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…

The complete schedule and results listed below for 2019-2020 have not yet been examined.
2019 NFL Thursday Night Football Schedule had 15 regular-season TNF NFL games in 2019.

Thursday, Sept. 5 (Week 1)
Packers 10, Bears 3

Thursday, Sept. 12 (Week 2)
Buccaneers 20, Panthers 14

Thursday, Sept. 19 (Week 3)
Jaguars 20, Titans 7

Sept. 26 (Week 4)
Eagles 34, Packers 27

Thursday, Oct. 3 (Week 5)
Seahawks 30, Rams 29

Thursday, Oct. 10 (Week 6)
Patriots 35, Giants 14

Thursday, Oct. 17 (Week 7)
Chiefs 30, Broncos 6

Thursday, Oct. 24 (Week 8)
Vikings 19, Redskins 9

Thursday, Oct. 31 (Week 9)
49ers 28, Cardinals 25

Thursday, Nov. 7 (Week 10)
Raiders 26, Chargers 24

Thursday, Nov. 14 (Week 11)
Browns 21, Steelers 7

Thursday, Nov. 21 (Week 12)
Texans 20, Colts 17

Thursday, Nov. 28 (Week 13)
Saints 26, Falcons 18

Thursday, Dec. 5 (Week 14)
Bears 31, Cowboys 24

Thursday, Dec. 12 (Week 15)
Ravens 42, Jets 21

The 2020 NFL Thursday Night Football Schedule kicks off on Thursday, September 10 with the Houston Texans at the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 15 regular-season TNF NFL games in 2020 will be played on Thursday night with one on Friday.

2020 NFL Thursday Night Football Schedule:

Thursday, Sept. 10 (Week 1)
Chiefs 34, Texans 20

Thursday, Sept. 17 (Week 2)
Browns 35, Bengals 30

Thursday, Sept. 24 (Week 3)
Dolphins 31, Jaguars 13

Thursday, Oct. 1 (Week 4)
Broncos 37, Jets 28

Thursday, Oct. 8 (Week 5)
Bears 20, Buccaneers 19

Thursday, Oct. 15 (Week 6)
Chiefs 26 at Bills 15 (Game moved to Monday, Oct. 19, 2020)

Thursday, Oct. 22 (Week 7)
Giants 21 at Eagles 22

Thursday, Oct. 29 (Week 8)
Falcons 25 at Panthers 17

Thursday, Nov. 5 (Week 9)
Packers at 49ers – 8:20pm

Thursday, Nov. 12 (Week 10)
Colts at Titans – 8:20pm

Thursday, Nov. 19 (Week 11)
Cardinals at Seahawks – 8:20pm

Thursday, Nov. 26 (Week 12)
Ravens at Steelers – 8:20pm

Thursday, Dec. 3 (Week 13)
Cowboys at Ravens – 8:20pm

Thursday, Dec. 10 (Week 14)
Patriots at Rams – 8:20pm

Thursday, Dec. 17 (Week 15)
Chargers at Raiders – 8:20pm

Thursday, Dec. 25 (Week 16)
Vikings at Saints – 4:30pm



Betting against weirdness for Chargers-Raiders on TNF

Wednesday, 16 December 2020 15:43 EST

All right, who’s ready to get back on the horse after the Bad Beat of the Year on Monday Night Football – okay, so kneeling down and eschewing the extra point is one thing, but this car-wreck of a desperation play that ended in a safety…?

But of course the proper NFL bettor is ready. After all, the Baltimore Ravens-Cleveland Browns calamity was merely the last game on what was (for NFLbets at least) a pretty prosperous week 14. On the other hand, the week 15 Thursday Night Football matchup features two teams in dueling graveyard spirals who have repeatedly flummoxed bettors all 2020, namely…

“Los Angeles” Chargers +3½ at Las Vegas Raiders, over/under 53 points

Excitement about a pair of high point-scoring offenses led by rookie sensation Justin Herbert and peak Derek Carr aside, most observers are likely to look to the coaching for an edge. To this end, one might be willing to throw all the moneys at the Raiders in this one.

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has certainly made betting interesting in 2020 with his incredible decision(?)-making in the clutch. Lynn’s play-calling may be in no small part blamed for four losses (at Denver, vs Las Vegas, at Miami and at Buffalo) and clearly wasn't ready for a primetimer like Bill Belichick even when the EEEEevil one is armed with a popgun of a team.

