New Jersey Sportsbooks Suffer (A Little) February Chill With $743 Million In Bets

New Jersey sportsbooks took nearly $743 million in February NJ sports betting handle and reported more than $46 million in revenue.

New Jersey sportsbooks took nearly $743 million in wagers in February and reported more than $46 million in revenue.

Both numbers are significantly higher than those from February 2020 (the last full month before pro and college sports shut down), according to data released Tuesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Anchored by $117.4 million in Super Bowl 55 bets, February 2021’s monthly sports betting handle was $248.14 million more than during the same month last year.

And that’s with February 2020 having an extra day because of a Leap Year.

As a result, Garden State sportsbooks reported a year-over-year revenue increase of nearly 244%.

However, February’s total sports betting handle was a drop of nearly $215 million from January’s $958.7 million.

The dip from January is expected. In every year in which New Jersey has offered legal sports betting, February has generated less in total wagers than in January.

Last month’s handle was the state’s lowest total since August.
In December, NJ set a U.S. record with a monthly sports betting handle of $996.3 million.

Online & mobile carries New Jersey sportsbooks, again

Online sports betting accounted for $689.25 million, or nearly 93%, of February’s total handle. That figure is $252.8 million more than the amount online sports gamblers shelled out in February 2020.

The Meadowlands Racetrack (FanDuel Sportsbook/PointsBet NJ) topped the online market again with $24.9 million in gross revenue, down from $41.8 million in January. The license holder reported $27.1 million for the month.

Resorts Digital, led by DraftKings Sportsbook, finished an extremely distant second with $7.7 million, the bulk of which is from online wagering.

“FanDuel and DraftKings have dominated the market since launch, and there really hasn’t been a major change in that dynamic since 2018,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com. “BetMGM is making end roads in other states, including Michigan, but it will take a lot for it to significantly eat into the New Jersey market share of the nation’s two largest operators.”

Retail’s struggles getting lost in the shuffle

Conversely, NJ’s retail sportsbooks took less action in February 2021 compared to last year, even with two additional locations. Last month, NJ’s 12 brick-and-mortar sportsbooks reported a total handle of $53.7 million. In February 2020, with just 10 retail shops, New Jersey sportsbooks handled $58.3 million.

A Parx-branded Sportsbook at Freehold Raceway opened in September 2020, but has yet to drum up much business.

A temporary FanDuel Sportsbook opened at Bally’s Atlantic City in December. Bally’s and FanDuel opened the permanent location this week, just in time for March Madness.

New Jersey sportsbooks ready to celebrate  March Madness

The good news for NJ sportsbooks is that Garden State gamblers love basketball betting. Only football garners more bets in NJ than basketball, according to DGE data.

That means a potential $1 billion monthly sports betting handle is not out of the question.  March Madness betting will be leading the way.

“March Madness is the largest sports betting holiday of the year, and in New Jersey, basketball, in general, tends to draw a lot of action,” said PlayNJ.com analyst Eric Ramsey. “In other words, it’s possible New Jersey could become the nation’s first state to generate more than $1 billion in sports bets in a single month.”

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

 

 

 

How Super Bowl Wagering Kept Bettors Tuned In Until The End

Thanks to NJ sports betting, gamblers stayed interested in a Super Bowl that the TV audience would have otherwise fled in the second half.

NJ Sports betting rescued a non-compelling Super Bowl 55.

Gamblers preserved interest in a game the national television audience would have otherwise fled midway through the third period. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-9 drubbing of the Kansas City Chiefs had drama until the final snap, for bettors only.

New Jersey sports bettors wagered a whopping $117.4 million on the game according to the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

No riveting game, no problem.

Here’s a recap of the eye-openers.

William Hill, Chiefs struggle, bettors rejoice

The Chiefs to score exactly nine points was +15000 or 150 to 1 at William Hill NJ.

The bet survived two fourth quarter red-zone trips. Fortunately for this bettor, Kansas City had to decline easy field goals and pursue touchdowns.

