
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.