On the other sideline is the highly regarded Jon Gruden, though how much longer the man’s reputation can carry him – not to mention Raiders game pointspreads. Seriously, the man hasn’t brought a team to the playoffs since 2007. This team’s recent 1-3 SU/ATS run (in which the one SU win came thanks to well-known blitz addict Gregg Williams handed Carr an unrefusable opportunity to beat the Jets) is the end-result of Gruden’s absolute control. He has rebuilt the name in his image of a Rich Gannon-style offense; from the trading of Khalil Mack, Chucky has made it clear that his chief priorities were the quarterback and the passing game.

It’s a miracle that the Raiders landed Josh Jacobs in the draft, really, though his decreasing usage rate (just over 17 touches per game in the past five) and yards per carry (3.8 against last season’s 4.3) may be indicative of this particular blind spot of Gruden’s…

On top of the mess cooking in Vegas, would-be Vegas backers will have to figure in how the firing of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther affects a bottom-5 unit, if at all. The new man in the seat is Rod Marinelli, who by all accounts is a coach that players love and who produced decent, if not brilliant, results as a DC with the Dallas Cowboys from 2014-19.

Conclusion: Too many nuts and bolts to make a firm conclusion on the winner; NFLbets says instead take the under on an O/U of 53 points. Whether or not Marinelli is even a temporary answer for the Raiders, Vegas is well due some unders before this season ends: The over is 9-3-1 in their games this season. Unders in Chargers games may have hit three in a row, but that streak is chasing a run of seven consecutive overs – and the alternative L.A. team has topped 21 points scored just once in its past five. So figure on a low score and pray against the current of 2020 that weirdness does not descend…

–written by Os Davis  

Thursday Night Football in 2020 makes no sense; luckily Belichick vs. Goff does

Wednesday, 09 December 2020 17:01 EST

Like many of you, NFLbets can’t help thinking of Super Bowl LIII whenever the dread New England Patriots-Los Angeles Rams matchup comes down the pike. And as much as we eschew history when betting week-to-week, we may have to fall back on a championship game gone nearly two years hence because Thursday Night Football has been about as illogical as everything else in the Covid-ravaged 2020 NFL season.

The lines for week 14’s TNF currently stand at

New England Patriots +5½ at Los Angeles Rams, over/under 44½ points

In 12 Thursday games in 2020, home teams have been even more pitiful ATS than generally, at an incredibly bad at 5-7 SU/3-9 ATS; home favorites are much better at 4-4 SU/2-6 ATS. Favorites have a more expected mark at 6-6 SU/5-7 ATS. O, and homers are on a 1-5 SU/ATS “run.”

The over/under in some ways appears more representative of NFL Football As We Know It, with overs having hit in 7 of the 12 games – but while the league tends to lower-scoring games in the final third of the season, Thursday games have gone over in 4 of the last 5.

Initially, the thought was to cover the Patriots plus the points in addition to the under; however, bettors have apparently come to similar conclusions, as the Patriots have shed 1-1½ points from that handicap since lines opened on Sunday night – and what sharp in their right mind goes with the flow of guppies betting?

That low 44½ points as well as the under’s Thursday winning streak gives NFLbets pause, but we’ve got two words to ease the nerves about this bet: Jared Goff. How the Rams remain an 8-4 time while “boasting” an offense that’s bottom-10 in turnovers, interceptions, tackles for a loss and time of possession?

Goff additionally ranks dead last among qualifying QBs in QB rating under pressure. Weak pass rush aside, you’ve got to believe Bill Belichick will exploit Goff’s poor play in the area, particularly with center Brian Allen to play hurt if at all. Heck, with an all-star secondary like the Patriots’, Belichick might simply be willing to dump receivers deep all night and let the Rams quarterback use his less-than-adequate improv skills.

But Belichick’s got a whole other cold fish to fry, i.e. Cam Newton’s missing arm strength: In the past two games, Newton has managed just 153 passing yards combined with one passing TD against three interceptions and four sacks – and in both games ran as often or more as he completed a pass. Gee, guess there’s a reason the Patriots rank no. 3 in time of possession and top-10 in both 3rd-down and 4th-down conversion rate.

Belichick will have to break out his best playcalling against the monstrous Rams defense just to stay competitive, though. Despite handing out a 45-0 beatdown to the “Los Angeles” Chargers, the Pats have topped 23 points in a game just twice since the week 5 bye. On the other hand, on their current 4-4 SU run, six times has the final score been within 7 points either way, including against offenses (likesay, Buffalo, Seattle and Arizona) well scarier than the Rmas’ on anything less than a perfect day from Goff.