An end zone pick with under two minutes remaining sealed the deal. An astonishingly gutsy, and effective selection. The Chiefs had 38 points in the AFC championship game.

Nine here?

What a call.

By extension, the explosive Chiefs were +6000, or 60-1, to obtain zero touchdowns. This game had an over-under of 56.5. Yes, some end-zone tosses in the fourth quarter had to be sweated out, but this also was wagering genius

Patrick Mahomes not to throw a touchdown was +1500. This was an extraordinarily bold bet, considering Mahomes still had minus numbers to throw three touchdown passes.

Zero?

A great wager. And some New Jersey bettors, according to the books, plunked $1,000 on this long shot.

The exact margin of victory for the Bucs, in the 19 to 24-point range, paid a handsome +2500.This is an extremely difficult margin to hit, even in a high-scoring affair. Accomplishing it with the winning team collecting 31 points was remarkable.

The Bucs to score exactly 31 points returned +1400. A little more realistic in that the Bucs have been coming in right around the 30 number for the last several weeks:

  • 31 against the Washington Football team
  • 30 versus the Orleans Saints,
  • 31 against the Green Bay Packers

And now this. Nonetheless, hitting an exact point total should pay well and it did

Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski’s first touchdown paid out $3.1 million to customers that selected the Tight End in the First TD Scorer market and another $650k for his second score.

Gronk, the human cash register.

DraftKings and Mattress Mack

When it comes to major sporting events, Mattress Mack is usually there to make the highest profile wager.

And Super Bowl 55 was no exception. The bet was $3.46 million on the Bucs at +3.5 after. He flew from Houston to Colorado this time around to place his bet with DraftKings Sportsbook

But New Jersey gamblers bet their own millions at DraftKings.

And they didn’t have to travel like Mack. (By the way, this is the same Mattress Mack who placed $1.5 million at FanDuel Sportsbook  in NJ for the Houston Astros to win the 2019 World Series.)

All the bettors had to do was use their apps. And they cashed in here, like he did.

Gronkowski to be the first TD scorer was as high as +1800 during the week and he corralled 5% of the market.

Did anyone anticipate a scoreless quarter from these offensive juggernauts? The fourth-quarter goosegg paid +500.

The underdog “no” prevailed on the prop of any team obtaining three uninterrupted scores. It paid + 170.

And how about some of the props showing great handicapping by the handicappers?

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Check these whisker-close Super Bowl props

DraftKings listed 10:14:59 p.m.  as the over-under for the final play. The game was scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. It started late.

And like any NFL game, these factors seem to favor the over.

  • A booth review on a potential touchdown,
  • A long halftime show
  • Several clock stoppages in the last three minutes

However, over bettors did not cash out.

Super Bowl 55 ended just after 10:13 p.m., a narrow win for the under.

Did the “over” choke?

“Over” bettors can find 90 seconds somewhere that would have made the difference. Just one skirmish, another booth review.

And on a side note, The DraftKings’ Fat Man prop for an offensive lineman to score at + 2000 had a chance, but for an incomplete second-quarter pass into the end zone.

Overlooked Super Bowl betting implications

Forgotten Fact 1:  The Chiefs outgained the Bucs 350-340 in total yards despite being outplayed. If you took that bet, you remember it.

Forgotten Fact 2: Big effect from one play.

Kansas City stuffing Leonard Fournette on 4th-and-goal denied more than a 5-1 prop from around the books for a score on fourth down.

It changed Super Bowl squares for the second quarter and the game, Tampa Bay’s final total and the bucket of bucks for any prop involving two Fournette scores.

FanDuel paid out millions

FanDuel Sportsbook sent out a Super Bowl betting recap following the game.

The night started with $1.7 million paid to bettors of heads for the coin toss.

New customers also earned $17 million via the book’s 55-1 offer.  The Tampa win and cover of +3- paid more than $27 million in pre-match betting on the core spread and moneyline markets.

Some gamblers didn’t rely on props. They went big with the classic wagers.

