NFL Live Betting Week 2: How We’re Live Betting The MNF Doubleheader
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images. Pictured: George Pickens of the Steelers celebrating a touchdown on MNF, as we break down our live bets.
With a pair of overlapping games on Monday Night Football in Week 2, our attention will be somewhat torn when trying to make live bets. Fortunately, the staggered start times mean we should be able to place our bet in the early game before switching over to the later game.
Both games have very similar setups, with tight spreads and low totals. However, how we expect the teams to respond to different scenarios is wildly different, which we'll get into below.
The Live Bets We're Targeting on Monday Night Football in NFL Week 2
Panthers vs. Saints: Second Half Overs — LIVE BET MADE, OVER 35.5 (-120 at Caesars)
While the score is still close, the Saints have been the much better team so far, driving down the field twice only to settle for field goals from inside the Panthers 10-yard line. That's dropped the live line to 35.5, so let's jump on this one early with the expectation that some of these yards turn into touchdown and give us the scenario we were targeting.
Here's how we prepared to live bet this game before kickoff:
This one is somewhat reminiscent of yesterday's Bears vs. Bucs game, where we made (and cashed) a similar bet. Both teams want to be run-first offenses as they're currently constructed but can be forced into a more aggressive approach if the game script dictates it.
Obviously, we don't want to read too much into 2022 data from either team. Both teams feature new quarterbacks that will significantly alter how they approach play calling from an offensive standpoint, with plenty of coaching staff and other offensive personnel turnover as well.
Carolina played fast in their Week 1 loss to the Falcons, running 70 total plays and 38 passes. However, they were primarily back-loaded. They had the league's second-slowest first half pace, but were top 10 in the second half once they fell behind.
With the Saints favored here, a similar scenario this time around is a reasonable expectation. Just like in the Tampa/Chicago game, the Panthers playing faster could lead to additional scoring for their opponent, as well as themselves. Hopefully the first half is low scoring enough that we can get a better number than the pregame 39.5 to go with a Saints lead.
If this one stays close, the under is probably the better play. We'll be a bit pickier on taking the under, though. We'd need plenty of early scoring to drive the total up, and a reasonable level of confidence that neither team will pull ahead before placing that bet.
Steelers vs. Browns: Over With Steelers Lead, Otherwise Under — LIVE BET MADE, OVER 47.1 (-115 at DraftKings)
The Steelers take a two-point lead into the locker room, but they'll also get the ball first to start the second half. That makes the "Steelers lead" scenario a bit more solid than the score alone would indicate. As mentioned above, we want the over in that scenario, which is still just 47.5 after a 30-point first half. Yes, the Nick Chubb injury hurts the Browns, but not as much as the live line is reflecting, as Brandon Anderson already speculated.
Here's how we prepared to live bet this game before kickoff:ive
The second game on Monday sets up nicely for live betting, as the pace splits and defensive strengths of both teams align nicely.
The only scenario where this game should play faster than average is with the Browns trailing. They're a run-first offense behind Nick Chubb but are generally more than willing to put their foot on the gas when the situation calls for it.
Which is convenient, because the Steelers are a formidable run defense, but they struggle in passing. The inverse is true as well, with Cleveland much tougher against the pass than the run. That means if the Browns are playing from behind, both offenses get to attack the opposing defense where they're weaker, which should obviously lead to more scoring.
On the flip side, a Browns lead means the Steelers have to drop back against the Browns' scary pass rush, while Cleveland will likely be killing the clock with plenty of inefficient runs into the teeth of the Steelers defense.
Obviously, the dream scenario is the total moving against the direction we want to bet, but we're more concerned with the game flow than the number in this case.
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.