The last game of Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season will be the Monday Night Football nightcap between the Tennessee Titans and the Denver Broncos. There are probably a lot of people wondering why the Titans are only -3 against the Broncos. How a playoff team from last season that beat the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens would be so “disrespected” as to be such a small favorite over a team that finished with a losing record.
It takes a deeper understanding of the sports betting markets to know why that is the case. We’ll help you try to understand, at least in terms of how we interpret the line and what is happening with that MNF game with a late kickoff. We’ll also talk about the different bet types and how you can get involved, especially if you live in Colorado, where betting will be legal on the Denver Broncos for the first time.
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Before we get into the particulars, a quick heads up that we have sportsbook reviews for the operators that are up and running in Colorado. You can get exclusive sign-up bonuses through us, but most importantly, you can see what we have to say on the different places and see which sportsbook will work the best for you. Choosing a comfortable setting to place your bets is very important and we want to make sure you do exactly that. We’re going to highlight BetMGM Sportsbook and BetRivers Sportsbook in this article as two great options in Colorado.
Alright, let’s take a look at this Titans vs. Broncos game, the different ways to bet on it, and to help you understand why things are the way they are.
At its core, there are two primary functions of the spread. The first is to place a “handicap” on the teams that levels the playing field to the point where bettors are left to a decision. We would expect that the Titans are better this season than the Broncos, right? Maybe not, but that would at least be the starting expectation in the betting markets for the oddsmakers and the general betting public.
The second is that the spread functions as a way to balance betting action. The goal for the sportsbooks, which doesn’t always happen, is to balance action in such a way that the sportsbook makes money no matter what. Attached to the spread is the “vig” or vigorish. Also known as “juice”, the -110 that you see next to the spread means that you win $10 for every $11 that you bet. If the sportsbooks can accurately balance their counts, they will make money because 11 is bigger than 10 and they are paying out $10 for every $11 bet on the game.
In this case, the spread is -3 right now at BetMGM and BetRivers, but the Broncos did open a favorite in some places. The line also sat -2.5 for a while. Betting action ultimately dictates where the spread goes. If more bets and more money come in on the Titans, the line will move up. If more bets and more money come in on the Broncos, the line will move down.
At time of writing, BetMGM has +3 (-110) on the Broncos and BetRivers has +3 (-107) (this may have changed by the time you read the article!). That means you win $10 for every $11 bet on the Broncos at BetMGM, but $10 for every $10.70 bet on the Broncos at BetRivers. It is your job as a bettor to find the best line to play.
Despite the COVID-19 climate, the Broncos have one of the best home field advantages in the NFL because of the altitude. That is priced into the opening line for the game and then bettors decide how much it matters to them.
In order for the Titans to cover this spread at -3, they will have to win the game by four or more points. Therein lies the decision that bettors have to make. Will the Titans win the game AND will they win by enough points to cover the spread?
If it was as simple as, “Will the Titans win the game?” then things would be more cut and dry. Will the Titans win the game AND win by the required amount? That is more difficult.
So, that is your bet type for the spread. Will the favorite win and will they win by enough points to satisfy the rules of betting? If you think they will, then you bet on the Titans. If you think the Broncos will win the game or lose by one or two points, then you bet on the Broncos.
You can make it as simple as just betting the winner of the game, but that, too, is more complex than it would seem. While the goal is just to pick the Titans to win or the Broncos to win, the vig is a big part of the equation. Where the standard vig is -110, or $11 to win $10, on a spread, the vig for money line wagering is based on the spread of the game and the likelihood that one team will win over another.
In this instance, for example, the Titans are -3, so the money line price might be -150 or -160 at your preferred sports book. That would mean you would win $10 for every $15 or every $16 on the Titans, depending on the vig.
On the flip side, Denver might be +130 or +140, so you would win $13 or $14 for every $10 bet on the Broncos. By NFL standards, this would be a milder upset, as a three-point favorite will win about 59% of the time. Those implied win probabilities correlate to the money line odds. That isn’t a number that comes out of thin air. It is math-based.
BetMGM has +135 at time of writing and BetRivers has +140. Again, these differences, albeit small, do make a major impact in the grand scheme of things.
Money line wagering is more about risk and reward than spread betting. If you want to take less risk by betting a money line favorite, you get less reward. If you want to take more risk by betting a money line underdog, you get more reward. With spread betting, for the most part, your risk and reward are the same.
The higher the spread, the higher the vig for the favorite and the higher the plus odds for the underdog.
Some people say over/under and some people call it “totals” betting. This is probably the easiest bet type for people to understand. This is simply a bet as to whether or not the total points scored in the game will come in higher or lower than the line. More points means the game is an “over” and fewer points means the game is an “under”.
In the case of this Titans vs. Broncos game, the total is pretty low at 41. In fact, it is tied for the second-lowest total on the board. Usually, the standard vig of -110 from what we discussed with spread betting will be what you see with totals betting. That means you win $10 for every $11 that you wager.
If you bet on the over, you are betting that at least 42 points will be scored in the game. If you bet on the under, you are betting that 40 or fewer points will be scored.
Like spreads, these lines can move based on betting action. For example, the total on this game opened 42 at some places and has been bet down to as low as 40.5. The differences between sportsbooks can lead to a big advantage for bettors that have access to what is called “line shopping”.
For example, why would you bet on over 41.5 at BetMGM if you can bet on over 40.5 at BetRivers? On the other hand, if you prefer the under, why bet under 40.5 at BetRivers when you can bet under 41.5 at BetMGM?
It would require accounts at multiple sportsbooks in order to line shop, but these half points or vig differences can mean a lot to your bottom line over the course of a season and especially over the case of your betting career.
Understanding the common bet types and the basics is the first step to having success as a bettor. Applying them to a game in your own backyard like Titans vs. Broncos is also a good way to get a feel for what happens in the betting markets. You are going to be interested and invested in everything surrounding that game with your hometown team, so you can follow the line movement. You can follow the news that creates line movement. You can handicap the stats and the players inside and out and come to a decision.
It is important to come to the most informed decision possible with your hard-earned money and knowing what the odds mean and what the different bet types are is the stating point.