And you saw what he did in that Super Bowl...

Consider taking Belichick, Newton & Co. on 6-point teasers if you must, but NFLbets is going to wager on  low-scoring battle of wills. We’re saying take the under on an O/U of 44½ points.

–written by Os Davis

Episode 3 of Thanksgiving NFL football trilogy cancelled; does it help Ravens’ chances on Sunday?

Thursday, 26 November 2020 16:17 EST

Football betting makes Thanksgiving feel like a holiday, you know…? In NFLbets’ opinion, Thanksgiving is the second-greatest betting day of the year: Three games, at least six bets to make, four days to analyze, and best of all we tend to do better on this day than on the Super Bowl.

We love this day of football so much, we had planned to run a trilogy of pieces, culminating in the marquee matchup of Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, but nope. Instead, we grouse.

Aaaand down goes the third Thanksgiving Day football game thanks to coronavirus protocol, but for the Baltimore Ravens – not to mention prospective Ravens bettors – a rescheduling of the game until Sunday may be for the best.

On Wednesday night, the line stood at….

Baltimore Ravens +5 at Pittsburgh Steelers, over/under 44½ points

NFLbets figures these lines should stay about the same; while the O/U of 44½ seems low. After all, just 7 of 28 games in the matchup of Jim Harbaugh’s Ravens vs. Tomlin & Roethlisberger’s Steelers have kicked off with lines of 45 points or more.

With regard to the point spread, +5 is seriously advantageous for the bettor – though the aforementioned Ravens-Steelers series is tied at 13-13-2 ATS, 17 of the 28 games have been decided by fewer than 5 points.

Betting this game on Sunday will depend on the bettor’s relative confidence in the Ravens to pull themselves out of a 1-3 SU/ATS tailspin in which all three losses were for 6 points or fewer and the team could not put together more than 24 points. And since going for 270 passing yards on opening day, Lamar Jackson has topped 206 just once – against the lowly New England Patriots two weeks ago. The result is a team currently barely making the playoffs, barely ahead of the likes of the Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders.

Or will it? The Titans, Bills and Raiders have all shrugged off weeks during which several players missed practice and/or teams had games rescheduled; the former two won after a schedule shakeup, while Vegas got Kansas City down to a last-second TD. If anyone needs a break – even a regular timespan between games – it’s the Ravens.

What’s more, Baltimore and Pittsburgh may be enjoying even more time off. On Thanksgiving Day, USA Today and ESPN reported that an outbreak is continuing in Ravens land: “the Ravens experienced additional positive tests for the coronavirus on Wednesday, which would mark a fourth day with an outbreak for the team.

“The Ravens have already placed a total of nine players on the COVID-19/reserve list this week, and they have had several staff members also test positive. The team announced Wednesday that it had disciplined a coach for not reporting COVID-19 symptoms, and for not consistently wearing a mask and tracker.”

If this game actually goes off on Sunday (or Monday), you’d have to take the Ravens plus the points, but NFLbets wouldn’t be surprised if this game is cancelled altogether and the league declares eight teams will be given playoff berths – which would add up to a bigger win for the Ravens.

Stay tuned…

–written by Os Davis


Cardinals +3 at Seattle on TNF: We’re betting coaching makes the difference

Thursday, 19 November 2020 17:41 EST

Again for Thursday Night Football does NFLbets lament, “Sure, give us an easy one, why don’tcha?” Instead, the NFL’s scheduling wizards conspired with NFL Network and the oddsmakers to kick off week 11 with…

Arizona Cardinals +3 at Seattle Seahawks

…a classic mirror game within the top-heavy NFC West. To wit: The teams are in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West at 6-3 SU, and an identical 5-4 ATS. The Cardinals have the most rushing TDs, the Seahawks the most passing TDs.

The Seahawks have scored 30 or more points in 7 of 9 games thus far, while the Cardinals have done so in the last four games.

Most insanely, Arizona has scored an average of 29.6 points per game while the Seahawks have allowed 29.6 ppg.

And of course in week 7, Arizona won by 3 points in overtime at home, necessitating the above pointspread.

One discordance – and such a matchup is often very telling – The Cardinals bring the NFL’s no. 1 offense in yards allowed to play Seattle’s no. 32 defense in yards allowed – but Seattle actually scores more points than any team in the league, even after last week’s anemic 16-point multi-turnover debacle at the Los Angeles Rams.

