While three weeks into the NFL season is still way too early to make rash judgments about any team, it’s easy to see the divide from the top of the heap to the bottom of the barrel.
In almost mirror imaging, there are eight teams that are undefeated and seven teams still looking for their first win.
Of the eight unbeaten teams, only one is led by rookie head coach Matt LaFleur in Green Bay. But the jury is still out, in my opinion, on the Packers.
After opening the season on Thursday in Chicago, the Packers will play five of their next six games at home, which really helps. While Aaron Rodgers touts that “we have defense,” the Packers defense is 20th overall.
So, things aren’t at all what they seem … at least not yet. NFL’s Week 4 could be the tipping point, but even then, there are a lot of factors still in flux.
The new kids (coaches) on the block
LaFleur, for example, was touted and hired as an offensive guru after years of perceived stale “Mike McCarthyism.” But LaFleur triggered an offense that is a head-scratching 28th in the NFL, just ahead of the lowly Dolphins and injury-riddled Jets.
On the winless side, there are several rookie head coaches still looking to taste their first NFL victory, including Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona, Brian Flores in Miami, Zac Taylor in Cincinnati, and Vic Fangio in Denver.
Speaking of Fangio, he was hired by Broncos general manager John Elway as a defensive genius after helping to build the Bears into a defensive force over the last several years.
Incredibly, after three games, the Broncos defense has yet to record a single sack or interception. Simply amazing.
It will be intriguing to see how these rookie coaches progress and mature, as well as how some of them will be able to keep a locker room together if the losses and frustrations begin to mount.
NFL betting: Week 1 vs. Week 4
But heading into Week 4, I still have five other teams (Jets, Bengals, Redskins, Broncos, and Steelers) with a chance to go 0-16. The Cardinals, with a tie, don’t factor in as they could only finish 0-15-1.
In any case, its time to make some bets (if you haven’t already). There are 10 retail and 17 mobile apps available in New Jersey, which may seem to make things easy for you. But the more variety, the harder it is to find the best bet.
Each week, my column highlights up to three New Jersey sportsbooks and takes a deeper dive into the promos, props and specials that you should be aware of heading into the weekend’s NFL football action.
William Hill gives you the basics
You won’t find a lot of bells and whistles on the William Hill NJ app. From my perspective, they have a “stick to the basics” approach in terms of betting offerings.
While, for example, the PointsBet NJ menu for Thursday’s Eagles versus Packers game offers 200 betting markets, William Hill has a relatively compact menu of 45.
It’s rather lean from a prop perspective, but that’s OK if you aren’t looking to stray beyond the basic plays for the game:
While very limited in total, there are some unique props offered around turnovers and punts for Thursday’s Eagles-Packers game:
While the William Hill pregame NFL wagering menu is limited, “America’s #1 Sports Book” has made a noticeable improvement as it relates to football promotional offers.
Here is the “Trifecta Sweep” specifically for Monday night’s games:
Then there is the “First 6” promo related to the first TD scorer in a game:
Currently, there is a special bonus for any in-play live bets: a 5% bonus on $200 and a “cheeky” 4% if you wager $2,500:
Standard NFL fare at BetAmerica
Now, if you thought that the William Hill sportsbook app had a narrow wagering menu on offer, then BetAmerica is “The Thin Man.”
The current BetAmerica menu for Eagles versus Packers is 27 markets. And it’s very standard stuff, with full game and first half moneyline, spreads and totals:
To be fair, BetAmerica does offer some limited player props:
And there is one NFL promo offered by BetAmerica NJ as it relates to Thursday NFL games:
The other promo of note is generic albeit generous: a “Bet $5 get $20” offer:
And yet, it’s hard not to wonder about BetAmerica’s approach here.
I’ve referenced in the past just how few NJ online sportsbooks tailor their promos and bets to New Jersey players. The frustrating part of the BetAmerica app is that it doesn’t even feel “American” let alone “local New Jersey.”
My comparison is that BetAmerica gives you the impression of what it must be like to be a US sports fan wagering on the games from the UK or Europe.
