NFL Primetime Betting

Tips on how to bet on Monday night, Thursday night and Sunday night football

Every NFL game is an event for football fans and football bettors.  Once upon a time, NFL games were relegated to Sunday afternoons  but the introduction of Monday Night Football brought more football to televisions. Then came the additions of Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football.

Later in the season and during the postseason, there are even some Saturday games. In short, football fans have plenty of options to watch the NFL. For bettors, is there anything specific you should know for each part of the schedule?

We’ll cover how NFL odds can be affected, betting specials you should watch for and tips for wagering on particular game days. Let’s begin with the broadcasting institution that is Monday Night Football.

NFL Monday Night Football betting

The capper to a busy week of NFL regular-season action is Monday Night Football (MNF). For years, this was the only primetime pigskin game in town. Despite Thursday and Sunday night football, MNF still holds an important place in the sporting landscape and attracts lots of NFL betting action every week.

History of Monday Night Football

NFL Monday Night Football was born on Sept. 21, 1970. It was an instant hit. The Cleveland Browns took down the New York Jets 31-21 in a game full of highlights. In the last five decades, the MNF highlight reel has grown tremendously.

Interest in the inaugural edition was massive, and it has held steady throughout the subsequent seasons. Because it’s the final game on the weekly NFL schedule and the last chance for bettors to weigh in until the next slate, betting interest is typically through the roof.

NFL Monday Night Football odds

Betting lines for MNF games will come out along with the odds for the rest of the weekly games. As a general rule, some sportsbooks will begin releasing lines for the following week’s games as the Sunday slate is winding down.

Other operators may not be on the ball until Monday morning, while you’ll see numbers all over the place no later than Tuesday. While some handicappers like to get their bets in right away, others prefer to take a wait-and-see approach.

NFL betting lines can move, depending on betting action or late-breaking information. Since there’s extra time at hand before the Monday night games, you should expect to see some movement in the numbers, sometimes right up until kickoff.

Handicapping tips for Monday Night Football

Breaking down NFL games is the same regardless of what time the teams are playing. You’ll want to analyze both sides’ strengths and weaknesses, the matchup as a whole, have a good handle on the sports betting odds and news, and come to an objective conclusion.

However, you should also be looking for specific intel for Monday Night Football games:

  • Home-Field Advantage: Certain NFL teams have a greater home-field advantage than others, and it can become amplified in a primetime setting. You should look at home/away splits anyway. Those with strong marks at home heading into an MNF game could be in line for a good night.
  • Performance in Primetime Games: NFL teams are creatures of habit, so random primetime games can throw them off-kilter. Some of the well-coached teams have little trouble getting past it, but struggling clubs may not be up to the task. Be sure to review the team’s recent performances during evening games.
  • Schedule/Travel: You’ll want to analyze what’s been going on for both teams on the schedule and travel front. Teams who have been home can be more well-rested, while those who have been on the road for some time could have their eyes on the door. Also, make a note of future travel to gain a greater perspective on the team’s overall mindset.

Since Monday Night Football is the only NFL game that day, you can expect to see loads of coverage and analysis on what could happen. It’s perfectly fine to respect the opinions of others, but remember to trust your instincts and research.

NFL MNF betting specials

Each NFL game is a big draw for online and mobile sportsbooks. Monday Night Football is one of the marquee games of the week, so it’ll always attract plenty of sports betting action. However, that doesn’t mean operators will be shy on the promotional front.

You can expect to see lots of Monday Night Football betting specials throughout the season. As a quick example, DraftKings in Illinois might offer an odds boost on the favored side, while FanDuel could offer up enhanced odds on various player props.

Taking advantage of promotional offerings can help boost your return and enhance your bankroll. The best spots to look for MNF betting specials are in the sportsbook lobby, on the dedicated promo tab or promotional emails from the operator.

How to watch NFL Monday Night Football

Since 2006, ESPN has been the broadcast home for Monday Night Football. Prior to that, the games were on ABC, which held the broadcast rights from the program’s inception. The channel may have changed, but the game remains a TV institution.

Monday Night Football kicks off at 7:15 p.m. CST except for Week 1. There’s typically a MNF doubleheader for opening week, with the first game after 6 p.m. and the second around 9 p.m.

The new announce team for MNF features Steve Levy on play-by-play with Brian Griese and Louis Riddick providing analysis. You can find ESPN on numerous cable, satellite and streaming packages, while the NFL app provides streaming coverage of primetime games.

