NFL odds: 10 betting nuggets from Vegas sources
By Patrick Everson
FOX Sports Gambling Writer
NFL paris drives the bus on the american sports betting road. So in my first article as a FOX Sports contributor, believe me, I’m not going to miss that bus. But first, a little background.
I’m not a savvy bettor, so I’m not going to pass myself off as some sort of expert. However, much like what actor Liam Neeson says in the movie Taken, what I have is a very particular set of skills – or more accurately, a very particular set of sources. Namely, a host of bettors positioned in sports betting risk rooms across the country, and savvy bettors on our side of the counter.
Drawing on these sources and my work over the past 15 years as a sports betting industry insider, here are 10 intriguing NFL betting nuggets for the 2022-23 season.
The double trouble of the saints
Sure, Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a popular NFC team. Ditto for the Green Bay Packers of Aaron Rodgers.
But an unexpected team is making noise in several NFL 2022 betting markets.
“Our biggest responsibility for winning the NFC is the Saints. Our biggest responsibility for Coach of the Year is Dennis Allen of the Saints,” said WynnBet trader Andy Morrissey. “We’ll be keeping an eye on the Saints all year.”
New Orleans opened +2500 in WynnBet odds to win the NFC. The Saints have since cut that number in half, occupying the +1,200 co-sixth pick.
Meanwhile, Allen took over as Saints coach after Sean Payton’s successful 16-year run. Allen is the co-eighth +1800 pick in the NFL Coach of the Year ratings, rising from a +2500 first game.
Broncos a bust?
The Denver Broncos improved dramatically at quarterback with the offseason acquisition of Russell Wilson in a trade from the Seattle Seahawks. There’s a lot of NFL betting on this decision and a lot of optimism in the Mile High City.
But one sharp bettor said others would be well advised to take the reins off the Broncos’ markets.
“Denver has a strong roster. The offensive line will allow the running game to flourish,” he said. “The problem is, they’re the third-best team in the AFC West, behind the Chiefs and the Chargers. And Russell Wilson for the last two years has been average at best. He doesn’t use his legs and can only throw depth Ball.
“Wilson isn’t what he used to be.”
A horse worth riding
On the other hand, the same pro bettor is pretty high on the Indianapolis Colts. He’s not in the Super Bowl, mind you – although I’ll personally take a pop on Indy at +2500. But he is on every chance for the Colts to win the AFC South.
“I took them at +140, +130, +120,” he said, noting the Colts are now in -140 range in most books and favorites to win the division. “Indianapolis is loaded on the offensive line, which is probably the best in the game. The Colts have a superior running game and Matt Ryan will thrive in play-action. The practice is solid and the defense is near the top. Indy should dominate a brutally bad division.”
For my money — which is usually #ChilisMoney, by the way — I think coaches should go in fourth more often. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first quarter or the last two minutes. WynnBet’s Morrissey thinks more and more coaches are starting to have this mindset and punters might have to adapt because of it.
“I’ll be watching the early season overs,” Morrissey said, noting that aggressive play could lead to more runs. “It’s a copycat league, and there’s been a lot of talk about fourth down decision making over the last few years. I think more and more teams are figuring out what a good offense is, with a play pass and instant pre-movement, in addition to throwing the ball downfield to the playmakers and being aggressive on fourth down.”
Morrissey also foresees another area that could prove fruitful for overbets – at least until defenders adapt. Recently, the NFL asked officials to emphasize penalties for illegal contact at the start of the 2022 regular season.
“With a new focus on illegal contact, I’ll be interested to see if the early season games go well over the total,” he said. “If that’s the case, we as bookmakers will have to make adjustments.”
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The Pains of the Patriots
Longtime New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is now the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. And as we all know by now, Brady doesn’t walk through that door in Foxboro.
