Are NFL Feature Games Programmed for Betting?

The prime time NFL games are arranged to feature the best teams and matchups, hopefully maximizing viewers. But often sports bettors find them to be the most nail-biting games to wager on.

Why it seems big NFL games always guarantee great action and the ultimate gambling anxiety

For high drama, excitement and thrills, James Bond, Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne or any Mission Impossible movie have nothing on the ending of any typical feature NFL game on national television.  Be it late Sunday afternoon, Sunday Night on NBC, Monday Night Football or the new popular Thursday Night Football, we are not going to be served a 34-7 sleeper.

Much more crucial, for years the NFL has hid in denial behind the implications of the wagering line contributing to the ratings driving their business.  Almost on cue, virtually every betting result is NOT decided until the last two minutes if not the very last seconds of the "feature" game.  We can count being at the edge of our sofas and recliners to see if the sides, totals and teasers will cover.  It’s as if a predetermined script has been written to either keep us awake or raise our pulse rate.

Thursday night NFL actionTrue, the most competitive match-ups are scheduled feature games, which strongly contribute to this potential.  For example, most preferred sportsbooks have the week’s Vikings -17 over the Bills not show up anywhere on prime time.  Barring a colossal upset, that game strictly decides whether Minnesota covers the huge spread or maybe a better teaser play. Games like this are why the NFL RedZone was created. The popular paid subscription station that promises "all the potential scoring action". But, was cleverly invented to update gamblers on all possibilities related to their wagers, no matter what situation to the conventional football audience. 

Prime Time Example

Here’s expecting a prototype nail-biter late this Sunday afternoon when the relocated Chargers take on the new Rams in "The Battle of LA".  The upstart Rams are a sudden Super Bowl favorite and currently a very suspicious -7 here at popular sportsbook Bovada.  The story will be more than obvious when young gun QB Jared Goff of the Rams faces old gunslinger Phillip Rivers out to prove who's still the sheriff out West. 

The over/under total on the game is also very worthy of attention. It sits at 48, but expect it to skew higher by game time. With lots of hype and a big national audience anticipated for this early season match-up, it’s difficult to forecast a 24-10 result. No significant injuries are reported, and no severe weather expected. Plus, the Chargers rebuilt offense will challenge the Rams strong defense more than either the Raiders or the Cardinals could within the first two weeks. For no other reason than the usual late afternoon prime time television script, the Chargers with the generous points will be in the game (wagering-wise) at the very end. 

Monday Night Mania

Hardcore football bettors are very used to either blissful celebration sleep very late on Monday night OR reaching for the Nyquil after the traditional Monday Night Football finish. This is where announcers like NBC’s Al Michaels invented their coy references to the betting line, often in games already decided, but surely not in the wagering outcome. Unfortunately, with the recent reversal of PASPA and U.S. legalized sports betting in the news, Al won’t be repeating past hinting phrases like "stay tuned, it’s not Over yet" or "I’ll bet you don’t want to turn off now". 

Monday Night Football sports bettingThis Monday night offers another perfect opportunity. The angry, struggling Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Tampa taking on the very surprising Bucs.  On September 1st the line on this game was estimated Steelers – 4 to -5.  Flash forward only two weeks into the season and the current number at most preferred sportsbooks including BetOnline, 5Dimes and Diamond Sports is Steelers -1.5.  Keep in mind the Bucs are still missing QB, Jameis Winston, replaced by journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has lit it up thus far for the 2-0 Bucs.

The O/U total is currently at 53.5 and isn’t expected to back down. Again, don’t prepare for a 20-10 gift game here, which makes all last second bets including the line, teasers and the almost pick-em money line wager a very enticing opportunity.  With exception of those on the West coast, it will be a likely lock most will be up late biting their nails before turning out the lights. 

Touching a Giant Nerve

Last Sunday night’s NBC Sunday Night Football was unforgettable for New York Giants bettors and for those who love to wager on teasers, especially popular in featured NFL television games.

To review, here was the consensus line at kickoff:

Cowboys – 3
O/U Total 42

With 5:20 left in the 4th quarter the Cowboys were leading comfortably 20-3 with the audience getting ready for bed. NOT on a prime-time game!! QB Eli Manning slowly led the Giants down the field to a touchdown with 1:20 left, closing the score to 20-10. Still not within the reach of either a Giants cover, a push or even a reasonable over-the-total teaser chance.

As scripted, the Giants recovered a miracle on-side kick, setting up the opportunity for either a potential push or a possible cover.  With 0:22 left and the Giants facing a 2nd and 10, head coach Pat Shurmer decided to fatefully kick an easy field goal. It immediately shattered all hopes for Giants bettors and ended the game with a final score 20-13. Those who wagered on the Cowboys rejoiced along with bookmakers, who saved on paying two of the larger teaser options.  Conversely, four letter words were being heard from bar rooms in Brooklyn to Giants sports bars in foreign countries. 

Here’s a superb NFL handicapping tip. It really doesn’t matter which two teams are playing. The big game late afternoon on Sunday, later that night on Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football or Thursday Night Football.  Just bet that on every "feature game" you’ll be grinding to the very last tick before winning or losing your bet. Parlay that with the NFL forever telling you that gambling doesn’t matter to their game. Or is that a teaser lock? 

Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.

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