Is this enough for a Cardinals cover? The Seahawks cannot be wanting a short-week game right now: They’re on a 1-3 SU/ATS jag while the Cards are enjoying a 4-1 SU/ATS run and Kyler Murray’s odds in the “2020 NFL MVP” race have melted away from 35/1 in October to 9/1 as of this writing. Pete Carroll admitted befuddlement at the Buffalo Bills’ game plan, Russell Wilson was flummoxed into 4 TDs by the Rams. Not confidence inspiring

As for Wilson’s own bid for MVP and Seattle’s for the playoffs, well … some secondaries have had success double-teaming D.K. Metcalf, including these Cardinals who limited him to a sick 23 yards on 5 targets/2 receptions. Without this sort of production, what more can the Seattle offense do? (Not to put to fine a point on things, but just twice has the Seattle defense managed to hold on opposing offense to fewer than 400 yards: Against a third-string quarterback in San Francisco and the laidback, always-ahead Rams last week.)

But here’s what makes NFLbets think this TNF isn’t as simple as Arizona steamrolling through Seattle. In three words, it’s the coaching. Since 2010, the Carroll ‘n’ Wilson combo is 9-1 SU/7-1-2 ATS on Thursday night; Murray is just 0-1 SU (but 1-0 ATS!) in his 1½ years as QB on TNF and Cliff Kingsbury is increasingly turning out to be Cliff Kingsbury.

Last week, Kingsbury first managed to help coach his team back from a completely unnecessary 23-9 deficit, then proceeded to have his offense pound the ball and round out the clock. The result was three Buffalo possessions as Arizona’s time of possession in the final quarter was 6:04. Only Bills mistakes allowed the Cardinals to take the lead twice. If coaching plays any factor in this one, you have to like Seattle’s chances. Similar shenanigans crippled the Cards’ chances against the Miami Dolphins the week prior as well.

So NFLbets is employing our safe bet option for these single-game days: We saying take the Arizona Cardinals +3 at Seattle but also take the Seahawks ML at -150 – or for even better odds at My Bookie, simply take “Seattle by 1-13 points” at +150.

–written by Os Davis

Week 10 ATS results: Dolphins cruising, Vikings late to the party

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 22:21 EST

Some good cashes, one very bad beat (thanks very much for making the clever choice at the exact costliest time, Cliff Kingsbury) and not nearly as many upsets as NFLbets might’ve liked – that fairly well sums up week 10 in the NFL from our perspective. But let’s add a little color to this column, which we like to call the “ATS results.”

The following are the results for the week 10 games of the 2020 NFL season, adjusted for the point spread. Game results listed in italics are those for which the SU and ATS result differed.

Indianapolis Colts 33 at Tennessee Titans 17. NFLbets took the Thursday night game as a sign that week 10 would prove fruitful. The weekend didn’t actually turn out so – except for the sportsbooks, I suppose.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 at Green Bay Packers 10½. So the 1-8 SU/4-5 ATS Jaguars covered against the NFC Championship-contending Packers? That’s the way of NFL betting in 2020: Thus far the underdog and the under are both 4-1 in games of 13½-point spreads or higher.

New Orleans Saints 17½, San Francisco 49ers 13. Now the excitement begins: With Drew Brees out due to reported multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung(!), will Jameis Winston get the start for the Saints next week? And was Drew Brees’s last NFL game this inconsequential regular-season game…?

Pittsburgh Steelers 29½, Cincinnati Bengals 10. Welp, so much for that upset special…

Houston Texans 7 at Cleveland Browns 2½. In the last two Browns games in Cleveland, a total of 39 points have been scored in inclement weather; probably best to start checking the weather reports before Browns games. Also of note: The Browns have scored 10 or fewer points four times this season; in the other five games, they’ve run up 32 or more. 

Las Vegas Raiders 33½, Denver Broncos 12. One of NFLbets’ biggest questions for 2020 NFL sports fans: Where’s all the love for Checky’s high-scoring offense powered with a quarterback everyone had lost faith in?

Los Angeles Rams 20, Seattle Seahawks 13. Here’s to thinking that, yeah, the 2020 Seattle Seahwaks peaked too soon – and have gone too deep into the season to have to learn to play defense…

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37 at Carolina Panthers 23. In week 9, the Buccaneers get smoked 38-3 by the Saints; in week 10, they’re putting up 46 on the Panthers after fumbling away their first drive. The continued message to NFL bettors: These NFC South games are nothing but trouble

New England Patriots 23, Baltimore Ravens 10. Most of the top-level talent and the only all-stars on the Patriots defense are in the secondary, so why did Lamar Jackson run just 11 times on a slopy field? Is this the final proof that Baltimore won’t contend for the Super Bowl this year? Should I throw away my prop bet on them yet…?