NFL Thursday Night Football betting

Many moons ago, the only chance of seeing an NFL game on Thursday came on Thanksgiving Day. That tradition is still going strong, but it’s no longer an anomaly. Thursday Night Football (TNF) is now a fixture on the NFL schedule. It kicks off the betting and viewing week during the regular season and captures lots of attention. Let’s take a closer look.

History of Thursday Night Football

Outside of the Thanksgiving Day games, there were only rare instances of an NFL game during the week. That changed in 2006 when TNF debuted. TNF expanded to run for nearly the full season beginning in 2012 and has remained that way ever since. It’s the official kickoff point for the NFL week during the regular season and has become a staple on the NFL schedule.

Betting on NFL Thanksgiving games

The Thanksgiving Day tradition for NFL games goes back to the inception of the league in 1920. The Detroit Lions began hosting a home game on the holiday in 1934.

The Dallas Cowboys started a Thanksgiving tradition in 1966 that’s still going strong today. For decades, those were the only two Thanksgiving Day games, but that changed in 2006 when TNF became a regular occurrence.

There is now a primetime affair on the holiday with no set teams involved, but it’s typically a marquee contest. Thanksgiving Day has always attracted substantial viewership and betting action. It only continued to grow with the third game added to the mix.

Handicapping tips for Thursday Night Football

It may be best to approach handicapping of NFL games in the same fashion, no matter the time of day or the teams playing. That said, some factors can influence the decision-making process for TNF bettors:

  • Injuries: While key injuries can impact any NFL contest, be sure to pay attention to who is in or out for TNF. For teams who have recently played on the Sunday prior, consider if certain players may be still banged up.
  • Coaching: The consistently good clubs in the NFL generally have a solid head coach and great staff in place. Beyond making a world of difference over the long term, it can also impact play in these short windows. A condensed week of prep won’t be an issue for coaches who are on-point, while those who are not could lead the team into some troubles.
  • Overall State of Affairs: It’s a long NFL season, so teams will go through ebbs and flows. Those who are soaring can view TNF as another item on the to-do list, while those who are struggling may have trouble getting going after a short week. As part of your analysis, consider recent play and team temperament as key factors.

While each NFL game should be treated as an individual event, recent historical performance during primetime games can be a good spot to lean on here. Also, take the time to review team records on betting metrics, such as spread and totals, for primetime tilts.

NFL Thursday Night Football betting specials

For handicappers who focus on the NFL, TNF is the beginning of another exciting week. Since the game is also a primetime affair on national television, plenty of casual viewers will want to get involved as well.

Operators will do their best to garner even more interest with special promotional offerings surrounding the game. For example, BetMGM Sportsbook in Illinois may toy with the moneyline odds on both sides, while PointsBet could offer an enticing odds boost on QB passing yards.

How to watch NFL Thursday Night Football

Unlike Monday Night Football, which is only on one channel, there are different places to view Thursday Night Football throughout the season. For the first week of the regular season, TNF gets the honors of hosting the season’s opening game.

NBC handles the broadcast coverage, and takes the reins for the Thanksgiving night edition. NFL Network and FOX handle the rest of the TNF schedule. There’s a handful of games that NFL Network handles on a standalone basis.

The remainder of the TNF schedule is simulcast in both spots. For a streaming option outside of the outlet that’s covering the game, you can also find it on Amazon Prime. Kickoff time is 7:20 p.m. CST.

NFL Saturday football betting

Traditionally, Saturdays are reserved for college football. The NFL respects that and has always scheduled accordingly. However, the early part of the weekend becomes fair game once the NCAA football’s regular season wraps up. So, what does that mean for NFL viewing and betting purposes? Here are the details.

Does the NFL play on Saturday?

As the NFL schedule winds down, there may be some games played on Saturday. For the first few months of the regular season, NCAAF is going strong with the vast majority of college football games being played on Saturday.

Once college football moves on to college bowl season, the NFL has more flexibility at hand when it comes to Saturday schedules. Unlike the other broadcast windows, there’s not a set number of games on Saturdays.

For example, in 2017 and 2018, there were two Saturdays of NFL action scheduled, both of which had a pair of games. In 2019, it was a triple-header of games on a single day, which was a solid late-season treat. In 2020, two games were played on Week 15 and three on Week 16.

