By Patrick Everson
FOX sports gambling writer
NFL betting drives the bus down the American sports betting road. So in my debut as a FOX Sports contributor, trust me, I’m not missing that bus. But first, a little background.
I’m not a keen bettor, so I won’t pretend to be some sort of expert. However, very similar to what actor Liam Neeson says in the film Taken, what I have is a very specific set of skills – or more accurately, a very specific set of sources. Namely, multiple odds positioned in risky sports betting rooms across the country and accurate bettors on our side of the counter.
Drawing on these sources and my work over the past 15 years as a sports betting industry insider, here are 10 intriguing nuggets of NFL betting for the 2022-23 season.
The double trouble of the saints
Of course, Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a popular NFC team. Ditto for Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers.
But an unexpected team is making noise in multiple 2022 NFL betting markets.
“Our biggest liability for winning the NFC is the Saints. Our biggest liability for Coach of the Year is Denis Allen of the Saints,” said WynnBet trader Andy Morrissey. “We’ll keep an eye on the Saints all year.”
New Orleans opened +2,500 at WynnBet odds to win the NFC. The Saints have since cut that number in half, sitting as a +1,200 co-sixth pick.
Meanwhile, Allen took over as coach of the Saints after Sean Payton’s successful 16-year tenure. Allen is a +1,800 co-eighth pick in the NFL Coach of the Year odds, tightening from a +2,500 start.
The Denver Broncos significantly improved their quarterback position with the offseason acquisition of Russell Wilson in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. There’s a lot of NFL betting hype surrounding the move and a lot of optimism in the Mile High City.
But one keen punter said others would be well-advised to rein in Broncos markets.
“Denver has a solid lineup. The offensive line will allow the game to flourish,” he said. “The problem is they’re the third-best team in the AFC West behind the Chiefs and Chargers. And Russell Wilson over the past few years has been average at best. He doesn’t use his legs and can only throw a deep ball.
“Wilson ain’t what it used to be.”
A horse worth riding
On the other hand, the same pro punter is pretty high on the Indianapolis Colts. He’s not high for the Super Bowl, mind you — though I’ll personally take a shot on Indy at +2,500. But he beats the Colts’ chances of winning the AFC South.
“I got them at +140, +130, +120,” he said, noting the Colts are now in the -140 range at most books and favored to win the division. “Indianapolis is loaded with an offensive line that is probably the best in the game. The Colts have a superior running game, and Matt Ryan will thrive in the game. The coaching is solid and the defense is near the top. Indy needs to dominate a brutally bad division.”
For my money — which is usually #ChilisMoney, by the way — I think coaches should aim for that more often on fourth down. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first quarter or the last two minutes. WynnBet’s Morrissey believes more trainers are starting to have that mindset and the odds may have to adjust because of it.
“I’ll be looking at the overs at the start of the season,” Morrissey said, noting that aggressive delivery could lead to more goals. “It’s a copycat league, and there’s been a lot of talk the last few years about fourth-down decision-making. I think more and more teams are understanding what a good offense is, with a play-action pass and quick movement, and throwing the ball down the field to playmakers and being aggressive on fourth down.”
Morrissey also envisions another area that could prove fruitful for over-the-top punters — at least until defenders adjust. The NFL recently instructed officials to emphasize penalties for illegal contact at the start of the 2022 regular season.
“With a new emphasis on illegal contact, I’ll be interested to see if the early-season games exceed the total,” he said. “If so, we as bookmakers will have to make adjustments.”
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The pains of the patriots
Longtime New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is now the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. And as we all know by now, Brady is not walking through that door in Foxborough.
Last season, rookie QB Mack Jones helped New England go 10-7 and earn a wild-card AFC playoff berth. But McDaniels won’t be in Jones’ ear this year. The aforementioned sharp punter believes McDaniels’ absence does not bode well for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
“New England is in huge trouble this year. Losing Josh McDaniels is huge for a young QB,” he said. “Mc Jones doesn’t do anything well at the NFL level — weak arm, athletically challenged and he has zero weapons on offense. The defense isn’t what it used to be either. Pick them up all year round.”
