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Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for NFL Week 3. In this column, we’ll review some recent sports betting news in the Keystone State and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities as well.

With NFL season now in full swing, these are heady times for Pennsylvania sportsbooks. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) provided a glimpse of how business was already ramping up with the recent release of the August sports betting numbers. We’ll dive into those further, plus offer betting takes for both the injury-riddled Eagles‘ and Steelers‘ Week 3 games.

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Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News

August sports betting numbers reveal new online leader, expected bump in handle

There will be a special level of anticipation for the monthly PGCB release of sports betting numbers the remainder of 2019 with the NFL season encompassing the rest of the calendar year. We’ll have to wait several more weeks to see how sportsbooks did over the first four weeks of the 2019 NFL campaign.  The reveal of August numbers offered a month-long look at the impact of NFL preseason. The return of U.S.-based pro football helped lead to the state’s first six-digit month in sports betting handle. Pennsylvania sportsbooks took roughly $109 million in bets overall during the month.

Unsurprisingly, given its success in neighboring New Jersey, online wagers accounted for 76 percent of that total. That equated to approximately $83.2 million. A sizable chunk of that total came from the state’s new online sports betting leader — FanDuel Sportsbook. The Paddy Power Betfair-owned operator took in $35.3 million of that amount in handle during August. They didn’t have to sweat things out, either. SugarHouse was a distant second with $25 million in handle on the mobile side of things.

It was a different story on the retail end. SugarHouse paced the field in that category with $5.3 million in handle and just over $816K in revenue. Total handle on the retail side was $25.8 million. Operators held $3.6 million of that in revenue. Those figures represent nice bumps from the respective $20 million and $2.2 million July numbers in those categories. Meanwhile, Parx Casino brought up the rear in terms of online handle ($10.9 million). Yet their $4.9 million in retail handle and corresponding $722K in revenue both checked in second on the brick-and-mortar end of things.

September should bring about a more lucrative landscape all the way around. The month will include the first four full weeks of NFL action. There will also be a new entrant into the fray to help drive up numbers — Mount Airy Casino’s FoxBet online platform launched Sept. 4 and the operator’s retail location debuted with a soft launch on Sept. 9.

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NFL Week 3

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions, Sunday, 9/22 — 1:00 p.m. ET

A short-handed Eagles squad will be looking to right the ship following a disappointing and injury-riddled Sunday night loss to the Falcons in Week 2. They’ll have less weapons to try and accomplish that with due to some of the personnel losses incurred in that game. Veteran DeSean Jackson, who’d gotten his return to Philadelphia off to a rousing start in Week 1 versus the Redskins, is expected to miss up to two games with an abdominal strain. Fellow wideout Alshon Jeffery is hobbled in his own right by a calf strain. His status for the Week 3 battle is still up in the air. Backup running back Corey Clement is expected to be sidelined in Week 3 as well with the shoulder injury he sustained against Atlanta. Second-year tight end Dallas Goedert didn’t even wait to get on the field before getting dinged himself. He re-injured his troublesome calf in pregame warmups.

The Lions’ offense has featured some aesthetically pleasing numbers through two games. Nevertheless, those have failed to add up to a commensurate number of points. Detroit managed to score 27 in the opener against the fast-paced and defensively short-handed Cardinals. However, 17 of those points came in the second quarter. The downturn in the second half helped pave the way for an Arizona comeback and eventual tie. Offense was even more at a premium in Week 2. Detroit squeezed out a home win over the Chargers but put up only 13 points overall and never visited the red zone.

The Lions averaged 21.9 points per road game in 2018. That’s a fairly solid total, but one that still hints at the possibility of the Under hitting in this game. So does the Under’s 10-6 mark in Detroit’s games last season. That included a 4-4 tally on the road. The Lions’ defense helped contribute to that as well. They held opponents to a stingy 19.0 points per away tilt. That tied them for fourth best in the league with the Titans.

Then, the Under was 9-7 in the Eagles’ regular-season contests, including 6-2 in their home contests. That latter mark was partly the byproduct of Philly yielding the ninth-fewest points per game (20.5) of any team on its home field.  Granted, the Eagles will have a pair of key absences in the form of Malik Jackson (foot) and Tim Jernigan (foot) on the defensive line. Yet they still boast plenty of talented pieces in the front seven to hold down the fort and help limit a Detroit rushing attack that’s been about average thus far.

Given the various factors just cited and the fairly healthy 46-point projection, I’m going with the Under.

The Pick: Under 46 points

Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, 9/22 — 4:25 p.m. ET

It was a MASH unit-like Week 2 all the way around for the Keystone State’s pair of NFL squads. The Steelers didn’t escape the injury bug by any stretch. Pittsburgh suffered the biggest blow of all when they lost Ben Roethlisberger due to an elbow issue that requires season-ending surgery. That brought on second-year signal-caller Mason Rudolph for the second half of the Week 2 loss to the Seahawks and the remainder of the campaign as well. Rudolph isn’t a complete downgrade by any stretch. The former OSU standout had an excellent preseason. He’s well-versed in the offense and performed admirably in emergency duty last week with a pair of touchdown passes. He also happens to have close friend and college battery mate James Washington to throw to. The speedy second-year wideout was already expected to be a potential breakout star this season. His extensive rapport with Rudolph could accelerate that process.

The status of running back James Conner is in question following his early exit from last week’s game with a knee injury. Conner didn’t practice on Wednesday but has expressed optimism he’ll be able to play through the issue in Week 3. That naturally remains to be seen. Pittsburgh does have a capable 1-2 punch in the form of Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell ready to step in should the need arise. Another sliver of optimism to be gleaned from the two-point defeat at the hands of the Seahawks was Rudolph’s chemistry with tight end Vance McDonald. The veteran brought in both of the quarterback’s second-half scoring tosses and should have no shortage of motivation this week against some of his old 49ers teammates.

San Francisco looked like a juggernaut in Week 2 on the road versus the Bengals. A two-game road winning streak to open the season is impressive for any team. Jimmy Garoppolo looked much sharper against Cincinnati, although the caliber of defense the Bengals put on the field compared to the Buccaneers in Week 1 is a couple of levels poorer. Matt Breida (12-121) also looked considerably better in his second game, ripping off a couple of long runs. The San Francisco defense continued its strong start by intercepting Andy Dalton once and causing him to fumble while also laying several hits on him.

However, San Fran’s offense will face its toughest test yet in the Steelers’ D. The Black and Gold’s numbers don’t bear it out yet. They got trampled by the defending champion Patriots in the opener and then cratered a bit late against Seattle. But the sum of their talent is arguably higher than that of either Tampa’s or Cincinnati’s. Their pass rush has the ability to put pressure on a relatively immobile Garoppolo. There’s no discounting Pittsburgh is also a desperate yet proud team. That’s the type of intangible that can come into play in situations such as these.

It’s worth noting when evaluating the chances of a Steelers cover that San Francisco tied with Atlanta last season for an NFL-worst 5-11 mark against the spread. That included a 3-5 mark at home. Pittsburgh was appreciably better with a 9-7 tally ATS overall. That was partly comprised of a 4-3-1 record versus the number when traveling. All four of those wins against the spread came as a road underdog. These are two very different squads than last year’s editions. However, the elevated number and the Steelers’ pride carries them to a cover at minimum in my view.

The Pick: Steelers +6.5

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