Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for NFL Week 9. In this column, we’ll review some recent sports betting news in the Keystone State and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities as well.
FanDuel Sportsbook has been ruling the sports betting roost in Pennsylvania. However, an old rival is able to enter the fray. We’ll take a closer look at DraftKings Sportsbook’s pending debut in the state and also touch on a recent pact between one Pennsylvania’s NFL teams and a leading daily fantasy sports provider. Then, we’ll close out with betting takes on key Week 9 matchups for the Eagles and Steelers.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News
DraftKings Sportsbook Set For Pennsylvania Debut
For several weeks, the folks at DraftKings likely had Oct. 30 circled on the calendar. That was the date for the next Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting. It was expected the operator would get the green light for launching its online operation in the state on that day. That’s exactly what came to fruition Wednesday — DK received approval for a conditional sports wagering license. As per reports, the soft launch for the online platform will begin Mon. Nov. 4 through Penn National’s license. DraftKings Sportsbook will be the sixth mobile sports betting option for Keystone State residents.
As reported in this space last week, DraftKings Sportsbook’s odds will be powered by Kambi Group following the termination of Penn National’s agreement with William Hill for bookmaking services. DK will be looking to replicate the vast in-state success it already enjoys with DFS — it’s currently the leading operator in that segment within the state. Ironically but not necessarily surprisingly, they’ll be trying to upend old rival FanDuel in the sports betting landscape. FanDuel Sportsbook was responsible for more than half the online handle during a record-breaking September for Pennsylvania sports betting.
FanDuel and Steelers Do A Deal
On the subject of FanDuel, they were the subject of a non-sports-betting-related development recently that still could have an influence on their standing in the space. FanDuel’s DFS “wing” signed a marketing pact with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 25 that makes FD the “official fantasy partner” for the team. That agreement will lead to FanDuel’s DFS product being featured prominently through signage and other forms of advertising during Steelers home games at Heinz Field. FanDuel is also poised to offer some specific Steelers-themed experiences to its customer base, including a Heinz Field fantasy camp, in the coming weeks.
This Week’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks
NFL Week 9
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles — 1:00 p.m. ET
- SugarHouse Projected Total Points/Odds: 42.0 (-110)
- FOX Bet Projected Total Points/Odds: 41.5 (-110)
- FanDuel Sportsbook Projected Total Points/Odds: 42.0 (-105)
- Rivers Casino Projected Total Points/Odds: 42.0 (-110)
Two of the finalists for Biggest NFC Underachievers for the first half of the season face off at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 9. Chicago’s 3-4 record and Philadelphia’s 4-4 mark at this juncture of the campaign would have been thought of as highly unlikely prior to the season. Yet, the Bears offense has particularly disappointed at times. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has sometimes looked like he’s regressed. For their part, the Eagles have, at different points, underwhelmed in both the passing game and pass defense.
Philly does come into this contest with a bit more momentum, though. The Eagles handed the Bills a rather surprising 31-13 defeat on their home turf in Week 8. Meanwhile, the Bears dropped a 17-16 heartbreaker to the Chargers. That was Chicago’s second straight home loss and third at Soldier Field overall. The Bears actually sport a solid 2-1 road record. However, the two wins they’ve notched haven’t exactly been against the stiffest of competition — the Monsters of the Midway toppled the Broncos by just two before besting the Redskins by 16. For their part, the Eagles own a matching 2-1 tally at the Linc. They’ve beaten Washington and the Jets on their home field.
One of the big issues for each team is that neither of their defenses has been quite as good as expected. For the Eagles, it’s mostly been a matter of injuries in the secondary over the first half of the season that has led to their problems. The good news is the back end of Philly’s defense will be the healthiest its been all season against Chicago. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, who already played together in Week 8 for the first time this season, will man the corners again. Meanwhile, Avonte Maddox will return from head and neck injuries. The Bears will present a solid challenge, however. Trubisky has been better at times over the last two games, throwing for 504 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel have the ability to get downfield and wreak havoc if Trubisky can hit them. Tarik Cohen is also an ever-present threat anywhere he lines up.
