Thursday Night Football betting

Who the hell likes football on Thursday nights? Not coaches or players, who must fear that turnovers and injuries on a shortened week of practice. Not fans who are just as often treated to a mistake-ridden slogfest or a blowout as a watchable game. NFLbets dares say that perhaps not even the paraphernalia creators dig on the NFL Network’s TNF games as much as previously, because clearly NFL Marketing is taking a bath on the exclusive “Color Rush” jerseys. Seriously, who like those things?

The Thursday Night Football games – broadcasts, beginning in 2018, on Fox! – also have a bad reputation among NFL bettors as tough to call. One would expect more variance in these games, of course, given the aforementioned short week and the amplified issues with East Coasts-to-West Coast travel.

But are TNF games in actuality so difficult to predict? Consider the lists below, which include all Thursday night football results during the 2016 and ’17 seasons, adjusted for point spread and including prime-time games on Thanksgiving. Those in bold are games in which the favorite lost SU; those marked with an asterisk (*) are ATS results which differed from the SU results.

New York Jets 37 at Buffalo Bills 30
New England Patriots 27, Houston Texans 0
Cincinnati Bengals 14½, Miami Dolphins 7
Arizona Cardinals 29½ at San Francisco 49ers 21
San Diego Chargers 21, Denver Broncos 10
Green Bay Packers 18½, Chicago Bears 10
Tennessee Titans 33, Jacksonville Jaguars 22
Atlanta Falcons 38½ at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28
Baltimore Ravens 20½, Cleveland Browns 7
*New Orleans Saints 20, Carolina Panthers 19½
Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Indianapolis Colts 7
*Minnesota Vikings 15 at Dallas Cowboys 14
Kansas City Chiefs 17½, Oakland Raiders 13
Seattle Seahawks 9, Los Angeles Rams 3
Philadelphia Eagles 22½, New York Giants 19

Houston Texans 13 at Cincinnati Bengals 4
*San Francisco 39, Los Angeles Rams 38
Green Bay Packers 27½, Chicago Bears 14
New England Patriots 15½ at Tampa Bay 14
Philadelphia Eagles 28 at Carolina 20
Oakland Raiders 31, Kansas City Chiefs 27
Baltimore Ravens 37, Miami Dolphins 0
New York Jets 34, Buffalo Bills 18
*Seattle Seahawks 16 at Arizona Cardinals 16
Pittsburgh Steelers 33, Tennessee Titans 17
Los Angeles Chargers 27, Dallas Cowboys 6
Dallas Cowboys 38, Washington 12½
Atlanta Falcons 17½, New Orleans Saints 17
Denver Broncos 22 at Indianapolis Colts 13

Stats we can glean from the above sampling of 29 games:

•  On Thursday nights, underdogs won SU seven times of 29 for a winning percentage of just .241; that’s significantly poorer than the usual .326.

•  Favorites were 18-10-1 ATS for a .638 winning percentage, also a significant difference from the usual .550 mark.  

•  The home team is 19-10 on these Thursday nights and 20-8-1 ATS. Once again, these compare quite favorably (so to speak) to expected results SU historically, which give the home team a 57% to 60% to win SU in a typical NFL game.

So there you have it: Though a slightly small sample size historically, these two seasons should indicate that the trend in Thursday night football games is pretty much as NFLbets suspected: Take your usual safe-betting skills and apply them ever more extremely.

Not so tough after all – in theory…

New York Jets +3 at Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football starring the savior, Greg Joseph

Thursday, 20 September 2018 14:06 EST

Jesus loves football and bettingBetting on Thursday Night Football is the worst. It’s not just the “Color Rush” uniforms though, trust NFLbets, it is that as well. It’s running these things at 9pm ET (How much do we drink? And when?), it’s the games broadcasting only on the NFL Network with all that associated pompousness and cheesery, it’s the short week giving insufficient preparation time for both players and NFL bettors…

And in this particular Thursday night game, NFLbets fears that all contributions by the other 105 dudes on offense, defense, special teams and the bench in this game will be made irrelevant. All the hype, the focus, the pre-game analysis will come down to a guy who couldn’t stick with quite possibly a sub-.500 team, who was cut in favor of the competitor he outperformed, who averaged just a 70% success rate in college.

Ladies and gentlemen, our savior: Placekicker Greg Joseph!

