Gamblers like chalk, even if they don’t know who will use it to write on the NFL blackboards this week.
Support for the injury-riddled, yet road-favored San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns top our NFL Week 7 betting trends. Bettors are solidly behind both teams, regardless of uncertainty at key positions.
As gamblers wait on who will start in those games, the week begins with the Jacksonville Jaguars visiting the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night at near pick-em.
Here is a look at injuries, oddities, and a prop that popped in Week 6.
Jaguars Hit the Big Easy
The Jaguars will be slight favorites or dogs. It depends on Trevor Lawrence.
The Jags quarterback, battling a knee sprain, practiced on Tuesday with a brace. His condition has been slowly upgraded over the past two days.
Although the game has a short turnaround from Jacksonville’s Week 6 victory over the Colts, Lawrence may be able to weather the storm. On Tuesday, the Jags were +1 (Best Live Odds: ).
“If it is announced that Lawrence will play, I think that line flips to Jacksonville -1,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told Gaming Today. “Lawrence is worth more to the line than two points, but the idea that he could play has already been put into the line.”
CJ Beathard is the likely successor if Lawrence can’t go. He’s been a career backup and twice signed by the Jaguars as insurance.
Gamblers will soon see if that policy is activated.
Beathard’s name cuts across many lines outside the betting world.
He is the son of country music songwriter Casey Beathard, the brother of country music singer Tucker Beathard, the grandson of former NFL executive and Hall of Famer Bobby Beathard, and the great-grandson of former NFL QB Pete Beathard.
Gamblers might bet him on genes alone.
On the New Orleans side, Derek Carr, Alvin Kamara, and all-purpose star Taysom Hill give bettors their most likely prop-betting options.
Betting is split, with New Orleans getting slightly more support.
It’s far different with the Niners and Browns.
Both teams command more than 90% of the DraftKings handle.
The Browns have a whopping 94% of the handle and 86% of the tickets at -2 (Best Live Odds: ) when they visit the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s not known whether injured QB Deshaun Watson is finally ready or if the Browns will start PJ Walker.
Indy counters with Gardner Minshew, the official No.1 with rookie Anthony Richardson gone for the season.
The Niners, stunned by the Browns 19-17 in Week 6, don’t know if they will have Christian McCaffrey, the best player in the league, when they visit the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night.
Bettors nonetheless support San Francisco with 91% handle and 81% of the tickets at -6.5 (Best Live Odds: ). They wait to see if McCaffrey can recover from the oblique injury that sidelined him during Week 6. The oblique usually requires some healing time, so the Niners would be wise to sit him.
San Francisco also could be missing star receiver Deebo Samuel and lineman Trent Williams.
Because the game is on Monday, sportsbooks and bettors have a little more time to forecast the revamped lineup.
“I think the line is telling you that at least some of the players in this group will be out, you just don’t know who that will be,” Avello noted. “If they were all healthy, you would be looking at that line perhaps being 3 or 3.5.”
NFL Injury Updates
Justin Fields and Jimmy Garoppolo in the Spotlight
Justin Fields is unlikely to play because of a dislocated thumb when the Chicago Bears host the Las Vegas Raiders.
Tyson Bagent, who had a shaky start and steadier finish when replacing Fields last week, looks to be No. 1. This is why the Bears are +3 (Best Live Odds: ) at home. The Raiders rarely lay road points, but they may have an edge at quarterback.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s status is not clear, but a hospital visit didn’t reveal any internal injuries in his back area after he was knocked out of last week’s game. He’s likely more of a go than a no.
But if he sits, Brian Hoyer will likely start. He had a strong game in leading the Raiders to a 21-17 win and cover of -3 against the New England Patriots.
Hoyer vs. Bagent? Another reason the NFL should do cartwheels of gratitude for the legalized betting world they fought to prevent.
Bills vs. Patriots Feature Josh Allen Shoulder Issue
Gamblers saw it last Sunday night. Because of shoulder soreness, Josh Allen could not throw deep, one of his great methods of keeping a defense honest. If he can’t go deep again, the Patriots will jam short routes and try to make his life difficult.
That’s why +9 (Best Live Odds: ) looks like a big number favoring New England, which has been in a season-killing freefall.
But if Allen is healthy, Gabe Davis, Stefon Diggs, and the entire offense becomes more formidable.
The betting public has swarmed behind Buffalo at 78% handle.
“That’s one game I don’t understand as far as the betting patterns,” Avello said. “People keep betting Buffalo up and although the Bills are a good team, they are not exceptional right now.
“Allen keeps looking for Diggs, he doesn’t spread the ball around enough.
“Now, New England is out of it (1-5), but that is a lot of points for a team playing in its division at home.”
Giants Look to Break Out vs. Commanders
It was Heartbreak City for the Giants, who came within one play of springing the massive upset at +15 against Buffalo. The would-be upset ended at the Buffalo 1-yard line.
Tyrod Taylor is a good mobile threat and Saquon Barkley looked healthy enough in his return last week.
Taylor will start if Daniel Jones sits one more week because of a sore neck. Gamblers will follow the injury reports all week.
Washington at -2 (Best Live Odds: ) is a reasonable number for a team seeking its second straight road victory. The Commanders not only toppled the Atlanta Falcons last week but took the Philadelphia Eagles to overtime before losing in Week 4.
Player Below the Radar Impacts Dolphins vs. Eagles
This is the Game of the Week, with Miami visiting Philadelphia at -2 (Best Live Odds: ) on Sunday night.