Miami Dolphins 27½, "Los Angeles" Chargers 21. It says here that the Dolphins, currently on a 5-2 SU/6-1 ATS run, get to pay the Broncos without their first-string second-string quarterback Drew Lock? We keep waiting for a SU/ATS loss, but vs Kansas City Chiefs is still four weeks away; between then, it’s at the New York Jets and vs Cincinnati Bengals.

Buffalo Bills 30 at Arizona Cardinals 29. The gut-punch of the week for anyone who had Cardinals -2½, Cardinals -3 or the Cards ML – but the truth is after that fourth quarter, any respectable sportsbook should have refused to cash any ticket. Before Buffalo scored their literal last-minute TD, they’d run up four defensive penalties on a single drive, chased by a fifth penalty on the kickoff directly thereafter. Arizona meanwhile followed a 17-point barrage in the late third by refusing to run down clock and letting Kyler Murray attempt magic. Not exactly inspiring stuff for either team come playoff time…

New York Giants 27, Philadelphia Eagles 12
Detroit Lions 27½, Washington FT 27
Dallas Cowboys 1, bye 0
. Last week, NFLbets covered the Eagles with the reverse logic that a division leader at 3-5-1 is completely preposterous. Well, that’s the case after the Giants manhandled Philly on Sunday while the Football Team couldn’t muster up enough comeback against the Lions. It’s still possible that 5-11 could win the NFC East, one wacky outcome that can’t be blamed on 2020.

Minnesota Vikings 15½ at Chicago Bears 13. You know how every time it happens, the NFL is excoriated by some fans for allowing sub-.500 teams into the playoffs? Vikings fans are going to be doing that complaining this offseason – and the vitriol will be aimed at the NFC East “champion.”

–written by Os Davis

Betting Thursday Night Football Colts -1 at Titans is a tie and/or push waiting to happen

Thursday, 12 November 2020 18:36 EST

After a year like 2020, you’d figure the Thursday Night Football producers would give NFL bettors a bit of break and schedule a more betting-friendly game, but nope – for week 10 of TNF, NFLbets et al get to ponder…

Indianapolis Colts +1 at Tennessee Titans, over/under 48½

Searches in all the usual statistical corners are turning up little to really enthuse about another bitch of an AFC South game to bet. Here’s the scattershot summary of what NFLbets trawled through.

The Colts bring to Nashville a top-5 defense tops in yardage allowed, interceptions and first downs allowed, though this must be tempered to some extent by level of competition: Indianapolis has played two teams with winning records thus far – the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens – and lost both SU/ATS.

Meanwhile, the Titans’ defense elicits the question “What happened?” nearly as frequently as “What is happening?” After surprising their way to the AFC Championship game via smart defense and just enough offense last week, the unit has disintegrated into a feeble ghost incapable of covering receivers and rushing quarterbacks. The Titans D is now bottom-5 in passing yardage, passing TDs and time of possession.

Then again, the Colts aren’t exactly packing a Mahomes at QB; Philip Rivers is averaging 7.2 yards per attempt and 260.7 yards per game to go with 10 TD passes against 7 interceptions and 7 sacks. And at a low-low 38.3% conversion rate, they’re also bottom-5 on third-down – quite unfortunate when facing the league’s worth defense in the stat.

None of this particularly inspires about betting either side, nor does either team’s play recently, with both stumbling to 2-2 SU/ATS marks in the last four games. Frank Reich’s Colts are 0-2 SU/1-1 ATS on Thursday night, while Mike Vrabel’s Titans are 1-1 SU/ATS in a couple of games against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans also managed the 6-point OT win against the Houston Texans in week 6 following the Covid-induced Tuesday night game.

Even the action is no indicator: All the early volume was on the Titans, who started as 2-point favorites; the line plummeted to “pick ’em” before easing back up to Titans -1 on Thursday. The sole real outlier stat is the odd imbalance between the Titans’ 6-2 SU and 3-5 ATS records, but upon further review, the difference can be put down to weeks 1-3 wherein the Titans won three games by a combined 6 points, failing to cover the spread as favorites each time. They’re 3-2 SU/ATS since.

