Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for NFL Week 5. In this column, we’ll review some recent sports betting news in the Keystone State and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities as well.
A just-announced merger between The Stars Group and Flutter Gaming has a ripple effect in Pennsylvania. We’ll examine that further and also look at the latest entrants into the Keystone State sports betting scene. As usual, we’ll then close things out with betting takes for both the Eagles‘ and Steelers‘ Week 5 games. Both teams are coming off big wins in Week 4 and are looking to maintain that momentum.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News
Landmark deal impacts PA sports betting
The talk of the national sports betting industry this week has been the merger between The Stars Group and Flutter Gaming. The former likely has more widespread name recognition for sports bettors, considering the company is the parent company to brands like PokerStars and FoxBet. Meanwhile, Flutter’s Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) likely rings much more of a bell to the sports betting public at large. FanDuel Sportsbook, which falls under PPB’s umbrella, definitely moves the needle in terms of brand identity. The transaction effectively creates the largest gaming company, one valued at approximately $11.3 billion.
Given the importance in Pennsylvania of the aforementioned brands associated with the Stars Group and Flutter conglomerates, it’s evident this merger will have an impact on the state’s sports betting scene. It brings the August online sports betting leader and one of its most promising recent entrants under one corporate roof. FanDuel Sportsbook checked in with a pace-setting $35.3 million in online handle and just over $2 million in revenue. FoxBet debuted Aug. 30 and we’re about to get a feel for what it’s first full month was like when September numbers are released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) later in October.
The one major customer-facing change that has been confirmed as a result of this transaction is that while the two sportsbooks are expected to remain separate entities, they’ll eventually share the same platform. As PlayPennsylvania‘s Jessica Welman explains, this could mean a shift for FoxBet to FanDuel’s look and feel (due to the strong reviews the former has received) or the development of a new platform altogether.
Meadows, DraftKings newest kids on the block in Keystone State
Almost lost in the shuffle of this big news is the PGCB’s approval Wednesday of The Meadows retail sportsbook location. Mandatory testing is slated to unfold next Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 8 and 9. Grand opening is currently scheduled for next Thursday, Oct. 10. As has become the norm, that debut is slated to have several big-name celebrities on hand. The retail sportsbook will be operated by Penn Interactive.
The other related notable news here is the pending launch of Meadows’ online skin. That would be none other than DraftKings Sportsbook. However, DK Sportsbook’s launch will have to wait a bit longer. The company is still awaiting approval of its online gaming license. That should come at the PGCB’s Oct. 30 meeting. The timing means that in a best-case scenario, DK Sportsbook will only be operational the latter half of the NFL season this year.
With Meadows’ testing period and launch unfolding in the coming days, we’ll bring you the latest details in next week’s PA Sports Betting Brief.
This Week’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks
NFL Week 5
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets, Sunday, 10/6 — 1:00 p.m. ET
- SugarHouse Point Spread Odds: -13.5 (-110)
- FOX Bet Point Spread Odds: -13.5 (-110)
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread Odds: -13.5 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread Odds: –13.5 (-110)
The Eagles come into a home interconference matchup well rested after having played the Thursday night game in Week 4. That contest had a satisfying outcome. Philadelphia accomplished unlikely feat of upsetting Aaron Rodgers and company at storied Lambeau Field. The added time off also provided their injury-depleted squad some needed down time. Receiver Alshon Jeffery should be close to or back to full health from his calf injury. Kick returner and complementary back Corey Clement‘s previously ailing shoulder also figures to be in much better shape. And even DeSean Jackson, dealing with an abdominal injury, is much further along, although his status for Week 5 remains up in the air as of Thursday.
On the other sideline, the Jets are likely counting the minutes and seconds until Sam Darnold is able to return from his bout with mononucleosis. The 2018 first-round pick has been pushing to get back and turned in a limited practice Wednesday, albeit of the non-contact variety. Darnold’s ability to suit up versus Philadelphia likely won’t be determined until late in the week or Saturday. If he can’t go, it’s a second straight start for the well-meaning but overwhelmed Luke Falk. The 2018 sixth-round pick has had the bye week to get further acclimated to being a starter. However, a road matchup versus an ultra-aggressive Eagles front simply isn’t a recipe for success.
Philly does have a devastating injury situation in its secondary. Ronald Darby (hamstring) will be out in Week 5. Avonte Maddox (neck) is doubtful after a scary injury against the Packers. Sidney Jones (hamstring) is currently day-to-day with his soft-tissue injury. However, particularly if it’s Falk and not Darnold under center, the Jets will be poorly equipped to take advantage. Even a Darnold appearance here and a pretty massive spread doesn’t sway me away from what should be a revitalized Philadelphia squad that has the talent to parlay that victory into a multi-game heater, one that should start with this contest.
The Pick: Eagles -13.5
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, 10/6 — 1:00 p.m. ET
- SugarHouse Total Points Odds: 44.5 points (-110)
- FOX Bet Total Points Odds: 44.5 points (-110)
- FanDuel Total Points Odds: 44 points- Over (-120)/Under (+100)
- Rivers Casino Total Points Odds: 44.5 points (-110)
It’s a second consecutive divisional battle for these AFC North rivals. The Steelers finally got in the win column Monday night by overwhelming Andy Dalton and his Bengals teammates. The Ravens had a much more unpleasant experience. They suffered a rather surprising home loss to what had been a significantly underachieving Browns squad. For the second straight week, the Baltimore defense was uncharacteristically generous. There were reports of some orneriness from the folks on that side of the ball in the postgame locker room as well.
Baltimore comes into this game with consecutive losses. However, they do have a favorable series trend going for them. The Ravens have traditionally played very competitively at Heinz Field during John Harbaugh’s 11-plus seasons as head coach. Most recently, Baltimore scored a dominant 26-14 win in Pittsburgh in Week 4 of last season. That victory naturally came with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown still in uniform for the Steelers. Then, although a handful of games in recent seasons between these two clubs have unexpectedly turned into shootouts, the majority have checked in below Sunday’s projected total. That includes both of last year’s games. Those finished with totals of 40 and 39 points, respectively.
The biggest factor in the Under hitting in this spot may well be Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. The second-year signal-caller undoubtedly has talent. Yet, he’s also still understandably getting his legs under him as a starter. Coach Mike Tomlin and his staff clearly had a plan to protect Rudolph in last Monday night’s win over Cincinnati with a ball-out-quick, short passing attack. That led to Rudolph averaging a measly 4.6 yards per attempt. Marching down the field in that fashion against a poorly disciplined Bengals defense is one thing. It isn’t likely to have anywhere near the same success against a Baltimore defense that has plenty to prove and isn’t intimidated by the surroundings.
Finally, there’s also the matter of the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson still being far from polished as a passer. He capitalized on the putrid defenses of the Dolphins and Cardinals to start the season. Jackson has subsequently looked much more ordinary against the Chiefs and Browns. Pittsburgh can bring plenty of pressure, as Dalton will attest. Therefore, I can see plenty of truncated drives on both ends, enough for the Under to prevail.
The Pick: Under 44.5 points