See, all jokes, kidding and Hard Knocks references aside, the Cleveland Browns – whose surprisingly decent-looking Color Rush uniform is nearly solid brown, thereby bringing not so much a rush as a mellow buzz – are a pretty attractive favorite versus the New York Jets at home.

But that point spread of Browns -3? If NFLbets were paranoid (Who’s paranoid? We’re not paranoid!), we saw this pure trolling of the bookmakers’ parts. Seriously? You’re gonna send this assuming Florida Atlantic University alum out to the slathering media and tell him all he must do is halt a 2-42-1 “skid” and snap a 19-game winless “streak” is not to choke where so many Browns have so ingloriously, culminating with the two wins ex-Browns PK Zane Gonzalez left on the field in 2018?

Seriously, this should be a slam dunk for the NFL bettor: The Browns’ record ATS over the past three seasons isn’t nearly as bad as it is SU: Going back to 2015, they’re 15-33-1 ATS versus a pathetic 4-44-1 – and you gotta love the easy two wins ATS they’ve strung together this season.

Trends for betting on Thursday Night Football games also favor Cleveland: Going back to 2016, favorites on TNF have gone 20-10-1, over 11% better than average. Plus, the TNF home team has gone 21-10 SU and 22-8-1 ATS – a success rate of over 72.5%. Liking those odds yet…?

For the Jets, the defense seems stout after catching Matthew Stafford on a bad week and facing the low-watt Miami Dolphins and … no, forget it. Look, no matter how awesome one believes Sam Darnold is, this New York Jets team just has too many missing pieces. The number three receiver is Terrelle Pyror, who was cast aside in turn by the Oakland Raiders, Washington and Cleveland, all way too needy to be ditching a worthwhile pass-catcher.

The New York Jets are, in 2018, San Francisco 49ers East. Simply put, the Browns are better right now.

NFLbets therefore is putting all boogeymen, intangibles and superstitious stuff aside – except our currently unerring and eternal faith in Greg Joseph, long may He kick! We’re staying on this horse and advising NFLbettors to take the Cleveland Browns -3 vs the New York Jets. Just remember that this is Thursday Night Football, so please bet responsibly, i.e. less.

Thursday Night Football: In a not-so-titanic clash of already overrated teams, take the under

Thursday, 13 September 2018 16:18 EST

How’s that for an efficient headline? If only learning the outcome of what is certain to be yet another ugly – and NFLbets isn’t just talking Color Rush – example of why Thursday Night Football shouldn’t really exist.

On the other hand, what better way to make those foolishly overreacting to week 1 results suffer for their folly more quickly? In fact the only thing more fun than watching a fanbase’s delusions crumble after opening night (Raiders, Cowboys and Lions faithful know what we’re referencing here) is hearing about the aweomeness of a “surprise” team that crushes a bottom-fiver on opening day.

And so we have a classic example of overrated versus overarted in week 2: the Baltimore Ravens at the Cincinnati Bengals. Talking heads and hyperbolists are lining up on ESPN, whatever dot com and anywhere a mic virtual or otherwise is provided to tell us how this game could determine the AFC North, because, you know, everyone’s prohibitive forever-favorite merely tied the Cleveland Browns, who just a couple weeks ago were bringing Vegas big money based on freakin’ Hard Knocks.

So you may see two contenders for the NFL’s crappiest division in 2018, but all NFLbets sees is one side that whupped the prospective 0-16 Buffalo Bills against another who needed all 60 minutes to get past a team composed of a QB who hasn’t played in two years plus, um, 21 other guys. What has changed so much that these Vegas-forecasted 8- and 6½-win teams are suddenly double-digit winners? A win against the last-place finisher in the AFC East or AFC South? Come on.

Look, the truth is that the Ravens – with essentially the same offense and coaching staff as in 2017 – scored 19.3 more points last week than they averaged all season last year. The Bengals – still inexplicably coached by Marvin Lewis – scored 15,9 more than their ’17 ppg mark. If you’ve ever heard of “regression to the mean”, this week would be an ideal time to test it, in a game with two defenses well better than the offenses.

