Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for NFL Week 8. In this column, we’ll review some recent sports betting news in the Keystone State and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities as well.
The Kambi Group has a new, expanded presence in Pennsylvania, which has come at the expense of another prominent gaming industry name. We’ll delve further into that story and how it impacts the Keystone State betting scene. Then, we’ll close out with betting takes on the Week 8 matchups for both the struggling Eagles and the short-handed Steelers.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News
Kambi Group expands reach in Pennsylvania
The Kambi Group already has a global reputation as a leading business to business provider of sportsbook-related services. Since the advent of legalized sports betting in the United States, the UK-based company has progressively seen its reach expand along with the burgeoning market. Kambi made its presence felt in Pennsylvania this past week. It was announced the retail sportsbooks at Meadows Casino and Hollywood Casino would be powered by Kambi-made odds moving forward. That development also brings about the termination of the relationship between another prominent name in the industry, William Hill, and Penn National Gaming. William Hill had previously operated the sportsbook at Penn’s Hollywood Casino, which became the first sports betting operator in the state upon its November 2018 debut.
Kambi’s entry point came via a July 31 agreement in which Penn National entered into a multi-company, multi-year agreement for online sports betting and iGaming. The other entities in the pact include DraftKings, PointsBet, theScore and The Stars Group. That deal also included a provision that designates Kambi as the oddsmaker for all of Penn National’s in-house sportsbooks. Kambi will therefore be the engine behind the Pennsylvania version of DraftKings Sportsbook that is expected to debut sometime in November after formal Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approval. Kambi is already powering DraftKings’ highly successful online sports betting platform in New Jersey.
This Week’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks
NFL Week 8
Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills — 1:00 p.m. ET
- SugarHouse Point Spread/Odds: +1.5 (-110)
- FOX Bet Point Spread/Odds: +2.0 (-110)
- FanDuel Point Spread/Odds: +2.5 (-120)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: +1.5 (-110)
The Eagles arguably rival the Bears for most disappointing team in the NFC relative to preseason expectations. Philadelphia comes into this game having lost two straight. The caliber of competition and setting could easily lead to a third consecutive defeat. The Bills have a 2-1 home mark and typically enjoy one of the biggest home-field advantages in the NFL. In turn, the Eagles are just 1-3 on the road. Philadelphia’s one win away from home was impressive. The Eagles defeated the Packers by a 34-27 score at Lambeau Field. However, it’s worth noting Davante Adams left that game early with a toe injury after ripping through Philly’s secondary for 10 catches and 180 yards. Then, a deflected pass off the hands of Marquez Valdes-Scantling led to a game-clinching interception at the goal line for the Eagles in the closing seconds.
Philadelphia will have a tall order on both sides of the ball against Buffalo. The Bills are allowing the third-fewest yards per game (292.7) overall. That includes the 10th-fewest rushing yards (91.3) per contest, including the seventh-fewest (83.0) at home. Buffalo is about as stingy against the pass. It’s yielded the fourth-fewest yards through the air (201.3). The Philly ground attack is only about middle of the pack (111.7 rushing yards per contest). Meanwhile, the passing game has been downright pedestrian. This, despite Carson Wentz being at full health and the Eagles only missing DeSean Jackson (abdomen) from their arsenal of weapons. Philly comes in tied for ninth-fewest passing yards per road game (214.2).
The Bills counter with a balanced attack on offense that features meaningful ground production from three different players — Frank Gore, Devin Singletary and quarterback Josh Allen. Buffalo is averaging an impressive 142.3 rushing yards per home game. They do have a formidable task in front of them in the form of the Eagles’ front seven. Philadelphia is tied for fifth-fewest rushing yards per game (89.4). But, the Eagles have yielded 111.2 per road contest. Allen has also shown notable improvement as a passer this season. He’s improved his completion percentage almost 10 full points over that of his rookie season (62.4 percent, compared to last year’s 52.8 percent). He’ll face an Eagles secondary that’s been vulnerable all season but that is starting to get healthy with the recent return of Jalen Mills from the PUP list and this coming Sunday’s return of Ronald Darby from a hamstring issue.
With the Eagles increasingly desperate for a victory and trying to erase the memory of a Week 7 blowout loss to the Cowboys, this figures to be a highly contested battle. However, given the Bills’ home-field edge, I’m leaning toward a cover on their part.
The Lean: Bills -1.5
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins — Monday, Oct. 28, 8:15 p.m. ET
- SugarHouse Point Spread/Odds: -14 (-110)
- FOX Bet Point Spread/Odds: -14 (-110)
- FanDuel Point Spread/Odds: -14 (-105)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: -14 (-110)
The Steelers return from the bye with quarterback Mason Rudolph back under center after his recovery from scary Week 5 concussion. Rookie Devlin Hodges stepped in for Rudolph in Week 6 against the Chargers and helped lead Pittsburgh to a much-needed upset. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick returned to the starting job he held at the beginning of the season in Week 7. Taking on a tough Bills team on its home turf, the veteran quarterback nearly led the Dolphins to victory. Miami held a 14-9 lead as late as the 13:50 mark of the fourth quarter before Buffalo mounted a comeback and ultimately emerged with a 31-21 victory.
The two clubs now do battle Monday night at Heinz Field. Miami has won two of the last three games in the series, dating back to 2013. Fitzpatrick also tore through the Steelers secondary as a member of the Buccaneers in Week 3 of last season. He compiled 411 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-27 loss. Fitzpatrick has less impressive weapons to work with this time around. Preston Williams and DeVante Parker have been serviceable in the passing game. Yet Parker, in particular, continues to be plagued by drops. On the ground, the Dolphins may have found a lead back in Mark Walton. The 2018 fourth-round pick of the Bengals rushed for 66 yards on 14 carries against Buffalo and could take on the primary workload again in Week 8.
On the other side, Rudolph will look to pick up where he left off before his injury. The second-year quarterback was beginning to display some tangible progress in what was his third game as a full-time starter before being concussed by the Ravens’ Earl Thomas. Rudolph was 13-for-20 for 131 yards and a touchdown before exiting that Week 6 contest, with three completions of greater than 20 yards. A 229-yard, two-touchdown effort versus the Bengals had preceded that game in Week 4. Having had the bye week to further his rapport with his receivers, Rudolph could well come out firing against a Dolphins defense surrendering 256.5 passing yards per contest and potentially missing or featuring limited versions of cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) and safeties Reshad Jones (chest) and Bobby McCain (shoulder). The running game could be in an even better spot — Miami is allowing 160.8 rushing yards per game, including the second most (176.0) of any team on the road.
Statistical advantages aside, this is a very large spread for a 2-4 team like the Steelers. While I do expect a Pittsburgh win, I see a Miami team that’s been playing much tougher in recent weeks (last two losses by one and 10 points, respectively) to be able to slide in under the number.
The Pick: Dolphins +14