Venture online and there are a plethora of sportsbooks that offer varietal bets from which to choose. Hmm.
Since gambling on sports was legalized nationwide in 2018 by the highest court in the land, online and retail books across the country have seized the opportunity to establish, advertise, offer, entice and (insert verb here) potential customers to use their platform before any other.
“Make. It. Reign.,” DraftKings.
“Now you’re betting with the king of sportsbooks,” BetMGM.
And on and on.
As variety grows, both in sportsbooks and betting options so does the importance to hone in on which books offer what… and when.
This first installment of lookahead lines on NFL games, and where/when you can consider wagering, serves as a guide to pull bettors out of the online clutter and onto the path of cashing tickets. Because, after all, a ticket cashed is money earned.
Winning, however, is a personal preference, with guidance from our team of writers covering the best bets on the NFL.
Think of sportsbooks like player rankings. In the fantasy football realm, NFL players are separated by tiers.
For example, Patrick Mahomes is a Tier 1 quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not, because sometimes he’s FitzMagic and other times FitzTragic. Or just out with a bad hip. That variance is too high when it comes to reliable sportsbooks.
DraftKings is the Mahomes tier of sportsbooks, which puts us at the doorstep of the meat (or tofu) and potatoes of this article: Sportsbooks that offer lookahead lines and which ones offer the best value.
Back to tiers for a moment since this is the first step in deciding where to bet, according to our in-depth rankings:
- FOX Bet
All the above-listed books are solid options with differing offerings, which is a good thing. Variety is the spice of your betting life. And you should always shop around for “best deals” as you would with anything you buy online. Nobody sees an ad for a car and buys that car through that ad. They get quotes, look around, kick the tires as it were, get free snacks at different dealers.
DraftKings and FanDuel are in the upper echelon of Tier 1 sportsbooks, given their respective scope of bettor- and user-friendliness, and sustained market presence. Hop on either and that’ll likely be evident when compared to rival books. They have time-tested apps, exceptional customer service and simplistic books both in presentation and navigation.
BetMGM is threatening to enter that high rank, with expanded promotions and an upped new-customer welcome offer from a $600 risk-free first bet to (gasp!) $1,000 — same as DraftKings and FanDuel. How about that?
Plus, BetMGM not only has the prestigious and world-renowned MGM Resorts International brand’s backing, it also has Jamie Foxx anchoring its visual advertising.
Let’s Get Down to Business
So, look. Here’s the deal. Betting football is a fickle game, college or pro.
Mainly because the scoring system is unlike any other among the “four majors” of American sports — the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. Apologies to Gary Bettman for putting hockey second to last on the list, but, until he self destructs like Rob Manfred heading America’s pastime, it’s hard to reorder the bottom feeders.
And in honor of the most ferociously booed commissioner, not even a pandemic could stop these jeers.
Now, onto bettor things.
Remember key numbers in NFL betting: 3-7-10. The majority of NFL games from a large sample size of 2003-20 have mostly been decided by three points. Yes, it’s true. Next is, you guessed it, seven points and lastly 10, albeit a minuscule amount.
Once a game passes through a “key” number, it’s time to decipher if the bet is worth making.
For example, in Week 1 this season, the defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs closed at -5 favorites to beat the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead. The point spread opened at Chiefs -6 — another borderline key number.
Could the Browns win outright (+200 moneyline) or lose and cover? Answer: Chiefs 33, Browns 29. Condolences to Browns moneyline bettors after they led 22-10 at halftime and 29-20 with 10:24 left in the game. And kudos to Browns point-spread backers. Despite the Chiefs continually being a public betting darling, the spread dropped a point in their opponent’s favor because money, not necessarily the number of tickets betting a side, dictates spread movement.
Casual bettors saw the Chiefs at home and thought they could win by at least a touchdown. Seems plausible at first glance. Larger wagers took the underdog to such an extent that it nudged the spread away from the host team.
A better example, although a less popular game, that exemplifies locking in point-spread bets at the correct times was the 49ers at Lions game in Week 1. The 49ers opened as -7.5 favorites and closed at -8.5. They won by eight points, 41-33. Bettors who got down early on the 49ers won by a half point. Conversely, those who wagered on the Lions at closing time were rewarded.
As of the wee hours of the morning on Sept. 12, top-two tier books currently offer lookahead lines for Week 2 of the NFL season, which is the point of this article.
Here are those lines at DraftKings and BetRivers:
|TNF: GIANTS (+4.5) @ FOOTBALL TEAM||TNF: GIANTS (+4.5) @ FOOTBALL TEAM||SAME|
|BRONCOS (-2.5) @ JAGUARS||BRONCOS (-2.5) @ JAGUARS||SAME|
|49ERS (-4) @ EAGLES||49ERS (-4.5) @ EAGLES||-0.5|
|TEXANS (+13) @ BROWNS||TEXANS (+13.5) @ BROWNS||+0.5|
|BILLS (-2.5) @ DOLPHINS||BILLS (-2.5) @ DOLPHINS||SAME|
|RAMS (-3) @ COLTS||N/A||N/A|
|SAINTS (-2) @ PANTHERS||SAINTS (-1.5) @ PANTHERS||+0.5|
|PATRIOTS (-3.5) @ JETS||N/A||N/A|
|RAIDERS (+5.5) @ STEELERS||RAIDERS (+5.5) @ STEELERS||SAME|
|BENGALS (+4) @ BEARS||BENGALS (+4.5) @ BEARS||+0.5|
|VIKINGS (+2.5) @ CARDINALS||VIKINGS (+3.5) @ CARDINALS||+1|
|TITANS (+3.5) @ SEAHAWKS||TITANS (+4.5) @ SEAHAWKS||+1|
|COWBOYS (+2.5) @ CHARGERS||N/A||N/A|
|SNF: CHIEFS (-1.5) @ RAVENS||SNF: CHIEFS (-2.5) @ RAVENS||-1|
|MNF: LIONS (+11.5) @ PACKERS||MNF: LIONS (+11.5) @ PACKERS||+1|
All This to Say
Based on these two online sportsbooks that offer lookahead lines, there are eight games with discrepancies. Again, because football scoring is unique, the difference of as little as a half-point isn’t so little. There are four games in the above comparison that offer full-point differential in point spreads. So, all this to say, it matters where and when you bet. SHOP AROUND. PLAY THE FIELD.
Mario Sanelli writes about sports betting for BeerLife Sports. He previously was the editorial assistant and a general-assignment reporter at The Denver Post for five years after serving as chief editor of The Metropolitan at MSU Denver. Mario was a NFL and college football insider with Mile High Sports for six years.