So we’re not sure which side we like on this Thursday Night Football game, but we like the possibility of a defensive battle: We figure Indianapolis will attempt to grind out the offense against Tennessee’s middling run defense while the Colts will harass the stingy Ryan Tannehill, who’s surrendered just three interceptions this season but has taken 11 sacks. So will say take the under on an O/U of 48½ points.

Figuring on the under, then, we’ll also take the Indianapolis Colts +1 at Tennessee; you might as well take the point, despite the slightly better money line (ML) payout of -105. Hey, this is 2020 – are you certain this won’t end in a 24-24 tie…?

–written by Os Davis

Waiting for Thanksgiving Day 2020 and/or the normalcy of tradition

Tuesday, 10 November 2020 18:55 EST

Too early to start think about betting on Thanksgiving Day football? Ha! Especially in 2020, NFL football on Thanksgiving well be a reminder of normal tradition-y things – and, in NFLbets case, a decent opportunity to make some bank.

The slate for Thanksgiving Day 2020 football features, sadly, four teams assuredly entering their game with losing records (and likely finishing the season sub-.500 as well) but caps with a dandy in-division battle for supremacy. In chronological order, Thanksgiving Day 2020 games, with lines completely guessed at by NFLbets, include:

Houston Texans +2½ at Detroit Lions

The Lions are, of course, the original Thanksgiving Day home team. In terms of straight-up wins, Detroit is the all-time leader in Thanksgiving Day wins with 37. However, their cumulative win-loss record in the traditional game is 37-41-2 from 1934 through 2019; since 1970, they’re 24-26 SU/26-24 ATS. These may not be mind-blowing figures for most teams, but these Thursday games are a relative literal holiday for the Lions: Since 1970 in all games, Detroit is just 329-466-5 SU for a winning percentage of .414.

NFLbets doesn’t rely very much on meaningless history, but in the case of the Lions on Thanksgiving, one wonders if some institutional memory may factor. Lions backers certainly hope so with the discombobulated Texans are coming to town and Matt Patricia’s teams a weak 12-27-1 SU/18-22 ATS. This could very well represent Detroit’s last SU win of the 2020 season.

Washington Football Team +1 at Dallas Cowboys

One of the more common Thanksgiving Day matchups, 2020 sees the 10th meeting between Washington and Dallas in a “rivalry” that’s been all Cowboys since 1968. Dallas in 8-1 in the 9 games to date and is 6-2 Ats since 1970.

But in 2020, neither of these teams are heavyweights – to say the least. Washington may be deployed a 3rd-string quarterback, while NFLbets is guessing that Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys will be turning back to Garrett Gilbert after a couple games with a dinged-up Red Rifle at the helm.

Baltimore Ravens +3½ at Pittsburgh Steelers

For this could-be-classic, NFL bettors would be best off considering rivalry-specific records – and the odds of the Steelers potentially getting to 11-0 with a win. Even with wins at Tennessee and vs New England, Baltimore will likely still be a game or two back of the division lead and will be playing desperate.

Since John Harbaugh became coach of the Ravens, his battles with Mike Tomlin’s Steelers have made for must-see football viewing, if not necessarily easy wagering: SU the teams are an even 14-14, while the Ravens are marginally better ATS with a record of 15-13. The under is 15-12-1, but sinks to 11-10-1 when the line is 45½ points or lower.

So unless conditions change and we don’t see an outrageous over/under, we’ve got our eye all over the Ravens breaking up an undefeated mark (or even a 9-1) that’s significantly better than the Steelers have shown.

–written by Os Davis

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Promotion Date: Nov.26th, 2020


Thursday Night Football: Betting Green Bay -7½ at San Francisco

Thursday, 05 November 2020 17:42 EST

We’re halfway through the 2020 season somehow, but this is no time to sentimentalize! Let’s get back to the betting, namely Thursday Night Football in week 9 and the line of…

Green Bay Packers -7½ at San Francisco 49ers, over/under 48 points

Clearly the sportsbooks are taking injuries far more than home field into account for this line. For this game, Jimmy Garoppolo, Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle have joined a list of injuries substantial enough to form a starting roster from.

Not that the 49ers have been much to speak of thus far in 2020; the 4-4 SU/ATS record belies the unmet expectations of the defending NFC champions. The four losses have come against teams that are a combined 6-24-1 SU, and their sole impressive game was against the Rams in week 7.