Then, even though the Eagles’ run defense has been excellent most of the season, Bears rookie RB David Montgomery‘s performance in Week 8 can’t be ignored. Montgomery ripped off a career-high 135 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Chargers. He logged more than 20 totes for only the second time this season in that game. The Eagles’ own exciting first-year back did some damage of his own in the win over the Bills. Miles Sanders needed just six touches to rack up 118 total yards and a touchdown before exiting with a shoulder injury. Sanders was back as a full participant in Thursday’s practice and will play Sunday. His big-play ability as either a runner or receiver gives the Eagles offense an exciting dimension. There’s also some optimistically good news on another explosive member of the Philly offense as the practice week inches closer to a close — DeSean Jackson, who hasn’t played since Week 2, was able to practice in limited fashion for a second straight day Thursday and has a chance to suit up Week 9.
The total here is very low for two teams with as many offensive playmakers as this pair of clubs. While neither squad has made the most of that talent consistently this season, this is still a number their joint efforts should be able to eclipse.
The Pick: Over 42.0 points
Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers — 1:00 p.m. ET
- SugarHouse Point Spread/Odds: +1 (-110)
- FOX Bet Point Spread/Odds: +1.5 (-110)
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: +1 (+100)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: +1 (-110)
The point spread here is much narrower than one would expect for a game between teams with two full wins separating them. Yet it’s also a reflection of the recent “circle the wagons” play of the Steelers. Pittsburgh appears to have pulled itself up by its boot straps following key injuries. The Steelers have recorded two straight wins sandwiched around their bye week (and three of four overall). Indianapolis has been impressive as well — they’ll come in on a three-game winning streak — but curiously had to sweat out a 15-13 win over an underwhelming, Emmanuel Sanders-less Broncos team at home in Week 8.
The Steelers will also come into this game on short rest after having faced off with the Dolphins at Heinz Field last Monday night. Pittsburgh didn’t have to exert an inordinate amount of effort after a rocky start however; Mason Rudolph (251 yards, two touchdowns) and James Conner (23 carries, 145 yards, one TD) spearheaded a 27-14 victory, with the defense lending a big hand. However, the win wasn’t without cost. The Steelers will apparently have to face the Colts without both Conner (shoulder) and Benny Snell (knee), both of whom went down during the game.
That pair of projected absences certainly don’t bode well for Pittsburgh’s chances. Yet the Steelers offense has been nothing if not adaptable to adverse circumstances this season. And the highly versatile Jaylen Samuels is also projected to return from his knee injury this week. Samuels could have arguably played Monday night against the Dolphins after practicing in full all of last week. He should be rested and ready to take on a full workload against a Colts defense that’s allowed 111.3 rushing yards per game. Samuels answered the call in spectacular fashion during a similar opportunity last season. With Conner nursing a sprained left ankle in Week 15, Samuels gained 142 yards on 19 carries against the Patriots to lead Pittsburgh to a win.
The Colts may also have a difficult time making inroads against a Steelers defense that seems to be successfully coalescing with each passing week. Pittsburgh has given up a combined 31 points over its last two games. After a rough start to the season, the Steelers’ D is ranked in the top half of the league with 336.6 yards and 20.7 points allowed per game. Meanwhile, the Colts’ Jacoby Brissett has yet to throw for more than 200 yards in any of his three road games. The Steelers also have a stingy enough run defense to make life difficult on Marlon Mack — they’ve yielded a modest 103.0 rushing yards per contest.
While Indy is a legitimate playoff contender, the Steelers are picking up some steam and will be at home. The Colts have proven capable of winning in a tough road environment already (see Arrowhead Stadium). However, I see Pittsburgh’s defense doing enough to keep the Steelers very close in this matchup that’s critical to their standing in the conference overall.
The Lean: Steelers +1.5