This is the Forgiveness Forecast.
Early bettors unveil rebound expectations as NFL Week 4 features dramatically underachieving teams getting big play.
The Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings, a combined 0-6, not only became road favorites but gained some of the highest percentage of midweek handle.
Here’s how gamblers assess the next slate of games, with betting percentages and odds. Check out our NFL Week 4 betting trends.
TNF a Tossup for Lions vs. Packers
Yes, the NFC North leadership stake between these rivals reflects parity. Detroit Lions money helped move the line into betting odds of -1 and -2 against the Green Bay Packers across the sports-betting universe. The back-and-forth nature of this line is no surprise at DraftKings.
And the Kansas City Chiefs, as one might expect, receive a nearly-unheard of 97% handle and 94% tickets against the host New York Jets at +9.5.
People anticipate those types of numbers.
But what’s happening with the bottom teams is quite interesting.
Four Futile Teams: Whose “0” Will Go?
Four winless teams — the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and Carolina Panthers — can celebrate one thing this weekend. They play each other.
Much as a horse-racing bettor finds angles in low-level claiming races, gamblers are already weighing in. After all, except for the remote chance of a tie, somebody has to win.
Start with the Broncos. Gamblers supported them with 87% of the handle and 71% of the tickets as a -3 road chalk against the Chicago Bears early Wednesday morning.
This must be the first time a team ever lost by 50 points one week and became a heavily bet favorite the next.
Fifty. Yes, that was the margin of Denver’s 70-20 collapse against the Miami Dolphins last week.
Post-game meltdowns were everywhere. Perhaps the most epic came from Shannon Sharpe, a member of both Broncos’ Super Bowl champions. He unloaded on them in a highly-disseminated “Y’all Pathetic” outburst.
But gamblers may see something else, like those who back an MLB team after a manager’s media outburst clears the air for a losing team.
According to gamblers, the Broncos will bounce back.
Another reason bettors back the Broncos is Da Bears. They lost 41-10 to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. They have lost three games by a combined 58 points and have dropped 13 straight games, dating back to last season.
That will put “dog” tags on you in a hurry.
Unlikely act No. 2 concerns the Minnesota Vikings. They have 89% of the bets and 83% of the tickets at -3.5 against the host Carolina Panthers. Bettors are still waiting for the 13-4 Vikings from last year to show up.
Memo to the NFL: Send a thank you card to sportsbooks and the gambling community. They will salvage these two games that would otherwise die in the ratings.
“I can’t think of anyone who would have believed we could reach Week 4 and we have four 0-3 teams playing each other,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told Gaming Today. “Nobody is interested in watching Denver and the Bears are equally a mess. At least the gamblers will be interested.
“The Carolina-Minnesota game has a little more appeal, but without gambling, viewership in these games would have been very low.”
One thing to watch in the Minnesota-Carolina game is the chemistry between Carolina Panthers receiver Adam Thielen and QB Andy Dalton, if Dalton starts again over injured Bryce Young. Thielen will be a good anytime TD threat and a contender for 100-plus yards.
For Minnesota, Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson have the pieces in place to excel. But something is seriously wrong with this team.
Much of it has happened with playcalling near the goal line at the end of the half and the game. Cousins threw two picks that killed the Vikings in two of those games.
Four teams. No wins. And it’s Week 4.
Which teams will make a pivot?
The rash of injuries have forced several quarterbacks to step up.
Some have raised their stock.
Joshua Dobbs just guided the Arizona Cardinals to an eye-opening triumph over the Dallas Cowboys. It is known that he is starting at least until Kyler Murray returns.
Two uncertainties remain via the Indianapolis Colts and the Panthers. Coaches will decide this week between proven veteran backups and highly-touted, but ailing No. 1 picks.
For Indianapolis, Gardner Minshew is an easy fit to face the Los Angeles Rams if top selection Anthony Richardson remains sidelined with an injury. Minshew not only played for head coach Shane Steichen in Philadelphia, but he guided the Colts to their overtime triumph against the Baltimore Ravens last week at +7.5.
For Carolina, Dalton had a steady first game spelling Young.
As a result, neither quarterback situation appears capable of moving the betting line.
“I don’t think there is a drop-off between Richardson and Minshew,” Avello said. “And in the case of Carolina, I think it’s actually an upgrade if you go to Dalton.
“These teams want to stick with their No. 1 draft picks, I get it. These guys are your guys. But Andy Dalton has a lot of experience. At this point in his career, he is certainly as good and probably even better than the starters on that team.”
Other backups are playing reasonably well. Jameis Winston, a former starter, guided New Orleans into a game-winning field-goal attempt against Green Bay in Week 3. The kick missed, but he got his team down the field.
Winston may be the starter this week when the Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his former team.
Bettors Back Chiefs, Dolphins, and Cardinals
Kansas City is popular every week, but Avello says the 1-2 Jets are not awful and bettors must ponder if they can hang around long enough to cover 9.5 points.
The game of the day, and the entire first part of the season, unfolds Sunday in Buffalo.
Tua Tagovailoa and Josh Allen go at it again. The Dolphins and Bills, who combined for 107 points last week, go head-to-head.
The public leaned in with 79% of the handle and 71% of the tickets on Miami at +3. Giving Tua a field goal may seem like giving a millionaire a sportsbook sign-up bonus.
On the flip side, Buffalo won’t give up the same yardage chunks as Denver.
Bettors will target Tua passing yardage and prop candidates like Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, Stefon Diggs, and Gabe Davis, among others.
The game has the type of feel for which both teams will go up and down the field at will. But one of the defenses may cause a game-changing turnover.