Green Bay has gone from swaggering to staggering in the past three weeks in taking pretty emphatic losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings in that time. Excepting these losses, however, the Packers are a nice 5-0 SU/ATS – though admittedly the Packers’ schedule has been about as weak as the 49ers’, with just two games against teams over .500.

The Packers defense is fairly mediocre in most areas and rank bottom-3 in turnovers, bagging just one interception since the week 3 games against the Giants; luckily for them, the 49ers offense is also top-3 in giveaways.

Finally, as Packers backers and Packers bettors will tell you, Aaron Rodgers is the key factor. In his career, Rodgers’ Green Bay teams have gone 9-5 SU/9-4-1 ATS in Thursday (a.k.a. short-week) games including the current 4-1-1 ATS streak. And of the last 24 Packers games, the offense went 14 without surrendering a turnover – and they’re 14-0 SU/ATS in those games. Normally, this stat wouldn’t be eminently notable with the 49ers in the NFL’s top-10 for picks but, again, injuries: Three of the four starters in the San Francisco secondary are out this week.

In the end, then, we’ll figure that Rodgers and his guys can do enough to cover that touchdown plus; we’re not certain the second-string 49ers are as bad as a New York team and thus get steamrolled, but we’re confident enough to say take the Green Bay Packers -7½ at San Francisco and we’ll take the under on an O/U of 48 as well.

Now let’s have some sanity for just one Thursday night, all right, 2020…?

–written by Os Davis

Key Injuries

Green Bay: Christian Kirksey LB (Questionable), Allen Lazard WR (Questionable), Kevin King CB (Questionable), Aaron Jones RB (Questionable), David Bakhtiari T (Questionable), Lane Taylor G (Out).

San Francisco: Trent Williams T (Out), Kendrick Bourne WR (Questionable), Brandon Aiyuk WR (Out), George Kittle TE (Out), Dante Pettis (Questionable), Tevin Coleman RB (Questionable), Jaquiski Tartt S (Questionable), Jimmy Garoppolo QB (Out), Raheem Mostert RB (Out), Deebo Samuel WR (Out), Jeff Wilson RB (Out), Dee Ford DE (Out), Nick Bosa DE (Out), Solomon Thomas DE (Out), Ezekiel Ansah DE (Out), Richard Sherman CB (Out), Ronald Blair III DE (Out), Jalen Hurd WR (Out), Weston Richburg C (Out), Jordan Reed TE (Probable).



NFL Week 8 ATS results: Underdogs (except the New York Jets) rule

Thursday, 05 November 2020 17:33 EST

In the shortest possible terms, week 8 was all about the underdog. Underdogs went a solid 8-6 ATS and a nice (if you bet ’em) 11-3 ATS. Two favorites covering ATS came in divisional games (San Francisco 49ers-Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles); as for the third, well…

NFLbets isn’t exactly sure what connection may be made to the greater picture of football in 2020, but this year no team is underdoggier than the Jets, who proved so against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. In week 8, the 2020 New York Jets became just the 3rd team since 2000 to lose ATS while getting 20 or more points: The exclusive club also includes the 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars (who ultimately went 4-12 SU) and last season’s Miami Dolphins (who somehow got to 5-11).

So, maybe this week take some favorites – including the wonky New England Patriots, getting just 7 at those Jets? Maybe…?

The following are the results for the week 6 games of the 2020 NFL season, adjusted for the point spread. Game results listed in italics are those in which the SU winner could not cover the spread.

Atlanta Falcons 25 at Carolina Panthers 15½. What did NFLbets tell you about betting these NFC South intradivisional games? The outcome never makes any freaking sense! None of the teams has a winning record ATS! The NFC South is a combined 8-13 ATS against everybody else! Wait … sorry, what? NFLbets covered the Panthers -3½ in this game? Oh. Um … sorry?

Minnesota Vikings 28 at Green Bay Packers 16½
Indianapolis Colts 37½ at Detroit Lions 21
Chicago Bears 23, New Orleans Saints 20½
. If there is a division in football which inspires more apathy in 2020 than the NFC North, NFLbets can’t think of it…

Philadelphia Eagles 12½, Dallas Cowboys 9. That was “apathy”, not “rage.” The NFC East inspires rage, mostly at incompetence and short-sightedness.