Gamblers may look for an edge that doesn’t show up on the betting line. The Eagles are 84-48-1 when star right tackle Lane Johnson starts. They are 13-22 without him and their running game folded on the right side after he left against the Jets.
Johnson is a possibility to play on Sunday but may be held out.
Avello said linemen don’t affect the point spread and even receivers rarely are worth more than a point. He also believes Philadelphia will be able to run well against Miami.
This will be an interesting test.
Bettors may target the total. It was 51.5 on Tuesday and could go up a full point, Avello noted.
Betting was split down the middle early Wednesday morning for this premier matchup.
The Eagles made a deal for speedster wide receiver Julio Jones on Tuesday. This brings added depth to a star receiving corps that includes AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith.
Book the Party: The Week That Was for Operators
It was a Hollywood-type script for sportsbooks in general.
Here’s how it looked at DraftKings.
“It was one of our best weeks ever,” Avello said.
“There were three games that helped us and they were monstrous.”
It started with the highly unlikely upset by the Browns over the Niners. The book held more San Francisco moneyline and spread tickets than anything else. The line had shot from -2.5 to 5.5 and then to San Francisco -9 when Watson was announced as inactive.
McCaffrey scored right away, the Niners went up 10-0 and then went flat. The three in-game injuries slowed betting on San Francisco, Avello said, but did not inspire wagers on Cleveland.
So, when the unexpected missed final field goal gave Cleveland the win, the book collected big. And it did not have to pay out much on the opposite side.
A similar effect involved the Jets’ last-minute upset of the heavily favored Eagles.
And then came the Giants, who, at +15, nearly won on the moneyline against the Bills.
“That one could not have worked out better,” Avello said. “Because the Niners had lost, we already had all those moneyline parlay tickets gone, so we weren’t going to collect any more if the Bills lost.
“But because they barely held on, we won with all the spread bets not hitting and we didn’t have to pay out the moneyline (+750). There were a few New York bettors who took a heavy shot on the Giants at that big price.”
Avello said that in some weeks, bettors smash the chalk and the books take a hit if there are no upsets.
Here, it was the books’ turn to have everything break right.
Three 10’s: Parlay Bettor Grabs Big Pot
Here’s another dream payday for the small bettors who think big.
A DraftKings gambler played $10 on a 10-legged parlay and won 10 grand in the Dallas Cowboys-Los Angeles Chargers Monday night game.
The gambler first took advantage of the same-game profit boost the book routinely puts up. This was a 25% boost, hiking the odds from +80000 to +10000, or from 800-1 to 1,000-1.
Here are some of the highlights and sweat beads:
Great call on no touchdown every quarter. It came in easy.
Excellent angle on the Under 50.5. A layup.
Justin Herbert throwing a pick is a good bet as he throws often. Click.
A few other legs converted easily enough.
But then came the nail-biters, and the breaks every parlay needs.
The ticket had Dak Prescott to go over 256 yards. At first glance, the 272 total looks like an easy clear, but it wasn’t. Eighteen came on his final completion on the next-to-last pass he threw.
Austin Ekeler needed 33 receiving yards. He got 35.
And the Cowboys had to win on the moneyline.
All three of these legs were decided in the final minutes.
Congratulations to this player for turning a little into a lot, leveraging what the book gives you, and surviving a difficult moneyline result.
You know this bettor was glad the Chargers left three points on the field by passing up a field goal and being stopped on downs in the first half.
BetMGM NFL Insights: Super Bowl
Below are betting insights from BetMGM for the 2023-24 NFL futures.
Line Movement (Last Week to Current)
- 49ers: +375 to +450
- Lions: +1400 +1300
- Bengals: +2000 to +2200
Highest Ticket %
- Eagles: 9.4%
- Bengals: 9.0%
- 49ers: 8.7%
Highest Handle %
- 49ers: 13.5%
- Bills: 10.6%
- Chiefs: 9.5%
- Favorite: Chiefs +250
- Highest Ticket %: Chiefs 13.6%
- Highest Handle %: Bills 19.5%
- Biggest Liability: Steelers
- Favorite: 49ers +175
- Highest Ticket %: Lions 40.6%
- Highest Handle %: Lions 43.4%
- Biggest Liability: Lions
FanDuel Division Odds
We outlined buy-on-the-dip opportunities for the Dallas Cowboys a couple of weeks back. They were in the +240 range after falling two games behind Philadelphia.
Now, with the lead of one, the Cowboys are +170. Those who got +240 made a strong play.
The Eagles remain a staunch -185 favorite.
Several divisions are still in play for good betting value.
AFC North (Everybody’s in It)
- Baltimore Ravens: +115
- Cleveland Browns: +240
- Cincinnati Bengals: +450
- Pittsburgh Steelers: +550
NFC South (Three Teams Are Strong)
- New Orleans Saints: +150
- Atlanta Falcons: +185
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +210
AFC East (Still Competitive)
- Miami Dolphins: -140
- Buffalo Bills: +145
- New York Jets: +1400
There is not much opportunity in the NFC West and NFC North. The Niners and Lions have a stranglehold on those circuits.
NFL Week 7 Byes
A look at the teams with no game:
The Houston Texans probably want this bye the least. They have four straight covers.
The Jets have three straight covers and would prefer to keep playing.
The Cowboys can enjoy their bye after a tough road victory.
The Bengals have a modest two-game win and cover streak.
The Panthers still haven’t covered.
The Tennessee Titans have two straight losses and an injury to quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Good time for a rest.