The Bills and Dolphins, naturally, have the highest total on the board with 53.5 points.
Gamblers come in at 78% of the handle and 80% of the tickets on the Over.
They want an air show.
Chalk Losers Boost Books
It was a tremendous week for the sportsbooks, with the prohibitively-favored Dallas Cowboys, Ravens, and Jacksonville Jaguars losing on the moneyline.
The Cowboys were the most significant, losing 28-16 to the Arizona Cardinals as a -12.5-road favorite. Dallas spread and parlay tickets went into the same bonfire as the moneyline tickets and were the best thing that happened at many books.
Some, like DraftKings, also dodged major liability with the total on the Atlanta Falcons-Detroit Lions game. Heavy money was on the Over, but the Under won handily in Detroit’s 20-6 triumph.
“We just had one of those stellar weeks,” Avello said.
“Now, the week before was not all that good for us. The players had a big week. I don’t want to say that you can plan for a couple of big weeks or bad weeks during the course of the season, but I will say, from years of having done this, that the players do have some very good weeks, more of them than you would think.
“You can’t predict what’s going on in this league. Some years, the NFL plays to form. Sometimes it doesn’t. The NFL is not playing to form right now.”
Did You Notice Philly’s Exceptional Drive Against Tampa Bay?
It did not even produce points.
But the Philadelphia Eagles’ final possession in Monday’s 25-11 triumph will go down as one of the year’s best drives. Maybe even the top march.
It took 15 plays, covered 68 yards, and consumed the final 9:22 of the game.
The Under 44 bettors rejoiced as the Eagles wrapped an anaconda-like vice around this game, squeezing every second out of the clock.
The drive contained five first downs. Three came on third down, including a 3rd and 13. One occurred on 4th down.
There was one timeout called during the drive, by Philadelphia. Tampa Bay took a social media pounding for keeping its two timeouts in its pocket, failing to stop the clock.
Philadelphia went from its own 25 to the Tampa Bay 7 at a snail’s pace.
This is what elite teams can do. The defending NFC champions now hold first place in the NFC East.
DraftKings Bet of the Week
This was quite a pluck.
One gambler took a $150, two-leg first touchdown parlay, combining one name player and a reach Monday night.
The name player was Joe Mixon, who tallied the opening TD in the Cincinnati Bengals’ 19-16 triumph over the Los Angeles Rams. That was +550 and a sweat, yes, as the Rams had a first-quarter touchdown overturned by replay.
Leg No. 2? None other than Olamide Zaccheaus, the Eagles’ third-string receiver. He caught a bomb from Jalen Hurts near the end of the first half to put Philadelphia ahead for good. Zaccheaus replaced injured Quez Watkins and only got three targets for the night.
On a team featuring high-profile names like A.J. Brown (14 targets), Dallas Goedert (7), and DeVonta Smith (5), not to mention 40 team rushes, Zacchaeus made the most of his limited chances.
And so did the bettor. It paid a bundle, deservedly so.
FanDuel Puts Up Tantalizing Props
If it looks like a no-brainer, it usually loses. But bettors will consider a prop of George Pickens and Tank Dell to notch 150 combined yards when the Pittsburgh Steelers invade the Texans. It pays +240.
Dell had 145 yards last week. Pickens notched 127 the week before that. Put both of their best games together and this one wins easily.
Bettors know that when it looks easy, it rarely comes in. But it’s up nonetheless.
Another involves Tyreek Hill or Davante Adams to amass 150 yards. That’s +450.
And you want that air show in Buffalo? Tua and Josh Allen to reach 600 yards together is +350.
BetMGM Futures Picture
The Eagles, 49ers, and Dolphins are the league’s only 3-0 teams.
Bettors are starting to flock to the books to gain value on futures bets for the stars of those squads.
Here’s a look at the BetMGM picture:
- Highest Ticket %: Jalen Hurts, 15.5%
- Highest Handle %: Jalen Hurts, 15.5%
- Biggest Liability: Jalen Hurts
- Odds Leader: Tua Tagovailoa, +350
NFL Offensive Player of the Year
- Highest Ticket %: Christian McCaffrey, 10.6%
- Highest Handle %: Christian McCaffrey, 15.2%
- Biggest Liability: Christian McCaffrey
- Odds Leader: Tyreek Hill & Christian McCaffrey, +475
NFL Defensive Player of the Year
- Highest Ticket %: Micah Parsons, 15.1%
- Highest Handle %: Micah Parsons, 30.7%
- Biggest Liability: Aidan Hutchinson
- Odds Leader: Micah Parsons, +200
NFL Comeback Player of the Year
- Highest Ticket %: Russell Wilson, 18.0%
- Highest Handle %: Damar Hamlin, 43.4%
- Biggest Liability: Russell Wilson
- Odds Leader: Damar Hamlin, +100
NFL Coach of the Year
- Highest Ticket %: Dan Campbell, 36.9%
- Highest Handle %: Dan Campbell, 37.9%
- Biggest Liability: Dan Campbell
- Odds Leader: Mike McDaniel, +350
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
- Highest Ticket %: Jahmyr Gibbs, 28.1%
- Highest Handle %: Bijan Robinson, 27.9%
- Biggest Liability: Jahmyr Gibbs
- Odds Leader: Bijan Robinson & CJ Stroud, +350
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
- Highest Ticket %: Jalen Carter, 21.9%
- Highest Handle %: Jalen Carter, 33.6%
- Biggest Liability: Jalen Carter
- Odds Leader: Jalen Carter, +100