Las Vegas Raiders 16 at Cleveland Browns 5. Technically, this result went down as an upset, but NFLbets is pretty certain that at season’s end we’ll look back on this and think differently. For week 9, it’s a reminder that a) weather can be a factor starting right about now; b) home field advantage is increasingly a non-factor in the 2020 NFL; and c) the Browns are, to a nearly 100% extent, still the Browns.

Miami Dolphins 28, Los Angeles Rams 13½. On the other hand, the actual travel – especially repeated travel West-to-East-to-West thanks to the peculiarities of the 2020 schedule. From 2017 through ‘’19, the McVay and Goff Rams went 6-1 SU/ATS in Eastern Time Zone-based gams. In *four* games already played there in 2020, they’re just 2-2 SU/ATS. Luckily for the Rams, the trip to Tampa in week 11 is their last such cross-country venture.

Pittsburgh Steelers 28 at Baltimore Ravens 20. NFLbets is secretly hoping that the Pittsburgh Steelers go 16-0 SU to see the inevitable articles about “The worst undefeated NFL team of all-time” and “Are the 2020 Steelers better than the 2007 Patriots?”

New England Patriots 21 at Buffalo Bills 20. Speaking of the Patriots, they’ve got a real chance to start mailing in this season if the Jets game is even close. And if Cam Newton can’t get it done as starter, we may not see him again until, likesay, week 15…

Seattle Seahawks 36, San Francisco 49ers 27. Now firmly established: Wilson-to-Metcalf is the best QB-WR combo in the league and the awakened defense makes the Seahawks the NFC’s most complete team. In a regular year, NFLbets might wonder if Seattle isn’t peaking too soon but with the new one-bye wrinkle in the playoffs, a winning streak early means a week off when it’s needed.

Cincinnati Bengals 31, Tennessee Titans 12½. Cincinnati is one team we’re glad is taking a bye in week 9: At 2-5-1 SU but 6-2 ATS, the Bengals could be a pretty tough play ATS for the remainder of 2020. NFLbets needs some time to recalibrate expectations on Burrow & Co…

Denver Broncos 31, “Los Angeles” Chargers 27. The proper gambler tries hard to eliminate thinking about team histories or superstitious beliefs, but the Chargers are getting increasingly difficult to bet and not expect another ridiculous ending.

Kansas City Chiefs 15, New York Jets 9
New York Giants 23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
. Hey, the Giants won ATS and the Jets won ATS (if you had them in a tease)! Things are looking up for the New York football teams! Well, maybe not so much the Jets…

--written by Os Davis

Don’t overthink this: Falcons +1½ at Carolina on Thursday Night Football

Thursday, 29 October 2020 18:33 EST

This week's Thursday Night Football game looks like easy pickings at first glance: The Carolina Panthers 3-4 SU/4-3 ATS mark belies what has been a highly competitive team that has stayed competeitive in every game -- and the Falcons were the sole Panthers opponent thus far to currently have a sub-.500 record.

The Falcons are, to date, the Bizarro Panthers. While Carolina reformed their coaching staff and roster to start 2020 in a presumed rebuilding effort, Atlanta stuck to the status quo and in preseason were considered by some to be playoff contenders. Post-firing of head coach and GM, they're 1-1 SU/ATS as Todd Gurley found a whole new way to blow a win.

So perhaps only overthinking can kill betting profitably on…

Atlanta Falcons +1½ at Carolina Panthers

The trends on betting Thursday Night Football tends to go in favor of the chalk – but only barely.

Home teams have typically enjoyed the “advantages” of the opposition’s short week on TNF, going for marks of 53-30 SU and 45-35-3 ATS. The SU record translates to a winning percentage of .639, as opposed to the typical home team’s success rate of about .575 in an NFL season. In what is essentially a “pick ’em” game, SU stats are significant.

Meanwhile, if seeking proof that bookmakers know their business well, consider that favorites are just 41-38-3 ATS on TNF during the aforementioned timespan and are on a 17-18-1 ATS “run” since 2018. What’s more, favorites in games with point spreads of fewer than 7 points are incredibly just 24-31-2 ATS.

Finally, some might be tempted to factor in click-worthy stats like “Carolina is 2-8 all-time on Thursday Night Football”, but NFL bets certainly wouldn’t advise it. Matt Ryan’s 6-6 SU mark at Carolina is slightly more useful, but we’re just not into overthinking this one. The Panthers are the better team right now and the Falcons are coming to them on a short week; we’ll go with the team on the rise: Take the Carolina Panthers -1½ vs Atlanta.

NFLbets’ current record in 2020: 10-10-2.

– written by Os Davis