For example, the Thursday night Eagles-Packers game is listed as a Friday 2:20 a.m. start, which would also be the local time in Europe with Sunday afternoon games starting at “1900”:
On BetAmerica, there’s a strong Euro-influence as games are “matches,” standings are “tables” and schedules are “fixtures.” OK, mate:
It’s interesting to look at the NFL current “table” on BetAmerica. It’s presented in much the same way I might expect to look at the current English Premier League (soccer) standings:
Currently, Miami, Washington and the NY Jets are at the bottom of the table and would be in the “relegation zone” in English soccer parlance.
However, unlike other sportsbooks, BetAmerica does offer some stats around each matchup. But it’s a stats dump with limited relevance to the upcoming game to be played.
Here, the BetAmerica stats window provides “all-time” stats on the Eagles versus Packers meetings since 1933, which has no impact on the Thursday night game in 2019:
There’s also a tracker showing the team’s performance in their last six games.
This will be more relevant later in the season, but right now it’s not meaningful to compare performance when the look back includes three preseason games in August:
Plenty of NFL betting action at DraftKings
DraftKings Sportsbook has already established themselves as a market leader, offering a wide assortment of lines, parlays, and props for every game to New Jersey sports bettors.
I wanted to take a moment to highlight some other NFL-related contests and promos that DK currently has on offer.
One of the top options is this one: DraftKings $1 Million Super Pool.
The deadline is this Sunday at 1 p.m. EST to buy your entry. With 14 weeks left in the season, the contest requires 70 picks to be made (against published DraftKings’ spreads) over the next 14 weeks (or an average of five games per week). The entry fee is $500:
For those looking at somewhat lower stakes, DraftKings offers weekly pools that offer both “pick ‘em straight up” or “against the spread” formats.
Here is a spread pool for this weekend with a $10 entry:
DraftKings Sportsbook app also has several football promotions including a payout if the team you have bet on scores 24 points and loses as well as parlay insurance on five-leg parlays:
Always looking to do things differently, DraftKings recently added a new feature for in-play wagering.
For select games and at select times, you can bet on the outcome of each drive, which can make even the most mundane NFL matchup quite a bit more interesting:
Well played, DraftKings, for continuing to innovate and push the NJ sports betting market boundaries.
The local line: Eagles vs. Packers
In looking ahead to the local NY/NJ teams in Week 4, here are the current lines as of Thursday, Sept. 25 via DraftKings:
- Giants -3 (-104) versus Redskins; total of 49
- Eagles +4 (-106) at Packers (Thursday Night); total of 45.5
- Jets: Bye week (next game is Oct. 6 at Eagles)
NFL betting picks from the Jersey side
It was three winning sides for me last Sunday, with both the Colts and Packers covering at home.
The Bills moved to a surprising 3-0 start after scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to beat the Bengals, but they failed to cover as 6-point favorites, giving me a 2-1 record last week:
My Week 3 recap
Last week 2-1, Season YTD 6-3
- Broncos at Packers -8 (Packers 27, Broncos 16)
- Falcons at Colts -2 (Colts 27, Falcons 24)
- Bengals at Bills -6 (Bills 21, Bengals 17)
NFL Week 4 picks
Thankfully, there are no 20-point spreads on the board like last week, but the Dolphins are back at home getting 16.5 points from the LA Chargers.
Here’s what I like:
Steelers -4 over Bengals
The Steelers are staring at an uncharacteristic 0-3 record to start the season.
Their offense, under Big Ben replacement Mason Rudolph, did show flickers of potency last weekend in their loss to San Francisco. They desperately need a win at home against division rival Cincinnati to keep their season from being completely written off.
Falcons -4 over Titans
The Tennessee Titans offense looked miserable last Thursday in Jacksonville. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was scrambling for his life on many occasions.
The Atlanta Falcons defensive line can also bring the heat, and their entire team gets a positive boost when they are on their Mercedes Benz home turf.
Colts -7 over Raiders
The Colts stay at home and look to improve upon their surprising 2-1 record against a 1-2 Raider team that has quickly come back down to Earth after beating (still winless) the Broncos at home in week 1.
Look for Marlon Mack to run effectively against a Raiders defense that is banged up, especially at linebacker.