NFL Live Betting Week 2: How We Live Bet the Sunday Slate
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Packers players celebrating.
Sunday of Week 2 in the NFL was another rollercoaster, and with it came even more opportunities for NFL live betting. With a week of data behind us, we could be somewhat more comfortable in the teams that confirmed our priors, while accumulating data on teams taking different approaches than expected.
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 long look around various books before placing bets, though. There tends to be more variation between shops in live markets than there is pregame.
So with that in mind, here are the NFL Live Betting angles and scenarios we were keeping an eye on Sunday in Week 2, plus the live bets we made.
How We Live Bet NFL Week 2 on Sunday
Bears-Packers: Live Betting Unders, Please
The Sunday Night Football matchup between the Bears and Packers looks like one that will play slow, regardless of how the game is going. Based on my pace projections, this one will be at least two seconds per play slower than expected in the following scenarios: Packers lead by seven or more, Bears lead by seven or more, and the game is within six points.
… you might have realized that that is in fact all of the scenarios.
Therefore, we were looking for any excuse to bet the under in this one, with a total that had dropped from an opening line of 45.5 all the way down to 41.5 heading into the game.
My rough threshold will be catching that opening number, so if this one climbs back to 46 or so, look to pounce. Even better if it got there by a couple of quick Packers scores, as Green Bay in the lead should be the slowest of all the scenarios.
After Chicago's first touchdown with 4:37 remaining in the first quarter, the live total moved to 45.5. Then, a Packers touchdown just after the beginning of the second quarter moved the line all the way up to 49.5, and that's when we jumped on a live under bet.
Honestly, Green Bay breaks the pace-based thinking to a degree with sheer efficiency, much like the Seahawks used to do with Russell Wilson. But still, at 49.5, we were confident this would be a solid bet. The two teams made us sweat a little in the first half; in the end, though, this was a pretty easy cash.
Steelers-Patriots Second-Half Overs
This game played out almost exactly as we would have wanted in the first half.
It’s a bit scary given the apparent state of both offenses, but I’m going to trust my pregame analysis and take over 29.5 at -115 on the live scoring total at DraftKings. Both teams have moved the ball better than the scoreboard would indicate, with 318 yards of total offense between them. The Patriots' late touchdown drove the total up, but it’s probably worth it for the increased pace with one team out in front.
Also, this is a great example of how important it is to shop around with lines. FanDuel had this at 32.5 (at -125 on the over) at the half, as did many shops. We got a number 3 full points better by using the Action Network app to find the best line, although over 32.5 isn't bad in a vacuum. In fact, we were fully prepared to take that number!
Depending on the line you got, this one was either a comfortable win or a heartbreaking bad beat. These teams combined for 18 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half, before being shutout down the stretch.
If you were able to get the 29.5 briefly listed on DraftKings (and highlighted in the Action app), that lack of scoring didn’t matter. If you weren’t … you should really download the app. This is another example of the importance of line shopping on live bets – that kind of disparity wouldn’t happen on a pregame line.
With all that said, here's why this was such a nice opportunity for us:
Pittsburgh's extreme first/second half pace splits are what piqued my interest in live betting in the first place. The Steelers played nearly five seconds faster in the second half of games than the first in 2021. While that wouldn't be surprising with, say, the Jaguars, Pittsburgh was a 9-7-1 team last season.
That trend has continued into 2022, with Pittsburgh ranking 26th in first half pace but first in second half pace last week, despite a 17-6 halftime lead against the Bengals. This is clearly by design, and not simply a reaction to the current game flow.
The Patriots also play faster in the second half than the first, both last season and in Week 1 of 2022. While the splits aren't as extreme, they contribute to the overall quickening of this one.
While the game total is my main area of interest with live betting, various player props are often in play, too.
We were showing a pregame value on Jonnu Smith receptions over (among others), so that's where I looked first, but I'm not even sure how many times he was on the field in the first half.
Instead, if you wanted another live bet at halftime of this one, we recommended take a look at Mitch Trubisky over 35.5 pass attempts. He had 19 in the first half, and our numbers indicated Pittsburgh should pass more in the second half as they try to come from behind — although in the end, Trubisky finished with 33 pass attempts.
Falcons-Rams: Live Under After An Early Lead
This one had a logical path to go either way, but it took the obvious route early.
If the Rams controlled things as expected, we were looking to bet unders. Ideally this would have come with a few quick LA scores to start the contest, driving the pregame total up from the current 46.5.
While it doesn't quite get to the threshold we were looking for, halfway through the second quarter, the total went to 44.5 in the Rams-Falcons game. Atlanta has struggled offensively, and it's a comfortable enough Rams lead that they should be able to employ a more run-heavy approach. We took under 44.5 on the live scoring total here.
They can't all be winners, though! This one flatly did not go our way, as the Falcons and Rams put on one of the highest-scoring displays of the day.