The annual NFL media feeding frenzy that is schedule-release day has not arrived yet, but that hasn’t slowed down the sportsbooks one bit. Many of them recently unveiled their lines for each team’s 2019 win total, and in the legal sports betting expansion era, that’s worth its own media feeding frenzy.
(And NJ Online Gambling will gladly take part in it.)
In New Jersey, some of the prominent books, like FanDuel Sportsbook and BetStars, are taking their time — maybe waiting for the actual schedule to come out in the next week or two. But at least two popular sportsbooks decided they don’t need to know exactly which games are happening which weeks, as DraftKings Sportsbook and PointsBet both have lines for all 32 teams.
A bettor should prefer to operate with as much information as possible before risking money, but then again, each team’s opponents, home and away, have been announced. We also know that the Kickoff Game is Packers at Bears on Sept. 5, that the Patriots will host a Sunday night game in Week 1, and that the Jaguars, Chargers, Rams, Raiders, and Buccaneers will all lose a home game to play on international soil.
That’s all the information we have as of April 8. Sure, it might be helpful to know if a team has a short week in there somewhere, or a tough game against an elite team that’s coming off a bye. But for some sportsbooks and some NFL bettors, why wait when you can get the action started now?
Different lines at different books
As is always the case with sports betting, if you’re only doing business at one book, you’re doing it wrong. Just looking at two mobile sportsbooks in New Jersey, we see that out of 32 teams, a staggering 15 of them have variations in their win totals between the two books.
In 12 of those 15 cases, the difference is only a half-game. We say “only,” not because a half-game is insignificant; one cash that would have been a push or one push that would have been a loss can have a noticeable impact on your bankroll. Rather, we say “only” because there are three teams whose totals are off by a full game between DK and PB:
- Carolina Panthers: 7 wins at DraftKings, 8 at PointsBet
- Cincinnati Bengals: 5 wins at DraftKings, 6 at PointsBet
- Detroit Lions: 6 wins at DraftKings, 7 at PointsBet
The prices swing along with the win totals, as you might expect. For example, if you’re betting over or under 6 wins on the Lions at DK, you’re paying $110 to win $100 on either side. But if you go over 7 wins at PB, you’ll get $119 for your $100 bet, and if you want the under, you’ll pay $145 to win $100.
In any case, there’s a half-game difference in win totals for the Bills, Browns (the most talked-about team this offseason, and, at some books, the most wagered-on team when it comes to futures), Cowboys, Broncos, Chargers, Dolphins, Vikings, Giants, Jets, 49ers, Titans, and Redskins.
As always: It pays to shop around.
5 overs we like
Baltimore Ravens over 8.5: The quarterback debate is over, as Joe Flacco has been jettisoned to Denver; this is Lamar Jackson’s team now, and he’s not a rookie anymore. The Ravens won 10 games last year, and even with some defensive personnel changes, they shouldn’t drop down by two wins.
Chicago Bears over 9.5: This drop off in the line is much harder to figure than the Ravens’ total. Chicago won 12 games last season, the defense doesn’t figure to get any less elite, and QB Mitchell Trubisky should continue to improve.
Houston Texans over 8.5: At PointsBet, the over is up to -115, and it makes perfect sense that bettors are hammering this one. Even if the AFC South is improving, the Texans, who finished 11-5 last year despite an ugly 0-3 start, remain a team on the rise. (And a favorite longshot Super Bowl pick of a lot of sharps.)
Kansas City Chiefs over 10.5: For all his playoff failures, Andy Reid is as reliable a regular-season coach as there is. Sure, some bettors will want to wait until they know whether a Tyreek Hill suspension could be coming. But realistically, as long as Patrick Mahomes stays healthy, the Chiefs are a near-lock for 11 or more victories.
Los Angeles Chargers over 9.5: The line at PointsBet is 10, but at DraftKings it’s 9½, and that’s worth pouncing on, even at the current -115 juice. There’s just too much talent on this team that won 12 games a season ago, and while there are some veteran QBs who showed signs last year that the wall is approaching (see our “5 unders” section), Philip Rivers wasn’t one of them.
5 unders we like
Green Bay Packers under 9: No, Aaron Rodgers is not one of those veteran QBs who’s been showing his age. But he’s now 35 and staying healthy is always a challenge for him. So slippage is certainly possible. The Packers look like a .500-ish team with a line that’s slightly inflated based on them being a “public” team, Rodgers being a superstar, and widespread excitement over the team being coached by Not Mike McCarthy.
Los Angeles Rams under 10.5: The so-called “Super Bowl Hangover” can apply to either winners or losers of the big game, and the Rams are a great candidate for regression. Putting up a mere three points in the Super Bowl had to shake the confidence of both Sean McVay and Jared Goff a little, and who knows if Todd Gurley, he of the supposedly arthritic left knee, will ever be Todd Gurley again.
New England Patriots under 11: We know, we know. Don’t bet against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, especially when they play six games against the AFC East. But they “only” won 11 games last year, Brady was showing his age in the Super Bowl (it was almost a Peyton-Manning-leading-the-Broncos-to-the-title-esque performance), and he will be forty-frickin’-two when the season starts. The run has to end sometime, right? Right?
New York Jets under 7.5: Yes, this four-win team from 2018 appears to be headed in the right direction. But whereas PointsBet has them at a reasonable 7, DK has them all the way up at 7.5, possibly taking into account the local betting market in New Jersey. That opens up value for people in the Garden State who bet with their heads and not their hearts.
Pittsburgh Steelers under 9: Even more so than Brady, Ben Roethlisberger feels like the QB ready to go full Shaq-on-the-Celtics on us. His numbers were still solid last season, but you could see signs of the hits catching up with him, and he’s now 37 and without Antonio Brown (not to mention Le’Veon Bell). The Steelers went 2-4 down the stretch last year to miss the playoffs, and they aren’t about to reverse that momentum.
Photo by Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com
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