The phrases “if and when” became “when and “if” at New Jersey sportsbooks on Sunday during NFL Week 14. When a wager earlier in the week determined if there was a payout in some of the league’s most action-packed games.
Bettors who time their wagers resembled investors waiting for the right moment to buy stocks.
Timing played a prevalent role in the Cincinnati Bengals–Cleveland Browns tilt.
The Bengals dominated midweek betting at the DraftKings Sportsbook at +8.5, but when the line moved to 6.5 on Sunday, Browns’ bettors swooped in with heavier action.
Early Bengals and late-Browns money were rewarded in Cleveland’s 8-point, 27-19 victory. The Bengals kicked a field goal with 12 seconds left to bail out the early Cincinnati gamblers, but not those who bet the Bengals at +6.5 on Sunday.
The New Orleans Saints-San Francisco 49ers blockbuster, the game of the year, had several potential payouts determined by a couple of plays in the final minute. The line moved all week between New Orleans, giving 2.5 points and then 0.5 at the PlaySugarHouse Sportsbook, with the eventual outcome riding on two plays.
On Sunday, the Niners’ last-play 48-46 triumph hinged on the Saints, not converting a 2-point conversion in the final minute. Then on San Francisco tight end George Kittle’s fourth-down, catch-and-run setting up the game-winning field goal for San Francisco as time expired.
Until the Kittle catch, it looked like those who had bet New Orleans at -2.5 were getting burned by the unsuccessful 2-point conversion and those who had taken the Saints at -0.5 were still going to get a win.
Bet timing is something NJ sports betting fans should always consider, and especially as we head into NFL Week 15.
New York Jets: On the money, but no cover
The New York Jets giving 5 points to the Miami Dolphins at DraftKIngs seemed high, which we pointed out in the Week 14 preview. The Jets did not cover against the team that beat them earlier in the season but did secure the moneyline bet via a 1-point win on the final play.
The Jets gave the Dolphins a dose of their own medicine: the field goal. Miami placekicker Jason Sanders kicked an astonishing seven, count’em, seven field goals, to account for all of Miami’s scoring in the game. But the Jets parlayed a late pass-interference call into a field goal attempt and drilled it home on the final play to prevail by 1 point.
The trends: Often your friend
Bettors could see the handwriting on the wall when wagering sentiment for the Kansas City Chiefs hit 65% for them as a 3-point underdog against the host New England Patriots at the FanDuel Sportsbook. The Chiefs won outright, 23-16, snapping New England’s 21-game home win streak.
The Baltimore Ravens, now the class of the AFC at 11-2, took more than three-quarters of the money across most sportsbooks as a 6.5-point favorite in Buffalo and slid home by seven, 24-17.
PlaySugarHouse reported that four of its top backed teams played on the road this week. One of them was the Pittsburgh Steelers taking in more than 80% support according to Matt Stetz, the COO of Rush Street Interactive, which in addition to its NJ sportsbook app, operates in two additional states:
Pittsburgh nipped the Arizona Cardinals 23-17 as a 2.5-point pick. The Steelers advanced to 8-5 and, very quietly outside its geographic area, have won seven of the last eight. They are thriving with a third-string quarterback, Devlin Hodges, and keep overcoming injuries to win.
Stetz also listed Kansas City and Baltimore as heavily backed teams at his establishment.
Rams looking forward
The Los Angeles Rams are reawakened. The offensive line is blocking for quarterback Jared Goff, opening holes for Todd Gurley and letting Goff find his crisscrossing receivers. Tight-end blocking helped immensely on Sunday night as the Rams won their second straight, impressively, besting the Seattle Seahawks 28-12.
Some sharp bettors were all over the idea that this game laid right for the Rams. Los Angeles needed the game and Seattle had not lost on the road this season. Rams bettors took the game from Seattle -2.5 to a pick’em at DraftKings, a huge line swing.
There was significant public sentiment for Seattle when betting on the NFL in Week 14, practically 80% across the books, but the Rams played for the second straight week with confidence. This is the best they have looked since early season, and they will need to duplicate this effort to finish the season against:
- Dallas Cowboys
- San Francisco 49ers
- Arizona Cardinals
The Rams are one game out of the playoffs and will compete with desperation going forward.
Bears are confident but challenged
Another team that’s found its stride is the Chicago Bears, who suddenly have four recent wins over the Detroit Lions (twice), New York Giants and, most recently, the Dallas Cowboys.
They have a tough schedule down the stretch but at least have regained confidence. Rediscovering receiver Allen Robinson has been a catalyst for those tracking player props at the sportsbooks.
Respect the Washington Redskins who covered for the third straight week by losing only 20-15 against the Green Bay Packers. The three-win ‘Skins figure to play tough against the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys down the stretch. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins is giving them a new sense of purpose.
The Tennessee Titans, a team I’ve been riding the last month because of their excellent offensive-line blocking, which improved to 8-5 with a convincing 42-21 road victory against the Oakland Raiders.
The Titans were giving 2.5 points on the William Hill Sportsbook line. Ryan Tannehill is 6-1 quarterbacking this team after replacing Marcus Mariota and running back Derrick Henry is having a dream season.
The Titans have two straight road victories and have pulled even with the Houston Texans atop the AFC South. They will also settle the division with two games against the Texans in the final three weeks.
The trend is not always your friend.
Denver delivers a shocker
So, the Houston Texans had just rolled past the New England Patriots last week and were a 9.5-point pick at home, according to PlaySugarHouse in New Jersey. Time to roll as a big favorite, right?
Not so fast said the Denver Broncos, who pummeled them 38-24 in a game that wasn’t even close.
The Broncos provided the shock of the day and perhaps the season at PlaySugarHouse, despite getting only 6% if the spread and the moneyline bets. How’s that for a parlay buster?
In the Week 14 preview, we noted Denver was having seven games decided by less than a touchdown, so 9.5 was a big number. Those who wagered upon that pattern were rewarded.
A surprising aspect of the Carolina Panthers–Atlanta Falcons contest was the coaching change that did not help Carolina.
The Panthers were still respected as a 3.5-point underdog at FanDuel against Atlanta. Unfortunately, they fell apart in the 40-20 loss, their fifth straight loss. Atlanta covered as a favorite for the first time this year and had more than 60% of public support. The Falcons finally conformed with the betting expectations of the majority.