Live betting an early focal point

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Live betting an early focal point

It’s only one week into the season, but there have already been a pair of primetime games that have highlighted the exceptional value presented by live wagering.

First came the Sunday night showdown between Peyton Manning’s Broncos and Andrew Luck’s Colts, followed by the nightcap of the Monday Night doubleheader pitting the Chargers against the Cardinals. In both cases, in-game bettors had the opportunity to cash in handsomely thanks to the swings – and consequently, the drastic fluctuation of the live lines – that took place.

In the Indy-Denver game, the Broncos jumped out to a 24-0 lead late in the second quarter, causing what had closed pregame as a 7.5-point spread to balloon to anywhere from 17 to 21 points at that point in the contest. Anyone who watched the Colts-Chiefs Wild Card game last January is fully aware that Luck is capable of bringing his team back from huge deficits. Of course, that game was merely the exclamation point on the “comeback gene” that’s clearly built into Luck’s football DNA.

Bettors who have even a basic familiarity with the Colts since Luck has been at the helm were no doubt salivating at the in-game line once Indy fell into that 24-0 hole. And sure enough, Indy not only surged back to obliterate that adjusted number, but even covered the original 7.5-point spread and were driving for the tying touchdown late in the fourth before stalling out in Denver territory.

While that game illustrated the value in hopping on the side of a quarterback with a known comeback gene, the Monday Night game highlighted a different but equally valuable element of in-game wagering: momentum vs. quality of play. Momentum is a tricky concept to harness from a betting perspective – and indeed, most quantitative analysts would argue against its very existence – but there’s no doubt that within a 60-minute battle between good teams, there are going to be identifiable ebbs and flows.

In the example of Chargers-Cardinals, it became evident from the first half that Arizona was asserting its will on both sides of the ball. The Cards were moving the ball on the San Diego defense, had forced four consecutive punts from the Chargers offense to open the game and had the benefit of a boisterous opening-night crowd behind them. A fumble in San Diego territory and a blocked punt that set up the Chargers’ only score of the half (a field goal after a drive netting a total of minus-1 yard) combined with Arizona’s inability to finish drives with touchdowns gave way to a deceiving 6-3 halftime score.

When Philip Rivers marched San Diego down the field to open the second half for a go-ahead touchdown and a Carson Palmer strip-sack/turnover deep inside his own territory gave way to another quick seven points, Arizona was suddenly staring at a 17-6 deficit. The in-game line swung to Chargers -7, with the Cardinals moneyline checking in somewhere between +400 and +425.

While that was a natural adjustment for the score, time of game and respective win probability for each team, it masked the glaring fact that Arizona had nonetheless outplayed San Diego within the context of the game to that point – despite what the scoreboard indicated. Some bettors may have justifiably seen the +400 moneyline as an ambitious gambit, but to be getting a full touchdown on the adjusted line given what had transpired to that juncture was just the opposite.

At a time of year when handicapping matchups can be even more trying than usual, Colts-Broncos and Chargers-Cardinals became early case studies of two major reasons why in-game wagering will almost always provide bettors with an edge they may not have been able to find before kickoff.

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