NFL Week 1 live-betting strategy: Bet the Vikings to struggle while playing from ahead

2RHCJKG Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks: Anticipate early third-down struggles for the Rams.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns: Monitor Joe Burrow‘s health and the Bengals' game plan to slow the Browns' pass rush.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings: Bet on the Vikings to struggle while playing From ahead.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Live betting can be one of the better ways to profit in the sports gambling realm, as sportsbooks are slower to adjust to new information than in other markets.

But with many games on Sunday, it can be quite overwhelming for a bettor to follow the different markets and capitalize on inefficiencies. The goal in this space is to provide angles to monitor and capitalize on specific team tendencies not accounted for in live markets, helping bettors cut through the noise with a game plan and a better process for how to profit from live betting.

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks

Play: Anticipate early third-down struggles for Los Angeles

Part of being a successful live bettor is understanding timing and anticipating a market move right before it happens. This is, of course, much easier said than done, but preparing for situations in which we can predict the market's next move can prove extremely fruitful.

  • The Rams struggle when the opponent knows they’re passing (think third-and-longs and when trailing in games). This is less likely to be noisy, considering how their offense operates on motion and the threat of the run, as well as their weakness on the offensive line and how their wide receivers' inability to separate becomes magnified in obvious passing situations.
  • If we get some key third-and-longs early in this game, I’d look to bet Seattle spreads, alt spreads and moneylines before the Rams attempt the third downs, anticipating they are more likely to fail than the market would assume.
  • In the same vein, this game could get out of hand. Los Angeles struggles to mount comebacks, so if Seattle remains aggressive — think of a 14-3 second-quarter game — some deep alt lines on the Seahawks side are firmly in play.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns

Play: Monitor Joe Burrow‘s health and the Bengals' game plan to slow the Browns' pass rush

  • Joe Burrow had by far the highest expected points added figure in the NFL last season on true scramble passes essentially when a player starts the process of scrambling and throws a pass.
  • Considering he will be going up against a ferocious Cleveland pass rush led by PFF’s highest-graded edge defender, Myles Garrett, Burrow will need to rely on his ability to scramble and escape pressure to be successful. But questions remain on Burrow's mobility coming off his calf injury. Can he escape pressure as well as he did last year? Will the Bengals operate quick-game concepts to try and minimize pressure?
  • If the Bengals operate the quick game often, there is likely some value on live reception props, especially for Tee Higgins, who led the NFL in receptions operating from quick-game concepts last season.
  • If the Bengals aren’t operating a quick game too often, paying attention to Burrow's mobility will be essential. If he is hampered, I’d look to bet some live sack props for Garrett and Za'Darius Smith. If Burrow looks mobile, he can minimize the strength of the Browns' pass rush, which may mean there is value to be had on the Bengals spread and moneyline.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings

Play: Bet on the Vikings to struggle while playing From ahead
  • The way the market often prices totals is simply by taking the team total at the initial point in the game and then updating for the score and time elapsed. The value here lies in picking off a particular team tendency that deviates from that initial line because of the game situation.

  • The Vikings, consistently in the Kirk Cousins era, have been a far superior offense when playing in neutral situations and playing from behind rather than in game scripts where they play from ahead. Essentially, this offense turns into a bottom-tier unit when playing from ahead. That has remained true every year in the Cousins era.
  • With Minnesota as 5.5-point favorites, it would be unsurprising if the team builds a decent lead. If Tampa Bay is moving the ball well, they are a live spread play coming back at something around +10.5 if the Vikings have a two-score lead. If the Buccaneers have no offense working and are unable to move the ball, Minnesota remaining conservative and turning into a bottom-tier offense would suggest value on a Vikings live under.
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