1st, 2nd half bets are way to go

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Outside of the English Premier League, the NFL betting market is widely regarded as the most efficient betting market in the sports world. After 15 weeks of games, the margin for bettors’ success becomes even thinner.

So how should we look to navigate these last two weeks of the regular season, knowing that this market has been molded by a lot of smart people over the last four months? I will be looking at first and second halves.

Let’s start with the first halves. Take a look at the list of players that did not finish their respective games this past week: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Stephon Gilmore, Derek Carr, James Robinson, Michael Gallup, Raheem Mostert and Nick Mullens. There are plenty more, but I had to stop somewhere. After 15 weeks, these players are beat up. If you are placing a pregame, full-game wager on a team, you have to be concerned with who finishes the game for your squad.

With a first half wager, at least you know who is going to start the game. Over these next two weeks, first-half wagers may paint a clearer picture of how you handicapped the game.

For the second halves, I will be looking for situations that point to the under. First, you have the teams that, well, have less incentive than others to win.

The Bengals got their signature win over Pittsburgh. The Jets got their win to avoid going 0-16. The players will continue playing hard, but will their coaches continue to be aggressive?

Second, let’s look at the teams that have things pretty well under control. The Buffalo Bills have clinched the AFC East. Josh Allen played every snap in the Bills’ 29-point win last week. If the Bills find themselves in a similar situation over the next two weeks, I would be surprised if Allen is out there until the last drive.

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Keep an eye on the pregame active and inactive lists, particularly as it pertains to quarterbacks. Will the Packers make Jordan Love active over the last two weeks? Will the Bills activate Jake Fromm? Teams may look to reward these rookie quarterbacks with a series or two if they have a game under control.

Saturday

Dolphins -3 at Raiders: The Raiders’ defense is in rough shape right now, but I am going to rely on the eye test for this one. I have watched the Dolphins a couple times with Tua Tagovailoa under center, and frankly, I have not been very impressed with their offense.

Tagovailoa is in the bottom-third of NFL quarterbacks in Adjusted Quarterback Rating and he is No. 28 in yards per pass attempt. RAIDERS

Sunday

Panthers +2.5 at Washington: Carolina is the perfect team to back as an underdog. The Panthers have an offense that can score points, and Matt Rhule coaches them to play 60 minutes. I trust Joe Brady to construct a game plan to combat Washington’s ferocious defensive line.

Carolina is 8-3 against the spread as an underdog this season with four outright victories. I think they make it five on Sunday. PANTHERS

Falcons +10.5 at Chiefs: Forget winning by double-digits, the Chiefs have not won a game by more than six points since Nov. 1. And that was against the Jets.

Kansas City has been in cruise control for nearly two months, and now that the Steelers are in a free-fall and the Chiefs have all but wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the AFC, it is hard to see them breaking that streak this week. FALCONS

Bears at Jaguars, Total 47: The fans certainly might want them to tank, but Doug Marrone, Jay Gruden and Gardner Minshew have no intention of doing so. The Bears’ offense is finally finding some rhythm behind David Montgomery. OVER

Eagles at Cowboys, Total 50: Kudos to the Cowboys for winning back-to-back games for the first time this season, but Dallas’ defense still gave up 458 yards on 28 first downs to the 49ers last week. Jalen Hurts will have some fun on the AT&T Stadium turf where he won the Big XII Championship Game last year. OVER

Titans at Packers, Total 56: The over is 10-3-1 in Tennessee’s games this season, but this will be the highest total the Titans have seen this year. Green Bay has played in nine games with a total in the 50s this year, and the under is 6-3 in those contests. Early forecasts are calling for scattered snow showers and temperatures in the low 20s. UNDER

Last week: 3-3

Season: 43-47

About the Author

James Bunting

James Bunting covers college basketball, baseball and the NFL for Gaming Today. He has worked as a freelance sports writer for several outlets over the last decade, focusing specifically on the sports betting industry in the last five years.

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