Who’s going to win? Who cares! You can still bank cash – if you take the under on an O/U of 43½ points, and recall what you thought of Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton just, likesay, 11 days ago…

NFL Kickoff Game: Recommendations if you really must bet (but realize you’re basically gambling)

Thursday, 06 September 2018 15:25 EST

Betting week 1 in the NFLThis is NFLbets’ NFL Betting Tip #3: Do not bet in week one. The principle goes double for the NFL Kickoff Game, on which way too many NFL bettors traditionally tend to believe that the current season will be very much like the previous (spoiler: It won’t be) and wager real money accordingly.

If you realize that there is a high (high!) element of luck involved in betting NFL Kickoff Games, fine – skip to the end of this column to consider NFLbets’ lukewarm recommendation. For everyone else, it’s ranting time…

The doublethink about preseason NFL football

A strange sort of doublethink take over the pervades the NFL bettor’s mind going into week 1. While he/she has spent the past month or two railing about he useless nature of preseason games, of watching games with never-weres that you’ll never see play again, of competition between 10 players for the 53rd spot on the roster. And even most viewers of Hard Knocks would admit that, by its very nature as “reality” tv, much of what makes the HBO-screened episodes is staged and/or exaggerated.

Yet … yet way too many will throw money based on “evidence” from the offseason. Preposterous! How can one believe that preseason games are useless but simultaneously believe real information has been gleaned? How can one freely admit that extremely little actual football comprises each episode of Hard Knocks but also insight they’ve gained insight worth squandering money on? Come on!

The X-factor in week 1 of the NFL: Only about 29 teams Think about it: How many teams will reveal far more in week 1 about the season ahead than at any point in the pre- or regular season? Answer: The great majority, if not all.

Just off the top of NFLbets’ head here … the ostensibly Super Bowl-contending Minnesota Vikings have switched quarterbacks, while the Indianapolis Colts welcome one back they haven’t seen in two years and the Houston Texans return a QB whose incredible rookie season was interrupted. How will these offenses work? How good is the revamped Cleveland Browns roster? How bad is the Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver corps? And how about those Rams? (Recall that most of L.A.’s blue-chippers played not a down in the offseason, yet they’re second-favorite at most sportsbooks to win the Lombardi in February.)

The answer to all these questions is pure conjecture – until the week 1 results are in

Vegas is much better at this than you are

Easy picks in the NFL Kickoff Game? Come on! Vegas is smarter than you are on opening night, and it’s not even close.

Sure, home teams are 12-2 SU in this game since the traditional Thursday night opener has featured the defending Super Bowl champions – but ATS, the home teams/defending Super Bowl Champions/favorites are a more realistic 7-4-4. Decreasing the sample size makes things for NFL bettors look even worse: Favorites are just 3-3-2 in the last eight and have lost the last two games ATS.

The point here: The sportsbooks probably do far better in opening week than their customers. If you insist on covering the Philadelphia Eagles minus the points tonight, they’d better be blowing out the Falcons by the end of the first, like 14-0, or you may as well throw your ticket away at halftime and enjoy the inevitable ensuing 1-point SU Eagles win.

Just don’t do it.

If you must bet, our pick

All signs in the immediate short term, likesay tonight, point in the Atlanta Falcons’ favor. WRs Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins are out due to injury; CB Deiondré Hall and LB Nigel Bradham will miss due to suspension. DE Michael Bennett as well as RBs Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement will play hurt. And of course in lieu of the still-recovering Carson Wentz is Nick Foles, who likely turned back into a pumpkin a short while after the Super Bowl limelight faded.

So NFLbets is thinking about taking the Falcons, particularly with so much action coming in on the Eagles to move this line from as high as Falcons -5½ to as low as -1 – essentially a pick ‘em – on game day, but one tiny fact remains in our collective face: WE REALLY DON'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THIS TEAM YET. On top of this, NFLets is verrrrrrrry suspicious about all the hype being thrown this Falcons offense supposedly ready to recapture the stat-bending 2016 season.

Except Steve Sarkasian is still the offensive coordinator and, despite shaving an average of over 12 points per game from this offense’s output, should still be expected to provide competence at best, but this team ain’t spinning any scoreboards – particularly against stingy pass defenses like the Eagles’ (appears to be).

So while NFLbets is kinda thinking the Falcons SU and/or -1 might be worth a flutter, we’re thinking the better bet, with one offense hurting and the other Sarkasianed, is to take the under on an O/U of 44½ points – but you really shouldn’t be betting in week 1 at all.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you…