How We Bet Live Thursday Night Football


NFL Week 10 Thursday brought us a division clash between the NFC South rivals, as the Falcons (tied) for first place look to keep pace with the division with a victory over the last place of the Panthers.

Carolina is running a pretty blatant tank this season, firing its head coach and trading star running back Christian McCaffrey. Yet they were still only 2.5 point underdogs.

That told us a lot about the expected quality of football. On the plus side, this one had obvious live betting scenarios and could also be a good choice for player props.

The live bet we made on Thursday Night Football

Unders with a Panthers lead

Either leadership team is a bit of a challenge here. Atlanta ranks 32nd in pace when it’s up seven or more… and 32nd when it’s down seven or more. Therefore, it is up to the Panthers to dictate any speeding up or slowing down of the flow of the game.

Fortunately, they provide an opportunity. They rank 26th in pace of play when increased by seven or more, despite ranking top 10 both overall and in neutral.

They’re also the bottom running team by DVOA, so the Panthers moving to a heavier offense should reduce the game’s overall offensive effectiveness. On the Atlanta side, they’re a better running team — and would throw (in theory at least) more when playing from behind.

Considering we’re getting both a slower pace and less projected efficiency, that’s a pretty clear spot. Let’s hope Carolina takes the lead with some quick scores, pushing the pre-game number up.

While we were hoping Carolina’s lead would accompany a higher score, they’re still up double digits heading into halftime. They also get the ball to start the second half, so we can be relatively confident this game will be played with them in the lead for the immediate future.

Therefore, the under-36.5 line at Caesars is the game. It would take 24 points in the second half to get past – in a game where the total was just 42.

However, it’s also reasonable to wait and see how the Panthers’ first drive plays out in the second half. If they score again, there could be an even better number posted.

The other live betting situation we were monitoring

Second half – Especially in a tight game

Given the state of these offenses, taking any type of overbet is a scary proposition, but stick with us here. First, both teams have played around two seconds faster in the second halves of games this season.

While this (especially for the Panthers) is largely due to them normally falling behind in the second half, it can’t be a negative game scenario for either team.

If the total has dropped significantly from the pre-game 42 or so, the more is worth factoring into most game scripts. However, what we’re really looking for is close competition .

Both teams’ pace in close games is about three seconds faster than their neutral pace. This tells us that they are both slowing down more than usual with a lead and speeding up less than usual when playing from behind.

The idea is that the pre-game total (inadvertently) adjusts to the neutral pacing of both teams’ situation – since overall it’s a neutral script. Given that both teams are expected to get past that in a tight game, it creates opportunities on top.

Of course, we have to weigh how long we expect this one to stay close. If the leading team is set up to have back-to-back practices before and after halftime, this is a situation to avoid (because they could walk away). We will also, as always, be looking to get a better line than the pre-game 42, ideally one in the 30s.

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!”

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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