One New Jersey bettor took $115,000 on the Bucs at +3.5 and at -125.

As for Prop Mania, one customer bet $892.80 on Gronkowski to score two touchdowns. The odds were +1400. The payout was $13,392.

Here’s a rarity.

We mentioned the bet of the Chiefs scoring no touchdowns. Some people hit, but it seemed crazy to take. So crazy that FanDuel reported nobody (as in any of the 12  markets it operates in) bet the under on Kansas City total touchdowns. Never mind zero.

This means every bettor in FanDuel’s 12 states expected Kansas City to at least score a couple of TDs.

Hey, you can fool all of the people some of the time.

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

 

 

 

NFL Odds Boosts: Is A Green Bay-Kansas City Rematch of Super Bowl I In The Cards?

Bettors may be thinking about the potential NFL 1967 rematch between the Chiefs and Packers or boosting Tom Brady’s odds of making a return trip to Tampa.

The NFL Conference Championships, presenting NJ sports betting patrons with a potpourri of gambling options. Looking between the lines and at certain angles, bettors can increase payouts on wagers they already like for Sunday’s games.

Some side intrigue surrounds both contests.

The host Green Bay Packers remain a slight favorite over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first game. If Tampa Bay wins, it will become the first team ever to play a home game at the Super Bowl. Tampa hosts Super Bowl 55 on Feb 7.

The Kansas City Chiefs are slight chalk against the visiting Buffalo Bills in the nightcap.

If the Chiefs and Packers win, guess what we will have in two weeks? A rematch of Super Bowl I, captured by the Packers, 35-10, in 1967

Besides the normal betting menu, gamblers can find values in the props and odds boosts.

DraftKings Sportsbook + NFL parlay boost 

DraftKings Sportsbook  awards bettors a bonus for simply being right.

It has a 25% parlay boost for gamblers who can hit both games.

Following opt-in, you’ll be issued a single-use profit boost which you can use to place a 2-leg parlay on both games.

Each leg requires minimum odds of -200 or longer (-100, +250 etc.). That should be easy enough here, as both favorites are under -200.

You must select the boost from your bet slip before placing bet to apply the boosted price of 25%.

Maximum bet is $50, with  maximum $250 additional winnings.

This promo includes live bets and parlays, but excludes free bets, cash out bets, voided bets, and odds boosts.

FanDuel Sportsbook offers expanded menu

FanDuel Sportsbook is offering  another fun way to wager on NFL Playoff games. Played a certain way, on individuals, it can enhance a championship bet on your favorite team.

One example is which quarterback will have the most playoff passing yardage? Here are the odds as of early Friday afternoon:

  • Tom Brady +180
  • Josh Allen +200
  • Aaron Rodgers +350
  • Patrick Mahomes +450.

Does that look a little upside down, with Mahomes and Rodgers as the underdogs?

That’s because Brady and Allen have played two games compared to one for Rodgers and Mahomes.

Brady leads the pack with 580 yards. Allen is second with 530.

Rodgers has 296 and Mahomes comes in with 255.

If you take an average of 300 passing yards per game, a player with three games played will hit 900 yards. Only Brady and Allen can collect four games and either of them would win this if their teams reach a fourth game, the Super Bowl.

Should the Packers and Chiefs prevail as favorites, however, all members in this group will play three games.

The value plays, if you like Kansas City and Green Bay on Sunday, are Rodgers and Mahomes.

Those betting on Rodgers are thinking he would trail whomever is leading by roughly 300 yards going into the Super Bowl. And this  includes not falling further behind Brady. Plus, you hope he gets over the top and keeps his slight lead over Mahomes.

That’s an angle because the Packers are only +210 to win the championship. If Green Bay wins it all, Rodgers has an excellent chance to beat the players in front of him. This is a subtle way to improve value on a Green Bay Super Bowl championship, but you must feel that neither Tampa Bay nor Buffalo will win Sunday.

Mahomes is great value too, although his health concerns make it difficult to pull the trigger on him having two monster games to take the lead. But what a price if things fall his way.

