NFL Betting Trends Week 15: How Gamblers are Playing Playoff Bubble Teams

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Here comes crunch time, complete with division-leading dogs, playoff-bound teams at the crossroads, and heavy favorites trying to avoid being tripped up.

Here’s an overview, with DraftKings betting percentages.

The Bubble Teams

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

It starts Thursday with the flattened-out 7-6 Seattle Seahawks, now on the outside looking in at the NFC playoffs, hosting the San Francisco 49ers. Here are odds from top sportsbook apps.

This is a difficult task for Seattle +3.5, torched for 223 rushing yards by the Carolina Panthers in a 30-24 Week 14 loss. The 49ers, 5-1 recently against the spread, will look to pound the rock with Christian McCaffery to open the offense.

Early Bets: The public gives San Francisco 77% spread handle.

Also read: 49ers vs. Seahawks odds, predictions | TNF props, TD scorers

Detroit Lions at New York Jets

This game is priced tightly at the sportsbooks.

DET Lions vs NY Jets Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Sun (12/18) @ 1:00pm ET

DET Lions at NY Jets
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

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Bubble burst, AFC vs NFC.

The 7-6 Jets have been doing just enough to lose, yet cover spreads. The 6-7 Lions have covered a league-high six straight and hit the road after three home efforts. They are closing like a freight train in the playoff race.

 

Wagering sentiment resembles the line of a suggested pick ‘em.

Early Bets: The Lions had 51% handle and 70% of the moneyline handle at -105.

New York Giants at Washington Commanders

Both teams are 7-5-1, the tie being a 20-20 affair two weeks ago in New York. The rivalry is revisited with the slumping Giants needing to break an 0-3-1 spell.

NY Giants vs WAS Commanders Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Sun (12/18) @ 8:22pm ET

NY Giants at WAS Commanders
FedExField, Landover, Maryland

Claim $1250 First Bet With Caesars Sportsbook Promo Code TODAYFULL

Both teams are still in the playoffs, but one team figures to take a backward step here.

Who gets loss No. 6?

Early Bets: 68% of the spread handle went on the visiting Giants.

New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders

The 7-6 Pats hold down the last AFC playoff spot by virtue of beating the Jets twice. They face a potentially-explosive Raiders team, who let a fourth straight win slip away from them against the Los Angeles Rams. The host Raiders can beat anybody, especially themselves.

NE Patriots vs LV Raiders Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Sun (12/18) @ 4:05pm ET

NE Patriots at LV Raiders
Allegiant Stadium, Paradise, Nevada

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Which team makes the biggest mistake?

Early Bets: Public split resembles the line. New England has a slim majority of 52% of the spread handle and moneyline.

Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers

These 7-6 teams have different vantage points. The Chargers are on the outside looking in. Tennessee leads the AFC South, but has dropped three straight after eight straight covers.

TEN Titans vs LA Chargers Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Sun (12/18) @ 4:25pm ET

TEN Titans at LA Chargers
SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California

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These teams do the opposite of what’s expected. The Chargers have covered only once as a home favorite this year, and that was in Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders.

What’s expected here?

Early Bets: A strong turnout of 85% spread handle on the Chargers, which partially explains the line moving from -2.5 to -3.

Also read: NFL Week 15 Betting Tips & Strategies

Division Leaders: Ravens in Plus Numbers, Again

Rodney Dangerfield is in the house.

The King of No Respect would have loved the Baltimore Ravens’ betting predicament for the last two weeks.

As 9-4 AFC North leaders, the Ravens are dogs, yet again at +3, as they visit the 5-8 Cleveland Browns on Saturday.

Baltimore bettors, who cashed in at +2.5 when the Ravens outlasted the host Pittsburgh Steelers 16-14 last week, may be salivating again.

The public is on that path with 59% handle for Baltimore.

This could be, literally, a battle of the Browns.

The Cleveland Browns may be opposing a quarterback named Anthony Brown. Bettors will observe the injury report closely.
It looks like Lamar Jackson will be out one more week, and Tyler Huntley is in concussion protocol as his backup. It’s a tossup regarding whether Huntley plays.

The line reflects the strong possibility that he won’t.

Who is Anthony Brown?

The undrafted rookie free agent played at both Boston College and Oregon and was 3-for-5 with 16 yards last week. Baltimore will need him to make some plays but, for the most part, simply want him to manage the game.

With the Ravens being run-oriented, the switch from Huntley to Brown, if necessary, puts a big spotlight on the ground attack.

J.K. Dobbins gashed the Steelers run defense for 8.0 yards per attempt, 120 yards, and a touchdown. The key was a strong Ravens offensive line, which will try to blast open holes for Dobbins and Gus Edwards.

The Browns may stack the box and make Brown, or Huntley, beat them through the air.

Cleveland’s offense, meanwhile, has sputtered amid the return of Deshaun Watson. Defense and special teams bailed him out with three touchdowns in a Week 13 victory over the Houston Texans, but the Browns got only 10 points against the Bengals in a 23-10 loss last week.

NFC South ‘Fireworks’

Somebody has to win this division.

The public favors the Carolina Panthers to make a move this week.

Although the 6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers lead the circuit, 92% of the handle is on their opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, despite Tampa Bay getting 3.5 points at home. The Bengals have covered five straight.

The Panthers, who have covered four straight, hold 64% support at -2.5 against the visiting Steelers. This is an attractive number from the Carolina standpoint. Pittsburgh bettors would like to wait for +3.

