More games, more problems? New NFL Week 18 leaves sportsbook and bettors a lot to worry about


There is probably no sportsbook on Earth that has been too disappointed with the National Football League’s decision to add another week to this year’s regular season schedule.

NFL football is, after all, extremely popular among punters, especially in Canada and the United States. Another week of football means another week of heavy betting and oversized handles for bookies.

But more of the NFL also means more NFL-related stresses, like the books’ constant need to make sure point spreads are calculated as accurately as possible amid the constant beating of injury reports and feedback from coaches who can suggest how well superstars play. The bettors sit shotgun for this round.

In addition, these are already extraordinarily stressful times, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to take its toll. This volatility has led to some crazy fluctuations in some betting lines for the new NFL Week 18 as players are suddenly being kicked out for games.

All of the above means that the final week of this year’s NFL regular season involves the usual worries, but with a few more twists and turns for Game 17 that teams must now play. In short, there are still more worries for the books and the bettors.

Kris Abbott, head of North America for Coolbet, said their bookies probably had to do the same job three or four times a week instead of just one because of all the COVID-related developments.

“These guys could probably do without [Week 18] because it’s another headache week for them on incoming and outgoing players, and where the player prop lines should be, and where the spreads and totals should be, ”Abbott said with a laugh. “It’s tough for our bookies, but I’m not sure if it’s more based on this week 18 or just the list feed we’ve had with COVID. It’s a little hard to keep these two apart. ”

The NFL playoff format now only gives the top team in each conference one week off. Coaches may or may not rest or bench players when deciding whether to preserve their lineups or fight for better positioning in the playoffs – and that’s even before COVID-19 is taken into account in the equation.

“Traditionally, week 17 – now week 18 – has always been the hardest, in my opinion, to book and handicap from a bettor’s point of view because you don’t necessarily rely on pure numbers, odds. pure power, ”said Tom Gable, Race Director. and sports for the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. “You definitely have to take into account the motivations of the teams and the coaches and how they’re going to handle it. ”

Some punters are convinced they have a grip on the motivations of certain teams, as Gable said they saw early action from sharp punters in Saturday’s Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game.

The line for that clash opened with the Cowboys as three-point favorites before a flock of Eagles was put on the COVID-19 list, which helped move the number to Dallas -7 or more. more. He has since fallen in Dallas -4.5 or -4 following COVID-related news for the Cowboys.

The sharpest punters are always looking for angles, even for games that may mean nothing in the grand scheme of the season, Gable said. However, casual bettors seem to be turning more to the games that really matter, like Sunday night’s game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders.

“The COVID news, I mean, it’s something that we’re adjusting to week after week,” Gable said in an interview with Covers. “We’re used to doing it now. But you have this additional factor, which for me is always difficult, to handicap these motivations for different teams.

Timing is everything

Yet COVID-19 is causing wild fluctuations in the betting lines. And these movements weighed on the behavior of punters.

A player who believed he had an edge on a game could previously lock in a Sunday night or Monday morning bet that could gain value as more bets came in during the week and the books adjusted their numbers accordingly.

This season, however, has been a lot like playing roulette, Coolbet’s Abbott said. A bettor might do what looks like a smart game on Monday, only to find out on Friday that the team he is backing is missing a large number of players.

“There is definitely a huge shift in the timing of the action that we see happening,” Abbott said. “And I think that’s just the safe thing to do. I think you’re a little silly if you think you’re getting ahead of anything early in the week when things change in the blink of an eye.

Phill Gray, head of business operations at Sports Interaction, said there had been “incredible line trips” this year. For example, in Week 18, the Cincinnati-Cleveland game went from the Bengals as three-point favorites to six-point underdogs.

Part of that move can be attributed to COVID-19-related news about star running back Joe Mixon and other Bengals players, as well as the expectation that Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow will sit on the sidelines. Sunday.

In these volatile times, sticking to Twitter has been a must for Gray, as news usually gets there first. But proactive defensive measures are also being taken at Sports Interaction.

“I had to keep my pre-game limits this year much further into the week than I ever did or would like to do,” said Gray. “It affects the grip, but I really don’t have a choice. You can’t be at full play limits midweek now, you just can’t. You will be buried on some early liabilities.

Gray has said he expects this NFL season to be indeed leaner in terms of profits for sports betting, especially compared to their record wins in the 2020-21 season. There were weeks in which punters won a lot, although these were offset by weeks in which punters lost a lot.

“It hasn’t been a catastrophic year, but it hasn’t been a very good year,” he says that way, ”Gray said.

For the Borgata, however, the 2021-22 NFL season has been “very good,” Gable said. The grip increased and while punters did well in the first few weeks, the Pounds hit back in the second half of the season.

Additionally, sports betting continues to gain traction with the general public due to the rise of legal sports betting in Canada and the United States.

And football, of course, remains the undisputed heavyweight champion of betting options.

“Anytime the NFL wants to put in an extra week of games, sportsbook I’m sure is totally okay with it,” Gable said.


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