We have what felt like another stench of a Thursday Night Football game, this time with the undefeated Eagles taking on the Texans to a win. Philadelphia is favored by about 14 points.
But as Al Michaels reminded viewers ahead of Thursday’s game, anything can happen in the NFL. And at halftime we have a ball game ourselves.
On the plus side, this one has created very clear live betting scenarios – not necessarily based on the pace stats we normally mine, but due to the way both teams typically approach games.
Here’s how we bet live Eagles-Texans on Thursday Night Football.
The live bet we made on Thursday Night Football
Houston Keeps It Close: LIVE BET MADE
In case Houston could keep this one competitive, our focus was going to be on top.
Given what we know about Philadelphia – that they will attack until they form a comfortable lead – the rough assumption was that the Eagles wanted to go up at least three scores before slowing things down.
Therefore, in a perfect world, the total would fall to less than the Texans score +21. This is not an absolute rule, however.
While that’s a bit scary given the relatively slow pace of this game so far, this game lines up perfectly with our first-half takeover analysis. Unfortunately, we came to a tight game with Houston’s offense exceeding expectations rather than their defense. That took the total to 51 heading into the second half.
We’re betting Philadelphia’s second-half scoring average so far this season is weak due to big leads — which they don’t have tonight — rather than offensive struggles. Seems like a safe bet to make, and we sprinkle a little something on a live bet over 51 total points.
And remember, we’re not alone in live betting on the NFL’s biggest primetime island games. At halftime on Thursday and Monday night football each week, my predictive analytics colleague Nick Giffen is live on “Bet What Happens Live With Dr. Nick!”
The other live betting scenario we were watching
The Eagles control the game
Almost every Eagles game this season has followed a similar script. Philadelphia plays aggressively in the first half, scoring runs and taking a decisive lead. Their 21-point average in the first half leads the NFL by a wide margin; they average just seven points per game in the second half.
Then, once they have a comfortable lead, they play ball control football all the way behind their excellent offensive line. This is reflected in their pace stats. They rank second in pace of play in the first half and 31st in the second half.
Therefore, most of the points scored in the second half should come from their opponent. That didn’t seem likely this week, with an already miserable Texas offense set to play without top wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Houston ranks 31st in offensive DVOA in this game.
All things considered, that would have been a pretty clear sub-scenario at or around halftime.
Our approach to live betting in general
The NFL is perfect for live betting, with the breaks between games providing plenty of time to bet. This season, I’ve built a model to project the pace of play in a variety of game scenarios. These include first vs. second half, as well as which team is leading or when the game is under of a touchdown.
The main advantage concerns the totals of the bets. If the game is going to be faster or slower than expected before the game, the application is obvious. Faster games tend to produce more points.
Player accessories also present interesting opportunities. Sports betting offers a variety of props for live players, and faster or slower than expected games create obvious opportunities.
Take a look at various books before placing any bets, however. There is usually more variation between stores in live markets than there is before the game.
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