NFL Playoffs: How We’re Live Betting the Wild Card Round on Saturday
Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images. Pictured: Austin Ekeler.
It’s the NFL Wild Card Round, which means plenty of live betting opportunities. The NFL Playoffs schedule works out well for live bets, with only one game happening at a time and a full season of data for each team.
That means reasonably predictable tendencies, which helps us tremendously when evaluating spots as they come up.
We’ve had two games to dig into on Saturday. Here’s how we’ve approached live betting each of them.
The Live Bets to Watch For on Wild Card Saturday
Jaguars-Chargers: Unders If the Chargers Lead, Overs Otherwise — LIVE BET MADE
Not to be too much of a downer, but we’re expecting a lower-scoring contest in the night game, primarily because of the defensive splits of both teams.
Jacksonville is an extreme pass funnel with a solid rushing defense. Los Angeles is the inverse. That meant a big Chargers lead would tilt both teams toward the wrong side of their strengths here. Jacksonville passing more and Los Angeles running more was the ideal set up when rooting against points.
With the Chargers favored — albeit slightly — this was the main scenario we’d be watching for.
Thanks to Trevor Lawrence, we have that situation early. The Chargers’ 10-0 lead off of two Lawrence interceptions pushed the live total to 49.5, and we’ll take that live under. The defensive splits we talked about above should come into play, and it’s unlikely we’ll continue to see such a high rate of turnovers creating scoring opportunities.
On the other hand, if this stayed close past halftime or the Jaguars took the lead, over bets could have been in play. We were a bit wary of betting on the Chargers passing offense without Mike Williams — who is missing the game due to coaching malpractice — but they still have weapons available.
One of the beauties of live betting is getting to see how teams look before making a wager. If Los Angeles appears to be moving the ball well through the air, that certainly helps the cause.
Keep an eye out throughout the night game Saturday, as we could potentially take multiple bets here if the line moves the right way, setting up a middle situation.
The Live Bet We Made Earlier on Saturday
Seahawks-Niners: Unders With San Francisco in Front — LIVE BET MADE
While I suppose the headline should have probably said “if” rather than “once,” San Francisco was nearly a ten-point favorite for their first round matchup against Seattle.
This was the third meeting this season between the NFC West rivals, with the 49ers winning both prior matchups. Additionally, in each game, both teams combined for exactly 34 points — but the total here was 42.
That meant we should be leaning under anyway, but especially once the 49ers got a considerable lead. Seattle ranks 13th in pace when trailing (compared to eighth with a lead), and the 49ers come in at 30th when up by seven or more. They’re an extremely run heavy team, especially when playing with Brock Purdy — originally their third string quarterback.
This was really more about catching an elevated number than anything else, though — and we got just that opportunity when the Niners took a 10-0 lead early, when we jumped on a live under of 46.5.
San Francisco’s defense had shown why they’re the league’s best unit early in this one, forcing consecutive 3-and-outs from the Seahawks. We expected their offense would slow down a bit up double digits — and 68-yard McCaffrey runs aren’t exactly sustainable.
This was exactly what we were looking for pregame, and we were getting it nice and early. Seattle bounced back and made the game competitive, though, and by the time the Niners were comfortably out in front once again, this game had already gone over.
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.