How we bet live on the Sunday slate


The NFL Week 5 Sunday slate was interesting from a live betting perspective. There were a handful of games that could present clear value in specific circumstances – or project to play at a fairly neutral pace in other situations.

This week, I went through all the scenarios that I monitor. 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 long look around various books before placing bets, however. There is usually more variation between stores in live markets than there is before the game.

The live bet we made for Sunday Night Football

The Ravens were slight favorites as they host the Bengals tonight, so we’ll start with scenarios where they control the game. This would be a pretty obvious situation to take live unders, and here’s why:

The Bengals (both in 2021 and this season) don’t really speed things up when they’re trailing. This season, they rank 20th in overall pace, 12th in a neutral situation… and 29th when playing from behind.

Add to that the Ravens’ desire and ability to run the ball, and we have a recipe for a game that’s played out slowly overall. This is my favorite angle, as split matches tend to be on the lower scoring side anyway.

This is another place where I will be very quick to pull the trigger. Any time the total is over the pre-game 47.5 and the Ravens are seven or more ahead — even if it’s on the first drive — I shoot.

We almost got there near the start of the first quarter, when Baltimore’s first touchdown gave the Ravens a 10-0 lead. But that was only part of the recipe; the total hasn’t moved enough for our liking, given Cincinnati’s lack of goals so far. And it’s hard to play less when the last drive was under 3 minutes of possession.

I decided to try and hold another score, hopefully from the Ravens. I guess they will want more of a 10 point lead before they start to slow down.

On the other hand, I was interested in betting more if the Bengals managed to take the lead or if the game got relatively close. The Bengals — who rank 20th in overall pace this season — are 14th with a lead and sixth in close games.

Baltimore had run no games while trailing by seven or more this year. However, in 2021, it was by far their fastest division. This game should be relatively action-packed until the Ravens take the lead.

Since my pre-game lean is under the total, I’ll be a little pickier on this one. I want a considerable drop from the opening total of 47.5 and signs of life from both offenses before jumping.

At the two-minute warning, it was a three-point game with the trailing Bengals about to receive a punt. Given that the total had dropped to 42.5 at BetMGM, that lined up perfectly with my pre-game thoughts. We will resume live. Baltimore wins the ball back to start the second half; if they are able to stop the Bengals before halftime and then score on their own, we will look at under bets again, hopefully a higher number, creating a middle situation.

The live bets we made earlier in week 5 on Sunday

Bears-Vikings: Overs in a close game

This angle was quite simple. The Vikings are in the middle of the pack with a lead of seven or more, but play much faster (relative to league average) when trailing or in close games. This is a team that is content to run out of time when the game script allows, but will open up the passing offense to achieve that lead.

Also, the Bears’ rushing offense has actually been strong this season, so if they can drop their 32nd-ranked passing offense in a positive play scenario, that’s a good thing for the overall scoring environment. .

Our props tool has also shown value at receptions by Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn, among others. In the somewhat unlikely scenario where the Bears force an increase in the Vikings’ success rate, the value of these types of bets increases dramatically.

The Bears closed within two at the end of the third quarter, triggering the scenario I was looking for. The live total was 50 at DraftKings, so we need less than two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Even if Chicago doesn’t contribute, Minnesota will likely stay aggressive until they come back up by a second score. Let’s take the top of that total.

With a final score of 29-22, this one ends up in the win column, even just barely.

Eagles-Cardinals: Ended after leaning under pre-game

It was an interesting game to break down from a live perspective. The Eagles lead the league in scoring in the first half, but sit 29th in the second half – largely because they controlled games so well they didn’t need to push any further.

Arizona had averaged just four points in the first half going into this one, by far the league’s worst mark. However, they are on 16.5 points in the second half, which only trails the Lions for the highest rating.

My lean was on the underside, particularly if the first half was higher. I trusted the Eagles offense to control the ball if they got the lead.

While I was hoping to find an undergarment that I would like, that was not the case in the end. Instead, we’re going to watch a live over.

The line dipped slightly to 47 at PointsBet before the second half. Both teams moved the ball well, with the trailing Cardinals amassing 198 yards of offense. If they only had a few seconds left on the clock, this game would probably be 14-14. I was expecting the live sports betting total to stay closer to the opening number of 48.5 given the 24 points in total in the first half, but as it went down to 47, the more gets it.

No offense set the world on fire in the second half – or anything close to it – however, and we took an L in a 20-17 Eagles win.

The live betting scenario we were watching in the 1pm ET slate (which didn’t pan out)

Jets-Dolphins: Overs if Miami falls behind

This one was not the most likely scenario, with Miami being favored by three to four points in this one. However, with the loss of Tua Tagovailoa to the Dolphins, that didn’t seem like an impossible situation either.

Overs worked for several reasons here. Pace is what initially caught my attention — so far this season, the Jets are playing at the fastest pace in the second half of games and the second-fastest pace when leading by seven or more. While they weren’t a ton in this latter scenario, they did rack up over 27 minutes of possession with a lead, so the sample size isn’t terribly small.

Moreover, it would make both teams lean towards their offensive strengths. The Dolphins would likely play more heavy passes with a lead, and they rank second in offensive DVOA passing — but only 20th in rushing. The Jets are also much stronger defensively against the run.

On the other side, the Jets were slightly better in the running game than when forced to pitch.

As always, we were looking to get a better number than the opening line of around 45 on the total. And while that scenario played out — with the Dolphins trailing with a significantly lower total at the opening line — we passed on this potential bet live because of Teddy Bridgewater’s departure to Miami. You simply cannot trust a third tier quarterback or the impact on the patterns we use to identify live betting spots.


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