NFL Live Betting Week 18: How We’re Live Betting Titans-Jaguars on Saturday Night Football
Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images. Pictured: Derrick Henry (carrying the ball).
As a general rule, we prefer to avoid betting on situations where motivation is unclear. That made the first part of the Saturday doubleheader a bit murky. While the Kansas City Chiefs had reason to try to win in Week 18, the Las Vegas Raiders did not. Thus, relying on data for how they've played earlier this season would have been a bad strategy.
Fortunately, the night game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans was important for both teams. It's effectively the AFC South championship game, with the winner taking home the division title and the loser out of the playoffs (there's scenarios in which the Jaguars could end up in the Wild Card with a loss, but they're unlikely).
Therefore, it's business as usual in Titans-Jaguars, with a compelling scenario to keep an eye on — and live bet.
The Live Bet To Watch For on Saturday Night Football in Week 18
If The Titans Lead — Jaguars Play Catch Up (LIVE BET MADE)
There were a few parts to this angle, and fortunately, they all pointed in the same direction.
First was the pace. This game was expected to play slower in the second half if it's close or the Jaguars take the lead. However, the Titans in front by seven or more speeds things up.
This is largely driven by the Jaguars, who play much slower with a lead but rank ninth overall in pace when trailing. The Titans play slowly overall, ranking dead last in situation neutral pace, but "improving" to 26th with a lead.
More importantly, this angle catches both teams' defensive DVOAs in the correct spot. The Titans are an extreme pass funnel, with the number two rush defense but number 28 pass defense. Jacksonville ranks 29th against the pass and 12th against the run.
Therefore, the Titans playing from in front should lead to them rushing more, with the Jaguars passing more, as well as a slightly faster game. This helps the Jaguars' chances at closing that gap.
That's exactly what we saw the first time these teams met, with the Titans starting up 14-7 before the Jaguars scored six consecutive times. Tennessee eventually added another touchdown in garbage time, but it was all Jacksonville from there.
This should also be a net positive on scoring, as it's hard to imagine feeding a well-rested Derrick Henry in December hurting the Titans much, DVOA splits be damned.
That gave us two options if Tennessee leads: the Jaguars spread or overs on the game total. The Jaguars were six-point favorites, with a 40-point total. If one of those numbers moves more significantly our way, that's the preferred choice.
After a slow start, the Titans offense has hit its stride, scoring on three consecutive drives. Meanwhile, the trailing Jaguars drove all the way down to the Titans 22 before an inexplicable play call on a trick play led to a fumble. We'll take the live over of 38.5 at DraftKings as our first live bet. The fact that there were only six drives in the first half is a concern, but four of those leading to points and one of those getting to the edge of the red zone is a good sign.
Expect a faster pace in the second half, with the trailing Jaguars starting with the ball.
Player Props (LIVE BETS MADE)
No Dr. Nick tonight, so we've been considering some player props as well. If the above scenario plays out — and perhaps even if it doesn't — the main focus was going to be on Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars passing attack.
Teams have adopted an extremely throw-heavy approach against the Titans defense this season. Our props tool shows Lawrence attempts and completions as the two best values for the game. That would amplify with the Jaguars trailing, of course, but we had to keep an eye on the live numbers to see if an edge is there.
Instead, we'll look to the other QB and make a bet on Josh Dobbs' live passing yardage total over. I got it at 207.5 at halftime, and I would have played it to 210.5. With 114 passing yards in the first half, Dobbs was well over halfway to this mark. The Jaguars are loading the box to stop Henry and leaving plenty of holes in the zone defense for Dobbs to exploit.
This line would likely be higher if the Jaguars were leading — Jacksonville starts with the ball, so the Titans could be down by the time they have the ball back. Even if they aren't, just over 90 yards in a game that should speed up isn't much to ask.
Additionally, we were keeping an eye on Henry props, based on a hunch the market might be a little too skewed toward his overs because of the popularity. If the Jaguars scored AND took some time off the clock on their first drive of the second half, we'd look to live bet Henry rushing yardage unders.
Henry already has 17 carries, which is very unlikely to repeat in the second half. Jacksonville is loading the box to stop him, and Dobbs is playing well. If the Titans fall behind, they should lean even more heavily on Dobbs. Henry has also performed worse later in games this season, and he could have far fewer opportunities.
While we didn't get the touchdown we were looking for, the Jaguars still scored, and we took a live under bet at 118.5 rushing yards. Given Henry's YPC thus far and how tight the game is (limiting his carries), 118.5 is a big number to climb. The only way I see him beating this number is if he breaks a big one, so feel free to hedge with his rushing touchdown prop — over 0.5 is around +200 at most books.
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 interesting opportunities. Sportsbooks are offering a variety of live player props, and faster or slower than expected games create clear 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.