NFL Live Betting Week 2: How We Live Bet Monday Night Football
Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Allen.
We were gifted with a special Week 2 Monday Night Football slate, with two games and plenty of opportunities for live betting.
The NFL is perfect for live betting, with the pauses between plays providing time to get bets in. This season, I’ve built a model to project the pace of play under a variety of in-game scenarios. These include first vs. second half, as well as which team is leading or when the game is within a touchdown.
The primary benefit is for betting totals. If the game is going to be faster or slower than was assumed pregame, the application is obvious. Faster-paced games tend to produce more points.
Player props also present some interesting opportunities. Sportsbooks are offering a variety of live player props, and faster or slower than expected games create obvious live betting chances.
Take a long look around various books before placing bets, though. There tends to be more variation between shops in live markets than there is pregame.
So with that in mind, here are the NFL Live Betting angles and scenarios we were keeping an eye on in Titans-Bills and Vikings Eagles, plus the live bets we made and how they played out.
The NFL Week 2 Live Bets We Made on Monday Night Football
Titans-Bills Live Betting Scenario: Bills Control the Game — LIVE BET MADE
This was of course the likeliest scenario pregame, with Buffalo favored by 10 or so points, and it was the one that gave us our first live betting opportunity on Monday night.
As we pointed out last week, Buffalo is notable for continuing to lean on the pass when they're ahead — thereby increasing the average pace. This runs contrary to most teams, who are happier to take a less aggressive approach with the lead. As expected, the best-case scenario from a pace standpoint is the Bills out in front by at least seven points.
Ideally, we were looking for that to come with a reduction from the 47.5-point total we're currently seeing, which would set us up for a live bet on the scoring total. A 7-0 Buffalo lead in the later part of the first quarter would have fit the bill, but any scenario where we see a total of 45 or less with Buffalo leading in the first half would do it for me.
With 5:10 remaining in the second quarter, during a TV timeout, we got our opportunity. FanDuel had a live total of 44.5, whereas most other shops had it at 45 or 45.5, with even a 46.5 or two out there. The combination of a Bills lead, the live total dipping below 45 and a better line than the rest of the market made this — over 44.5 — a quality live bet for us.
Of course, there's nothing quite like cashing a live bet like this in the third quarter, but that's just what we did when the Bills took a 41-7 lead.
We were also showing pregame value on over Josh Allen pass attempts in our props tool. This one was a bit more nuanced; if books shifted the live line down significantly thanks to a Bills lead, I was looking for opportunities to get in.
At half, Josh Allen pass attempts over/under was still only 34.5. Our pregame projections had him at 35.5, and he already has 23 at the half. This was a perfect situation to take advantage of the Bills' tendency to continue to pass even with a lead, so we'll sprinkle a bit on Allen over 34.5 pass attempts.
Allen and the Bills made this one easy for us, with the Buffalo QB registering his 35th pass with more than 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Eagles-Vikings Live Betting Scenario:Eagles Take the Lead — LIVE BET MADE
This game was a bit trickier to figure out. Minnesota has a new coaching staff, and the Eagles — in theory at least — could be more pass-focused with the addition of AJ Brown.
It didn't quite work out that way for the Eagles in Week 1, but they had a commanding lead for most of the second half. They also still scored 14 second-half points, while allowing 21.
Fortunately for our Vikings analysis, new head coach Kevin O'Connell was the Rams offensive coordinator last season. The Rams ranked third in pace when trailing in 2021, with Minnesota ranking fourth. Minnesota was never down by seven or more in Week 1, so 2021 stats make up the entirety of the analysis here.
Either way you slice it, the Vikings should play fast while trailing. Given the Eagles' struggles with holding a lead in Week 1, that seemed like it would set us up nicely for betting overs.
But then reality settled in, as the Eagles dominated the Vikings in the first half. While Minnesota attempting to play fast while trailing is well and good, if they can't move the ball enough to keep possession, Philly should be able to run the clock down effectively. It's hard to see Minnesota putting up enough offense down the stretch to go over 55.5, and the Eagles have little motivation to put Jalen Hurts in harms way in a three score game. So we're on under 55.5 on the live scoring total at DraftKings, which cashed with relative ease.
And when it comes to live betting the NFL primetime games, we're not alone! At halftime of each Thursday Night and Monday Night Football game, my predictive analytics colleague Dr. Nick Giffen is sharing his thought process and insight on "Bet What Happens Live With Dr. Nick!". Make sure to give it a watch for live, up-to-the second analysis.
Dr. Nick's first halftime live bet was on Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie to go over 36.5 receiving yards. While that might have seemed odd with Buffalo leading by double digits, Dr. Nick's analysis lined up with what we said about the Bills above.
Midway through the third quarter, McKenzie tallied his 37th receiving yard on the night, meaning we'll cash this one assuming he doesn't get any negative yardage the rest of the way.
With Tennessee trailing, Dr. Nick's second live bet of the first Monday Night game was over 223.5 passing yards for Ryan Tannehill. It seemed like sound logic … until the Titans rolled over and Tannehill was pulled in the fourth quarter. Too bad.
That was all for halftime of the first game, but Dr. Nick was back for halftime of Vikings-Eagles! It was tough sledding across the board in that one at the break, but we were able to find a couple of valuable live prop bets on running backs, with Dr. Nick placing live bets on Miles Sanders under 60.5 rushing yards and Dalvin Cook over 27.5 rushing yards.
The Other NFL Week 2 Live Betting Scenario We Were Prepared For on Monday Night Football
Titans-Bills: Tennessee Lead (or a Close Game)
This is where I'd have been looking to bet unders, especially if the Titans lead with a ton of early scoring. They will be more than happy to play ball control and keep Josh Allen off the field if playing from in front.
Obviously, this works the opposite of Buffalo leading. We'll be looking for totals into the 50s, with the Titans up by seven or more.
There's a similar (but lessened) effect in a close game, which I'm only interested in if we see an astronomical total posted. So far, we've only gotten to 55.5, at least as far as I've seen. But we're watching.
I will likely avoid flipping my analysis on Josh Allen in this case, as going against the pregame value usually isn't my cup of tea. The Bills will likely be throwing often regardless of what's happening on the scoreboard, barring a total blowout.
I will consider going the other way on Henry, though, if he's both running effectively and his first half carries are lower than expected. Essentially, I want a live number well below his 21.5 carries pregame line, as well as a Titans lead, before considering that.
Vikings-Eagles: Minnesota Leads
My primary interest with Minnesota leading is in the player props market. This game should play at a roughly neutral pace with the Vikings in front, but there are some play-calling tendencies to exploit.
Our best pregame value is on Alexander Mattison rushing yards, over 17.5. Mattison handled eight carries last week in a game the Vikings led by at least a touchdown for the final 50 minutes.
He didn't see his first carry until the second quarter, though, and five of the eight came in the second half. Therefore, we could be able to get a better number on his prop if the line drops, which I'll take advantage of if the Vikings are in the lead.
We also like the over on Jalen Hurts rushing attempts. This one probably works opposite to the traditional thinking, which is teams will run more while leading. While that's the case, many of Hurts' attempts are called dropbacks, causing him to take off.
If the live betting models from the sportsbooks fail to take this into account, we could see a significant dip in his 8.5 line on rushing attempts. Hopefully (for the sake of this market), Hurts has only two or so carries in the first half, with the Eagles behind at half time.