However you look at it, this is a great bet to ponder.Plus,  it’s a little different.

NFL odds boosts: Bucs vs. Packers

Fox Bet has made boosts a season-long staple.

The menu has increased substantially, prompting gamblers to narrow their focus. Longshot chances pay well, but require two, three or four players to score.

Best take-a-shot values are first-score touchdowns. Difficult to hit, but they only require one player to score.

In the Tampa Bay-Green Bay game, take a look at the  Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers showdown.

These two veteran passers to  throw for more than 250 yards each is now paying +100, up from -110.  Say goodbye to the vig, this makes the bet slightly more appealing. It has the same return as an against-the-spread pick. Bettors may like this one more.

It would seem like a no-brainer for these future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks to reach these numbers. But Brady had only 199 yards last week as the running game and the four takeaways from the New Orleans offense provided short fields.

Davante Adams of the Packers to register 100 yards and tally a touchdown is now +200, up from +175. Rodgers loves him and Adams is a prolific threat, so this may come down to whether Todd Bowles wants his Tampa Bay defense to take Adams out of the mix with double, even triple teams.

Adams is always a popular bet to score the first touchdown and he has been boosted to +600. He has scored the first TD in two of the last three Packers games.

On the Tampa Bay side, Chris Godwin to notch a first-quarter score has been hiked to +700.

It’s hard to differentiate between the Tampa Bay receivers. Brady loves Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Godwin,  and tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Brown, however, is now playing Sunday.

Odds boosts for Bills vs. Chiefs

In the AFC game, bettors will have to decide what kind of Mahomes they will get, provided he passes protocols and plays, as expected.

A healthy Mahomes sets up some enticing scenarios.

Receiver Tyreek Hill to score in the first quarter has been to +500. Under normal circumstances, bettors could be reluctant to limit a bet to one quarter as Tthe team might only have one possession.

But Hill is usually targeted for a deep ball, and in the end zone, on Kansas City’s first possession. Hill sets a tone for the game with the Chiefs.

Travis Kelce, Mahomes’ other premier target, is +700 to score first. Championship teams often have a dominant tight end. Kelce was the recipient of Mahomes’ only touchdown pass last week.

In these two bets, you are hoping primarily for a deep ball to Hill or for Kelce to be targeted around the 10-yard line.

Can Hill and Buffalo superstar Stefon Diggs each score a touchdown? That’s been boosted to +300. Diggs was the lone TD scorer in last week’s 17-3 win over the Ravens.

AP/Jeffrey Phelps

NFL Playoff Odds Boosts: Looking at the Brady Versus Smith Showdown

NFL Wild Card Weekend means there will be six, not four, games, and NJ sports betting customers have a full menu of boosts, props and promos.

There are six NFL wild card playoff games this weekend. Many New Jersey sports bettors have already found their edge — or lack of one — regarding the teams and players.

It’s a smaller schedule than the regular season and will push more NJ online sportsbook customers in the direction of boosts, props and promos.

Let’s observe the prolific betting landscape.

Fox Bet boosting Nick Chubb

Can Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns rush for more than 100 yards and score a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers? Fox Bet has boosted it to an eye-opening +400, up from +333. Chubb is certainly capable, and the Browns are a good rushing team.

Chubb accomplished this feat five times during the regular season. The latest was last week, against the Steelers. Pittsburgh, however, rested some key players.

For this realistic possibility to pay that well, the book is saying the public expects the Steelers to dominate and force Cleveland to throw more.

This bet is as much about where one thinks Cleveland will be in the game as whether Chubb can hit the number.

If the bet hits, it pays very well.

How well?

For Derrick Henry to achieve the same totals in the Tennessee Titans-Baltimore Ravens game, the odds are +100 — a staggering difference for the same achievement.

The intangible thrown into the Chubb bet is the absence of Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, who won’t be behind the bench. He’s out after testing positive for COVID-19.

Will this have an effect on the team’s organization?

