NFL Live Betting Week 2: How We’re Live Betting Sunday’s Slate
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa.
Week 2 is already off to a better start for our live bets, with our over pick around halftime on Thursday night cashing easily. We'll continue to try to target games with plenty of consistency from last year, since that made the analysis much easier on Thursday.
Week 1 gave us some information about how teams want to play this season, but not enough to draw any firm conclusions, especially in the case of teams that led — or trailed — most of the way. We don't have much of a way to know how they'll behave in the opposite scenario, other than some educated guesses based on what we know about the coaching staff.
Still, we'll be using that information to inform our decisions in Week 2. Here's the spots we're targeting:
The Live Bets We're Targeting on Sunday Night Football in NFL Week 2
Patriots vs Dolphins: Unders With a Patriots Lead — LIVE BET MADE, UNDER 39.5
We've had just 13 points through 28 minutes, and this line implies the final 32 minutes will see two times that amount. I don't see it, and we'll likely get some instant CLV if the Dolphins don't score a touchdown before halftime.
Read on for our pregame analysis of Sunday Night Football live betting:
Full disclosure: Sunday Night Football on Week 2 isn't a great live betting spot. This is one we probably wouldn't spend a ton of time on if it weren't an island game, but here we are.
Neither team has especially stark pace splits in any given situation, with one exception — the Dolphins while trailing. They don't speed up as much as most teams, though that data is a bit skewed by the time period without Tua Tagovailoa from last season.
More importantly, the Patriots under Bill Belichick have a long history of slowing the top weapon(s) of their opponents. That means (broadly) the explosive passing attack of the Dolphins, and particularly Tyreek Hill. Especially if and when the Dolphins fall behind, the Patriots defense will be geared towards limiting the deep passing game.
The Dolphins rushing defense is also by far the stronger part of their defense, especially with offseason acquisition Jalen Ramsey sidelined with an injury. That should limit the Patriots effectiveness when they're trying to run the clock, further keeping the scoring down.
Of course, the Dolphins are slight favorites here, so it's somewhat likely this scenario never comes to pass. Given the lack of projectable edge in any other situation, we're fine with passing on this game if need be.
The Week 2 Sunday Live Bets We've Already Made
Bears vs Bucs: Second Half Overs — LIVE BET MADE, OVER 43.5
We took a wait-and-see approach on the Bears-Bucs game in the first half. Tampa Bay was up three points coming into the half, but Chicago got first crack at possession in the second half. If the Bears were able to score there, we probably would have taken the under, but instead, the over scenario we were targeting came into play.
With Tampa taking a 10-point lead in the third quarter, we only need two more touchdowns in the final 20ish minutes to cash over 43.5, with the best line -113 at FanDuel.
Read on for our pregame analysis of why this was our best spot in the 1 p.m. ET window:
Chicago and Tampa Bay are both perfect examples of teams that primarily played in only one game flow in Week 1. The Bucs led for almost the entirety of the second half against Minnesota in Week 1 and played at a snail's pace while trying to keep the ball away from the somewhat explosive Vikings offense.
Chicago ran all of six plays on offense with the game tied, before trailing the rest of the way in an ugly game against the Packers. They tried to push the pace in the second half, but that did more for the opposing offense than their own, committing two turnovers including a pick-six. All told, there were 16 first half points and 32 second half points in Week 1.
The thing is, the Baker Mayfield-led Bucs offense isn't entirely dissimilar from the Bears. Both teams should have success when able to play a slower tempo, with short passes and plenty of runs. However, when forced to play more aggressively, both offenses (and quarterbacks) will likely make plenty of mistakes.
We're expecting a slow first half in this one, followed by one team growing increasingly desperate once they get behind later in the game. The numbers bear this out — it projects to play much quicker if either team is up by seven or more than in a close game.
We'll be waiting for a total that drops into the 30s, and at least a seven point lead either way. Ideally this comes around halftime, but have some patience here. If the total drops significantly and someone pulls away into the third quarter, we can still take it then.
The inverse is also interesting, but we'd need a ton of early offense to drive up the total in a close game. That's less likely, but still worth monitoring should it work out that way.
Rams vs 49ers: Unders with a 49ers Lead — LIVE BET MADE, OVER 55.5
After a 34-point first half, the total is "only" 55.5, meaning we need just 22 more points to hit the over. We wanted to be on the under here, but a close game plays the fastest of any scenario here, and the Rams have made us a believer in their offense. The best line is -115 on FanDuel.
Read on for our pregame analysis of why this was our best spot in the 4 p.m. ET window:
There's two ways to view the Rams performance in Week 1, in which they smashed the Seahawks 30-13. The first read says that the Rams offense is better than anticipated even without Cooper Kupp. Matthew Stafford was productive throwing to his cast of unknown receivers, and the Los Angeles running game produced three touchdowns.
The other takeaway is that Seattle is worse than expected, especially on defense. They lost plenty of defensive talent in the off season, and first round cornerback Devin Witherspoon probably needs time to develop.
I'm leaning heavily towards option B, with a relatively bleak view of the Rams offense without Kupp. We'll be able to draw firmer conclusions before this one even kicks off, with the Seahawks facing the Lions in the 1 PM spot.
Therefore, the likeliest scenario in this game is the 49ers taking an Eagles-esque approach to this one. Attack early, run up the score, then take the air out of the ball in the second half. Or whenever they get out to a big lead, as their -7.5 spread would suggest.
The 49ers defense is also strong enough that we're somewhat willing to write off an early score or two from the Rams as a fluke, so even a close (but high scoring) game would put us on the under presuming the total rises enough. We'll be looking for any spike to the pregame 45.5 line, but bonus points if the Niners have a big lead.
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. The broad assumption is that the pregame line is roughly efficient, so we want to target spots where we're getting a better number in the direction that fits the scenario.
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.