History of NFL Saturday football

Since Saturday NFL games aren’t regularly scheduled like MNF and TNF, there’s not as much in the way of history. There have only been a handful of games in recent seasons. Studying the numbers for the last four seasons of NFL Saturday games reveals the following:

  • Sixteen games were played.
  • Visiting teams hold a slight 7-9 advantage.
  • There were several convincing wins as the average margin of victory was over 7 points.
  • Saturday games have been lower scoring with average total points of 42.37.

Since any Saturday games will be held in the latter part of the season, there’s a good amount of data to use for handicapping purposes. Additionally, we usually know which teams are the real deal by this point.

Handicapping tips for NFL Saturday football

Normal handicapping rules apply for NFL Saturday games, and the odds will come out well in advance of the games. You’ll be looking for weaknesses that can be exploited on both sides and keeping an eye on any line moves, etc. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Team Trajectory: Since Saturday games take place down the stretch run, we’ll know which teams are legitimately fighting for playoff spots. Those who are in the midst of a potential run could be in line to make a statement as the weekend kicks off, while those jockeying for draft positioning may come out flat once again.
  • Weather: For late-season NFL affairs that are held outdoors, the weather can be a factor. Frigid temps, precipitation and high winds can affect game play. Those used to playing in the elements may do just fine, while warmer-climate and dome teams could be more adversely impacted.
  • Betting Trends: It’s a long season for the NFL, and year-to-date data can be quite useful. However, there’s also a lot to be said for more recent trends, such as over the last three or five games. In addition to overall performance, make a note of how the teams have been performing against the spread and on totals.

When Saturday games are added to the mix, the betting possibilities expand even further. For example, the 2019 triple-header was a solid opportunity for a three-team, all-day parlay. Bets like this are a risk, but lots of bang for the buck if it breaks right.

NFL Saturday football betting specials

Promo offerings are a staple of the sports betting menu for each NFL broadcast window. It’s no different when the Saturday games roll around. For example, BetRivers or William Hill in Illinois could put together something special for the aforementioned all-day parlay.

No matter when you plan to bet on the NFL, you should be checking out the latest offers at Illinois sportsbooks. You never know when you’re going to come across a deal that may be right up your alley.

How to watch NFL Saturday football

Broadcast coverage for the Saturday games may vary, but you’ll find them on one of the TV stations: CBS, FOX, NBC or NFL Network. In 2019, NFL Network was home for the full triple-header of Saturday NFL games.

NFL Sunday football betting on early games vs. late games

For NFL fans and handicappers, Sunday is the best day of the week. There are three distinct broadcasting windows which translate into wall-to-wall games from opening kickoff through the late part of the day, followed by a standalone primetime game on Sunday Night Football.

NFL early Sunday game betting

Sunday afternoon is the heart of the NFL schedule with games kicking off at noon CST. In previous seasons, there has also been the occasional game from London, which has gotten underway in the morning.

The majority of the week’s games will take place in the early window. That translates into over three hours of excitement with lots of contests happening.

NFL late Sunday game betting

The latter part of the Sunday slate gets underway a little after 3 p.m. CST. Action slow down a bit in this schedule window, but there are always at least two games going on, and sometimes four or more. The late games are generally wrapped up before 7 p.m. For those who stay engaged all day, that’s seven hours of live football action — and it’s not over yet.

History of Sunday Night Football

Sunday Night Football (SNF) has been a regular part of the NFL schedule since 1987. The broadcast outlet and number of games have changed through the years, but it’s now a weekly staple of the regular-season calendar.

Since 2006, the game has made its home on NBC. As one of the marquee contests of the week, schedule-makers do their best to ensure a quality matchup for this broadcast window. There’s also the option of flex scheduling as the season moves along. Over that span, here are the teams who made the most appearances on Sunday Night Football:

  • Dallas Cowboys – 49: 24-25, .490
  • Philadelphia Eagles – 41: 20-21. .488
  • New England Patriots – 40: 24-16, .600

Meanwhile, the following teams have appeared a few times on SNF:

  • Jacksonville Jaguars – 2: 1-1, .500
  • Miami Dolphins – 3: 0-3, .000
  • Buffalo Bills – 4: 3-1, .750
  • Cleveland Browns – 4: 2-2, .500
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 4: 2-2, .500