Fly, eagles, fly
If the 2022 NFL betting at Caesars Sports is any indication, customers are confident that the Philadelphia Eagles are in for a good year. The Eagles went a mediocre 9-8 last season, but that was somehow enough to earn an NFC wild card bid.
This year the expectations are higher for QB Jalen Hurts & Co. For example, the Eagles opened +4000 on the Super Bowl odds, and now they have dropped to +2500. This includes one bettor from Nevada getting in late but still betting $5,000 at +2500 for a potential (albeit unlikely) win of $125,000.
But the Eagles’ interest goes beyond that.
The Dallas Cowboys opened as -150 favorites and the Eagles +330 to win the NFC East. It’s almost a dead battle now, with the Cowboys +130 and the Eagles +150. In fact, in Caesars books, Philly has taken more money from the NFC East than the Cowboys, Giants and Commanders combined.
In the Yes/No market to make the playoffs, betting Yes on Philadelphia is an extremely popular play. Wasn’t the -130 favorite initially; now Yes it is -160. In fact, the Eagles take the second most money to make the playoffs, trailing only the Saints.
Finally, Philly’s season win total moved from 9 (under -130) to 9.5 (over -140). Nine out of every 10 tickets and dollars are in Caesars books, counting on a season of double-digit earnings.
Furious for the Raiders
The interesting dynamic of the ever-expanding legalization of sports betting in the US is that regional bias is creeping in more and more, especially in the NFL. Regional bias wasn’t really an issue in Las Vegas for decades—until Sin City got an NFL team.
Of course, when the Raiders were in Oakland or Los Angeles, there was always some interest from visiting California. But now that they’re the Las Vegas Raiders and entering their third season in Glitter Gulch, that interest is on steroids.
“For us, it’s all about the Raiders. We’re just buried alive in the Raiders,” said BetMGM Nevada’s Scott Shelton, noting the heavy action from Vegas locals and visitors. “The tickets and the money is in them to win the Super Bowl or win the AFC. It’s a constant flow of money.”
However, this is only at BetMGM Nevada. BetMGM’s headquarters in New Jersey handles the movement of odds across the country for the company, and it tells an interesting story. The Raiders opened at +5,000 to win the Super Bowl and shortened to +3,500, but have since moved back to +4,000, miles behind the favorites.
While the Raiders are a big problem in the Vegas market, several teams perform worse for BetMGM nationally, most notably the Bills, Broncos and Chargers.
Fade or follow
NFL season win totals are always a popular bet, and Shelton pointed to a few notable trends.
“The surprise is going away from a lot of public teams, the Buccaneers and Cowboys, both sharp and public,” Shelton said of the action on BetMGM’s Vegas books.
The Buccaneers’ win total hasn’t moved up from 11.5, but the price has moved from -110 pick ’em to under -150. The Cowboys win total was open and remains 8.5, but the price moved from -110 pick ’em to under -155.
On the other hand, bettors love the Minnesota Vikings and the Miami Dolphins. Minnesota opened at 8.5 (-110) and went all the way to over -170 before BetMGM moved to 9.5 (-110). Miami hasn’t gone past 8.5, but its price has gone from -110 pick ’em to over -145.
I can not stand
With a new coach in Matt Eberfluss and QB Justin Fields having an off year, the Chicago Bears are likely looking for improvement. Bettors seem to think otherwise, including odds to win the NFC North. This makes BetMGM Nevada stick with Chicago to surprise people.
“Usually the Bears are a very public team. But this year they’re a good shot to win the NFC North,” Shelton said.
Chicago opened +800 in the division odds market and now brings up the back end at +1100, attracting very little attention. The Packers are -155 favorites, followed by the Vikings (+250) and Lions (+850).
Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and a senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He previously worked for Covers and is a well-known journalist in the national sports betting space. He is based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys playing golf in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.