The bet offers indirect insight on the game. For Chubb’s prop number to be that large, insiders don’t expect him to be a major factor. It would correlate with Pittsburgh dominating the game.

But will the bettors agree?

Tom Brady vs. Alex Smith

Here’s one from the Washington Football TeamTampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday evening game.

Can Tom Brady of Tampa Bay and Alex Smith of Washington each toss two or more touchdowns? It’s +300 for a reason.

Brady has been on a roll, picking apart defenses with 12 touchdowns against only one interception over recent games. But those performances have come against the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions.

Washington hasn’t allowed two passing touchdowns in a game since Week 13 and will be the best defense Brady has seen in several weeks.

Smith did throw two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles in the team’s last game. Plus, Tampa does have a porous defense, so he will have a chance here. But he looks hobbled and can’t extend plays well.

Nonetheless, two touchdowns apiece is not a ridiculous thing to ask.

Colts-Bills kick off Wild Card Weekend

Here’s a prop to make bettors think about where the Indianapolis Colts-Buffalo Bills game will be during the fourth quarter.

Can each team come up with at least two touchdowns and two field goals?

The yes has been boosted from +225 to +250.

It’s a respectable return, because teams are not locked into scoring in each quarter. The key is believing the game will be close enough for a field goal to matter in the fourth quarter. Both teams are not shy about bypassing field goals and going for touchdowns, even in the red zone.

But with everything on the line, they could be tempted to play more conservatively and grab sure points when possible.

The proliferation of two-point attempts has also changed the number of field goals attempted. In taking this bet, you are hoping for a more conventional style of play.

More NFL betting possibilities

Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints to score twice against the Chicago Bears has been added. It’s gone up to +300.

There are some props for Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, but be wary. His status is uncertain versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Here’s an apples-to-apples comparison to benefit line shoppers

FanDuel Sportsbook has boosted the moneyline payout for Buffalo, Seattle and Tampa Bay to win their games from +160 to +190. This is meaningful because most other books have this one in the +160 range.

Thirty basis points is a substantial edge for the bettor.

Moneyline parlays are a good idea in the first place, especially with clear-cut favorites involved. In most instances, bettors will hit the majority of the wagers and always feel as though there’s a good chance this will hit.

The question is whether they can get that last one, and there usually is one difficult or sweat part of the wager, to make the bet pay.

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DraftKings Sportsbook luring newcomers

If you haven’t joined the parade yet, now is an excellent time.

For Wild Card Weekend, DraftKings Sportsbook is offering an easy score for first-time users.

Amid the NFL’s highest-scoring season ever, all you need is a touchdown. It’s what DraftKings likes to refer to as a no-brainer bet. The rules are simple:

  • Sign up for an account using the above link.
  • Deposit at least $5 into your DraftKings Sportsbook account.
  • Bettors will be issued one single-use odds boost (+100) to use for any team to score a touchdown during Wild Card Weekend.
  • The wager must be placed prior to the kickoff of Saturday’s Bills-Colts game.
  • You must select the boost from your betslip before placing the bet.
  • The maximum bet is $50.

There is a similar promo for existing customers, but the maximum wager is $25.

PointsBet says you drink the ‘juice’

PointsBet has an exciting slate of promotions to kick off NFL Wild Card Weekend, including the return of No Juice +100 spread lines. The max bet is $10,000.

This eliminates the vig, or the price of playing the bet, usually 10% of the wager.

The promo has particular significance on large bets. A $10,000 wager will usually result in a vig of about $1,000.

The principle applies for smaller bets, too. A $300 wager, for example, would provide a savings of roughly $30 if the vig vanishes.

William Hill + NFL Saturday playoff bonus

Here’s an if-you-win angle from William Hill. It involves all three Saturday games.

All it takes is wagering at least $50 on a pregame bet, and if you win, bonuses will kick in. Basically, you’ll receive free bet dollars for your team’s top running back’s stats. Here are a few examples:

  • $1 toward a free bet per 10 rushing yards.
  • $6 toward a free bet per rushing touchdown.
  • $6 toward a free bet per receiving touchdown.

