Is tonight’s Monday Night Football game between the L.A. Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs a Super Bowl preview? Maybe. Maybe not. Come playoff time, the Saints, Steelers, Patriots, etc., might have something to say about that.
But at the very least, it’s as close as we’ll come to a Super Bowl-level of sports betting excitement for a single game during the regular season.
No, you can’t find a line at the legit U.S. sportsbooks on the coin toss or the length of the national anthem. But in terms of the game itself, the 9-1 Rams vs. the 9-1 Chiefs is almost impossible to resist for bettors.
The October 29, 2000 game between the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers had a closing over-under total of 62 points. That was the record for an NFL game according to data going back to 1986.
Unless there’s an 11th hour downward adjustment, Rams-Chiefs will close above 62. It opened at 64 points at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, but it’s come down a tiny bit over the past week. If you look around the New Jersey online sports betting scene, you’ll see that DraftKings Sportsbook and Play Sugarhouse both have the total at 63 as of Monday morning, and it’s 62½ at FanDuel Sportsbook.
So what’s the smart bet on the total?
These are the two best offenses in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA statistic (K.C. No. 1, L.A. No. 2), and they’re two decidedly subpar defenses by the same metrics (L.A. No. 20, K.C. No. 25).
The Chiefs are averaging 35.3 points per game, while the Rams allow 23.1. This is a simple calculation that obviously fails to account for an assortment of influencing factors, but those straight-forward numbers project to 29.2 points scored by the Chiefs.
The Rams, meanwhile, put 33.5 points on the board each game, and the Kansas City defense allows 24.0. That leaves us with an expectation of 28.75 points for L.A.
Both numbers round to 29, making 58 a reasonable total to expect here. Of course, if it’s actually tied 29-29 after 60 minutes, we’re going to overtime and probably hitting the over. But the rational play, nerve-wracking and soul-sucking as it can be to bet unders, is under, especially if the line is 63 or 63½ where you’re looking.
For what it’s worth, in that 2000 Rams-Niners game, 58 points were scored, meaning “under” bettors cashed.
However, there have been 12 games that have closed with a total of 58 or above in the 2000s, and the “over” has gone 9-2-1.
I like to move it, move it
Tonight’s game was originally supposed to be played on neutral turf in Mexico City, but the field last week at Estadio Azteca looked like 30-year-old carpeting in a frat house’s flooded basement:
Unreal. Here’s the field in Mexico pic.twitter.com/DFPaXKfB2r
— Scott Zolak (@scottzolak) November 13, 2018
So the game got moved to the L.A. Coliseum, making it a home game for the Rams, and the line moved with it.
The Rams opened at 1-point favorites at the SuperBook, but now that the game is in L.A., Todd Gurley and company are 3-point faves at DK Sportsbook and 3½ points at FanDuel and Play Sugarhouse.
The majority of the early money, before the site move, was on the Rams; since the spread widened, the Chiefs have been the more popular pick.
For some, Kansas City on the moneyline has appeal. They’re +144 at FanDuel, +145 at DraftKings, and a healthy +150 at Play Sugarhouse. If you’d rather bet the Rams on the moneyline, you have to lay between -164 and -180.
The number of game props and player props available to bettors on this game (and really any NFL game nowadays) is mind-blowing. At just about any location, you can move the line in any direction you like, parlay the moneyline with the over or under, bet on the first half or the first quarter, and even bet on the distance of the longest field goal.
And if you’re confident that the game won’t go to overtime, you can risk your ’roll at -3335 odds that it won’t. If you think it will, the payout is a much more modest +1050. In other words, the sportsbooks are holding up a neon sign that says, “Suckers welcome.”
Here are some of the more interesting options among the countless Rams-Chiefs props:
- Gurley leads the NFL in touchdowns scored, and especially against a mediocre Chiefs defense, the Rams’ star RB is fully expected to find the end zone. You can get a pretty good price on it at Play Sugarhouse, though, where you only have to lay -250 that Gurley will score. At DraftKings, it’s -400, and at FanDuel, it’s a stunning -600. (Has any NFL player ever been -600 to score before?) Update: The Gurley line at Play SugarHouse has since moved to -400 — hope you were lucky enough to get on it at -250.
- FanDuel Sportsbook has its usual FanDuel Fantasy Point over/under props, and the book has finally adjusted after having Gurley too low many weeks; he’s now at a hefty 26 pts, which feels about right for him in half-point PPR. Tyreek Hill at 16.5 and Brandin Cooks at 14.5 are both a little too low, however — and the bettors seem to know it, as both “over” bets have moved from -110 to -115.
- Random longshot bet at FD Sportsbook: No turnovers in the game pays +900. (Nah, probably not worth it.)
- If you’re a defensive nerd, you can bet over or under 2½ sacks by either team at DraftKings Sportsbook. You can even bet a will they/won’t they on 1 sack for individual players. (Aaron Donald, for example, is -230 on the “yes.”)
- Who’s going to throw more touchdown passes, Jared Goff or Patrick Mahomes? DraftKings has Mahomes the favorite at +105 and Goff at +160 … but the +330 on “same amount” is hard to pass up. (Goff and Mahomes, meanwhile, are both -115 for most passing yards.)
- If you’re expecting a true shootout, Play Sugarhouse has over 8½ touchdowns scored at +210. It’s a higher risk, higher reward approach to betting the over on the game — and a heartbreaking way to lose money if somebody wins 34-31 on a last-second field goal.
Photo by Christian De Araujo / Shutterstock.com