Handicapping tips for NFL Sunday football

The majority of the weekly NFL slate happens on Sunday. Breaking down every game can be time-consuming. However, you can do a basic overview of each game to find the most appealing matchups . Here are some other tips to keep in mind for NFL Sunday betting:

  • Time Zone: For the Sunday afternoon portion of the schedule, this can be a factor. The main things to watch out for are West Coast teams heading east for an early start or an East Coast team taking the trek out west for a late game. The time difference could have an impact on preparation and how the game plays out.
  • Momentum: Once a few weeks of the regular season are in the books, we can gain a good sense of how teams are trending. At this point, it’s time to stop relying on preseason expectations. For a blanket rule, once three weeks are in the books, rely more on the current state of affairs.
  • Recent Play: As the season continues to move along, being mindful that year-to-date performance is a given, but doesn’t tell the whole story. Teams can go through peaks and valleys, so be sure to examine what the performance has been like on the key metrics for the most recent games.

As a new NFL season begins, it’s a good idea to have an overall betting plan, including a budget per week. There’s no need to bet outside of your comfort level at any time. Additionally, keep in mind that you can always increase your level of play once the results justify it.

NFL Sunday betting specials

NFL Sundays bring with them a ton of sports betting action for legal and regulated sportsbooks. Operators will also go the extra mile by offering up plenty of betting specials.

You’ll see odds boosts, special props, parlay opportunities and much more. There will be plenty of offerings for you to take advantage of on NFL Sundays throughout the season, so be sure to stay aware of the latest deals from your sportsbooks of choice.

How to watch NFL Sunday football

The NFL has broadcast deals in place for each of its windows, so that you can find each set of games in the same spots. The Sunday afternoon schedule is handled by CBS and FOX. DirecTV has the full Sunday Ticket package. RedZone provides “Whiparound Coverage.”

You can find Sunday Night Football on NBC. Furthermore, you can find all three of the broadcast networks easily on the guide, but availability may vary with cord-cutting options. DirecTV requires a subscription, while RedZone is an add-on offered by cable, satellite and streaming providers.

For additional streaming options, the outlet covering the game will generally have options on the web or via its app, but login credentials from your provider may be necessary. Streaming of local and primetime games can also be found on Yahoo and the NFL app.

Betting on NFL night games vs. day games

The main difference between day and night games depends on the performances of the various teams. Some teams do well with the night lights, while others do not.

For handicapping purposes, you should be relying more on recent primetime performance as opposed to the team’s complete history. A good rule to use is the last three years of primetime performance on the big three: moneyline, point spread and totals.

Beyond that, you’ll want to consider travel, schedule injuries and any other major news that could potentially impact the contest. You can break all of the games down as normal, but the special circumstances we’ve outlined up above should be factored into the night games.

NFL schedule-based betting strategy

The NFL is king at the betting window. The limited number of games each week only enhances the appeal and offers the benefit of extra time for handicapping.

We’ve hit several tips you can use for each window of the schedule already, but here’s another handful to keep in mind as you work toward having a good NFL betting season:

  • Have a Plan: Those who wing it may land on a nice score here and there, but those who have a clear plan can place themselves in a position for success that’s more long-term in nature. As you approach the weekly schedule, note the games you see a potential edge on and pass on the rest. You can take the same selective approach with NFL props and live betting to zero in on the opportunities that may be the most profitable.
  • Track Results: If your withdrawals exceed your deposits, then you may be on the right track. However, to truly know how you’re doing, you’ll need to track your results by bet type. This will help point out the strong facets of your game and areas that need some work. By extension, track your results for each part of the schedule to see any particular strengths or weaknesses in your overall strategy.
  • Know What Works for You: The long-term benefit of tracking results is that you’ll learn what works best for you, your strategy, and the amount of time and funds you have available. Once you have that figured out, stick with what works as the core of your betting strategy. You can set aside a smaller amount of funds to improve your game in other areas, but your overall focus should be on where you find the most success.

For a quick weekly plan, let’s say that you have a fictitious budget of $180 to wager on the NFL. You could break it down as follows:

  • $100 for Sunday afternoon sides and props
  • $60 for TNF, SNF and MNF sides and props
  • $20 for live betting on the game you are most keyed in on for the week

If you stick to a budget, have a plan and improve your skills, you’ll be on the right track toward having a potentially profitable NFL season.

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