Credits will be applied directly to accounts within five business days after the promotion period has expired. The free bet must be used within seven days after it is awarded.

AP Photo/Derik Hamilton

 

 

Road To Indiana: All NCAA Tournament Games Will Take Place In Hoosier State

Now that we know where all 67 games of the 2021 NCAA Tournament will be taking place, here’s a look at March Madness odds.

Count it. The NJ sports betting industry just hit a three-pointer. March Madness, two golden words in the American psyche, is back.

Gamblers, sportsbooks and the nation’s college basketball fans are celebrating the rumors that became fact as the new year began.

The NCAA will bring back the NCAA Tournament for 2021 and conduct the entire tournament in Indiana.

The official announcement came Monday afternoon.

2021 NCAA Tournament plans

According to NCAA.com, the majority of the tournament’s 67 games will occur in Indianapolis.

NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said, “The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event.”

“With the direction of the Men’s Basketball Committee, we are making the most of the circumstances the global pandemic has presented. We’re fortunate to have neighbors and partners in Indianapolis and surrounding communities who not only love the game of basketball as much as anyone else in the country but have a storied history when it comes to staging major sporting events,” said Gavitt.

As far as where the games will be played, the NCAA will be using several locations:

  • Two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse
  • Indiana Farmers Coliseum
  • Mackey Arena in West Lafayette
  • Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington

Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14.

And plans remain to have the Final Four on April 3 and 5.

The dates of preliminary-round games are still to be determined.

Looking at March Madness odds

There is still a long way to go before conference champions are crowned and Selection Sunday takes place. However, it’s never too early to look at the NCAA Tournament futures.

NCAA Tournament, a cultural cornerstone, revived

Monday’s March Madness announcement is welcome news for bettors. Remember, the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled. And it coincided with COVID-19 pushing college and pro sports to the sidelines.

Although the NBA’s shutdown last March 11 was the pandemic’s acknowledged reference point, the NCAA had already been canceling conference championships.

That’s why the return of March Madness in any form is a financial and emotional lift.

Many logistics will be called into play here, and the tournament will have a bubble-type structure similar to those used to successfully complete the NBA and NHL 2020 seasons.

As far as the NCAA plans go, the Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility, with multiple courts set up inside the venue.

Marriott properties, an official NCAA corporate partner, will house most of the tournament teams. The hotels are connected to the convention center via skywalks and within a controlled environment. All teams will be housed on dedicated hotel floors, with physically distanced meeting and dining rooms, as well as secure transportation to and from competition venues.

So this may be the move that puts college basketball back on the front burner. The league began its season slowly, with an emphasis on regional games, limited travel and postponements for a couple of weeks when necessary.

March Madness will have a different feel

For operators like DraftKings Sportsbook, the 2020-21 NCAA men’s basketball season continues to be unique.

“College basketball feels different to me right now, but it will get better as we get through this (the pandemic),” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told njgamblingsites.com in late December. “I get it, they are looking after the safety of the students, etc., and they are proceeding with caution.

“After the first of the year, especially, if we get everything under control, and if we feel comfortable heading into March, things should be all right.”

On a related matter, Avello said that although Garden State bettors can’t wager on New Jersey teams, it’s a minuscule liability for the books. Besides Seton Hall, there are few teams that would generate wagering interest for New Jersey gamblers.

“There used to be a law that Nevada bettors could not wager on teams in their state, which primarily meant UNLV and Nevada Reno,” said Avello.  “They changed that law a little over 20 years ago, and you were allowed to bet on those teams.”

“We did not get an abundance of money in the state for them. Customers are not looking at betting ‘their’ home team. It’s one thing if you lived in Boston and you bet the New England Patriots because they covered 70% of the time and made you money, but otherwise I don’t think anybody, regardless of the sport, is going to play the home team consistently,” said Avello.

