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NFL Live Betting Week 9: How We’ve Live Bet the Sunday Slate

NFL Live Betting Week 9: How We’ve Live Bet the Sunday Slate article feature image
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Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images. Pictured: Travis Kelce (left), Patrick Mahomes (right).

We had a somewhat quieter Sunday of NFL action this week, as bye weeks were in full effect. That gave us more time to focus on one or two spots for our live betting action.

We’ve been watching one game in each of the main windows (1:00 and 4:00 p.m. ET) this week, as well as keeping an eye on Sunday Night Football. As always, in addition to betting totals and sides, player props are on the table as well.

We generally don’t hit on those explicitly, but do give some guidance to how one might approach that if they were betting them.

Here are the games we were watching to live bet on Sunday.

The Sunday Night Football  Live Betting Scenarios We Were Watching For

Titans-Chiefs: Second Half Unders

This wasn’t a great game for live bets, with both the Titans and the Chiefs playing with a fairly balanced pace regardless of game scenario. The Titans play slow pretty much regardless of the scoreboard, with the Chiefs remaining middle of the road no matter what.

However, everything in this game pointed to a lower scoring second half. If the Chiefs got the lead, the Titans would have to throw the ball more, which hasn’t worked well for them this season. They’re a far more efficient offense when Derrick Henry is carrying the load. They also line up to have an edge in run blocking, while struggling to pass protect.

With the Chiefs up big, they would then switch to running the ball more — anytime we limit Patrick Mahomes’ aggressiveness,  we should expect points to be limited.

On the other hand, a game that Tennessee controlled should also limit scoring. While this wasn’t likely to be the case with the Titans as huge underdogs, they’d look to control the clock and slow things down if they got out to a lead. While Kansas City would play aggressive, their total opportunities would be highly limited.

A close game didn’t point us as clearly to an under bet — outside of the Titans being the worst second-half scoring offense in the league. With Kansas City scoring similarly in both halves, that would still be my lean.

This one’s tricky. As the first half comes to a close, there has been 23 points scored — exactly half of the pregame total. That total hasn’t moved, either, remaining in or around 46. That doesn’t give us much to work with.

While we’d probably take the under if we had to make a bet, fortunately, we don’t have to do anything. Stay tuned early into the third quarter, though. The Titans get the ball first, and a (quick) score would make a stronger case for an over from then on out.

The Live Bets We’ve Already Made Today

Rams-Buccaneers: LIVE BET MADE

Both teams have under-performed in a big way this season — particularly the offenses. The biggest difference is both defenses involved are far superior to their NFC North counterparts.

That is why we have a total of just 42.5 for this one. Interestingly though, both teams rank in the upper tier in pass rate over expectation on the season. In theory, that should have led to a much higher-scoring game than the total would indicate.

The challenge, of course, is with the offensive lines. Both teams feature older, immobile quarterbacks, but rank 25th and 26th in pass block win rate on the season. That makes it hard to assume that more passing = more scoring.

With that said, this game looked to play considerably faster if either team gets off to a commanding lead, but at a snail’s pace if it remains close. Tampa Bay ranks first in overall pace of play, fourth in situation neutral — and 16th in close games. The Rams rank 31st in close games.

At halftime we have ourselves a 7-6 game. To put in perspective how bad the offenses have been, only four drives (of 12) in this game reached double-digit yardage. They’ve resulted in two made field goals, a touchdown, and a blocked field goal. The Bucs’ longest play from scrimmage was a penalty.

All of that, coupled with the close score, points us firmly to taking the under. Neither team has – or will have – an incentive to be aggressive for the foreseeable future, with the trailing Bucs starting with the ball in the third quarter.

The under 34 live line gives us three touchdowns of wiggle room – I don’t see that happening. That’s our live bet.

Packers-Lions: LIVE BET MADE

Green Bay traveled to Ford Field to take on the Lions, with both teams falling far short of their preseason expectations. The Packers were narrow favorites (3.5 points) in a game with a total hovering around 50.

That total is where most of our attention has been. Lions games have averaged over 65 points this season, with Packers games falling just short of 40. With the pregame total sitting mostly in the middle of that range, the hope was that we’d be able to use game flow to determine if this plays out more like a typical Packers game or Lions game.

Fortunately, there was a fairly clear path either way. Both teams would prefer to play run first football, and both have far better run blocking offensive lines than run stopping defensive lines. While they should find success on the ground, that would still slow down the total pace of play. I expect both teams to stick with the run if this game remains close.

On the other hand, both teams have sped things up considerably when trailing this season. A Detroit lead gives us a stronger effect (since the Pack play at the league’s slowest pace when leading), but the lean was the same way.

Therefore, we would be looking to bet unders in a close game, and overs if either team — but especially Detroit — got out to a definitive lead. With the Lions taking an 8-0 lead shortly before halftime, this one fit our scenario for live betting the over.

Of course, with the Packers getting the ball back to start the second half, we couldn’t be too sure that the lead would remain for long. Fortunately for us, there are other reasons to feel good about taking the over. Both teams have moved the ball well, with the Packers getting to the Lions’ 5-yard line twice without putting points on the board. Detroit also has a turnover on downs from the Packers’ 7 on their opening drive.

That level of offensive efficiency should result in more scoring in the long run. Hopefully that long run kicks in in the second half. Over 32.5 (-115) at DraftKings is the live bet.

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.

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