Last season, rookie QB Mac Jones helped New England go 10-7 and earn a spot in the AFC playoffs. But McDaniels won’t be on Jones’ ears this year. The aforementioned savvy bettor thinks McDaniels’ absence doesn’t bode well for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
“New England is in big trouble this year. Losing Josh McDaniels is huge for a young QB,” he said. “Mac Jones isn’t doing anything good at the NFL level – weak arm, athletically challenged, and he’s got an unarmed offense. The defense isn’t what it used to be. Pick ’em all year round.”
Fly, eagles, fly
If the 2022 NFL betting action at Caesars Sports is any indication, customers are confident the Philadelphia Eagles are due for a good year. Last season, the Eagles went a mediocre 9-8, although that was somehow enough to earn an NFC wildcard offer.
This year, expectations are higher for QB Jalen Hurts & Co. For example, the Eagles opened +4000 on the Super Bowl odds board, and they are now at +2500. This includes a bettor from Nevada who committed late, but still bets $5,000 at +2,500, for a potential (although unlikely) win of $125,000.
But the interest of the Eagles goes far beyond that.
The Dallas Cowboys opened with -150 favorites and the Eagles +330 to win the NFC East. It’s now almost tied, with the Cowboys +130 and the Eagles +150. In fact, on Caesars’ books, Philly took more NFC East money than the Cowboys, Giants and Commanders combined.
In the Yes/No market to make the Playoffs, betting Yes on Philadelphia is an extremely popular game. No was originally a -130 favorite; now Yes is -160. In fact, the Eagles take the second most money to qualify for the playoffs, behind only the Saints.
Finally, Philadelphia’s season win total went from 9 (under -130) to 9.5 (over -140). Nine out of 10 bills and dollars are above Caesars’ books, betting on a double-digit winning season.
Enraged for the Raiders
The interesting dynamic of the ever-increasing legalization of sports betting in the United States is that regional biases are creeping in more and more, especially in the NFL. Regional bias wasn’t much of an issue in Las Vegas for decades — until Sin City got an NFL team.
Of course, when the Raiders were in Oakland or Los Angeles, there was always some interest from California visitors. But now that they’re the Las Vegas Raiders and entering their third season at Glitter Gulch, that interest is on steroids.
“For us, it’s all about the Raiders. We’re just buried alive on the Raiders,” said Scott Shelton of BetMGM Nevada, noting the intense action from Vegas residents and visitors. “The tickets and the money are all on them, to win the Super Bowl or to win the AFC. It’s a constant influx of money.”
However, this is only at BetMGM Nevada. BetMGM’s New Jersey headquarters handles nationwide odds movement for the company, and it tells an interesting story. The Raiders opened up +5000 to win the Super Bowl and shortened to +3500, but have since fallen back to +4000, miles behind the favorites.
While the Raiders are a big liability in the Vegas market, a few teams represent worse results for BetMGM nationally, including the Bills, Broncos and Chargers.
Fade or follow
NFL season win totals are always a popular bet, and Shelton pointed to a few notable trends.
“Surprise fades are very public teams, the Buccaneers and Cowboys, both sharp and public bets,” Shelton said of the action on the books at BetMGM in Vegas.
The Buccaneers’ win total hasn’t budged from 11.5, but the price has gone from a -110 pick to under -150. The Cowboys’ win total opened and remains at 8.5, but the price has fallen from -110 to under -155.
On the other hand, bettors love the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. Minnesota opened at 8.5 (-110) and hit over -170 before BetMGM moved to 9.5 (-110). Miami did not leave 8.5, but its price rose from -110 to over -145.
I can not support it
With a new coach in Matt Eberflus and with QB Justin Fields having a year under his belt, the Chicago Bears are likely expecting improvement. Bettors seem to think otherwise, including in the odds to win the NFC North. This pushed BetMGM Nevada to Chicago to surprise people.
“Normally the Bears are a very public team. But this year they’re a good result to win the NFC North,” Shelton said.
Chicago opened +800 in the split odds market and is now closing at +1100, attracting very little attention. The Packers are the -155 favorites, followed by the Vikings (+250) and Lions (+850).
Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and a senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He previously worked for Covers and is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He is based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in the 110 degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.