A closer look at NCAA championship odds

Whomever they back, bettors wager into the lessons of past performance. Most teams will lose at least a handful of games and, throughout the season, top rankings will shift.

Some team in the 11-25 slot usually suffers an upset loss each week. This is a fertile area to bet into.

And the dynamic was even more pronounced last year, as teams in the Top 5 were shifted, too.

With no champion crowned last year, here are some numbers reflecting the betting sentiment. Good prices are still available on the national championship front:

DraftKings has Gonzaga at + 350, less of a deal than a month ago, but still good.

Villanova has rocketed up to No. 2 at +700. Baylor stands third at +800, followed by Wisconsin at +900 and both Houston and Texas at +1100.

There is good value in the Big East with Villanova at +225 and Creighton +375.

But, like all futures bets, the value will diminish for good teams over time.

March Madness futures at FanDuel and William Hill

There is variety at other books, including FanDuel Sportsbook.

Gonzaga (+350) is still the big pick, but Villanova improves to +900 here. And if you like Creighton, the team is +2500 at FanDuel.

At William Hill, the same major characters exist, with some slight wrinkles. Villanova, for instance, is +1000 to win the championship.

Gonzaga, Villanova and Baylor sat atop the college rankings as the year began. Eventually, the ranked teams will provide some sense of the circuit for bettors.

Villanova, which postponed its next three games Monday because of COVID-19 issues, remains an enigma. There will be no data to push the futures price either way.  By the time Villanova resumes, it will have gone through a multiweek break.

This is just part of the puzzle. Short term, some teams have issues. Longer term, meaning March, music has begun for the Big Dance.

Dreamstime photo 

Football Five Week 16: Jets And Bengals Capture That Winning Feeling

One of the hot NFL betting topics heading into Week 16 is how the Jets and Bengals pulled off two of the biggest upsets of the 2020 season.

Let’s begin the NFL Week 16 Football Five with a salute to the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals, two basement teams who restored faith in the NFL’s competitive balance.

They turned the tables on the week’s two largest imminent blowouts, turning them into the year’s largest upsets.

Bravo to them and the sliver of Week 15 bettors. And that group was an extremely small one at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Only 11% of the money was on the Jets to win straight up against the Los Angeles Rams.

And only 9% of the money was on the Bengals to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Both teams were in the vicinity of +1000 across the establishments favored by NJ sports betting customers.

Newfound respect for Jets and Bengals

Will the Jets come out with a chip on their shoulder after an only-in-New-York media reaction to their victory?

They were knocked for now not being the league’s worst team and thus not likely to draft quarterback Trevor Lawrence from Clemson as the top pick in the next NFL draft.

Imagine being Sam Darnold, the Jets’ current quarterback, and hearing that.

The Jets, now with one victory, will be looked at differently when they host the Cleveland Browns this week. And the Bengals have their third win, the first without Joe Burrow, before playing the Houston Texans.

The Jets, a whopping +17 against the Los Angeles Rams, have been awarded a full touchdown more on the opening line against the Browns at DraftKings Sportsbook.

FanDuel’s early line of Cincinnati +8.5 shows some respect for a team that bounced back to life Monday night as a 14.5-point dog.

The Jets and Bengals also stirred the playoff-ramifications pot throughout the league.

Say hello to the new No. 2 seed in the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills. They have additional incentive to defeat the New England Patriots in the next Monday Night Football game.  The sizzling hot 11-3 Bills look more likely to host a first-round playoff game when the postseason begins during the second weekend in January.

The Rams, who have played volleyball with the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West lead, now trail by one game before this weekend’s critical matchup on the road.

And the Steelers? Look at these offensive numbers in the last four games: 19, 17, 15 and 17.

Since leading the Washington Football Team 14-0 in the second quarter of their Dec. 7 game, they are being outscored 76-35. Shocking numbers for an 11-3 team.

That’s how life changes in the NFL.