The 5-8 Atlanta Falcons are right there, too. They could gain a first-place tie with a win over the New Orleans Saints, coupled with losses by Tampa Bay and Carolina.

Early sentiment favored the Falcons at +4.5 against the host Saints. But on the moneyline, the Saints have 58% support.
Can the Chalk Walk the Walk?

The NFC’s top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles, who are on fire at 12-1, nailed 80 % of the first DraftKings spread handle at -9 against the host Chicago Bears. Philadelphia is averaging just under 30 points a game. and appear capable of hitting that number whenever they want. Its 386-point total is the most in the NFL.

The Bears haven’t won since beating the Patriots back in October. Justin Fields has been this team’s entire offense, but with harassment, he’ll make mistakes.

The 10-3 Buffalo Bills, who hold the AFC No. 1 seed, appear ready to lock up the AFC East. They host the 8-5 Miami Dolphins at -7.5 and gained 59% of the initial spread handle.

Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins beat the Bills in Miami early in the season. The Dolphins have skidded to two straight losses and don’t figure to defeat the Bills in Buffalo, but the spread makes them a threat to cover.

That’s if they can handle 33 degrees, Buffalo’s expected temperature.

Only one game has a double-digit spread, with the Kansas City Chiefs laying 14 to the host Houston Texans. At -17 last week, the Texans were one yard away from at +1100 moneyline upset of the Dallas Cowboys, but could not get it done.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, beat the Denver Broncos 34-28 without covering -9. Kansas City, like Buffalo, is getting a big number to reach every week.

Bettors who faded both of these powerhouses last week collected.

Analysis: Dolphins vs. Bills odds and prediction

Betting Breakdowns Week 14

Notable Bets at DraftKings – A Financial Wallop

The Eagles blowout win against the Giants led to one user to hit a massive same-game parlay. The $50 SGP on the Eagles-Giants game ended up paying out $66,050. The selections for this bet were:

• Jalen Hurts Anytime TD Scorer
• AJ Brown Anytime TD Scorer
• Jalen Hurts Under 244.5 Passing Yards
• Daniel Jones Under 199.5 Passing Yards
• Miles Sanders Over 59.5 Rushing Yards
• AJ Brown Over 69.5 Receiving Yards
• PHI Eagles 5+ Sacks
• PHI Eagles Over 3.5 Total Touchdowns

This was a great scouting report on the game. But even genius requires sweat in a ticket this large.

Brown recorded 70 receiving yards, half a yard over the required total. Whew! That was close – 18 inches, 66K.

Another wager was, literally, the portrayal of paydirt.

It was a parlay of players reaching the end zone.

This user was able to pull out a touchdown scorer parlay which led to a massive payday. The $10, seven-leg parlay had odds of

+424169, and paid out a total of $42,426.93.
• Ja’Marr Chase Anytime TD Scorer (+105)
• Zonovan Knight Anytime TD Scorer (+215)
• Isaiah Hodgins Anytime TD Scorer (+475)
• Zay Jones Anytime TD Scorer (+360)
• Pat Freiermuth Anytime TD Scorer (+260)
• Brandon Aiyuk Anytime TD Scorer (+200)
• Mike Williams Anytime TD Scorer (+130)

Also read: 2022 NFL Receiving Props

Hurts Jumps Atop the Caesars MVP Odds Heap

For the third time this season, there’s a new NFL MVP favorite at Caesars Sportsbook.

Patrick Mahomes entered the Sunday slate atop the board at +115, while Jalen Hurts possessed the second spot at +160. When odds were put back up at around 11:15 p.m. ET after they were taken down once the 1 p.m. ET games kicked off, Hurts was the odds-on favorite at -110 and Mahomes went up to +200.

“Going into the Chiefs game, we still had Mahomes as the favorite,” Adam Pullen, Assistant Director of Trading at Caesars Sportsbook., said on Monday.

“Mahomes put up numbers yesterday, but those three picks were definitely big. The Chiefs were hanging on for dear life against the Broncos after getting out to that big lead, while the Eagles totally dominated the Giants. That played a part as well in switching Mahomes and Hurts. The Eagles also widened their margin for best record in the league. If you throw those factors in, it makes sense why Hurts is the new favorite.”

Action intensified Sunday night and Monday, courtesy of some New Jersey bettors.

One Garden State gambler laid $5,000 on Mahomes at +200, and another New Jersey patron wagered $5,000 on Mahomes at +180. That brought Mahomes down to +150 early in the week.

On the flip side, two New Jersey bets of $5,200 and $4,000 on Hurts pushed him from -110 to -140 on Monday.

Hurts started off as a longshot. The dual-threat passer opened at +4000 and was listed as high as +5000

Ahead of the season opener, Hurts stood at +2500, tied for the 12th-lowest odds with Derek Carr.

Gamblers who took Hurts ignored the large-scale sentiment that Hurts wasn’t ready to blossom to a high level. Many believed he still wasn’t the best quarterback for the Eagles.

Hurts was still at +650 from Nov. 21 to Nov. 28, and swung to +400 by the end of the day on Nov. 28. His odds were altered once again the following week, dropping from +400 to +160 on Dec. 4.

There are 86 NFL MVP bets that have potential wins of at least $50,000 at Caesars Sportsbook. None of those wagers are on Mahomes, while only one is on Hurts—a Nevada bettor put $1,500 on Hurts at 35/1 back in August for a potential win of $52,500.

See them all: NFL MVP odds

(AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a multiple award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970’s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. He has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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