Giants’ playoff chances are fizzling

Two dull home losses, 26-7 to the Arizona Cardinals and 20-6 to the Cleveland Browns, snapped a four-game winning streak and laid the New York Giants bare in front of the bettors. They are a slow, deliberate, grind-it-out offense just before the worst matchup possible.

New York plays the high-flying, explosive Baltimore Ravens, who have topped 40 points two weeks in a row.

Falling behind early would be a disaster against the Ravens.

But Big Blue’s defense is stout, evidenced by goal-line stands against the Cardinals and Browns. This included limiting Cleveland to 20 points after the Browns had scored 42 against the Ravens.

The Giants have lost control of their own destiny, however. Much of it now rests in the hands of the four-win Carolina Panthers, who must defeat the Washington Football Team in order for Big Blue to retain realistic playoff games.

Basically, the season is coming down to the IF game. So if:

  • Carolina upsets Washington;
  • The Giants defeat the Ravens as a big dog; and
  • The Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Dallas Cowboys,

then, and only then, the Giants would be in first place heading into the last week of the season.

But there are other ifs that would end the Giants’ postseason hopes.

A Washington win combined with a Giants loss will earn the Football Team the NFC Was crown.

In a similar vein, the Eagles, who trail the Giants, need Carolina to defeat Washington or it’s over for them. It’s the same for second-place Dallas. This is a significant betting consideration.

The Eagles-Cowboys will have huge NFC implications, or none, based on the Washington game, which is played earlier.

 Vikings, Saints under the Christmas tree

Whether it’s COVID-19 necessitated or a future consideration, the NFL has a Friday game, the New Orleans Saints hosting the Minnesota Vikings.

And it happens to fall on Christmas Day.

There is a unique undercurrent to this game. The Vikings are going nowhere, and in fact propelled the Chicago Bears into the fringes of the NFC playoff picture with Sunday’s loss, but they knocked the Saints out of the playoffs last year — in New Orleans, where this game will be played.

And there was that Minneapolis Miracle a couple of years earlier when the Vikings eliminated the Saints from the playoffs with a long TD on the final play.

Are the Saints jinxed against the Vikings, or is this the game in which they remove the hex?

Minnesota has an excellent offense with Kirk Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook, whereas New Orleans has a revenge motive from last year.

The Saints are resting injured star Michael Thomas until the playoffs, and their offense improved after a sputtering start with the return of Drew Brees against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Week 16 Saturday games matter

The sportsbooks love isolated opportunities like Friday’s one-gamer and the Saturday trio of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Detroit Lions, the Miami Dolphins visiting the Las Vegas Raiders and the Arizona Cardinals sharing a home game with the San Francisco 49ers. Betting action pours in on these games and, fortunately for the NFL, Tampa Bay, Miami and Arizona need the games.

The league never knows how much these games will matter when it draws up the schedule well before the season.

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Another way to interpret the lines

The Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers have the week’s highest over-under projection of 56 at DraftKings. The Tampa Bay-Detroit contest, 53.5, and the Atlanta Falcons-Kansas City Chiefs matchup, 54, are close behind.

Point totals convey a secondary angle, prop mania.

Watch the yardage and touchdown-tossing props in all of these games as they approach, and if you want to take a stab, consider some of the following payouts reported from Week 15 by DraftKings:

Austin Hooper of the Cleveland Browns returned +1600 as the first touchdown scorer in the Giants-Browns game.

Derrick Henry of the Titans paid +350, hitting paydirt against the Detroit Lions.

Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs returned +510, scoring against the Saints.

But how about Russell Gage of the Atlanta Falcons? He returned a hefty +3500 as the first to hit paydirt in the game against Tampa Bay.

Like most props, these contain the intellectual component of selecting likely recipients and the good fortune of hitting the right individual. Hooper is a tight end. Bettors had to survive two goal-to-goal runs before he was found on a TD toss. Hill and Henry are usually good anytime scorers, but for them to be first scorer in the entire game limits the player to a couple of possessions.

These bets are proving to be more popular because they can provide a lot of bang for a little buck.

Photo by Associated Press